I am currently on paid administrative leave in protest and support with my friend Savanna Evans who bravely shared her story this week. Please take my pleas seriously and please help us. Below is a essay I have written. Please forgive my anger and spelling errors as this was all written in haste.
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I can’t control my anger long enough to get anyone to listen. I have no fucks to give to the fake-ass people who say they are all about Native issues, Trans issues, Gay issues, Black Lives Matter, Disability Rights, Climate Justice, blah blah blah…They are so desensitized, nobody cares that the man at the head of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive Tribal Medical center was literally fucking people over left and right.
They are so desensitized they don’t see themselves as the victim. They are so desensitized they can’t see the ways he was fucking them over. I don’t know how to convince everyone that we are the slaves and he was the master. We complied with his behavior for so long, we don’t care when someone bravely stood up to him.
Nobody knows the level of fear Savanah likely felt when she stood up for herself, she put more than herself in danger in the name of standing up for what’s right. I have no idea, I just know that I have experienced way less scarier people than Andy Teuber and I know the courage it took for her to speak up.
What scares me is what I know, and what I know goes far back. Further back then the stories I helped write and edit at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium; further back then Indian Health Services or public health professionals who continue to show up here; further back than the religions that showed up here to save us; further back than the people who showed up here for gold and oil. It starts with who I am, where I was raised, and who shaped my world.
I am Amanda Frank and I am a communications specialist at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. I am from Minto, Alaska and was raised on lower-Tanana Athabascan lands which many people now recognize as the city of Fairbanks.
Setsu Taju Anna from the Bedzeyh’ or Caribou Clan, Setseeya the late Gint’ith Richard Frank from the Che’chalyu or Fishtail Clan, Setsu Pamela Throop from West Virginia, Setseeya Bob Parr from Oklahoma, along with their wild yet resilient kids (my parents) Son Robin Frank Haglin and Seta’ Shawn Evans all raised me on those lands in the Interior.
What I want you to know from the previous paragraph is that I was raised by activists. I was raised by people who knew nothing else but to stand up for themselves.
I am first and foremost a descendent from my mother who descends from the Caribou clan. Some people have called me headstrong, stubborn, and conceited. I can’t help it, I’m from the Caribou Clan (also we have the best hair).
Second a hillbilly from West Virginia took me in and raised me as his own child teaching me how to work hard, play fair, and be respectful…until it’s time to stand up for yourself. That’s when the f-bombs drop from my mouth. Both my dad and his brother taught me the words of their people. Fuck, shit, and bitch are some of my favorites. But lately I am practicing kindness and gentleness because I am terrible at it and my grandparents tried to teach me that.
Setsu Taju – she’s the one I’m most associated with. Setsu Taju was the first Athabascan Woman ordained to the Priesthood in the Episcopal Church. I learned how to tell stories from her. I was raised Setseeya Gint’ith from the Fishtail clan. Fishtail people are not scared of anything, they leave home as soon as they can and explore the world only returning to lead.
I was raised by hillbillies from West Virginia and Oklahoma. These people stood up for themselves and walked away from generations of trauma. They took pieces of their culture from their homelands and joined Native, Creole, Black and all kinds of people and formed the basis for what we call the United States of America today.
I became the person I am today becaue of the people who raised me, and the environments I was raised in. I became the adult and professional that I am today because of where I went to school and worked.
I am writing my story in protest. Las week I sent a letter to Garvin Federenko, an undeserving white-man in charge at ANTHC. I am going to start telling these stories and I hope they make sense because I’ve held them in so long I’m not sure they matter.
I left home only to attend school and it has been an uphill never ending battle since. Two-weeks after I left Alaska the boy I loved back in Bethel took a gun and blew his head off 90-minutes after I broke up with him to focus on school. I focused and finished an associate’s degree in journalism. When Setseeya Gin’tith died, I continued on like my bedzeyh’ ancestors and finished my bachelor’s degree and returned to home to work for my people.
I struggled to find a job until I signed up for a masters in creative writing where the ANTHC marketing department swooped in, helped me get through this program (shout out to all class of 2020, I hope we can all celebrate one day), and created one of the safest places I have ever worked, despite what you may be reading about Andy Teuber and the rest of the organization now.
