LISE KING: What does it mean for you, being the Executive Director of NCAI?
Johnson: I am responsible for any business, the financial stability, for the overall administration and operation of the organization. But on top of it all, for NCAI, you have the political strategy, development pieces that are critical, and you have to build bridges with all the alliances.
|KING: Was Native Vote 2004 your project, something you wanted to make sure happened?
Johnson: Absolutely! I was involved in the effort to get out the vote in our villages and homes in Alaska. I really saw the benefit when we actually went from a 13% rate of voter turn out to a 60% rate of voter turn out, and we made a major difference in the election of the Governor. Not only that, but we made it very clear even before the race ended that we were checking all the commissions and every appointment that he was responsible for making. He knew before he was elected that we wanted appointments and we wanted input on certain positions, and then we started tracking people who were interested in those positions. We didn’t just say, “we want appointments.” We said, “Here is a list of folks, their resumes, these are people who have credentials to do these kinds of positions.”
I think it made a big difference in the way policy was being developed in Alaska because you’ve got native Alaskans in key positions, developing policy. The Native vote was more than just getting out the vote, it was about making a difference for the future.