Inupiat values are Alaska values - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, October 26, 2021
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Inupiat values are Alaska values

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Last December my husband chose to hold his inauguration in my home village of Noorvik because it expressed our deep respect and love for the people of rural Alaska. I will forever be grateful to the people of my home village, the people of Kotzebue and the all the people of the Northwest Arctic region for hosting the Governor, Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, our families and all who attended that amazing, historic event as guests and received the tremendous hospitality and kindness our people are known for.

The event was held at a school named after my late father, Robert Aqqaluk Newlin, Sr. My father was the first chairman of the NANA board of directors and a former mayor of Noorvik. Our family is honored that his portrait and a quotation of his, highlighting the importance of hard work, hangs in the school. That quotation and its location in the school illustrate two very important values that our people and the Native people of Alaska share: the value of education and the value of hard work.

Those are the same values I share with my husband and rural residents because those values are important to have if Alaska is going to to attract new businesses and investment.

Critics have called the Governor’s proposed budget unfair to rural Alaska. Would you like to know what is really unfair to rural Alaska? Previous state budgets that used up $14 billion in reserves and employed budgetary smoke and mirror tactics to avoid making the tough choices that we now must make.

As the first chairman of the board of the for-profit regional corporation for the Northwest Arctic, my father committed to the mission of NANA, to provide economic opportunities for the more than 14,300 Inupiat shareholders and to protect and enhance NANA lands.

Since its earliest days NANA has done just that, creating a profit for the corporation and the people through the development of businesses from construction, to hotels and apartments, to fuel sales and mining.

And we have done so while preserving and protecting our lands and our traditional way of life. I am proud that for 17 years my father helped lead NANA to become both a successful business and a guardian of our culture.

In the 1980s, the Robert Aqqaluk Newlin, Sr. Memorial Trust was founded by NANA to help provide shareholders with university scholarships and vocational training and to help preserve our cultural values and way of life. Even after his death, my father’s legacy remains to promote education and hard work.

NANA is not alone in its success. We and other Native peoples throughout Alaska have taken our traditional values and used them to develop successful businesses throughout this great state and to partner with others.

I’d like to mention a few more of those values. You may have seen posters of the 12 traditional Inupiat values, but I’d like to touch on just a few that I believe we all share in common and that are the foundation of the beliefs that have guided me all my life and that guide my husband in his work.

Inupiat values include:

  • Avoidance of Conflict – we are encouraged to try not to argue or fight. I think you can see the benefit that value can bring to business and government!
  • Humility – to not be boastful;
  • Spirituality – reliance on our individual beliefs about God or the Creator;
  • Cooperation – willingly working together,
  • Compassion – understanding, kindness and love for others.
  • Above all we value Respect, for elders, for nature, for each other, for family,
  • And we value Humor and the ability to laugh at something without hurting anyone.

These values are what have allowed us to build success for ourselves, for each other and for the state. And I believe they are the values that both the success of good business and the success of good government are based.

Governor Dunleavy has pledged that Alaska is Open for Business and, he has pledged to Alaskans living in rural villages throughout our state that they will not be forgotten.

Our state and all our people throughout Alaska are ready, able and willing to work hard, to receive the training and education needed to succeed in the jobs that are provided, and to do so while respecting our land and our environment.

We all know the dignity and the self-respect that jobs provide. We know that social problems and family problems are made better when people’s economic needs are met and when people have the self-respect and self-determination that good jobs provide.

In his State-of-the-State address my husband noted a staggering statistic.

While our country has been adding jobs, Alaska’s economy has remained stagnant, in fact, Alaska has the worst unemployment in the nation.

He said, “There are no circumstances where that statistic is acceptable,” and he pledged that Alaska can and will do better.

If we all work together that pledge will be realized.

It is my hope and my prayer that in these next four years, as we grow Alaska’s business sector, and as we live our lives in service to all people in this state, that the future generations of Alaskans will count us, our lives, and our work as worthy.

First Lady Rose Dunleavy is from Noorvik but currently resides in Juneau.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • This wonderful piece by the First Lady was initially published in ADN and drew very ugly and mean spirited comments. That newspaper seems to attract mostly liberal readers and subscribers. The comments found there were certainly not representative of what a majority of Alaskans think.
    The First Lady’s remarks were spot on and expressed the feeling we all should have.
    My sincere thanks to her for the courage in submitting them.

    • You are correct about the ADN subscriber base, which is why it didn’t change under the Binkelys’ ownership. They are not leftist but their customers are. Most conservatives stopped contributing to the delinquency of the ADN before current ownership. Modifying the content to appeal more to the center-right would lose subscribers that might not be offset by new (or former) ones.

