Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Are "rural" and "Alaska native" synonymous in Alaska?

This story from the Associated Press, as picked up on Google News, suggests they are. The headline is "Palin's rural advisor quits," but the story suggests that the so-called "rural advisor" advises primarily (or only) regarding Alaska Native issues. Twenty percent of the state's residents are Alaska natives.

The article does not describe the portfolio for the rural advisor, but here's an excerpt from the story which suggests a close link between the role and Native Alaska issues. (Perhaps a vast majority of Alaska's rural population are natives?) Rhoda McBride, formerly a journalist who covered rural issues, is the person who has just resigned from the position, saying that Palin's administration needs more Native voices. Here's an excerpt from the AP story.

Many Alaska Natives have said they felt neglected when Palin, now the Republican vice presidential nominee, made appointments to her administration, including the rural adviser post.

State Sen. Al Kookesh, a Democrat, said Palin left the position unfilled her first year in office and ignored Native leaders' suggestions on the selection process.

"We were really disappointed when an Alaska Native wasn't appointed," said Kookesh, a Tlingit Indian who held the job in a previous administration.

Natives bristled early in Palin's administration when she named a white woman to a game board seat held by a Native for more than 25 years. An Athabascan Indian eventually was named to the post after protests.

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