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Summary of Testimony of the 3rd Public Tolerance Hearing
3rd Tolerance Commission Hearing Held in Kodiak


August 9, 2001
Web posted: 11:20 am

Please note that these are not the official minutes of the meeting. They are just quickly typed-in notes by staff. Audio tapes will be available for purchase by the public at IMIG Audio/Video, 2611 Fairbanks St. Suite 100, Anchorage, AK 99503. Please contact Zena at (907) 274-2161. The price is $6 per 120 minute tape.


Summary of Testimony

3rd Public Hearing
Kodiak, Alaska
August 2,2001 - Kodiak Senior Center
4 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Goal: A more tolerant Alaska that celebrates our diversity of people and cultures.

Introduction of Tolerance Committee members present:

Denise Morris of Anchorage (Chaired this meeting) - President and CEO of the Alaska Native Justice Center, Morris is an active member of numerous groups that have worked on gender equality, juvenile justice, and victims rights.

Thelma Buchholdt of Anchorage - The first Filipino American woman ever elected to the State House, Buchholdt served four terms, helped found of the Asian Alaskan Cultural Center, and now directs the state Office of Equal Employment Opportunity.

Marie Greene of Kotzebue - Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the NANA Regional Corporation, Greene is a former chairman of the Kotzebue IRA Council and was a delegate to the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

Mara Kimmel of Anchorage - Staff attorney for the immigration and refugee services program of Catholic Social Services, Kimmel previously focused on Alaska Native law and was subsistence liaison for the Chugachmuit Native Corporation.

Gilbert Sanchez of Anchorage - Born in Cuba, Sanchez has over two decades of experience as a broadcast journalist and won awards for his coverage of unsolved homicides of Alaska Native women in Anchorage.

Members of the Tolerance Commission


Summary of Testimony


Carroll Mortenson, Medical Systems Director, Health Department, Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA) (representing Rita Stevens, president and CEO of KANA) Rita will submit written comments.

Native Non-profit organization for the Kodiak area. Organized to provide health and social services to Native people of Kodiak Island. Medical, dental, health aides, community health department include substance abuse counselors. Mostly federal funding through Indian Health Service and some state grants. Some contract services for all Kodiak residents, such as Women, Infants Children program.


Tom Panamaroff, Koniag Inc.

Kodiak population 7,000. Population of 30,913 on the entire island. Native population about 15 percent. We are a diverse community culturally. I brought a newspaper insert that highlights our Native people.

Corporate Affairs Manager of Koniag. Welcomed you to Kodiak Hope you enjoy our beautiful Island and people. Share information about Koniag and about our Native people. We have 3,500 shareholders. About 30 percent are here on the Island. No specific programs to combat intolerance but we contribute to AFN programs and other cultural events. The Koniag Board recently decided to come back to town and get involved in Kodiak again. Expand educational, job and career opportunities in our home. We are highlighting our culture as a sponsor of Kodiak,s famous Crab Festival over Memorial weekend. We showcase the Alutiiq people through our float, basket weaving demonstrations and other demonstrations. Instill some pride in our people and educate the public about our rich traditions and let the public know more about us. Koniag provides a great deal of economic opportunity to the community having our operations here. Alaska Natives provide a stable economy. Alutiiq people have been in this area for 7,000 years. One thing Koniag is proud to support is the Alutiiq Museum which we support financially. We hope our efforts to highlight our culture will generate an appreciation for the Alutiiq people of Kodiak. We are good neighbors and contributing members of our community.

Mara Kimmel of Anchorage: Have you seen improvements in relations since you came back and started highlighting your culture?



Carolyn Floyd, City Mayor, Kodiak

Welcome to our city. We've provided sunshine and no wind for your visit. My husband and I have lived here 46 years. Four children. I was a high school teacher and retired as President for Kodiak College. After getting into office I
worked with many folks who you,ll meet today to form a Multicultural Forum as a way to bring together the many ethnic groups in our community to talk about our common interests and what we can do to build trust and move our community forward together. It formed in 1994 or 1995.

The Forum meets on a monthly basis. As new people arrive we invite them to participate and meet each other. Not a government committee. It's a community committee. We invite speakers on different topics. We discussed the need for an INS office in Kodiak, which we have now. We held a benefit
concert and raised $5,000 for victims of an earthquake in El Salvador that destroyed homes of relatives of members here in Kodiak. We serve as a community resource for groups and businesses reaching out to members of different cultures. We established an annual celebration of cultures during our
Crab Festival. Members perform in the arts of their country and dress in the clothes of their country. Serve the favorite foods. We like to have it in a small area so we are closer. Also, our 4th of July Parade includes floats decorated with themes of the many cultures of our community. We still have a lot of work to do, but we will continue to work to achieve the goal of trust and respect
for all people and an understanding of all points of view.


