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KNBA News - Fairbanks Four supporters protest; Senator Dan Sullivan speaks at AFN

By Daysha Eaton, KBBI - Anchorage


Fairbanks Four supporters protested during Governor Bill Walker’s address to the crowds at opening day at AFN. The protest began about a third of the way through Governor Bill Walker’s address to the crowd, just as the Governor addressed the Fairbanks Four issue. 


“Please don’t hold back any of your passion or frustration with me as a result of that, you’re entitled to that. Because of what you have done, your passion they are in trial today, they are in court today. So I fully understand that,” said Walker. 


KNBA journalist, Joaqlin Estus described the scene as she hosted a live broadcast of the event.


“So a crowd of people are holding up a sign that says, “Justice Fairbanks Four” and they’re holding their hands up in the air,” said Estus


As protests go, it was polite. Protestors occasionally shouted, “Free the Four!” but mostly stood holding four fingers up to represent the four men at the center of the murder case that’s being reexamined by the courts right now. 

Panganga Pungowiyi from Nome and originally from Savoonga, joined the protest to free the Fairbanks Four during Governor Bill Walker's address to crowds at 2015 AFN at the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage.

After the Governor’s talk, the AFN board and delegates came to the stage and asked the audience to stand together raising four fingers for the Fairbanks Four. As protestors erupted, AFN Co-chair Anna Hoffman from Bethel, requested that the Governor deliver justice on the issue.


  “Governor Walker … We have on behalf of the Board of Directors and all of the delegation here, we have a very important message for you: Free the Fairbanks Four!” said Hoffman.


The delegates to the convention stood up raising their hands and the crowd shouted, “No more four! No more four!”


The Alaska Federation of Natives Convention runs through Saturday in Anchorage.


By Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC


At its convention last year, AFN endorsed Dan Sullivan’s opponent in a tense campaign. Senator Sullivan today addressed the audience as their junior U.S. senator. APRN’s Liz Ruskin reports.

Sullivan focused his speech on one of his political strengths: military issues, more specifically, veterans.

Senator Dan Sullivan

  “We have in this room, we have a room full of heroes. We have state full of heroes. We have a country full of heroes,” said Sullivan.

It was right in line with the convention them: Heroes in our Homeland. Sullivan mentioned that he’s a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Reserves and just finished five days of Reserve duty. But he used much of his speech to highlight the military service of Alaska Natives.

“Let me say that again. Think about that: Alaska Natives serve at higher rates than any other ethnic group in our military … yeah, that deserves another round of applause, doesn’t it?” said Sullivan

He named a few Native leaders who are vets -- Bill Thomas, Emil Notti. Oliver Leavitt, Walter Soboleff, both junior and senior. Some, Sullivan said, came home to racial discrimination and lack of opportunity.

“No matter how poorly you were treated by your government, when you were called to serve, you did it. That is a special kind of patriotism,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan says he wants to re-established National Guard units in rural Alaska, a goal he shares with Gov. Bill Walker, but the senator warns it will be a long, tough fight.

He drew applause when he spoke of a bill he sponsored to allow Native vets of the Vietnam era to apply for 160-acre allotments.  Alaska delegation to Congress has argued for years that many vets missed the deadline for applying in 1971 because they were serving their country. Sullivan told the convention he testified for the bill at a Senate hearing.

“But what’s a little bit disturbing to me is the Obama Administration is opposed to my bill, saying that it’s not equitable, not fair,” said Sullivan.

The administration also objects because the bill would allow claims on National forests and wildlife refuges.