Yesterday, two Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta women were inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame. Mary Ciuniq Pete was nominated because of her leadership in subsistence and education. Beverly Hoffman got the honor because of her work in the community and the long campaign she waged to get a fitness center built in Bethel. Many people from the hub community fished from boats in the Kuskokwim River, but did not know how to swim. They’ve been learning, because the fitness center that Hoffman helped get built has a swimming pool. KYUK’s Johanna Eurich spoke with Hoffman about her own nomination and that of the late Mary Pete.
Beverly Hoffman: I’m really honored and might get emotional, humbled about this, ‘cause there’s so many women that, I mean, look at all the women being inducted this year and all the other women. It’s just amazing to be a part of it. Now to have both Mary Pete and myself from Bethel, Alaska and the Kuskokwim-Yukon region to be here; I’m a little nervous.
Johanna Eurich: The Kuskokwim-Yukon Region is well represented this year: two. Yourself, you were noted for the gym and resources, but that doesn’t even touch all the things that Bev Hoffman has been involved in over the years.
Hoffman: One of the things that I talk about for myself, and I’ll talk about it tonight, is facing your fears and finding your voice. As I’ve gotten old and gotten passionate about healthy communities and making sure people are active. I’m passionate about fisheries. I’m passionate about climate change and taking care of our rivers and our lands, and you have to find your voice to speak out and advocate for good things and protecting.
Some people have a bigger voice. Some people have a smaller voice. Some people like me are a little bit noisier. And to advocate for a healthy infrastructure, I always tell people you can build jails, you can build shelters, you can build treatment centers, you can build all of that, but you also need to build things for people to do.
There’s a lot of good people who live in our community and our region that are doing wonderful things and support a lot of what I am advocating, whether it be fisheries, no gold mine in a salmon spawning river, and the pool. There are voices that say 'nay'. I think I speak for the voices that say 'yea.'
Eurich: A longtime friend of yours, Mary Pete, is not here to receive her award, but certainly she has done not just a lot for the region, but for the state and internationally. She sat there arguing with Canadians about salmon.
Hoffman: The Arctic Research Council that Obama appointed her to twice. I first got to really know Mary when I was with the fisheries Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group, and she was with our Subsistence Department with Fish and Game in Bethel. And then she went on under Knowles’ leadership to be in Juneau, representing all things fish. And she was an amazing woman and so deserving. I am really honored to be here at the same year that she’s inducted. She was quiet like I am noisy (laughs). A beautiful voice for our region, and language, and culture, and education, and fisheries, and environment, and I am just sad that she’s not here with us, but her spirit is.
Eurich: Congratulations to you and Mary Pete.
Below is the website to the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame with all those inducted, including the total list of this year’s additions.