      Business decision calculation: a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.

    • I’m not so sure the paper attracts mostly liberal readers. There’s a hard core group of leftist kooks who comment regularly. They are a very small sample of the general readership.

      • I agree about the commentariat. The readership may be diverse, but only because so many have few other sources of statewide information (like me – and I refuse to pay attention to KTUU…). The ADN spins left to please the majority of their readership, promote left values, and elect leftist candidates – how else do you explain Ethan Berkowitz getting elected to anything? Many don’t comment because of: time; and/or the contempt they receive from the leftist commontatoes… Ryan Binckley polled readers and then kept his lefty authors after the result – which just shoed that more on the right refuse to answer polls…

  • FINALLY: Of course it would draw mean spirited comments. The First Lady lays out 7 bullet points of values ~ positive and encouraging words of kindness and BAM, she will get pounced on. I’m sure she expected it. It may just show up in this column as well. She is a tough woman (just guessing!) and she shows grace. I have read some vile things about her and Sen. Sullivan’s wife that have made me blush, and that isn’t easy ~ all from the left. Apparently, they feel these fine ladies are sell-outs to the natives and not just couples that fell in love like anyone else. Isn’t that ironic? How inclusive…. Thank you for these wonderful words, Rose.

    • That sort of ugliness isn’t an island unto itself, believe me. My little princess has been dismissed as a “white girl” by folks on her mother’s side since the day she was born. I’m quite certain that’s not the only such occurrence in our history.

  • Kudos to the First Lady of Alaska for writing the piece and expressing Alaskan/Alaska Native (Inupiat et al) values. Some of the readers and commenters of the daily should reread it and adopt those values. Thank you Rose Dunleavy.

  • Rose Dunleavy you are beautiful! Thank you. Now you know how NASTY the angry Democrats are.

  • I’ve not met the First Lady personally and am of a different culture; predominately Scottish and Italian. But I recognize these values as the same ones I subscribe to and hopefully modeled to my family. We would do well as a State, a Nation, even a Community to subscribe to these values as we work through what are trying times. I would add to the first Lady’s list Civility, as this weekend at townhalls in my area, there was a certain absence of civility.

    • Rex, that’s the Lefties and bent out Democrats rattling off because they lost. Nationally and in Alaska. They want a fight and we’re here to give them one. Mark my words.

  • First Lady Rose Dunleavy gave a very similar speech on Friday night a the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club annual Lincoln Day Dinner. She, along with Julie Sullivan, both spoke of the shared values we all have and how growing up in rural Alaska those values were very much a part of their lives. It was wonderful to understand what these two women share, along with their husbands being in politics. Great ladies and represent the state of Alaska well.

  • Ted, and I would like to add that our “fight” will be one of civility, facts and rational thought. Ideas that make sense. Their fight will be filled with threats, pitchforks, torches, screaming, cursing, name-calling (racist, misogynist, Islamaphobe, anti this, anti that, etc., etc.) and personal appearance name-calling (white pigs, fat f***, b*…,red necks) and many others – you know the narrative. We can’t give in to them. We must keep moving forward.

    • Folks, the one thing that drives Alaska’s rural cultures crazy is expression of contempt – directly in violation of the value of respect. We have a wonderful opportunity to build peace and civility and trust – IF we listen. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Bless you Rose, and thanks.

      • Well-stated, Rich.

  • Man maintains dignity through work and self sacrifice. When we give to people all the time we eventually destroy their dignity. The Democrats have mastered taking dignity away from man since President Johnson. As long as man is a member of the government’s plantation they will vote for their own ruination.

    • Amen Daniel.

  • Rose Dunleavey. Extraordinary first lady of Alaska. Beautiful family. You make us proud to be Alaskans and we will stand beside you.

  • Rose, our family appreciates your husband, his determination to keep his promises and do what is best for Alaska. After reading your comments, we truly appreciate you and your heritage! What a blessing to have your family living in the governor’s mansion. I believe we have a true statesman in the White House and one here in Alaska. You are in our prayers as you seek to make Alaska great again. The best is yet to come. With God’s blessing and hard work, we can move forward. Truth wins. It may take time, but truth wins!

  • Thank you to the first Lady of Alaska! But, if all believed in your words, we wouldn’t need the legislature. Life would be very simple…and its not and never will be.

  • Thank you First Lady. You are lovely.

  • I’m proud to say the words: Rose Dunleavy. First Lady of Alaska.

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