I've been struggling to find the words.
Words escape me in times of overwhelming emotion and gratitude. The reality that the President of the United States visited our home and experienced the land our ancestors entrusted to us – is still sinking in. He didn't just "visit" like you would think the leader of the free world would "visit" a place. Barack Obama had a, “pick our fish, eat our food, and yuraq with our kids” kind of visit. The kind of visit you usually have with a close iluq or really good friend. To see the President have that kind of visit – for him to recognize, respect, and genuinely enjoy experiencing what it means to us to live our way of life on our land, what our culture means to us, AND want to help us protect it – still has me on cloud nine.
This experience has left me feeling nothing but blessed, inspired, and optimistic that no matter who tells us otherwise, if we just keep doing what we know is true and right in our hearts, what our ancestors taught us to value, our people and our communities can accomplish anything and will thrive together. From the bottom of my heart I can't say quyana enough to all of you who have reached out and showed me such kindness, support, and love. It all means more to me than I can ever express! I have to echo what some have already said and that's to say I truly wish every single person in Bristol Bay could have met President Obama, could have shared with him the love for our home we are all blessed to share.
Alannah Hurley, Executive Director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay. UTBB represents thirteen Bristol Bay tribes working to protect their traditional way of life and opposes large-scale mines like Pebble.
Click here to read more reflections on the President's trip to Bristol Bay.