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Begich Praises Appointment of Native Leader Mary Pete to U.S. Arctic Research Commission


June 26, 2010 - U.S. Senator Mark Begich today praised the appointment of long-time Alaska Native leader and subsistence expert Mary Ciuniq Pete of Bethel to serve as a commissioner of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. Pete was appointed to the commission today by President Obama.

"As a lifelong Alaskan and the State's former subsistence director, Mary Pete has first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing northern people and northern regions like few Americans," said Begich, who recommended Pete to the White House. "With Alaska experiencing the impacts of global climate change more than any other state, Mary's expertise and advice to top federal officials will be especially welcome. The work of the Arctic Research Commission is particularly vital today so Mary's leadership skills and her broad knowledge of the North will be invaluable at just the right time."

Pete is currently director of the Bethel-based Kuskokwim Campus of the University of Alaska. Between 1996-2005, she was director of the Division of Subsistence in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, where she worked closely with the governor and legislators on state subsistence policy. Pete was born in Stebbins, holds bachelor's and master's degrees in anthropology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and speaks Central Yup'ik Eskimo.

Pete was appointed to the "indigenous" slot on the commission for a three-year term. She replaces Vera Kingeekuk Metcalf of Nome, whose term had expired.

The commission was created in 1984 to establish and promote national policy on the Arctic, advise the Congress and national administration on Arctic policy and provide guidance to federal agencies about better coordinating Arctic policy and the needs of northern people. The commission includes seven commissioners appointed by the President.

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