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Investing in America event in Bethel announced

Ana Hoffman is the president of the Bethel Native Corporation and serves as the co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives. She wants to inform the public about an important visit. Reporter Francisco Martínezcuello sat down with Hoffman to get the details.

This conversation has been edited for clarity.

Martínezcuello: What brings you here today to the station?

Hoffman: I'm here to share with the community about a very exciting visit that we're receiving here in Bethel. The First Lady of the United States of America, Dr. Jill Biden, will be with us here in Bethel on Wednesday, May 17 to celebrate the infrastructure investments that are being made in Bethel and the region.

Martínezcuello: And why is that important?

Hoffman: It is important because this is going to be the the Airraq Network, which is the the broadband bringing fiber to Bethel. And to that 10 villages along the route, it is going to be life changing for all of us living here. It is going to improve our quality of living, our standard of living. We're going to be able to share our beautiful culture and language and our community with the rest of the world.

Martínezcuello: And that broadband connectivity will not only increase information flow, but it will also help in education and telehealth, is that correct?

Hoffman: That's correct. We had supporting entities with our application, [Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation] was supportive. [Lower Kuskokwim School District], [Association of Village Council Presidents], they were all supportive about this infrastructure proposal that a Native Corporation had applied for. And it will certainly improve the delivery of health care for remote learning, as well as tribal services throughout the region.

Martínezcuello: And so where's this event and what time?

Hoffman: So we will be having this event at the high school. So Lower Kuskokwim School District has been very helpful in this process. The Bethel Regional High School gym will be the location for the event on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. We encourage everybody to go early; there's going to be airport style security that people go through because this is a very high level visit. And we're honored to be hosting the first lady as well as [U.S.] Secretary of Interior Deb Holland. Secretary Holland will be here with her. And our very own Congresswoman Mary Peltola will be with us there at the event, as well as local leadership.

So the doors will open at 4:30 p.m. Please come up to the gym. There's going to be, we'll have 100 T-shirts to give away to the first 100 people that arrive. We're going to have airraq for everybody to airraq together. And we will also have some refreshments, light refreshments there. It's going to be a great event. And between 4:30 p.m and right up to the six o'clock hour we're going to be giving away AirPods and iPads every 15 minutes. So don't miss out. Those are going to be prizes that the crowd will get to enjoy. And we're just really looking forward to this event for the community.

Martínezcuello: Is there anything else that you'd like to say to the community?

Hoffman: I just want to say quyana. We're all sharing in the excitement. Bethel is a perfect stopover for the first lady on her way overseas. And it's a real honor that she wanted to come here to the [Yukon-Kuskokwim] Delta. And she will be spending some time with us, and it'll be just the most wonderful visit.

Francisco Martínezcuello was the KYUK News Reporting Fellow from November 2022 through January 2024. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.