The Nome City Council passed a resolution supporting the local Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community during their regular meeting last week.
Youth Representative Zoey Okleasik and Councilmember Meghan Siġvanna Topkok co-authored the unanimously passed resolution. Topkok said it’s important that Nome engages with the Asian communities too amidst national and local conversations about race.
“This is really just reaffirming the value and the contribution that they bring to our community.”– Councilmember Topkok
Youth Representative Okleasik wanted to acknowledge and stand in solidarity with all of the groups that make up Nome.
“Nome-Beltz High School is such a diverse school and I just wanted to show my support for my fellow youth and the AAPI community. My generation definitely has been involved in a lot of social justice.”– Youth Representative Okleasik
Although the resolution does not contain any firm action items, it acknowledges Nome’s solidarity with Asian Americans and Pacific Islander communities that have seen a nationwide increase in hate crimes and xenophobia since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We thought we would do a resolution saying that we know that you’re experiencing these horrible atrocities and I don’t mean to say that this is happening in Nome — my hope is that it’s not. I haven’t heard any instances like this in Nome, but I don’t think it hurts to put out words of support.”
Topkok suggested the resolution in light of a mass-shooting in Atlanta last month where six people of Asian descent were killed. It does acknowledge the forced interment of Japanese descended individuals in Alaska at Fort Richardson and elsewhere in the Lower 48. The final “whereas” of the resolution reaffirms the city’s commitment to standing against racial injustice.
Approximately ten percent of Alaska’s total population is of Asian of Pacific Islander descent and while that percentage is much lower in Nome, the community has residents who have immigrated or have ancestry from Korea, Vietnam, India, the Philippines and elsewhere.
Image at top: Councilmembers Meghan Topkok and Doug Johnson take notes during a February 2020 meeting. KNOM (2020).