Rural Alaska – Moving Forward


Feb 28, 2009

Editor’s Note: The following is an article that will soon be submitted to the The Alaska Dispatch on behalf of Nunam Iqua, Ugashik and Pilot Point by our friends Victoria Briggs and AnnS. Much of what we’ve been tossing around here is addressed in the letter. Please chime in!

sophie-opening3Pilot Point  Tribal Council President Sophie opening boxes

Greetings Alaska Dispatch Readers;

This is a joint letter from Victoria Briggs of Ugashik and AnnS of Nunam Iqua. Both of us have been actively advocating to help our villages through these tough times. We are both currently working on Food Drives, bringing in food and supplies to our needy families.

We are sure that everyone reading this already knows of the Crisis in Rural Alaska, which came to light starting with a letter written by Nicholas Tucker of Emmonak back in mid-January. Since that time there have been many letters and articles discussing this Crisis.

Both of us, Victoria and Ann, feel that we are slowly meeting the “short term” goal of making certain our villagers are fed and warm this winter. Now it is time to start looking towards preventing this type of crisis from occurring in the future.

While we have been working on our food drives we have also been working with a lot of people on a website called Anonymous This website was created by a woman in Florida that is completely devoted to addressing the issues of rural Alaska.

In all the help that our villages have received we want to make sure we thank those that helped us find our ‘voices’ to bring the crisis of Rural Alaska to light and hopefully towards finding long term solutions.

Those that first helped get the attention brought to the plight of our villages will forever be first in our hearts and minds when we think of this entire issue!

Here is a brief synopsis of what we are looking at and discussing in way of long term solutions to this crisis in not only Ugashik and Nunam Iqua but also across ALL of Rural Alaska:

The “Long Term” Discussion

In an attempt to be part of the LONG TERM solution that allows our villages to travel into the future with dignity, we are going to open a discussion on the villages and our hopes for them.

We might be chastised, like many before us, but we are hoping that instead those whose hearts are in the right place are recognized and that we can have an open discussion. We are going to approach this, hopefully, without name calling but instead with calls for accountability of those that are there to ‘help’ us.

An article was written, we feel fairly and with insight, by Elise Sereni Patkotak, for the Alaska Dispatch.

We would like to use this as a jumping off point to present some of the ideas we have that might be a start for our villages to work their way out of these issues.

We also recognize that economic development goes hand in hand with community development. Our villages have a great need for community development; roads, better/longer airstrips, docks, school buildings, water and sewers etc.

We also realize we can do some economic development to help justify the community development and not just wait for the investment in our villages.

We can invest in ourselves!

We can develop those resources we have while we weave our way into self sustainability. (some of this will raise questions as we use very Alaskan terms and discuss issues that are ‘normal’ to us – please feel free to question. In your asking us to explain many times we learn more of how things work or take care of misinformation that even we might have)

Here are just a few of the ideas we have, and welcome input on all parts of these:

* First of all, work with our villagers to realize our rights to hold the local and regional governing groups accountable for their actions.  As many groups have learned over the year that an informed voter is a better group for all. We must work with many on this so we can effectively ask for the changes that are needed.

*Find out what rights we have to vote for tribal officers, see the activities they participate in, and to have them report back to us on their activities. What rights do we have to see our village tribal budget and accounts? To get a report of the grant monies and how they are spent?  Find out what ‘rights’ we have to hold our local for profits accountable and then also our regional for profits.

*Educate our villagers on these rights.

* Do the same for CDQ (Community Development Quota) board members and involve ourselves in their operations.

* Build better markets for our Yukon Keta (Chum) Salmon so as to have a two prong income for our fishermen and families. For Bristol Bay villages building awareness of Sockeye Salmon is also needed. (This can be done in conjunction with other groups and simply by talking about it every chance we can)

* Organize and join forces with all western villages on the issues of by-catch of our Chinook and other salmon by trawlers. We can not wait for an outside group to set these rules; we must DEMAND them for the strength of ALL fisheries in Alaska. We must demand our CDQ groups, who are also trawler owners, guard these also for us to protect not only our commercial fishermen but also our subsistence rights.  Both go hand in hand with our ability to develop and maintain sustainable communities.

* Become more involved in how the limits and seasons are set for our subsistence hunting and fishing. Understand the biology behind the limits and work with the area biologists to support both the outside hunting but also our right to have a source of subsistence food to support our families.

