By Tom Lukish
From its western banks along the Bering Strait to its eastern border with the Yukon Territory, Alaska encompasses a large terrain colloquially known as “The Last Frontier.” A home for some 735,000, and a vacation destination for many more, America’s northernmost state perhaps likely comprises the only world several Yup’ik- and Gwich’in-speaking villagers have ever known. Indeed, many in Alaska’s southwest region, “still depend upon subsistence fishing, hunting and gathering for food.” For them, and for advocates nationwide of a more expansive Voting Rights Act (VRA), there is tremendous hope for the future. 3,770 miles from the pertinent jurisdiction in last year’s Shelby County v. Holder and nearly fifty years after the initial passing of the VRA, Alaska Natives present a new sort of story.
In certain parts of Alaska, such as those which encompass the Wade Hampton Census Area, American Indians and Alaska Natives amount to approximately 92% of the total population. Perhaps realizing the cultural influence such individuals maintain, organizations like the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) have made efforts to assist natives as they seek increased political efficacy in the Land of the Midnight Sun. [Read more…] about Speaking Their Language: How Appreciation for Culture Will Lead to Participation in Politics