Bob Sam is running for re-election for a seat on the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal Council. STA’s Tribal Council election is Tuesday, November 10. (KCAW Photo)

The following is a statement from a candidate running for one of four open seats on the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal Council. All candidates have been offered the opportunity to record a statement.

Good morning. My name is Bob Sam. I’m currently running for Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal Council. I am very honored to have served on the Council for a number of years now, and really hold Sitka Tribe in the highest honor.

I’ve been very impressed with the direction Sitka Tribe has gone in regards to the COVID and the pandemic. They’ve really been on the forefront of services to Tribal Citizens in ensuring that they get their needs met. I really feel that we need some consistency so that we can continue to make the hard decisions that we have been faced with.

I’m currently on the Sitka Historic Preservation Commission, representing Sitka Tribe. I’m the Vice President of Historic Preservation. I’ve been able to bring issues to the table — for instance, rezoning of cemeteries in Sitka. Many of the cemeteries haven’t been addressed. There are currently 18 major cemeteries in Sitka and three of them have management of a board and are in excellent condition, but the remaining 15 are forgotten and neglected, and in the process of being restored. That’s something I’ve been able to do.

I’m also on the enrollment committee of Sitka Tribe, and we have been very active in updating our enrollment records and making sure that all our Tribal Citizens’ needs are met in regards to enrollment. 

I’m also on the University of Alaska Advisory Committee, and we’ve been very active with the preservation of the university in Sitka. I’m very impressed with UAS in their including Native classes and instructors and master artists, and serving the community of Sitka, so I’m very proud of that committee.

I’ve also been very active with other issues as well. I’m on a working group with the state of Alaska to upgrade their policies and procedures on how they work with Native groups in regards to sacred sites and cemeteries in Alaska.

I’m also on other working groups where, to bring human remains back from boarding schools and sanitariums across the country. This kind of work is work that very few people do, and very few people know this kind of work is going on. But I feel it’s very essential that we address funerary issues. Because this is a very unusual time we are living in. So it’s important to upgrade our cemeteries for this reason. 

With the pandemic that’s going on, there was a need to make more room in our local cemeteries, just in case the numbers go up and we lose a lot of people. But my hope and my prayer is to keep the curve low and protect our Tribal Citizens and the community at large on what we can do during this very difficult time to keep the curve low. Thank you. 

Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Tribal Council election is Tuesday, November 10. Find election and candidate information here.