Consuelo Argueta, Interpreter for Salvadorian Community.

700 Salvadorian folks on Kodiak Island. Most do not speak English. Need more training programs. They are being left out. Being ignored for not speaking the
language. Cannery work is sometimes 16 hours a day, and folks can't get to the classes offered to learn English. Works with the courts as a court-appointed translator.


Jesse Vizcocho, City Council, Second publicly elected Filipino in Kodiak. (Kodiak Asian community is 16 percent, higher than Alaska Native percentages -- 14.5 percent Filipino)

I like the use of the word Tolerance. Some people don't like that word. They think it's a sign of a problem. I appreciate the word. I would like to share with you a definition. There are many, but Tolerance comes from an attitude that is personal. It comes from the feeling that we can change our behavior. Each
of us has the power to overcome our ignorance and fear. It begins with us. You and me. We do need to identify the problem before we can identify the solution.

Exclusion is a form of racism. We need more programs for immigrant population. It's all for Natives. I'm not complaining. We are 100 percent supportive of what is being done for Alaska Natives and we will always honor them.

Letter from Senator Austerman. Senate Bill 90 helps the needs of the immigrant population. Filipinos, Hispanics, Laotians. Are not being addressed as much as for Alaska Natives. A bill by Senator Kelly and Sen. Taylor addresses this.

Mara Kimmell asked for specific incidences of discrimination against the immigrant community. Many times immigrants don't feel comfortable coming forward because they don't speak English or they fear the Immigration Service, so please try to document specific incidents of discrimination.

Thelma Buchholdt asks What are the efforts of the Filipino-American Association to contribute time and efforts in community?

Yearly Filipino American Heritage Festival in conjunction with Filipino Independence Day Celebration, June 12. Food fair and cultural activities. Also have basketball tournaments for youth.


Roy Madsen, Human Rights Commission

Multi-cultural forum member. Also on Human Rights Commission. We are grappling with the same issues you are. We are aware of the Governor's action plan and the legislation that was introduced last session (after the paint-ball attacks). We had a meeting in Kodiak last month to discuss our part of the Action Plan. We are tasked with training.

Born not too far away from Kodiak. Went to grade school and high school. 62 of my 70 - Years. Most of my life here. Practiced law for 13 years. On the Bench for 15 and retired for 10. I am involved in many things. My father Danish. Mother half Russian, half aleut. Just about everyone I grew up with had the same background. Kodiak has always had quite a mix of people. It's always been a very tolerant place. We now have a much more diverse group than ever before. 15 different cultures, at least, here now. As Consuelo
mentioned, one of our problems has always been finding interpreters. Russian, Polish, Filipino, Korean, Laotian we really need someone who can understand legal terms. It's quite different, the court language, when you translate.

Kodiak hosted a spring meeting of the Supreme Court,s Access to Justice Task Force. We have been involved in trying to create a more open society. Create trust between the various ethnic groups.

One size doesn't fit all. What works in Kodiak may not work in other communities. We're smaller.

Thelma Buchholdt asks, is it possible the Multi-Cultural Forum could set up a meeting for a workshop on interpreter services in Kodiak?

Aurora Haviland since 1977 has served as an interpreter in Anchorage. The EEOC could pay her way down to have her train a group in Kodiak on how to work as an interpreter.

No one can really make a living as an interpreter in Kodiak. A need, but not a full time job. They have to be ready on a moment's notice. It's not easy to get someone when you need them. Often have to fly someone into smaller
communities. It may not necessarily be an issue of tolerance but it's
definitely an issue of need.

Mara Kimmel asks, what kinds of resources would the Human Rights Commission need to do a better job? We have been hearing that some cases take up to five years to resolve.

We're getting better. Not a serious problem any more. We've caught up. Issue now is trying to do more training. More responsibilities.


Monte Hawver, Director, Brother Francis Shelter

Homeless population in Kodiak varies greatly. About 100 traditional homeless, and itinerant homeless come and go with fishing economy. Could have 40 to 50 of them. Lived in Bethel and Port Lions Village around Kodiak. Lived in Kodiak since 1989. Now I work with a lot of different cultures. I have Filipina wife and Samoan resource specialist in my office.

I am proud of the fact that Kodiak is a tolerant community. We respect each other. I don,t respect all the behaviors of all the people I see such as when they are drunk. But that doesn't mean I want to hurt them either.

