WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today placed the following tribute to Harold “Buddy” Brown into the Congressional Record:
HAROLD “BUDDY” BROWN
Mr. President, today the people of Interior Alaska – our Native people and the entire Fairbanks community - mourn the loss of one of the most promising Native leaders of this generation. Harold “Buddy” Brown died yesterday of cancer at the age of 39. Buddy is survived by his wife, Patti, and two children, Xavier, age 7 and Alana, age 3.
Throughout Indian Country we are witnessing the generational shift in leadership to young people who have mastered the challenge of living in two worlds. They have completed college, gone on to obtain graduate and professional degrees, and returned to serve their people. One foot in the traditional world of their Native communities. The other in the modern worlds of business, finance, management and law.
Within the Alaska Native community, Buddy Brown stood at the vanguard of this generational shift. After graduating from the University of New Mexico Law School in 1997, he immediately went to work for the Tanana Chiefs Conference, the consortium of 42 tribes in Interior Alaska. He was hired on as Associate Counsel.
Five years later, Buddy was elected President of the Tanana Chiefs Conference. In this role he led a region which encompassed about 235,000 square miles, an area equal to about 37 percent of the state of Alaska, and just slightly smaller than the state of Texas. In 2006, Buddy retired from this position to heal and to spend time with his family.
The Tanana Chiefs region is known throughout the State of Alaska for producing leaders of statewide and national repute. Bridge builders who have a particular talent for engaging the broader community to support the causes and concerns of our Native people.
The late Morris Thompson, who tragically died in the 2000 crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261, is the best known Native leader to come from this region. Beloved throughout the State for his talent in building bridges.
Morris Thompson was Buddy Brown’s mentor and friend. And I am told that he expected Buddy Brown would grow to become a leader whose accomplishments would exceed Morris’ own. Buddy was widely regarded in Alaska as the best and brightest of this new generation. He reached great heights in a few short years, but I am saddened that Alaska will never realize the true potential of this truly extraordinary individual.
There is little I can say to console our grieving community today. But I do have a few words for Xavier and Alana and the Native youth of Interior Alaska. Buddy Brown appreciated that youth is no impediment to leadership. That the energy and new ideas of the youth are desperately needed to keep our Native institutions thriving. Buddy devoted his life to preparing to undertake this leadership role.
Take inspiration from Buddy’s life and become the leader that each of you has the potential to be. I want to help you to achieve this goal – for yourself, for your people, and for all of Alaska.
I thank the President and yield the floor.