*Get our resident members onto advisory boards and actively into this process. Demand the state follow their regulations on the issues of advisory boards so our voices will be heard.

* Pursue the opportunity for a locally formed fishermen’s co-op, village tribe and private company to form a larger processing operation that will be located in our fishing district. (this is specifically for the Alaska Peninsula villages as they are working toward this.)

* Establish a system or way to get some grocery stores into our villages that don’t have them, such Nunam Iqua and Pilot Point.

* Pursue ways to capitalize on any local resources such as naturally grown berries to supply outside markets. Also to possibly establish a village based, small, “community kitchen”  to supply traditional foods to other Natives who do not have a resource. This might work well for those who live in larger areas where subsistence activities are not allowed but for someone that wants to maintain a traditional lifestyle.

* Possibly start showcasing, mostly likely via the web, some of our crafts, traditions and artists. In time offer some items for sale.

* Start the conversation on what might be of interest to the science community in the areas of climate changes, summer bird populations and animal habits. Possibly fostering studying of these and form a base in our area for this type of research.

* Figure out how to grow more of our own food locally so we do not have to import so much.

* Make sure ALL of our residents have the needed skills to put up food reserves from the summer harvests to better sustain them in the winter months.

Much has been happening so far, like getting wind and other sources of energy planned, but we need to also start things in the villages themselves.

Check out the different links on the website we have set up for discussion and join forces with us to come up with some long term solutions.   You’ll find us at There are MANY pages there on not only these topics of long term goals but also updates from both of us on our food drives and information on how to help.

So please consider this a formal OPEN invitation to help us help not only our villages but villages across Rural Alaska. We look forward to and value your input,


Victoria and AnnS


76 Responses to “Rural Alaska – Moving Forward”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    Regarding the preservation of harvest for winter eating: The University of Idaho has an on-line training program for Master Food Preservers through the Agricultural Extension. If you can’t find information, I can for you. Of course, Alaska might have some other sources for winter storage, but this would be a start.

  2. UgaVic Says:

    I will look for it and share.
    PS- We also want to figure out a short ‘cheat sheet’ for people on how to build a root cellar too.
    keep an eye out and hopefully someone in the cold areas has some experience to help us figured it out.

  3. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Ann & Victoria,

    This is a WONDERFUL letter – full of innovation, grace, and recognition of all that we hope for, and treasure in, rural Alaska. Your voices are clear and beautiful! Your call has been heard by many, and there are many more who will join us.

    Please never stop telling your stories and sharing your village life. Without rural Alaska’s people and resources, Alaska is really nothing special – just a big land with a lot of mountains, ice, water and tundra. It is our diversity and our heritage which makes Alaska the place of great opportunity, learning, challenge and strength. WE CAN DO THIS, YES WE CAN!

  4. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    NICE!well organized,I look forward to what is going to happen ! (What? no ice hotel?)lol

  5. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    I think a co-op Native store would be great. Maybe a co-op nursery growing veg. like lettuce and other vegs? It wouldn’t have to be a big area, alot can grow in the area size of a house, these veggies could then be brought to the co-op Market. These are all really good ideas and I like the idea of being able to go online and buy some traditional Native handicrafts! Also the teaching of the skill, necessary for surviving winter in schools. Maybe their could be special classes that elders get to teach and be paid to teach? I know ya’ll have teachers come in from other areas but this could be something taught by villagers and they would be paid by the state to teach it? Also from pics it painfully obvious the villages need better roads to get around. Instead of Alaska building roads to “nowhere” Alaska should be hiring in the villages for the building of roads & A Native store, plumbing etc. Also BROADBAND, for the villages! In this day and age it is important they be “connected” so the Villages are never left out again!
    I think there are many great ideas here! Also medical clinics staffed by villagers! Villages don’t need a “handout” but a hand UP!!!
    Also thank you in Florida for this blog, for Ann S and the villages. I wish we could somehow make Michelle O know of this situation also?

  6. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    I just found this online: A free food preservation online course.

  7. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ Crystal

    I really like the idea of reaching out to the First Lady! Jane from Miami suggested letter writing from the school children at Nunam Iqua, which I think is a great idea, but am giggling and wondering if the children know who she is yet?