Federal preference in housing for the homeless is now excellent. Come a long way in Kodiak, took a non-profit to advocate for the homeless to make it happen. Still have some struggles.Couldn't get mail. They can now get their mail at the shelter and through general delivery at the Post Office. In Kodiak people used to have to have an address to ever get mail. It takes organizations to advocate for those who need help and to advocate for tolerance.

Problems with employers. Some Kodiak contractors don't pay their workers largely immigrants. Fine print in contracts says if you don't work out the whole season then you don't get paid. That has to be stopped. Fired and don't get paid a full share. Lots of different ways to cheat minorities who don't speak English very well.

Other laws. Open containers law and urinating in public. Punishment for the crime needs to be addressed. In some cases you spend more time in jail for these offenses than for a DWI, for instance. We still need to do more for the
struggling folks who are on the bottom of the pay scale and are struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. I was in Anchorage. Noticed the lack of mental health and alcohol and drug treatment centers. You only have to look at the buildings to know they are underfunded. Big disparity. No. 1 health problem is alcoholism. Something needs to be done. It all feeds the intolerance.


Pat Tabon, former School Board Member, Bi-lingual Parent Committee, Filipino

Good afternoon. Would like to thank the Governor and Commissioners for holding these hearings. 24 year resident. Three children ages 25, 24, 19. I came to this country 27 years ago. I took a US history class and I thought I was ready. I had a college degree, I could speak English, I thought. The key is communication, the key is language. Have the systems in place to teach the language. I thought I was speaking in English and people looked at me like I couldn't talk. So I studied. Came to Kodiak and started work with Pacific Seafoods, working 15 hours a day. I wanted better from myself since I had a college degree. I am an accountant-clerk. It was my dream to see Filipino-American people succeed. People don't have hope anymore. They need to work for change. We all share the same goal and objective, and that is to better ourselves. You have to have motivation and initiative. You can't expect the entire population to change for you. You have to work for change. Ask yourself, what can I do?

Thank you for coming to Kodiak.


Greg Razo, Attorney, Borough Assembly member

Lived in Kodiak since 1984. Born and raised in Mountain View and went to East High in Anchorage. Shareholder of CIRI. 2nd generation Mexican-American. First person in my family to graduate from high school and law school. I first worked as an assistant magistrate and spent some time working for Dept
of Law. Private attorney now working largely with Office of Public Advocacy. Big concern is need for interpreters. It's very difficult for people who don't speak English to understand the law. All the terms are difficult and you need a really good interpreter to explain those terms.

I can see three categories you might come across as you travel Alaska. Gender Intolerance. Domestic Violence is a big problem here.

Racial Intolerance. That's what brought you here. Generational Intolerance. Older people and younger people don't understand each other. Senior citizens need more advocates.

Member of Borough Assembly. Executive Committee of Alaska Legal Services and Alaska Pro-Bono. President of Kodiak Arts Council now. I have experience with non-profit organizations. Seems like tools are out there already that
you can use. Legal Services for poor people need the help the most. They need lawyers. Judges don't have the time to deal with people representing themselves. Alaska Legal Services Corporation gets very little state funding. It
needs more support. We are in the process of having to close down our rural offices. Kodiak used to have an office.

Alaska Pro-Bono Program - Two people, Maria Elena-Walsh and her assistant, try to convince lawyers to donate some services for free. They are successful at it but they need more help.

Get support in the villages for tribal courts. We need to start training people to deal with their justice issues at home. Governor needs to keep his eye on it. The inevitable decision from the courts is that tribal courts will happen.

Help with Village Public Safety Officer Program. Keep law enforcement well-trained. Need constables in the villages.

Juvenile justice has been overlooked. They are underfunded. They do not have the facilities to take care of the kids that come into the system. That is intolerant toward our kids. These aren't new programs. These are programs out
there that tend to get overlooked. If you want to achieve tolerance, you need to take advantage of systems you have in place.

What I feel is the most important is education. We need education funding for our kids.

Significant Immigration law issues. Not enough lawyers familiar with immigration law.


Brian Cleary, Kodiak College Education Professor

Taught for 20 years and have never had anyone behind me (referring to the room setup). Taught all grades. University level for the past 12 years. I've had a broad experience working here. Also grew up in a large family. 8 kids. We were always very tolerant everybody has their thing. I teach a class on Tolerance for all teachers who come from out of state to teach in Alaska's schools. We try to get students to look at their prejudices and biases. We all have them and we all have to deal with them. We cover racism, challenged learning. Gender bias. We look at homosexuals. Every time I teach the class I learn more about myself and each student learns, too.

I would suggest that class be taught to as many people as possible. It's in the University system and called different things but it's a great class. Teachers should also take it more than once in their career. We can learn every time.

