Last fall when Byron Mallott gave up his run as governor on the Democratic ticket and teamed up with Bill Walker, a Republican, it appeared to be a marriage of convenience.

But since Walker was sworn in as governor — and Mallott as lieutenant governor on Dec. 1, 2014 — the relationship between the two has grown and seems to be stronger than ever.

On this week’s Frontiers, Rhonda McBride explores that relationship, as well as Mallott’s personal story – a look at his long history of promoting civil rights for Alaska Natives.

As a Native leader, Mallott’s election has brought more attention to the job than usual. Most lieutenant governors are less visible and sometimes even sidelined by their bosses. But Mallott is carving out a role unlike any Alaska has seen before, and appears to be emerging as the Walker administration’s “philosopher in chief,” wielding considerable influence.

Mark Trahant, a prominent Native American journalist, is our guest on this week’s program.

Currently, he is the Atwood Professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, a fellowship program that invites distinguished journalists to teach at UAA.

Trahant offers national perspective on the significance of Mallott’s election and looks at why it’s a rare occurrence to see Native Americans elected to the top tiers of state government.

NEXT WEEK ON FRONTIERS: Saving Native Languages. From Tlingit to Inupiat to Yup’ik, it’s a wide, open frontier. And the battles are not the same for everyone.

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