  8. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    That would be really cute and a good way for them to Learn about Michelle O!
    That would be a great History/civics project! But I would also like to see Ann write a letter or send a video to Michelle O.
    GINO is no help at all.
    I could just see Michelle O coming to the Villages, It would be a wonderful day indeed! :)

  9. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ Crystalwolf

    After thinking about my comment, I’m sure that the school children must know our new president and first family! I may have fallen under the cookie spell thinking that because the villages are so remote, that the children know only of their own part of the world. We have seen the lovely teacher in Emmonak, who got sick shortly after we met her via Dennis Zaki’s video – and I have no doubts that there are some amazing educators out there working hard to bring perspective and knowledge to the village youngsters. My apologies to teachers in the bush everywhere!

    But YES, a civics project!!! Joined with a letter from Ann, who writes like a Yup’ik angel (a very funny angel), would make the world take notice.

  10. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    “But YES, a civics project!!! Joined with a letter from Ann, who writes like a Yup’ik angel (a very funny angel), would make the world take notice.”

    Yes I love the way Ann writes too! :)
    I can’t wait for her cooking article…especially after seeing the frybread yesterday!
    I would love her recipe! I am of the hope when things settle down in the bush area, Ann can write a book, about life in the villages….It would be so interesting. I don’t think people REALLY Get how difficult the simple things we take for granted… are there. After reading to my BF Ann’s writing on getting water, he said “I will never take running water for granted again”!

  11. shrinkinggranny Says:

    What about some of us, the pj clad bloggers – or maybe some of us have grandchildren whose classes might like to have a pen pal exchange of some kind?

    Ok, that’s a bit OT, isn’t it. Sorry (where should it go?!)

    A teenager, interviewing her grandmother for a school assignment asked her grandmother, “What modern convenience would you keep if you could only keep one?”

    Grandma thought about it, looked around her kitchen and said “Running water.”

    Gran was right.

  12. JuneauJoe Δ Says:

    Selling things made in the villages:

    There are some great craftsmen in the villages. Baskets made out of sea grasses, carving on tusks, walrus teeth, muk luks, which are native boots, coats, hats, beading, dream catchers

    I bought items at the Corporation Store and also, Mark Tucker at Emmonak School knew all of the craftsmen in Emo. He would send me off to check out the various things being made.

  13. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ shrinkinggranny

    There IS no off topic here – all ideas are welcomed! Let’s see what Ann and Vic chime in with regarding the children – I would love to explore more on this subject!

  14. JuneauJoe Δ Says:

    Video of Nicolas Tucker talking to GINO Palin:

  15. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Juneau Joe,

    Yupik Outfitters!

    Patagonia Outfitter’s environmental cause is protecting ecosystems and bio-diversity in Chile and Argentina’s Patagonia region. Yupik branded clothing and crafts could protect rural Alaska!

    Anybody want to design a logo?


  16. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Ann & Victoria’s letter has been published!!!!


  17. shrinkinggranny Says:

    Woohoo! I meant to say before what a wonderful letter it is.

    Shoot, how could they *not* print it, eh?

    Here’s hoping!


  18. Elizabeth Says:

    I didn’t know about the University of Ill. website. The University of Georgia is the “home” for all the USDA information on home food preservation. Their home canning website is
    (National Center for Home Food Preservation).

    This isn’t a “class” but just open, organized information. It has common questions and answers. The book they offer “So easy to preserve” is a good basic book.

    I’ll see what I can find on root cellaring. It sounds like a great idea for your area.

  19. Alaska Pi ∆ Says:

    Ann S and Victoria-
    Yee haw!
    Glad to see your letter on Alaska Dispatch!
    Hope it brings some folks with ideas and plans.

    Best wishes neighbors- !

  20. JuneauJoe Δ Says:


    YuPik Outfitters is great! I bought one daughter some mukluks and the other two daughters some slippers made of moose leather bottoms, beaver and martin tops.
    The basketry is amazingly intricate and the seal skin jackets are so beautiful – they shimmer in the sun and they are quite warm.

    I got to wear some bear fur gloves when it was 20 below and those kept the hands super toasty.
    the carvings and masks are great too. They actually have a YuPik class in Emmonak School where they teach kids native ways and show them how to make native crafts.

  21. shrinkinggranny Says:

    I bet “Snow Lady” would have loved to have some of that cold weather wear when she was in town (biting my lip here)

  22. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    When I talk about roads being built I mean REAL roads…that can be snowplowed in the winter!
    And yes speed bumps could be added! :)
    Can’t wait to read about your experience today, that’s allot of food to deal with!

