‘I am humbled and deeply honored’: Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska) joins U.S. Congress
Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2022
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Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska) delivers her first speech after being sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives on September 13, 2022.

The text of her remarks on the floor of the chamber, as prepared for delivery, follow.

Madam Speaker, I thank Leader [Steny] Hoyer for the very kind introduction and most especially for his words about my predecessor, Congressman for all Alaska, Don Young.

I thank you, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, Minority Leader [Kevin] McCarthy, and so many of my colleagues from both parties who have been very kind in welcoming me to the House of Representatives.

I am also so grateful to have my husband, my seven children and their loved ones, two grandchildren, and two sisters here with me this week. I couldn’t do this without their love and support and votes.

It is the honor of my life to represent Alaska, a place my elders and ancestors have called home for thousands of years, where to this day many people in my community carry forward our traditions of hunting and fishing.

I am humbled and deeply honored to be the first Alaska Native to be elected to this body, the first woman to hold Alaska’s House seat. But to be clear, I am here to represent all Alaskans. I will work every day to make all Alaskans proud that they have entrusted me to carry their voices here.

I am excited to work with all of you, to explain and take action to address Alaskans’ needs, just as you did with my predecessor, the Congressman for all Alaska, Don Young.

Like all Alaskans, I mourned his passing. In Yupik, when we lose a loved one, we say “this is not the end.” “Tua-i-ngunrituq.”

Don was a true institution, an Alaska icon, someone who fought so hard and so well for our State for 49 years. I know many of you loved Don, and I am sorry for your loss, too. I am committed to securing his legacy of bipartisanship and a deep respect for this institution. In my few days in Washington, I have already begun forming friendships with colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Now, I might have a different approach than Don. You know how soft-spoken he was. But you will still be hearing all about Alaska, our people, and our State’s unique needs.

I promised Alaskans I would fight for our families, to lower the cost of living that is pushing too many of us to the brink, to invest in high-quality childcare and early education, and to grow Alaska’s economy with good jobs that pay a fair wage.

Resource development is important to Alaska’s economy and our national energy security, and I look forward to working to ensure our State remains a global leader.

I also committed to fighting for our fish. For so many Alaska communities, fish are life. Our fish harvest is the best in the world. Half of the wild salmon sold in the world comes from our State, supporting good jobs that sustain strong communities. Subsistence fishing is not only an essential food source for so many Alaska families and communities, it is a sacred part of our traditions.

Again, thank you for your warm welcome. We have a lot to get done, and I am looking forward to getting to work.

Thank you very much. “Quyana cakneq.”

Video Courtesy C-SPAN

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