January 15, 2006

Conference Delegates Charged with Caring for Alaska's Future

For Immediate Release
January 15, 2006

Victor Fischer, a delegate to Alaska's Constitutional Convention 50 years ago, told delegates to the Conference of Young Alaskans at UAF this morning that they now carry the mantle of caring for Alaska's future.  Fischer watched and listened yesterday as fifty-four youth from around Alaska engaged in active discussions about quality education, healthy communities, leadership for the next generation, responsible development of natural resources, and reviving the Alaska dream. Today he commended the caring and commitment they have shown for Alaska.

"As a surviving member of the constitutional convention and on behalf of those who are not with us today, I would just like to say that I think that you are capable of carrying on and taking care of the future of Alaska," Fischer said. "And on behalf of those who came before you, I charge you with taking care of the responsibility of looking after Alaska's resources, Alaska's institutions, Alaska's people. I have the trust that you will fulfill this responsibility, and I wish you well."

Delegates were also called to action by former Governor Walter Hickel, who addressed them at lunch. He told them that the creators of Alaska's constitution were pioneers.  He focused on the natural resources article, which was the first such article in a state constitution. "It says that Alaska's lands and resources are to be developed for the maximum benefit of our people - for every Alaskan---including all of you," he said. 

Hickel provided a history lesson, dotted with reminiscences of personal experiences, of the fight for statehood and development of oil on Alaska's North Slope. Alaska has been able to build schools and improve quality of life because it is an owner state, he said. "Our oil wealth changed Alaska for the better, but in a few years, we lost our pioneering spirit," Hickel told the youth.

He urged delegates to dedicate part of their career to public service, to advocate for wise development of the state's natural resources and to create new opportunities in Alaska.

Alaska's model of constitutional democracy, a private sector economy, and lands and resources held in common for the benefit of all can be a beacon of light to the world, he said, showing a road to peace and the end of poverty. Russia and countries in Africa and South America are interested in the Alaska model, he said. "Believe me, pioneering has just begun, and you in this room can lead it," he said.

Conference delegates will conclude their work and issue statements on their vision for Alaska's future tomorrow, Monday, January 16. The list of delegates and more information about the conference can be found at coya.alaska.edu. 


For more information, or to obtain photos, contact Patti Harper, Public Information Specialist, at (907) 786-1169 or patricia.harper@alaska.edu.