My first job after graduating college in 2014 was working for Byron Mallott who we all saw crumble in one of the most traumatic and chaotic political fumbles before his untimely death in 2020. He still sent me texts trying to curry favor after what he did. I have nothing more to say except that his wife is one of the sweetest people in the world and I wish her and the family well. I am sorry to experience that with you all in some way. I still stumble through my words and cry when I think of him. He was a mentor to me. Someone who pulled me out of the rubble and ash of white academia and welcomed me home.
After Mallott ditched me to go run with Bill Walker, Scott Kawasaki swooped in to use me to run his legislative campaigns where I worked my way up to chief of staff when he was a member of the house. I couldn’t believe how fast I had gone from graduating with a bachelor’s degree to chief of staff for a house member in the Alaska state legislator. Scott Kawasaki was the worst to work for, he disappeared on me for two weeks once and I worked with a police investigator to find him. Not even gonna get into how he warned me of the women who accused him of harassment when I worked for him. I am so embarrassed and ashamed I worked for him.
“This is the saddest and most scared I’ve felt since his dad died,” Ginny Kawasaki told me when as we sat holding hands at the police station in downtown Fairbanks.
I remember talking with Aurora Hauke a long time assistant to Chris Tuck about what we would do if Scott was dead. I commiserated with Mike Wenstrup, Grier Hopkins, and David Dunsmore over all the stress I was under.
When Scott returned to returned to the office he yelled at me for not getting a letter out to the teachers in Alaska.
I demand an apology from him and his on-again off-again partner Mindy for adding more trauma to my life.
After I quit his office in shame for not holding on, I went to work as a reporter where I had no direction and was scared and pissed at all the privileged reporters in this state who make it so hard for me to tell my stories.
I couldn’t live off my 15-hour a week reporting job where I covered some traumatic stories so I signed up for the substitute teacher pool in Fairbanks and ended up at North Pole High School covering for a teacher who was mysteriously fired and the students told me they found alcohol in his desk in his classroom.
After that gig, I continued reporting and found full time work at Lathrop High School working as a tutor with the Alaska Native Education program managing 120-140 students at any given time making $17.98 an hour. A lot of my paycheck went to union dues, a union I never felt protected by and one where Grier Hopkins worked before joining the legislature when his uncle retired.
I quit that job at Lathrop after some white man followed me into the parking lot after work yelling at me because I stood with a student who repeatedly told him to stop using Eskimo when talking about her people. The only thing I have to say to that white guy is I still don’t care that you are married to a native woman and I’m sorry your daughter died in a car accident. I hope you are ok.
After Lathrop, I scraped by as a reporter and community organizer before finding a job at Tanana Chiefs Conference. One of my first days on the job I attended a staff meeting for the department I worked for in which Jacqueline Bergstrom and Chris Simon chastised my new team members asking for them to not slam doors and to be polite to one another. I left TCC in 2018 because of all the chaos and trauma reverberating through those walls. I hid in stairways from old toxic friends (Donetta not Tonya) and women my ex was constantly cheating on me with who would show up at my work daring me to challenge them in a public space – a space they have every right to as a Tribal health organization.
I left TCC because I hated the way Victor Joseph would say “hey you,” to me like I was some kid whose name he couldn’t be bothered to remember. I left because my supervisor and department director were holistically unprepared to address the problems they were tasked with preventing.
I left the TCC region because I felt my home – the Interior was holistically unprepared. I left because people chose Stephanie Woodard over me to tell our region’s stories. Someone who I believe has stopped telling bad stories about my cousins (thankfully) and switched to instructing spin classes or something.
I left the Interior because I was tired of my friends choosing white women like Jessica Girard over me in the name of climate justice. I left because I am tired and afraid of how ill-equipped and holistically unprepared we are in Alaska.
I don’t know what to do. I’m broke, homeless, deeply in student and credit card debt from repeated abusive relationships. But I feel more prepared to take on these problems than so many other people. Alaska needs better leaders, and that means some people need to step down and give those of us who have obediently gone to school, continued our educations supplementing them with leadership and diversity equity and inclusion work. I am more than prepared to take on these issues and tired of being looked over.
I am in protest until I find a job suitable to my abilities and skills with fair pay and benefits in my community and I am in protest until more people step down and give agency back to those of us who are from here. Most importantly I am in protest with Savanah because we have no idea the beast she uncovered and how unprepared we are to address it. Neither of us want money or to be at the center of this. We just want people to speak up.