Kodiak Youth Organization. This group of kids can give us hope. I took a group down to Honduras and worked with my brother who was a peace corp. volunteer down there in a small village. Any educational program that gets kids to form relationships with other people in different cultures you begin to break down the problem. Once you establish a relationship, the prejudices and biases go away. My biases about homosexuality were removed once I got to know
someone.We just got a $200,000 grant for forming relationships between kids in town and in villages. That will start up this year.


Mark Haglin, Old Harbor Village Public Safety Officer

Worked many years in public safety. Background as a fireman. As a village public safety officer people always ask me what I do. I tell them I'm a trained observer. Try to bring compassion to a situation and get people to work together. Community service policing is taught in two hours at the Police Academy. We need more training. We need to adopt it as a management style. We need 40 hours at least. We need a class to train village officers. I've been posted in different communities. Some are receptive. Others would like
to get rid of me.

Current programs for kids (taught to middle-school kids). This is too late. 13-year-old kids don't want to learn at this age. 5 year olds and 6 year olds respect law enforcement. By age 13 they don't. Find funding to keep schools open with programs for 16 hours a day. Computer clubs, other activities besides sports in our small communities. Not enough for kids to do in smaller villages.


Sven Haakenson, Jr. Executive Director, Alutiiq Museum of

The Alutiiq Museum is a non-profit organization that seeks to preserve the prehistoric and historic traditions of the Alutiit (plural of Alutiiq) and promote a greater public awareness of their rich cultural legacy. (a handout from the
Museum highlights that the museum was selected for the year 2000 National Award for Museum Service a prestigious honor given annually to three museums in America, and presented by the First Lady).

Going beyond racism at the museum. Several positive programs for community outreach, for cultural awareness on who the Alutiiq people are to promote pride.

Word of the Week in Alutiiq language on the radio, the web. Handout of the Word of the Week. Taya,uq: Aleut "Maamaqa taya,uq Unalaskamek taimasqaq: My mother is an Unalaska Aleut. The word Aleut has a colorful history. Aleut comes from a Siberian Native language, and it means coastal dweller a person who makes their living from the sea. Although Russian explorers recognized differences between the groups of Alaska Natives they encountered, they used this one term to describe people of different cultures. As such, groups with different languages, social practices, beliefs and histories
were called Aleut. In the modern era, this has caused confusion, as people of different heritages are known by the same designationThe word Alutiiq is itself derived from Aleut. It is the way the the Native residents of Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, Kodiak and the Alaska Peninsula say Aleut in their traditional language.

I grew up with racism issues at the University of Harvard where I went to school, in Russia and here. You can't get angry when people react negatively to your culture. Promote knowledge of native heritage by using Alutiiq words. Create
traditional crafts that people feel proud of. When I grew up we didn't have that in schools. Museum focuses on Excavations of geological sites to promote awareness. Volunteer work on the excavations. Break down the barriers by bringing them to the museum to learn of our heritage.

Other things: KANA promotes spirit camps of our traditional song and dances and the sciences. Traditional knowledge. Another camp includes Native elders.


Sister Barbara Harrington, St. Mary's Catholic Church

350 Hispanic adults among its parishioners. Speaking on behalf of the Hispanic community. (written comments provided) Reports of discrimination as told to us by folks feeling discrimination in the workplace, in State agencies, at the
Office of Immigration, and with the police and State Troopers.

Canneries - Hispanics given the hard and heavy tasks. Hispanics don't get as much work based on number system. In Cook Inlet, one of the people in charge screams to the Hispanics "stupids. People in charge know that workers from other races (besides Hispanic) usually speak more English --so they can more easily defend themselves with words. No help on insurance issues. Called names. You get penalized if you miss work, even though it was excused. The penalty is not getting to work for a day.

Translators -DMV clerk doesn't like Hispanics. Forms with no explanations.

INS stops Hispanics on the street, pretending to ask a question and then asks for ID. Harassment. Police officers call INS when Hispanic people get a traffic violation.

Thelma Buchholdt asks, is there racial profiling with other minority groups?

Doesn't know.


Valent Maxwell, Village Public Safety Officer, Port Lions (Village near Kodiak)

2.5 years. VPSOs are peace officers now. No guns. No protection. Ask any State Trooper if they would be a VPSO and they'd tell you no. There is no tolerance. There is no celebration of diversity, when people are living in fear in the villages. It is a basic public service that is not happening. Also worked on the North Slope. North Slope does offer a higher level of support for the VPSOs. 15 years with police department before coming to Alaska. Observation. Disparity of treatment between Alaska residents outside the road system. What I've seen as a public safety officer. Officers in rural settings get little or no support. Backup is scarce. We can't even defend ourselves against aggressive humans or dogs or bears. We can't perform our duties in a safe manner. Current statistics for VPSO's is two year turnover. We are alone in the village. No one to vent our frustration and fear. Office phones ring into our homes. The 2 a.m. phone call is incredibly stressful.