  23. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    Ann, I am waiting for your report of Sam’s purse food drop, from yesterday…meanwhile I wanted to pass this along to you, and maybe you can share with Tribal elders?

    Michelle Obama at the Interior Dept.
    By Rachel L. Swarns
    First Lady Michelle Obama models a handmade shawl she received from Director of Public Affairs for the Bureau of Indian Affairs Nedra Darling. (Photo: Lawrence Jackson/Associated Press)

    First Lady Michelle Obama continued her getting-to-know Washington tour on Monday with a visit to the Department of the Interior where she announced that President Obama would soon appoint a White House policy adviser dedicated to tribal issues such as sovereignty, health care and education.

    Mrs. Obama said the new policy adviser – whose name is expected be announced in a few weeks — would focus on “the well-being of Native American families and the prosperity of tribes all across this country.”

    And that means All the First people’s of Alaska Also! I think she would Love to hear from the kids, and You Ann!
    The Obama’s are not like Palin. Michelle O would never ever disrespect Nick T. like GINO did.
    I know you are very busy now, but it is something to think about for summertime. Hey get the whole Village(s) involved!
    It would be a blessed Day to see the Obama’s touch down in Alaska, not to meet with Gino for the pipeline or anything like that, but to meet with the Elders and discuss important issues to the villages, education etc.
    Now that would be a blessed day! :)

  24. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    JuneauJoe Δ Says:
    March 1, 2009 at 11:36 pm


    YuPik Outfitters is great! I bought one daughter some mukluks and the other two daughters some slippers made of moose leather bottoms, beaver and martin tops.
    Injuneau Jane, can you please give me the interent address for them? I can’t seem to pull it up on google.
    Thanks :D

  25. anonymousbloggers Says:


    I guess that post was misleading. I was trying to say that the Yupik people should form a co-op to market the knitted items, handicrafts and carvings, berry products and, maybe even, moose jerky under the Yupik brand to bring awareness to the ecosystems and bio-diversity of rural Alaska.

    Patagonia does this for the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina.

    Sorry if you got your hopes up.


  26. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    I googled yupik outfitters and I went to a site that had choices and I went to outfitters and later to shopping and it did show shops in Juneau that sold baskets , gold nugget jewelry ,carvings …but it was not set up with pictures and a way to really order anything on line. Martha Unalaska ….had mentioned some shops in juneau….Maybe they want to do web sales and spruce up their site.

  27. shrinkinggranny Says:

    relating to what Jane was saying:
    The store is in Anchorage, they are based in Oomingmak (check “the knitters” link, especially)
    In Palmer (related to the qiviut cooperative)
    more info

    Don’t know if this would be viable, but surely there is info there that could be put to use here – even to create other coops.

  28. shrinkinggranny Says:


    Raw qiviut currently runs $50 per ounce. Ready-to-spin is $70 per ounce.

    it’s really incredible stuff


  29. JuneauJoe Δ Says:

    Crystalwolf aka caligrl

    I got your note about the MukLuks, go to my blog and you can see them in the Mar 2008 section. They cost $350.00. I got them by talking to Mark Tucker at Emmonak School and I had an outline of the foot to him and they were hand made. At the time, she only had cow hide and moose leather for the bottoms.

    There are a few people that make moccosins and mukluks the traditional YuPik way in Emmonak.

  30. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    Jane, thanks I will go check it out. I think there is definitely a need for native goods to be sold online.
    I think that would be a great cottage industry.
    Thanks again :)

  31. JuneauJoe Δ Says:

    Crystalwolf aka caligirl,

    Mukluks made in Alaska – In a few weeks, the shops will open up for the tourist trade and they sell Alaska Mukluks. I bet they will be online too. Cruise Ships start coming in April and stores open up for them. Some of the stores are owned by the cruise companies and some stores are owned by Alaskans and some by Natives.

    I know the Emmonak Mukluks were made by a YuPik lady because I met her and knew her son. She does not have a phone so to contact her so I had to go through Mark at the school.

  32. JuneauJoe Δ Says:

    The shops I am speaking of are in Juneau, AK, where I am presently living. I am a newbie so I am just learning the ins and outs of this place.

    Alaska Pi is also in Juneau and may have more info about Mukluks here.

  33. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    Ann, thanks! I figured to just kinda add flour…lol!

