3rd Tolerance Commission Hearing Held in Kodiak
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.
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:
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
For additional information,
interpreter services or other
Written comments may be mailed to:
Written comments may be faxed
to Commission on Tolerance at
Source of Summary of Testimony: Tolerance Commission - Staff Meeting Notes, August 2, 2001