Reinstatement of Superintendent Mary A. Miller Ordered at the Sitka National Historical Park
PHOTO: © Alaska Federation of Natives
SITKA, Alaska, April 4, 2013 – The National Park Service (NPS) has been ordered by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board to reinstate Mary A. Miller to her position as superintendent at the Sitka National Historical Park. Miller appealed her removal and brought suit claiming her removal among other charges was “tainted by discrimination” based on her Alaska Native race, sex and physical disability.
The park commemorates the 1804 Tlingit battle as part of its park status designation. Miller’s termination from the NPS in August 2010 occurred amongst the park’s major events celebrating its 100-year anniversary.
The Alaska Federation of Natives advocated for Miller from the beginning and this action demonstrates there is due process for those facing similar circumstances according to AFN President Julie Kitka. “Mary had energy and brought value and a Native presence to the Sitka National Historical Park. We were disappointed about her removal and protested directly to the Department of Interior,” she said. “This decision highlights the need for the federal government to look at Alaska Native employment statistics, increased retention and increased opportunities for Native representation in key management positions.” In addition to reinstatement, Miller will receive back pay and benefits. The agency must also report back to Miller once it has fully carried out the Merit System Protection Board’s order.
“I am so grateful to my family, friends, colleagues and members of the community who have supported me throughout this arduous process. This decision has restored my faith in the system and I’m looking forward to getting back to work to continue building agency relations with the community,” said Miller. “From the beginning of this ordeal I have never wavered in my commitment to Sitka — Sitka is my home and there is still much work here to do and lost time to make up for.” Sealaska Board Chair Albert Kookesh says Sealaska has been pulling for Miller and hopeful for her reinstatement. “We are so proud of our tribal member shareholders who show leadership, even in the face of adversity, to stand up for their rights for the benefit of our culture and communities,” he said. “Alaska Native representation across our municipal, state and federal agencies is vital to ensuring our community interests are advanced. We bring unique knowledge of the history and land and a passion for maintaining strong communities into the future and Mary is an asset in this effort.” Miller is a professional engineer and holds an executive MBA degree from University of Washington. She is Eagle of the Shungukeidí (Thunderbird) Clan from the Kaawdliyaayi Hit (House Lowered from the Sun) of Klukwan and was born and raised in Sitka where she continues to reside.
About the Alaska Federation of Natives
The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) is the largest statewide Native organization in Alaska. Its membership includes 178 villages (both federally-recognized tribes and village corporations), 13 regional Native corporations and 12 regional nonprofit and tribal consortiums that contract and run federal and state programs. AFN is governed by a 37-member Board, which is elected by its membership at the annual convention held each October. The mission of AFN is to enhance and promote the cultural, economic and political voice of the entire Alaska Native community.