Meet Martina Arce, 30.
She's featured in a series of ads for the giant Pebble copper and gold prospect. She never expected it, but she's now the face of Pebble. Or as Pebble foes like to call her, the Pebble Lady.
"Everybody is telling me there are blogs about me and this and that," Arce said. Much of it is negative, she said. Since Pebble sparks such strong sentiments, she anticipated some heat but not this much.
"You know you are not going to be on the most popular side," she said.
She grew up in Iliamna and went to school in Newhalen until she was 15 or so. Her mother is Athabascan, Aleut and Irish; her father is Mexican.
She told her father she wanted to leave the village. "I said I wanted to see where I stand in the real world," she remembers.
She checked out schools in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Then her California grandmother suggested a private, Catholic high school in Santa Ana. So she transferred there her last two years. She played basketball and lived with her paternal grandparents.
She graduated from Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles with a degree in business administration. She lived in Seattle for a few years, working as a receptionist, a bookkeeper and then as an Alaska Airlines flight attendant, which she says she loved.
In 2007, she moved back to Alaska for a human resources job at Iliamna Development Corp. , a subsidiary of the village Native corporation. She lives in Anchorage now.
With others in the corporation, she toured a mine in Chile and did a voiceover for a short documentary produced out of that trip that laid the groundwork for the Pebble ads. She didn't want to say what she earned on Pebble but said it wasn't enough considering all the negative attention and certainly not enough to change her life .
She said she likes the ads because of their message that the mine could become an important source of jobs for the Bristol Bay region. Maybe others will want to speak out, too, she said.
She wasn't named in the ads. A Pebble spokesman, MIke Heatwole, said no one thought of it.
Now she's being targeted in rebuttal ads in which locals say she doesn't speak for them. She can understand why people would be angry if she presumed to do that.
"I stand by those. I am proud of that work. The opposition to me personally -- never in any of my commercials was it ever implied I am speaking for anyone."
The ads are well-received in Iliamna, where Arce and her family know everyone and have credibility, said Lisa Reimers, chief executive of Iliamna Development Corp.
Officially, Arce is neutral on whether Pebble should be a go. But she's from a family of commercial fishermen. As a girl, she worked under the family setnet permit as a licensed crew member. "I was the picker."
A season of fishing doesn't cover a year's worth of bills, she said, pointing to her own family as an example.
"Something needs to change out there," she said.
Arce is now a stay-at-home mother with a 2-year-old son, the life she and her fiance had planned long before the Pebble ads. They are getting married this month.