    Oh the frybread, the little holes in there…reminded me of these fried treats that they make in Europe? LOL! They sure look good, I can’t wait to try.

  34. Kath the Scrappy from Seattle Says:

    Regarding potential Yup’ik Outfitters, without any “intentions whatsoever in doing so”, haven’t they ALREADY begun to establish a Customer/Client Base? So many people worldwide that have been donating and sending flatrate boxes & talking to friends/coworkers aren’t going to stop watching over our Friends & Neighbors in the North, once this crisis is met. Free word of mouth/blogger shared advertising, whatever products can be provided by the Villagers already has an immense headstart out of the Starting Gate IMO. People EAGER to help the Villagers become even more self sufficient.

  35. Kath the Scrappy from Seattle Says:

    WRT to a Coop vegetable garden. An idea that I saw years ago. Granted there may be a shortage in space for heat able area to grow food. But what they did was to take cylinders of metal pipes maybe it was stainless steel but smooth. Perhaps 2 ft in diameter, standing up on end. Cut horizontal slits all around at intervals and punched in the upper part of the slit to create kind of a balcony effect. Filled inner cylinder with soil, then each “balcony” planted. I believe the idea was to grow strawberries and keep the slugs from creeping at them. But allowed for a larger garden in a smaller space. Also allowed for less water reqd to keep it moist.

    Perhaps if one took that idea and planted Japanese peapods or something that could drape themselves over the whole cylinder. Would provide more fresh veggies. Would also allow for better use of imported soil, compost or manure (given the difficulties of your soils and rock compositions).

    I’m not a gardener at all, but just thought I would toss this idea into the mix. I have no idea where to find research on this method, sorry. But, I would think many which Anonymous Bloggers might wish to donate to the cause for soil etc.

  36. Kath the Scrappy from Seattle Says:

    Forgot to mention, those “cylinder gardens” stood about 5-6 ft high. The weight of the soil held them in place, I believe.

  37. Alaska Pi ∆ Says:

    We have MORE cause for hope of moving forward in Alaska now…

    State Senator Kim Elton has resigned his from seat in the Seante and is going to DC to work as the Alaska advisor in the Dept of the Interior.

    The complex mess of federal/state issues about land use, subsistence rights, etc will land in Mr Elton’s lap as soon as he walks in his new office .I have faith he will be a sensible hardworking advocate for Alaska in federal policy.

    I am totally bummed to have lost him as my district’s Senator but excited for all of us on the broader stage of activity…

  38. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ Juneau Joe
    @ Crystalwolf
    @ Kath the Scrappy

    These are great ideas re: selling Yup’ik crafts / clothing items! It may be late now to do anything for spring, because we need to look into the Made in Alaska certification right away. Juneau tourist shops do sell many Alaskan made items but they must have that certification for retail outlets to display and sell. We could also do an EBay store for starters (again w/ the Made in Alaska certification). Alaska Pi has a friend who is working on a co-op for the village of Angoon on Kootznoowoo (Admiralty Island) so we should check in with that little venture to see how they are doing it.

  39. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    ooops…forgot the link to the form for Made in Alaska certification:

    Click to access MIAapplication.pdf

    We also need a business license, but that’s easy to do (and the license fees have recently been reduced).

  40. anonymousbloggers Says:

    I’d go for Yupik Made. Then there’s no question who benefits from the profits.

  41. anonymousbloggers Says:


    Does that mean each person would have to apply and pay the $25 fee for each product?

    Seems like we could start them up with their own FREE certification system.

    My first thoughts…

    A person sends an example of the craft or product they sell to someone, maybe Alaska Pi’s friend, someone who could evaluate the quality and either authorize the Yupik Made sticker/tag or help the craftsman get it up to par.

    Once certified, a photo would be posted on a website promoting Yupik made products. The site would have lots of the information we have been learning about the villages, traditions, etc.

    This would be a little grass roots ad campaign/PR opportunity for the whole region.

    It could probably be started on a small scale by spring. Logo designed by a villager, stickers/tags printed, crafts sent to consignment shop in flat rate boxes — does that make sense?

  42. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ anonymous

    I think under a co-op or business umbrella, just one certification and business license would be needed. Then it would be the entity itself that is certified and must continue to comply w/ requirements for that, but craftspeople can come and go.

