From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --
Time to see some old friends. Alaskans from around the state are beginning to arrive in Anchorage for this year's AFN convention.
Read the agenda here.
Look for keynote speaker and 2011 Iditarod champ John Baker to hit town early next week. This will be the Inupiaq musher's first visit to the annual convention, which is the largest annual gathering of Alaska Natives in the state.
“This is actually a time of year that I’m normally training quite heavily," said Baker, who spent the day running 17 dogs, including leaders Snickers and Velvet, on roads circling Kotzebue.
Even before breaking the Iditarod speed record, Baker regularly spoke to rural Alaska students about perseverance and never giving up. That message may be something of a theme at this year's convention, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski plans to hold a Senate hearing about the state's devastating youth suicide rates.
The meeting will be a field hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Murkowski says:
As for his keynote speech Thursday, Baker said he doesn't plan to talk about suicide specifically.
“I can only share the experiences that I have as far as making sure that I’m willing to work hard even though sometimes it’s easier for me to give up in the Iditarod," he said. "I just keep trying hard and never quit.”
The convention theme this year is "Strength in Unity."
Baker said that idea will be part of his talk. "How the dog team’s success is always working together as a team," he said.