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9/5/14 KNBA News - Report shows Alaska National Guard mishandled sexual assault, other complaints

A scathing report into allegations of sexual assault in the Alaska National Guard finds victims lack confidence in leadership, and fear retaliation for reporting misconduct. At Governor Sean Parnell's request in February, the National Guard Bureau Office of Complex Investigations reviewed documents going back several years and interviewed hundreds of guard members. Investigators found the Guard lacked standard procedures for handling complaints about sexual assault, misconduct, and hostile work environments. Their report also describes actual and perceived favoritism, breaches of confidentiality, and instances of fraud.

Governor Sean Parnell told reporters Thursday he had requested and received the immediate resignation of Alaska National Guard Adjutant General Thomas Katkus. Parnell said he had repeatedly been told by the Guard that cases, like those involving alleged sexual assault, were being handed over to civil law enforcement. But he said the complaints kept surfacing. Parnell said he was angry it had taken several years to get to the bottom of concerns.

Last October, two military chaplains said they had talked with Parnell in the Fall of 2010 about sexual assault problems in the Guard, but they said the complaints were not taken seriously. Beginning in 2012, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich, and state Senators Fred Dyson of Eagle River and Hollis French of Anchorage, had also urged Parnell to investigate reports of misconduct.


Plaintiffs "very pleased" with ruling in voting rights case over translation of election materials into Alaska Native languages

Plaintiffs in a voting rights lawsuit are reacting to news that a federal court judge has ruled in their favor. Judge Sharon Gleason said the state failed to provide translations for people whose primary language is Yup'ik or Gwitchin Athabascan. Benjamin Nakoosik is tribal chief  for the Native Village of Hooper Bay, a plaintiff in the case. He said he was "very pleased" with the ruling. He says the people of the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta want to know what they're voting on, and Elders, in particular, are articulate and precise in discussions about matters affecting their people. Native American Rights Fund attorney Natalie Landreth says the changes are long overdue. The judge has directed the state to come up with proposed remedies by Friday, to be put into effect in time for the November elections. The judge has not yet ruled on charges the state intentionally violated voting rights on the basis of race or color. 


Annenberg Foundation buys, donates Southeast Alaska art object to Southeast institute

The Annenberg Foundation has donated Alaska Native artwork to the Sealaska Heritage Institute. Foundation representatives successfully bid on the carved and painted wood panel at a Paris auction house last December, along with 25 Hopi and Apache items. The Institute plans to reach out to southeast Alaska clans to try to determine the panel's rightful home.

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