Sonya Smith is one of five candidates on the ballot for four seats on the Tribal Council of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. Also running are Nancy Douglas, Lillian Feldpausch, Michael Miller and Robert Sam. A sixth person, incumbent Harvey Kitka, is also running as a write-in candidate. Sitka Tribe of Alaska holds an election Tuesday, November 13.
My English name is Sonya Smith and my Tlingit name is ShoolNik. I have been involved with Youth Advocates of Sitka. I’m a mental aide there for the state. And I have had a lot of advocacy experience through the certified nursing assistant occupation. A lot of my work has always centered around advocacy.
I don’t necessarily have college education but I feel that I’ve always maintained an excellent background in staying involved in what the primary issues have been socially, culturally, tribally. And I’ve never served in the tribal council before but I think I need to be more involved and I think the tribal council is one way that I could actually be more involved with what I’d like to see in the community.
But my emphasis would be in what our sovereign rights need to be and what that could look like versus where we’re at right now. There seems to be a disconnect and I’ve noticed it more and more. We’re being watered down, I guess there’s no other way of saying it. This is who were are and it would just be a beautiful accomplishment if we could see more of that, hear more about that here in Sitka.
I come from such from such a beautiful cultural and rich heritage and to not talk about it I think is a great disservice. And so, for the tribal council, I feel like that would be an added component: How we can establish ourselves on a more sovereign level. This is that sovereignty. This is what makes us unique. I can look for ways to reintroduce some of those concepts from a tribal heritage standpoint, not just institutionally or educationally-rounded but has more to do with the historical aspects of why we need this, why we need this to be a part of our educational identity.
And these are the challenges. These are the things that make people uncomfortable. I’ve seen it, I’ve been a part of these discussions. Tribally, I think that we can take on that challenge and do something with that challenge.
Sonya Smith is running for Tribal Council of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.
Sitka Tribe of Alaska holds an election Tuesday, November 13, at the Sheet’k Kwaan Naa Kahidi. Absentee ballots can be cast 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays October 30 to November 12. Tribal ID card is required. Four council seats and the council chairmanship are on the ballot. Those with questions can call Rose Demmert at 738-5450.