Brenda Evak, who has lived in Nome for the majority of her life but is originally from Kotzebue, addressed the public yesterday afternoon prior to her scheduled appearance at the Nome courthouse. Evak was arrested at the Nome airport on Wednesday on allegations of disorderly conduct in her confrontation with Governor Mike Dunleavy.
Ultimately, the charges against her were dropped, as Nome’s District Attorney John Earthman decided not to pursue the case.
According to the Nome Nugget newspaper, during her public statements, Evak spoke about the trauma of colonization and how that has affected her as an Inupiaq, Alaska Native woman. She said she had been struggling with her identity, the issues facing the environment and the land, and what she could do to improve the situation for her fellow indigenous people and the land.
Evak says as the energy and emotion were building within her, she saw Dunleavy at the Nome airport and the people who sponsored his event, Americans for Prosperity. Evak was quoted by the Nome Nugget as saying:
“They’re the people against us and our land. In that moment, I decided to let that energy go, and I said what was in my heart, and I began chanting, ‘When our land is under attack, what do we do? We stand up and fight back.’”
According to a statement from the Nome Police Department (NPD), officers asked Evak to leave the airport, but she refused. NPD says she was physically escorted out of the building while exhibiting “physical resistance and endangering public safety.”
Evak recalled she continued chanting but said she was compliant with the officers as she was handcuffed.
Defend the Sacred in Alaska released a statement this morning that identifies Evak as a member of their movement.
Image at top: file photo: The entrance to the Nome post office and courthouse. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.