denise.jpg
  • denise.jpg

I think I did a good job and there is one part where I forgot to write down exactly who her role model/inspiration is beyond his name so am wondering if adding in " , her friend and fellow activist, " will be enough, what do you think? It is long and more of a serious feel but hopefully interesting too!

I was thinking it is just under the word count so might go through and cut stuff if it seems too long. There was so much interesting things though that I found it hard to decide what to leave out. I think I can cut out some of the programs info and stuff if it seems too long and not lose anything but wanted to show them as things she does as an activist... and I am including her pic because I think it might be too big and I need to crop it a bit to be able to see her better, let me know what you think!

Her friendly smile and charming manner draw you right in and makes you feel as if you are meeting a long-time friend instead of someone new. Denise R. Morris is a woman whose passions and commitment will inspire all who meet her by showing there is a powerful intelligence to go with her friendly manner. As President of the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) and involved with many boards and committees you get the impression that she is a woman who knows what is really going on and her positive and solution-based advocacy shows that nothing is hopeless and the problems are not too big to solve.

As an Unangas (Aleut) woman her perspective is one of understanding Tribal cultures and lifestyle and restoring dignity, respect and humanity to all Alaska Indigenous peoples. Seeing her mother always handle herself with dignity and that core of inner strength, Denise has become, herself, a strong woman role model. She was with the ANJC since it’s inception and believes that seeing the over-representation of Alaska Indigenous people in domestic violence sparked her desire to become involved directly with the community. Her inspiration is Eric Wohlforth whose passion and dedication to engaging the community and working together to create solutions along with his belief “Individuals can make a positive change!” provided her an excellent role model to follow.

To help put it into perspective the Indigenous population is about 16% of the total population of Alaska. The over-representation becomes apparent when you read how 30-40% of the males in jail are Alaska Indigenous and subtracting the percentages that are woman and children you can see it is truly in “Epidemic” proportions where under 10% of the population is in that 30-40 percentile. There are many programs the ANJC has to help lessen this negative impact on the Alaska Indigenous population. One major way is the current drive, that Denise is especially proud of, that is to make everyone aware of their rights. (The website is www.VictimsHaveRights.org to find more information.) The idea ‘No one has the right to hurt you. You have rights.’ is important because of the many changes in Alaska and the effects it has had on the Indigenous population as a whole. Isolation and especially for those living in the rural areas where the isolation is both mental and physical can lead to a hopeless feeling and Denise believes that teaching them they have rights is a way to correct this and engage them in the process.

The ANJC is dedicated to promoting Justice through culturally based advocacy, prevention and intervention. As a founding member of Alaska Native Woman’s Sexual Assault Committee, Denise uses her BS in Justice to promote social justice initiatives and victim’s rights. Breast Cancer Awareness has the Pink ribbon and is instantly recognizable while the Purple (domestic violence) and Teal (sexual assault) ribbons with a feather entwined is an idea called “The Ribbon and The Feather”. It is a way to validate survivors, raise awareness and represents Indigenous peoples strength, hope and freedom. Their guiding idea is “Find your voice, Find your Way” that creates the spark that ignites Hope in the hearts of the people. Where the person begins to understand how ‘find your way’ means they do have the choice of which path they choose and they take control of their lives in a meaningful way.

The idea behind the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) is one of a restorative standpoint where you look at the whole picture as a unit to understand problems such as underage drinking. Where understanding how the legal system is punitive based and creates the “revolving door” where a person becomes a repeat offender without ever solving the things that led to this in the first place. To change this Denise, through the ANJC, created an initiative where you search for the reasons behind the actions to find solutions that are real and effective and lasting. Where the community works together as a whole; as our customs and traditions value. In showing them how it works the person becomes involved in the process, which is the goal of the ANJC, by empowering the person they can become an active member in finding the solutions. As President of the ANJC, Denise is in the unique position of putting her thoughts into actions that help the community as a whole.

The statistics show that the problems in Alaska are not only epidemic for the indigenous community but place us either at the top or very close as a State when compared nationally. In searching for real and lasting solutions Denise was a member of federal task force that came up with the upcoming “Tribal Law and Order” Bill as a solution. It gives power to local Tribal leaders in a way that will have a real impact for the community. Being Federal it will supersede state law and allow the Tribal leaders and the community to be directly involved in not only enforcing the laws but in prevention and intervention. Denise believes in collaborating with other groups and agencies and sharing solutions and ideas and finding real ways to help the community as a whole. She believes in being involved and her passion for Social Justice has led her to join many other groups such as the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and leadership through Alliances (DELTA)and Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) to help change the fact that statistically more then 1 out of 3 of Alaska and American Indigenous woman will be raped in her lifetime.

While the task is daunting Denise believes “Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault are crimes that are preventable. We can work together to make sure our communities are safe for men, woman and children.” Seeing how positive and empowered I felt in talking with her, I can see where each other person will also believe in “Find your Voice, Find your Way”.

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Ok, I think I will edit out the "The Ribbon and The Feather" portion and do that as a sharing solutions sidebar one along with another one we talked of.

Is there another part that would work better as a sidebar one?

edited in: Figured out who he is: http://www.akatty.com/attorneys/wohlforth_eric.html

So, should it say Eric Wohlforth, friend and attorney, blah blah then? Or just leave it as a whoever? I think I can just make his name a clickable link if anyone wants to find out who he is too, maybe..

Maria

I've been impatient all weekend because I saw that you had posted two days ago, but haven't had a chance to come back to your article until now.

YOU DID IT!

I love your beginning. And as someone how adores her mother, I instantly felt a connection with Denise when I read that she draws inspiration from her. I so appreciate how much I am learning about the Alaskan Indigenous population from your articles.

I think what comes up for me is that I want to know more about Denise and her work. Did she come up with the idea of “The Ribbon and The Feather?" If so, what inspired her? Was it the Pink Ribbon? What is her vision for the intertwining ribbons?

Oh, and I totally support the notion of adding just a few details about Eric Wohlforth.

Jennifer Ruwart Chief Collaborator JR Collaborations

Maria, You have executed your first interview assignment very well.

I think all of the information is there! You left no holes or questions for your readers.

As you go back and read through the piece, ask yourself with each paragraph, "does this go here?" As we become more experienced, we learn to have a sense of "flow," in our work. There are a few places where you can add transition sentences or rearrange some paragraphs.

Think of it like a fairy tale -- a short, concise story that has a beginning, a middle and an end. All of the details in between are what flow together to create the magic!!

Great work. I'm so proud of you. And I am so inspired by the honest way you approach learning! I'm still taken aback by your report of your first interview!

Keep it up! Cristi