    We need someone in the village to be “in charge” – there has to be a local contact to provide verification of qualification and oversight of the business. Also, the management of the EBay store or other website would need to be done locally (at least mostly) since pictures, etc need to be taken and content updated. A Pay Pal account and bank account are needed, etc.

    Let me see if Alaska Pi can touch base w/ her friend who is doing the Angoon thing so we can get more info.

  43. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    JuneauJoe Δ, thanks for the info, sorry I’ve been calling you jane? Ha I’ve had a eye infection for a couple of weeks now…Will check back in a month or so and see if their is info re: cruise ships stores or grassroots ebay, or cottage biz being started…which sounds like Martha is giving ideas :)

  44. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ crystalwolf

    Thanks – don’t wait MONTH, though! We need your discussion here no matter whether it’s just checking in, or tossing more ideas out there.

    The only idea that I would nix in any way, up front, is the cruise ship store part. The cruise ship companies are very difficult to deal with, esp. anything small scale. And these passengers would not have any contact to speak of with Yup’ik peoples, so unless they were self educated about the bush, they would be clueless anyway (although that doesn’t stop them from buying Caribbean jewelry in Alaska – go figure?)

  45. anonymousbloggers Says:


    Do individuals need a license to sell on consignment in Alaska? We don’t in Florida.

    We have fictitious names here. If a name is not taken, we can register it for five years for $50. If you have a business checking account, you can attach the fictitious name to the the account.

    You could be Nunam Iqua Food Drive DBA (doing business as) Yupik Made here. If you have something like that in Alaska, it would take care of the expenses for the PR and people could sell individually on consignment — thoy would simply be authorized to put the Yupik Made brand on it.

    Just a thought.

  46. Michigander Says:


    I think you are on the right track and this is something that could be done quickly and simply. I also think as another option it’s worth googling ebay and clicking on ‘how to sell’.

    I used to sell on consignment at various shops, then through a friend that had his own ebay account then started my own. I listed a mere 10 items the 1rst week and it took off from there.

    Another thing, my husband and I went into business (still are)for ourselves in ’97 on a different venture after he lost his job. Getting the DBA was simple and quick. There are/were programs in MI where you can get small biz funding once you prove your biz is viable. The villages should have no problem with funding once they begin.

    You could start a page here with a few sample pics (o:

    I hope someone acts quickly on this as there definitely is a market.

    As if dear Ann and Victoria don’t have enough on their shoulders! Hoping there are others there than can help set these things in motion. Also, truly want Vic to make it to Fairbanks.

    Love and prayers to all – Rainie

  47. Jim Says:

    Victoria and Ann:

    Regarding your letter: I was fascinated with your first suggestion on what to do:

    “First of all, work with our villagers to realize our rights to hold the local and regional governing groups accountable for their actions.”

    Sounds like this may be a problem? Are local and regional governing groups out of touch with their “grassroots” communities? Are some leaders exploiting their political power?

    As a white guy, this literally may be none of my business, and I’m wondering if I should be asking about this at all– but as an Alaskan your comments really hit me– there may be a problem (or problems) here that are affecting the quality of life of many rural Alaskans. I don’t know what I can do, but think your comment about governing groups is significant and a “wake up call.”

    I wonder how local and regional groups get audited. Are the audits disclosed? I know the native corporations must report, but I don’t know about local organizations.

  48. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ Jim

    I agree with you on your post above – I think that’s why this forum / blog is so very valuable. There are so many subjects such as these where we do the respect dance – we want to ask and understand, but we don’t want to sound like we are violating privacy or tradition. But, here it is – if we are going to help rural Alaska effectively, we DO need to ask questions.

    We have been asking Ann S and Vic about all sorts of things, and much of the overall picture is still quite complex, and murky, to me. Many times they don’t know how to answer for their village, only from their own perspectives. These two are very brave to start a discussion with other rural Alaska residents and the various councils. I applaud their every effort and just wish we had a few more Anns and Victorias to fill out their ranks.

    In the meantime, I’ve decided that my short term goal in helping is to get politicians involved, and to help with some letter writing and blogging (and to keep sending boxes when I can). I’ll just keep heading down this path until someone swings me around to say “Hey, there’s something else to do now!”

    I think the sort of front room conversations that go on here are very helpful for many of us, and it’s a pretty non-judgmental venue for Ann and Victoria to share their observations and knowledge.

