A movement of healing and reconciliation is taking place throughout this country and right here at home in Alaska. This movement is a necessary step for our country, state and our communities to move forward. Alaska Native people have had to prove time and again our resilience as the original peoples of Alaska. The harms to our people and communities are often erased, ignored, or cast aside as “something we need to get over.” We continue to fight stereotypes, racism, prejudice, and biases in systems that hamper our ability to feel seen in our own homelands.
Without healing and transformation, these historical harms caused by initiatives such as boarding/residential schools will continue to plague every single person in this country. To that I ask, how do you heal from a wound that the world ignores? The answer is you don’t. To ignore a wound means infection that has the potential to cause irreversible damage, death, and even spread infection to those around you. Everyone must recognize the importance of healing these historic wounds or we will all continue to face the impacts of an unhealthy society. The Alaska Native community has initiated a path toward truth, healing and transformation.
Luckily, our communities are not fighting this transformation battle alone. We have a champion in Congress who understands the important role healing will serve the people of the United States, Senator Lisa Murkowski. Senator Murkowski is the co-lead on legislation to establish a formal truth and healing commission to further investigate, document and address the impacts of boarding schools. Lisa stands up for Alaska Native people not only in ways that support the infrastructure of our rural communities, but also in ways that impact our healing and ways of life. Healthy Tribes create a healthy Alaska. While this movement is full of momentum, it will require much time, energy and resources to allow for the healing that needs to occur. During this year’s congressional election, we have the opportunity to support a candidate who has proven that she supports the end to this continued harm.
I am standing up for Lisa, because she stands up for us.
• Barbara ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak Blake (Haida, Tlingit, Ahtna) resides in Juneau.