The husband of U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (Yup’ik/D-AK) died after a plane crash on Tuesday. He was 57.
As KNBA’s Rhonda McBride reports, Gene “Buzzy” Peltola is being remembered as both a supportive husband and a leader in his own right.
When Rep. Peltola ran for Congress, her husband “Buzzy” Peltola was often behind the scenes, beaming proudly.
As she took her oath of office to become the first Alaska Native woman to serve in Congress, he stood beside her, wearing a traditional Native kuspuk, holding the Bible.
For many Alaskans, the couple seemed to embody Peltola’s campaign slogan – fish, freedom, and family – an image that shattered when he was flying solo in a small plane that crashed into a mountain near St. Mary’s on the Yukon River, part of a vast region he knew well in more than three decades of work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bethel.
Eventually he became the first Alaska Native to manage the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.
Later, he served as the Alaska regional director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Throughout his public service career, there was a common thread – Peltola’s passion for hunting, fishing, and giving Alaska Natives more say in how fish and wildlife are managed, a passion he shared with LaMont Albertson, one of the founders of the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.
“It’s just so hard to find the words to describe his intelligence and how intuitive the guy was. He was assertive and he knew how to say the right things at the right time.”
Albertson, who will soon turn 80, has known both Mary and Buzzy Peltola since they were kids, but says he’ll cherish a recent memory forever.
After suffering a stroke, they sent him a care package with subsistence foods to help him recover.
It’s National Suicide Prevention Week, and new data shows that the suicide rate in the U.S. has increased dramatically over the past 20 years.
As the Mountain West News Bureau’s Kaleb Roedel reports, that’s especially true for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
The analysis was done by Pew Charitable Trusts.
It found that from 2000 to 2020, the national suicide rate grew 30%.
For Native American and Alaska Native women, the rate spiked more than 130%. For men, it jumped over 90%.
Emily Edmunds Haroz is with the Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health.
She says a major factor is the historical trauma caused by colonization and the boarding school era.
“If a parent is traumatized because of these experiences and experiences those things and are not allowed to talk about it, and not allowed to cope with it, they then pass along that trauma to their children and sort of this cycle perpetuates itself.”
She says there’s also a lack of funding for mental healthcare services in tribal communities.
If you or someone you know needs help, call or text the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. Or contact them via live chat.
Artists Keith BraveHeart and Marty Two Bulls Jr. have been named as the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s 2023-24 artist laureates.
C.J. Keene has more.
In the role, the pair will serve as cultural ambassadors for the tribe, support artistic endeavors on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and enrich their communities through their works.
Two Bulls Jr. and BraveHeart both work as educators in addition to their art – serving as art professors at Oglala Lakota College.
The program runs under the OST Vice President’s Office.
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