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KNBA News - Pres. Obama places high priority on Alaska Native issues during visit to Alaska

Climate change, Alaska Native issues high profile during President Obama visit to Alaska

Alaska Native issues will be the subject of high-level international attention during President Obama’s three-day visit to Alaska that begins today [Monday]. The president has scheduled a listening session with Alaska Native leaders today to discuss climate change, and economic issues. He’s expected to announce a new initiative to help dozens of Native communities facing destruction by erosion and flooding due to the effects of climate change.

President Obama will visit two predominantly Alaska Native communities off the road system. Dillingham is 53% Yup’ik, and Kotzebue is 72 percent Inupiat. In Kotzebue, he’ll become the first sitting president to set foot in the Arctic. During a trip to Seward, he’ll view the Exit Glacier, which has retreated more than a mile in the past 100 years.

In recent days, the Obama administration has announced several initiatives to support Native interests in housing, youth leadership, and science education. Sunday, the Obama administration announced $375-thousand dollars in new funding for intertribal fish commissions for the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers.

Mt. McKinley to return to Koyukon Athabascan name “Denali”

By Liz Ruskin, APRN

The White House says President Obama will announce a new official name for North America’s tallest mountain. The Alaskan peak known as Mt. McKinley since the late 19th century will now be called “Denali.”

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said this weekend that, with Obama’s endorsement, she’s issued an order to rename the mountain Denali, its traditional Koyukon Athabaskan name. Alaskans have been pressing for that change for more than 40 years but they’ve always been blocked by Congress members from Ohio, birthplace of President William McKinley. The announcement is one of several Alaska-specific initiatives Obama is expected to unveil over the next three days as he travels the state to draw attention to the effects of climate change. Researchers say the Arctic is warming faster than any other place on earth.


Hundreds of Washington, DC top officials, dignitaries from around the world visit Alaska

Top level Obama administration officials also visiting Alaska include Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell. About 400 delegates from other nations are expected to attend the State Department’s Global Leadership in the Arctic conference where President Obama will be giving a speech tonight [Monday]. The conference goal is to raise issues facing the Arctic and provide foreign ministers and residents a way to address climate challenges.

In addition to the seven other Arctic nations of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden, hundreds of representatives of non-Arctic nations are expected to attend, including China, France, Germany, Japan, and Singapore.

Speaking Sunday in Anchorage, Alaska, Secretary of State John Kerry says scientists are overwhelmingly unified in the conclusion that humans are contributing to global climate change and that steps must be taken to reduce the carbon in the atmosphere.


President unable to attend Native welcome party

In a prepared statement, Alaska Federation of Natives president Julie Kitka said the president will not be able to attend an AFN welcome party scheduled for tonight, but praised the Obama administration for welcoming Native input and ideas. With two dozen other organizations, AFN has invited the public to an event at the Alaska Airlines stadium at the University of Alaska Anchorage. That’s tonight [Monday] from 6:30 to 9:30 with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.