Issues

Alaska Natives

Alaska Natives deserve a full congressional delegation working on behalf of their interests.  One-third of rural Alaska villages lack law enforcement.  This presents a serious challenge, as sexual assault rates in Alaska are four times the national average and Alaska Native women are victims of domestic violence more than twice as often as other victims.  That’s why two-thirds of Alaska’s congressional delegation – Senator Lisa Murkowski and Representative Don Young – have worked to improve criminal enforcement by giving Native villages jurisdiction over everyone in their village, including non-Natives, for crimes of domestic and sexual violence, crimes against children, drug and alcohol violations, and assault of law enforcement or corrections officers.  In the Senate, I will join them in co-sponsoring the Alaska Tribal Public Safety Empowerment Act and will work to get it enacted into law.

Subsistence fishing and hunting provide a large share of the food consumed in rural Alaska.  In fact, nowhere else in the country is there a heavier reliance upon wild foods.  Alaska Natives have relied upon the traditional harvest of wild foods for thousands of years and have passed this way of life, its culture, and values down through generations.  The Federal Subsistence Management Program is a multi-agency effort that seeks to provide the opportunity for a subsistence way of life by rural Alaskans on Federal public lands and waters while maintaining healthy populations of fish and wildlife.  But several decades of joint federal-state management of subsistence issues has failed adequately to protect the rights of Alaska Natives.  I will fight in the Senate to safeguard subsistence rights, including game management, and will protect Alaska Native lands and resources. I will also use my position as a Senator to call for an amendment to the Alaska state constitution to allow for subsistence protections on non-federal lands.

Most of all, we need to invest in rural infrastructure.  Water and sanitation are even more important in the age of COVID-19. However, for Alaska’s rural residents, these are not often available.  Over 5,000 rural homes in Alaska are considered “unserved.”  I will work to secure funding to improve rural Alaska’s water and sewer systems.