October is Filipino American History Month. When the Sitka Assembly met on Tuesday (10-25-22), the group issued a resolution acknowledging the month. It was first designated by the United States Congress in 2009, and the state of Alaska followed suit.

Assembly Member Crystal Duncan did a little digging and found that it hadn’t been officially recognized by Sitka’s local government. She co-sponsored the resolution to affirm it locally with Mayor Steven Eisenbeisz. But before they brought the resolution to the table, they sought some help creating it. 

“I’ve stated publicly, nothing about us without us is for us,” Duncan said. “And so for me, tonight, I was acting as an ally. So as we drafted it, of course, Steven and I, we don’t come from this community. And so we wanted to make sure that we worked in partnership with folks who did represent and could review, edit, make recommendations.”

Duncan worked with local pastor Benny Grace Nabua to develop the language in the proclamation. Nabua thanked the assembly for the recognition. 

“I am very joyful to hear about this resolution. In our culture, we can’t lift our own chairs,” Nabua said to the assembly. “And so even if we believe that this is something that is very, very important to our people, we can even lift a finger, you know, to do something about it, so thank you Crystal and Mayor Eisenbeisz for this effort.”

“And it’s not just a recognition, but the intentional recognition that this is something that is very important for our youth to acknowledge,” Nabua continued. “That they do not have to blend in. That they that they can actually stand out as a people.” 

While the resolution was widely supported at the assembly table, one member of the public, Kim Elliot, questioned whether it was divisive.

“I just want you to know that I have no problem with this particular thing,” Elliot said. “It’s just another one of those things that seems to separate us, when we should be united.” 

But assembly member Kevin Mosher disagreed. 

“I don’t see this as being a divisive thing,” he said. “We are Americans and citizens. And this is just a way of valuing the special, unique aspects of different communities.” 

It’s part of the city’s strategic plan to improve its communication with the community and foster relationships and improve services with underrepresented groups and populations within Sitka. And Duncan said the resolution was one action the assembly could take toward that goal.

“I felt that this was one way that we could establish that that’s something that we do want to work on,” she said. “I hope if anything, the Filipino community can read this, knowing that we do see you, we appreciate you. And moving forward, this will become a staple recognition, just like some of the other things that we’ve recognized throughout the year.”

The resolution proclaiming October as Filipino American History Month passed unanimously.