At the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention on Friday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski kept her speech focused on Alaska Native heroes. While Sullivan mostly discussed military veterans, Murkowski emphasized civic and cultural leaders.
She reeled off scores of names — Sidney Huntington, John Baker, Poldine Carlo, Georgianna Lincoln, Rosita Worl, among others. Murkowski recognized leaders in community health, suicide prevention, education, engineering and business, and one pair of exemplary parents.
“These are heroes, each and every day making a difference,” the senator said. “One person, making a difference. One person saying, ‘I can do something to change the direction.’”
Murkowski also endorsed a passionate cause permeating this year’s convention: “My list of heroes includes friends in the Interior and across the state who seek justice for the Fairbanks Four. We will continue with that.”
During her speech, a dozen or so demonstrators came in, some in animal costumes. They held subsistence- and climate-related signs, like “Don’t roll the dice with my ice” and “Ichthyophonus is upon us.” (That’s a fish parasite.) They told reporters they were protesting the senator’s support of Arctic drilling.
Murkowski did highlight some of her work in the Senate, including a provision in an education bill that would require school districts and the state to let Native communities weigh in on what and how their children are taught.
Murkowski also spoke of her support of a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act. Last month, she was the first Republican to co-sponsor the Senate bill. According to the congressional bill database, she’s still the only one.
KBBI reporter Daysha Eaton contributed to this story.