Thank you, Mary. You’ve dedicated your life to lifting up the voices we all need to hear. From Bethel to Washington D.C., you’ve never stopped fighting for all Alaskans.
First Lady Dunleavy, I am honored to be here with you. Thank you for welcoming me back to your beautiful state and to Bethel.
Secretary Haaland, you work every day to protect our environment, support our families, and work with tribes across the country.
I’d also like to thank Mayor Henderson, Ana, Vivian, and Walter for the work you do to lift up communities in the Y-K Delta.
And congratulations to the Bethel High School seniors graduating this week!
Two years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in Anchorage, where I met Valerie Davidson—the president of the consortium and a daughter of Bethel. And through Valerie and her team, I got to know this incredible state a bit better.
I saw how the connections here run deep—the bonds of family and friendship, of tribes and traditions. I saw how acutely you are connected to the natural world around you—from the migration of salmon to the cycles of the sun. And yet, I also learned about the challenges you face—and how communities in rural areas like this one often feel unseen and unappreciated for their unique contributions to our country.
I took those stories home with me. I told them to my husband, Joe. And he listened.
That’s why he and his administration worked with your representatives in Congress to invest over 100 million dollars in the Y-K Delta, and even more statewide, so you can bring affordable, faster, more reliable internet to Alaska. It’s a part of his Investing in America agenda and how he’s rebuilding our country from the bottom up and the middle out.
This is one of the largest tribal broadband expansions in the country. With high-speed internet, you’ll have better access to critical health care, new educational tools, and remote job opportunities. It will change lives. It will save lives.
And it will help make our world a little brighter, a little more beautiful.
Because it’s not just about what you get from this, it’s also about what you are able to give. To Alaska. To the United States. To the people around the globe. As much as you need broadband, we need your wisdom, your knowledge, your experiences. And because of this project you will be able to share them.
The funding is going directly to Bethel Native Corporation because you know what your communities need.
And I love the name that you’ve chosen for it.
An Airraq isn’t the story itself. It’s a tool that helps us tell it. A simple string that becomes a thing of beauty with the creativity and joy and hope we bring to it. The connections of this community are already deep. But with Airraq, you will be able to bring them to life in new ways.
During my last visit to this great state, Valerie gave me a Yupik name—the name of her grandmother. It meant so much to me. And she told me of something her grandmother used to say: “When you lead with love, you never stand alone.”
I feel so much love in this community today. Love for Bethel and the people who make it home—for the language and heritage that has shaped you— for the generations who stand behind you and live on in your hearts— for the young people who are dreaming a brighter future for us all.
And you are not alone in this work. Joe, Secretary Haaland, and I—along with the rest of the Biden-Harris administration—stand beside you, today, tomorrow, and always.
Quyana. Thank you.