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Who is Mary Peltola? first Alaska Native elected to Congress: NPR

Mary Peltola went fishing on Kuskokwim since childhood.

Liz Raskin/Alaska Public Media


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Who is Mary Peltola? first Alaska Native elected to Congress: NPR

Mary Peltola went fishing on Kuskokwim since childhood.

Liz Raskin/Alaska Public Media

WEFEL, Alaska – Democrat Mary Peltola couldn’t wait to get out on Kuskokwim, the river she raised up on south of Yukon and upstream from the Bering Sea.

She pulled out gillnets full of salmon from this river every summer since she was a child. Subsistence fishing and hunting are way of even life here for people with office workplaces.

However, this summer Peltola was away campaigning. for the only place in Alaska in US house. She finally flew home to Bethel in at the end of August and I was itching to get on water.

But there was a storm moving through. It was problem because the main goal of this trip was capture footage of her on river, for campaign Ads.

“His good fishing weatherbut it’s not great filming a movie weather- she said. I think there are some concerns that equipment not damaged,” she said.

So Peltola. wearing gray blazer and more makeup than she used to, sat back down under bright the lights set up in her living room and took direction from her media consultant and operator.

“I’m Mary Peltola and that’s why I’m running for Don Young’s Place in Congress, she said. over and also overseeking for just correct level of energy.

with TV people and media consultant Martha McKenna of Baltimore, Peltola filmed a commercial in her Bethel home.

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with TV people and media consultant Martha McKenna of Baltimore, Peltola filmed a commercial in her Bethel home.

Liz Raskin/Alaska Public Media

She doesn’t know it was then, but she had already won her long shot campaign to replace the late Congressman Young.

After 15 days waiting period for sent by mail ballots to arrive in in special elections, Peltola found out on On August 31, she beat the most famous Alaskan. in history, former Republican Governor Sarah Palin, in one of the reddest states in nation.

Peltola is 49 years old last Wednesday, the same day she became elected congresswoman. of 49th state. Born Mary Sattler, she daughter of Yupik mom and dad from Nebraska who walked north teach at the school, and later became a Bush pilot.

Peltola will first Alaska Native in Congress when she is sworn in in this month to fill in the balance of Yanga term.

Meanwhile, she and Palin also on vote in november, for in next full House term. Whatever result of in special choices, she knew what she needed campaign Ads. So when the storm let up Peltola tossed off her blazer and put on voluminous layers crowned with rain gear.

“Does everyone have a floating coat?” she called out to the film crew. She started throwing things in her aluminum boat—buckets, anchor, life jackets.

“Last beat of survival tools and essentials,” she said. – Good. We are ready for battle!”

Her rivalry with Sarah Palin more of holiday of love

Peltola went to college but ran at 24 for State Chamber and beat the incumbent. She stayed in office for decade overlapping with then Governor Palin. They are connected in State Capitol like two pregnant moms in office. When Palin left Juneau for in campaign According to Peltola, she bequeathed her backyard trampoline to Peltola.

Palin did not respond to interview requests. She vilifies the Democrats in general. After Peltola win On Wednesday, Palin called. on Begich is another Republican in in race – take the loss like a real a man from Alaska” and withdraw from the November elections. But Palin calls Peltola “sweetheart” and says she is worthy of admiration.

Absence of rivalry goes both ways.

“I think she great”, Peltola said.

This courtesy on-brand for her. In the Legislative Assembly, Peltola was known for extraordinary kindness.

“She was never bitter. She never got angry. She was never biased,” said Andrew Halkro.

He and Peltola were freshman legislators. in 1999 (Also new in State House, which year: Lisa Murkowski, now lives in Alaska. senior US senator. She speaks high of Peltola too.)

White Republican who representing the relatively affluent area of ​​Anchorage, Halcro caused fury throughout the state. with a speech he now regrets. He compared Bush residents to children who don’t learn how to tie your shoelaces because the government keeps sending Velcro shoes.

A lot of of Alaskans wrote Halkro off like a racist.

