This is the 'honor pole' in front of the Alaska National Guard Headquarters. Today, prior to the Changing of the Command ceremony from Acting Adjutant General Mike Bridges to Adjutant General Laurel Hummel, was a ceremony to cleanse the pole that had been dedicated a few years ago. Tlingets and local Athabaskans from Eklutna joined together to cleanse the pole after the scandal the National Guard has gone through.
A member of the St. Elias Dance Group.
Lt. Governor Mallot at the cleansing ceremony. I'm not using the word totem because there are some questions about combining the old and new traditions and the recognition that this pole doesn't necessarily meet the standards of a traditional totem pole. So the decided to call it an honor pole instead.
New Adjutant General Hummel dancing after the cleansing ceremony.
The crowd then moved inside and the Hearts of Oceana Club - West High students mentored by the Polynesian Community Center - danced before the Change of Command.
Gov. Walker was there as well.
Adjutant General Hummel in her speech which ranged from personal to inspirational.. She talked about how her army dad answered her six year old self about her desire to follow him into the army, that while West Point didn't take women at the time, they would when she was ready to apply.
She talked about how when the governor-elect asked her to be the Adjutant General, she was taken aback. She said she hadn't applied because her husband worked at the guard, so she would have a conflict of interest. But the governor and her husband insisted. And in a few days, her husband heads for a year in Kosovo where he'll be head of intelligence for NATO there. She then turned to the members of the Alaska National Guard - how honored she is to work with them, how much she values and trusts them, and how together they will make the Guard a better organization.
This is an interesting confluence of two stories I've followed here. One began when I covered Laurel Hummel's interview to be director of the Alaska Redistricting Board. The other is the story of the Alaska National Guard scandal. The links each go to one post. There were a number of posts on each and you can get to the others by clicking on the appropriate labels. This was a positive event, I'm sure the governor would like to spend more of his time doing this sort of thing.