Metlakatla Indian Community held a special election on Tuesday, and the results mean big changes. Residents of the island community just south of Ketchikan voted to follow Alaska Standard Time, and to allow liquor sales on their island.
Every year in the fall, Daylight Saving Time ends in Alaska.
Most of Alaska.
In Metlakatla, the time doesn’t change, and for about half of the year, the state’s only Native reserve is an hour earlier than the rest of Alaska.
Next year, though, Metlakatla will “fall back” with everyone else. Residents of Annette Island voted by a wide margin to follow Alaska Standard Time.
Karl Cook is mayor of Metlakatla Indian Community. He said way back in the 1980s, when most of Alaska consolidated its four time zones to one, Metlakatla residents took a vote.
“And we decided to keep our local community time the same year round. The community voted on it at that point as a whole,” he said. “In order to change that, we had to have another community-wide vote.”
Cook said the new election results show that most Metlakatla residents want to conform to the rest of the state – at least when it comes to the time.
“I think what we’re going to do is we’re going to maintain our time until they ‘spring forward,’ and then we’ll align with the state at that time,” he said. “From then on, I think we’ll stay with the state.”
So for now, they’ll continue to be an hour…. ahead?
“Well, let’s see I got 10:00 now,” he said. And, yes, it was about 9 a.m. in Ketchikan.
That’s the argument in favor of changing, he said. Metlakatla is a quick ferry ride from Ketchikan. Residents cross back and forth often for shopping, health care, or to attend events. The time difference can get confusing.
But, Cook said he prefers it the way it has been.
“Because the kids, when they get out of school, they can go home during daylight,” he said. “If we switch back, it’s dark both times whether they’re going to school or whether they’re coming home from school.”
He was in the minority, though. According to ballot results, 295 voted in favor of the time change and 162 voted against.
The ballot results show 302 residents voted in favor of a community-owned liquor store, with 152 voting no. Cook said MIC officials will have to figure out how to get a liquor license and open a store.
He said he wasn’t much involved in that issue, but some MIC Council members have a plan to move forward.
“The people have spoken, and we’re going to have to do some catch-up, see where we are on that and how best to proceed,” he said.
Metlakatla used to be a dry community, Cook said, but in more recent years has allowed residents to purchase a limited amount of alcohol elsewhere and bring it to Annette Island.
Cook said he’s a non-drinker and that issue, too, was something he would have preferred to not change.
“No, actually, I voted no on both and got myself beat pretty bad,” he said, laughing.
But, he said, that’s how elections work and Metlakatla will move forward with what the majority of voters approved.