But inside hours he said he had Peltola office the door, asking if she could offer another point of view on Flattening electricity costs, rural energy subsidies, which he scoffed at. He came to see program How does she do it of impartiality for regions that did not benefit from expensive hydroelectric power plants are financed by the state.

“I think with Mary Peltola, you should never, ever misunderstand kindness for someone who can’t resist up for what does she believe inHalkro said.

Bev Hoffman of Bethel has known Peltola all her life.

“She’s cute. But she’s so cool,” Hoffman said. with Delight.

They fought together on problems with fish, and to swim pool for Bethel where the drowned were common because few people learned to swim. They were at odds for six years when Peltola worked manager of sustainability for Donlin Gold, mine project Peltola no longer supports.

Bev Hoffman says Peltola is not weak: “She is cute. But she’s so cool.”

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Liz Raskin/Alaska Public Media

Bev Hoffman says Peltola is not weak: “She is cute. But she’s so cool.”

Liz Raskin/Alaska Public Media

Hoffman said that Peltola has way of listening and drawing people of opposing views together.

“She doesn’t scream at people” Hoffman said.

Peltola said yelling was ineffective. She trusts her upbringing and her mentors for her political style.

” region where am I from big premium on be respectful on No using inflammatory language or harsh tones,” she said.

Peltola believes in in power of small gestures. She said she once took down a city Republican MP just pointing out that he – being decades of her senior – lived more years in Alaska what it was.

She said they got on great after that and for her this good politics.

Struggle for salmon from Peltola cause

Back on river, Peltola was facing bulky mission – driving a boat through the spits of Kuskokwim with the weight of additional visitors, placement of microphones and provision of good corners for in camera.

There is more serious problem with this fishing: No fish. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is suffering from another year of the grim salmon is back.

“Growing up, and probably before 2010, our biggest fear was that catch too many fish,” Peltola said, adding that 70 salmon a day is maximum she and her husband can be conveniently cut and cleaned. “Now our biggest fear is that we won’t catch single digits of fish.”

King salmon used to be the mainstay of diet here. When these populations declined sharply, people made do with smaller keta and then filled in with Silver of August if they didn’t catch enough for last winter.

This year, for in first time even silver was not returned in enough. Kuskokwim was closed to all forms of fishing.

This is a tragedy beyond words. for this one is based on salmon region. Peltola spent past five years of her career on it’s the same as director of Inter-Tribal Fishery Commission of the Kuskokwim River. Salmon protection is important campaign topic.

“Yes, that’s nice of center of my universe, she said, through her mouth of a tributary called Gvik. “Just because my uncles taught me exactly where to put net to catch certain types of fish.”

She pointed out in bank on in left Where’s she great- lived grandparents, outside of any village as long as government they said they should register them daughter in school.

“My mother was born over here, in Tabungalak Slough,” she said, pointing to the right. “It was August, berry picking time, so she was born here.

BUT camera documents of Mary Peltola’s crew on a fishing trip for a campaign ad.

Liz Raskin/Alaska Public Media


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Liz Raskin/Alaska Public Media

BUT camera documents of Mary Peltola’s crew on a fishing trip for a campaign ad.

Liz Raskin/Alaska Public Media

Scientists are not sure why the salmon does not return to this river. Factors include climate change and ocean acidification. Peltola also attributes it to thousands of salmon caught by chance in the sea by pollock trawlers.

(Marine Processors Association representing some of largest factory trawlers, says it takes steps limit bycatch, but says More important factors are to blame.)

Tributaries not producing salmon of Kuskokwim is open for fishing. So first of all for The camera Peltola bent over over bow and fed small set net in water. Sometimes made from salmon wrong turn. But when I wound net back to the boat later, it was empty.

“I stay hopeful until the very end because sometimes you are lucky right at the end of the grid,” she said.

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Tyler Hromadka
Tyler Hromadka
Tyler is working as the Author at World Weekly News. He has a love for writing and have been writing for a few years now as a free-lancer.

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