2020 TOURIST SEASON – The 285-foot super yacht Lonian is tied up at the Old Sitka Dock Friday while its support vessel, the 217-foot Hoder equipped with a helicopter and ROV, is seen anchored in the distance. The 14-passender Lonian, which was launched in 2019, is owned by billionaire Lorenzo Fertitta, former owner of UFC. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

July 13, 2020, Letters to the Editor

Native Rights

Dear Editor: The tyranny of the majority is an inherent weakness to majority rule in which the majority of an electorate pursues exclusively its own interests at the expense of those in the minority. This results in oppression of minority groups comparable to that of a tyrant or despot, argued John Stuart Mill in his 1859 book On Liberty.

The tyranny of the majority is any decision “which bases its claim to rule upon numbers, not upon rightness or excellence,” Alexis de Toqueville.

“The U.S. Constitution, without the Bill of Rights, is a perfect documents for the tyranny of the majority,” James Madison.

Voting is going to be small comfort to a minority whose fundamental rights have been and continue to be trampled on by an abusive majority. That this is the case in Sitka is indisputable. Native Americans and Alaska Natives have been denied the same voting rights as the white majority for over 200 years. In 1915, the Alaska Territorial Legislature recognized the right of Indigenous people to vote if: Alaska Natives met seven requirements, three of which being: (1) applicants obtain endorsements from five white men, (2) pass an English literacy test, and (3) “sever all tribal relationships and adopt the habits of a civilized life (genocide).” Barriers to voter access for Native Americans persist today, and such barriers range from (but not limited to) obstructing voter access, to vote dilution, literacy tests, intimidation, and malapportionment of electoral districts. H.R.1694 - Native American Voting Rights Act of 2019 was passed just last year to address these persistent barriers.

There are still people alive today in Sitka who lived here when there were “No Dogs and No Indians” signs in downtown Sitka. In the 1990s Lingit, Native American and Black students were regularly taunted with racial epithets by their fellow students at school. Protests by local tribal members to the Sitka School District administration were dismissed and ignored. The racists and complicitors with regard to this hateful behavior are still living here in Sitka today.

The Baranof Statue is a monument glorifying this past and present racist, genocidal oppression. And, now, after over 200 years of subjugation and the reduction of a former majority to a small minority, the All-Euro-American Sitka Assembly is considering a proposal for a public vote on the removal of yet another racist taunt. It’s no longer muskets and cannons. It is much more nuanced than that. A vote on fundamental rights is a perfect example of the tyranny of the majority. It’s lipstick on a pig. 

Dr. Ronald E. Dick, Sitka

 

Thanks, Rotary Club

Dear Editor: Sitka Babies and Books would like to thank the Sitka Rotary Board and members for the recent contribution to our organization. This year marks the 29th year of your continued support.

Because groups like yours are committed to opportunities for enhancing the lives of our Sitka children, our non-profit organization can continue in its mission to ensure that all Sitka children have the opportunity to become lifelong readers by offering books, programs, and education to the families of Sitka’s young children.

Sitka Babies and Books

Board Members

 

Baranof Statue

Dear Editor: I support STA’s resolution to remove the Baranof statue and place it in a museum where Baranof’s life will be put into historical context from all perspectives. I urge our Assembly to do the same.

It is important that we don’t try to change history. We need to remember our past, and learn from it. Baranof was a part of Sitka’s history. But the placement of Baranof in front of our town hall is inappropriate. The statue does not belong in front of a building where we gather, connect, discuss, meet, vote, and where our local government convenes. In place of the Baranof statue,  we should put a statue or symbol that all cultures can respect, a true leader, not a colonist who used violence and oppression against the Alaska Native people.

I moved here in the early ’90s and, like many others, I fell in love with beauty and wonder of Sitka. I am honored to be living on Tlingit land, the land of the people who have been here for over 10,000 years. I want to be an ally to my Native friends and neighbors, and support removing a symbol of oppression and violence so that healing can begin.

Bridget Hitchcock, Sitka

 

Statue Issue

Dear Editor: In the spirit of the 4th of July and America/Sitka the beautiful, I’d like to suggest that, instead of calling for removal of Baranof statue, to add another statue for the Tlingit leader Katlian who was instrumental in making peace with Baranof, or Elizabeth Peradovich who fought for the Natives’ rights.

The presence of both statues in the same square will balance the negative feeling of the history when Baranof landed here, with the sense of pride of the heroic struggle of the Natives.

It is definitely important to be sensitive to how some people feel about the statue. But moving or removing the Baranof statue is not a good idea and may do very little in hopeful healing. It is a beautiful piece of art that was a gift to the city from honorable families who served this community well. Its presence at the Centennial Hall, beside being an attraction to the tourists, allows an opportunity to tell the story of the city of Sitka, including its Russian heritage. I don’t see it as honoring Baranof himself, but rather a documentary of the history of the city, with its good and bad.

I believe there is healing of the bitterness of the past in the bright present and the promising future with its richness in opportunities, diversity and equality. Let’s cherish the blessings we all have and share in the beautiful American fabric.

Paul Bahna, Sitka

 

 

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-10-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 1;45 p.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 69

Total statewide – 3,775

Total (cumulative) deaths – 26

Active cases in Sitka – 21 (15 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 16 (12 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 154.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

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20 YEARS AGO
August 2000

Bring your wand if you’re coming, leave your disbelief at the door (no Muggles allowed), because room 220 at Blatchley is a place where the decorations, outfits and conversations are all very, very Harry Potter. “If you want to levitate, go ahead,” said Lacy Simons addressing the young wizards of the Harry Potter Reading and Writing Club. Simons, a VISTA volunteer, formed the club ....

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

Photo caption: Youngsters who participated in the summer reading program at Kettleson Memorial Library include, from left, Lari Cook, Nancy Erickson, Yumiko Hayashi, Kyoko Ikenoue, Lu Ann Beidel, Tiffany Rose, Jessica Roth, Gwendolyn Roth, Rhonda Audette, Heather Owen, Susan Kohler, Glenn Oen, David Oen, Eric Oen, Stephen Weddell, Robert Weddell, Randy Turner, Takahiko Hosei, Douglas Henie, Lance Robards and Timothy Von Clasen.

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