We have a system in place to deal with this. More support for VPSO program. We need to ensure that Alaska citizens in the villages don,t live in fear. There is fear. They need to know they can be protected. KANA is doing everything they can do. Allow VPSOs same tools that are allowed the Alaska State Troopers and Police Officers on the road system. We've got no backup. No one knows where I am when I go out on a call. Mistrust of VPSO program in the village is high. How can you trust an officer when that officer will leave. Who will
protect the people coming forward to VPSOs when the VPSOs will no longer be there after a couple of years.


Betty Walters, Superintendant of Schools.

Thought if I didn't show up here I'd hear from the Governor.

You are in one terrific island community. It starts with kids. We have to do it in school, and I think we are doing it across the curriculum. It is written into our health curriculum, but I believe our teachers are dealing with tolerance at every level of curriculum. We have a terrific staff who often speak other languages. There are 16 languages spoken here. Our teachers feel tolerance is the
most important. I'm a child of an immigrant. My dad came through Ellis Island. I grew up with all ethnic backgrounds. Coming to Kodiak was like coming home. If we focus on respect. We enroll all children that come to our doors. We educate all children. We do not question their background or where they came from. We have an English as a 2nd language class. We have 16 languages spoken in our school but not speakers of every language. Polish, Russian, Laotian, Hispanic, Vietnamese, Filipino.


Enrique Perez, Organization Latino Americana (written comments from Enrique and Victoria wasn't going to speak because he and his wife are still struggling with their English)

We come to attend this important meeting and to listen and share our points for view and what changes we can do. Two kids. One 16, one 12. Works for western Alaska fisheries. We learned that in the U.S. that all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Yet we have discrimination everywhere. In the grocery stores, in the school, in our jobs and in the restaurants. People have bad manners because they say they can't
understand our English.

Reviving the Mexican community organization. Not very many Mexicans here. We have more central Americans here. Trying to get our organization together but only about 100 Mexicans. We plan to get cultural events organized. Just
wanted to let you know we are around.


Clarence Selig

The Goal of the Multi-cultural Forum is acceptance and understanding. We have to trust. That's the key word. There's a song, Getting to know you. Once the trust is there you can bring around understanding and growth. How are we
perceived? I'm Native. We have a box store here in town now and I'm hearing lots of stories. People need to come forward but they are afraid. I grew up in Kodiak and I don't remember ever knowing about discrimination. As a kid you just had to run faster, jump higher, etc. We in Kodiak do rally around people in our community. I'm learning a lot on the Multicultural Forum. We just had a fundraiser for the El Salvador earthquake victims. We have potlatches. Some people don't even know what that is, but it's a gathering. All people have different gatherings. Self-determination is important. If you are motivated and understood, you want to reach out and help others.


Gabrielle LaDoux, Mayor of Kodiak Island Borough

Lived in Kodiak for 22 years. Basically I just came to listen and learn. I didn't come to talk really. What I've learned most is about the rural/urban divide. In hearing people talk about trust and understanding. One small step that would work is an exchange program. Have students go for a semester or a year to a rural village. We send students to other countries, but not to our own communities.



More from the Notes:


Tolerance Commission Mission Statement:

  1. Listen to people's experiences;
  2. solicit ideas for combating intolerance; and
  3. turn those ideas into specific proposals.

The Tolerance Commission is not an investigative body and cannot track down individual concerns you may have, but your experience may be part of a pattern of discrimination that can be reported to the Governor.

A report with recommendations for change will be submitted to the Governor by November 30th, so he can review it for potential legislation and/or budgetary action for the Legislative session in January. However, recommendations are
not limited to actions by the Governor or the Legislature.


How can I contact the Tolerance Commission?


For additional information, interpreter services or other
accommodations, please call Diana Rhoades at (907) 269-8122
or email

Written comments may be mailed to:

Commission on Tolerance
Office of the Governor
550 W. 7th, Suite 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501.

Written comments may be faxed to Commission on Tolerance at
(907) 269-7461.


Definition of Tolerance:

Definitions from Webster's dictionary include: "Freedom from bigotry or prejudice. To tolerate is to recognize and respect others' beliefs, practices, etc."


Source of Summary of Testimony: Tolerance Commission - Staff Meeting Notes, August 2, 2001


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