SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


KIC Election: Proposition 1
By Kathleen Yarr Svenson


January 22, 2008
Tuesday PM

Dear Editor,

KIC Tribal Members: Have you ever been told you re deactivated when you ve attempted to access medical services at the KIC Clinic? It gets worse. You may find yourself disenrolled entirely from KIC-- without your knowledge nor your consent.

How could this happen? If Proposition 1 on the January 21st Election Ballot passes you could be disenrolled if you leave Rivillagigedo Island. Therefore, vote no on Proposition 1!

Proposition 1, as written, exempts college students and the military from disenrollment for absence, but what about people who must leave for medical to Anchorage or Sitka? Or to care for an elder up North? Or to do time at Lemon Creek? Well, they could be disenrolled.

Under this Propostion 1, accepting temporary employment out-of-town could get you disenrolled too. Even living on Gravina or in Loring could get you disenrolled. As written Propositon 1 is a very dangerous proposition. Why? Because if you leave and want to reenroll upon your return, you must submit your application to an Enrollment Committee. That Enrollment Committee could turn your application down.

Because KIC receives federal funding they are prohibited from discriminating against their own tribal members based on their tribal affiliations. But Merle Hawkins, who is running for tribal president, wrote in a letter to the editor in the Ketchikan Daily News and on KRBD, The purpose (of the Proposition) is to use federal funding that the tribe receives for our Tlingit, Haida and Tsimpsean lineal descendants. We would narrow the eligibility criteria so only our people could apply for enrollment. This is how you could lose your tribal membership. And even if you re Tlingit, Haida or Tsimpsean, there is not guarantee in this proposition you ll get back on the KIC rolls. It depends upon the Enrollment Committee.

The KIC Tribal Council needs a paradigm shift. Rather than eliminating their own people to conserve dollars and services, KIC needs to launch a timely educational campaign to convince tribal members to self-identify as Native on the U.S. Census. According to Charlene Starkweather, Tribal Enrollment Officer, the US Census is what KIC s funding is based on.

The last U.S. Census showed Ketchikan as having an 8% Native population. KIC s tribal census last year and a wildlife harvest survey in 2006, more accurately pegged Ketchikan s Native population at 25%. Also, many grants KIC applies for are based on the number of people on the tribal rolls not on tribal members addresses.

Also, I looked at the base rolls, and there are people from many different tribes listed there: Eskimos, Aleuts, Tillamooks, Chippewas. Not just Tlingits, Haidas, and Tsimpsheans. These have always been the people KIC has represented.

For my family, Aleuts who were forceably relocated to Ward Lake by the US government during WWII,KIC is all they have.

To increase funding, KIC could apply for more grants since KIC makes money from the grants indirect rates. They could revive Economic Development. There are many better ways to solve this problem than eliminating their own people from their rolls. How does that further KIC's mission of improving the quality of life for Native people?

Please vote No on the Enrollment Ordinance on January 21st. Norman Arriola, who is running for tribal council and president, opposes Proposition 1, as does Sam Bergeron, but you will have to write Sam Bergeron's name in.

Thank-you for your time and attention.

Kathleen Yarr Svenson
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Kathleen has worked for KIC in the Social Services and Housing Departments off and on over the last 20 years. Her family is Aleut."

Received January 19, 2008 - Published January 22, 2008


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