  49. crystalwolf aka caligrl Says:

    Ann S and Victoria,
    got this link from mudlfats:Thank here_in_PA for the link :)
    907-258-ANAF (2623)
    500 West 6th Avenue :: Anchorage, Alaska
    P.O. Box 101497 :: Anchorage, Alaska :: 99510-1497

    This might be a starting place for showcasing and selling your beautiful crafts! Loved the ANPR interview :D

  50. InterestedPerson Says:

    Once again, taking Martha UYS ‘s suggestion to not wait before offering
    [Martha, as has been said before, you are one very smart kind person]

    Two things to investigate by people up there, which I was going to try to
    get more information about first:

    The Grameen microfinancing banks: there are projects in various
    communities now, but through Whole Foods
    they make micro loans to
    “communities that supply our products”
    and I know they sell Alaskan salmon of several types.
    They make small loans, to groups of small business entepreneurs,who can work together to support each other. The idea was started by
    a East Asian banker, I believe, and is extremely successful in Africa,
    now in Brooklyn, NY, etc.

    If Whole Foods is not the one, there are other venues for this kind of
    financing. There is also a web site where individuals can contribute to
    small enterprizes.

    Recently retired, I have very little cash but would come up with something toward such a fund, and I bet every Mudpup would too…
    Judging from the action on the food and fuel situation, would think
    some kind of ‘Kitty” {or maybe ‘the Brian fund’, or a ‘Wolfie” fund
    could be set up for the micro-loans that can be really critical in
    getting a small operation of crafts or arts functional.]

    What is so neat about the concept is the way it is adaptable to each community’s needs and culture.

  51. InterestedPerson Says:

    PS re the GrameenBank : there is a web site with their whole structure and
    history. It was Prof. Muhammed Yunus, who started it in Bangladesh,
    and subsequently won a Nobel prize. So this may have been noted as
    an option elsewhere in the blogs.

    Network for Good is the site that is a venue for charitable giving.
    Bering Straits Assoc, Cook Inlet Tribal council and Artic Slope are already
    listed. This is just another way that would be easy to receive donations,
    as long as one has an IRS charity designation.

  52. sandra in oregon Says:

    This is a rather tight month for me, but I want to continue to send donations to the villages. I found two ways to make 2 gifts in one. Small, but they felt good. One was buying a box of Girl Scout cookies and putting them in the box for Alaska. Another one was at the Senior Center I bought some raffle tickets and won a can of beef stew.

    Today I took all the accumulated soda cans to the redemption center and used the proceeds to buy some canned food.

    Next plan is to go through all the purses and pockets to hunt for other buried treasures.

    Thought this might give some other people ideas.

  53. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ sandra

    WOW, you are a generous and creative person! Maybe I should take a look at my hubby’s penny jar – huge – think he’d notice?

  54. anonymousbloggers Says:



    Don’t forget to look under the sofa cushions. Change also slips down where you can’t reach it but you’ll hear the jingle if you tip the sofa forward.

    Times are tough all over,

  55. Bardette Says:

    1) eco-composting toilets – solves the honey bucket issue and you get excellent compost for your gardens and greenhouses.
    2) NZ possum pelt clothing – different to US possum. A complete pest here (not native); they used to poison them en masse but now we have quite a possum pelt/fur industry here. The market for furs generally has dropped but I bet people in Alaska and other extremely cold places would love possum pelt clothing. See here:
    3) I know a fantastic gardener in Maine whom I think could help with the gardening, preserving, canning etc. I shall invite her over here.

  56. InterestedPerson Says:

    Barbette: re the eco composting toilets.
    Do you have brand names and are there any that run without electricity?
    {Curious for my attic}

  57. Bardette Says:

    For some bizarre reason every composting toilet site I have tried to access has crashed my computer.
    It is possible to make them yourself but given the temperatures in Alaska, outside composting isn’t going to occur much of the year. I think the ready bought ones have a storage tank that has to go under the floor so this may not be feasible either (also expensive – starting at around $5000).
    I will research the issue more fully but it would be helpful if “those in the know” could give me details like where the waste is normally disposed and is there room under the floors there for a unit.

  58. Bardette Says:

    Here is one that doesn’t require electricity and costs $2,700.00.
    I’m thinking there must be a way of copying the technology without breaking the bank.

  59. shrinkinggranny Says:

    @ Bardette (and whoever)

    If for the villages, there might be a way to get “bulk pricing” if more than one or three are ordered. Just a thought.


  60. InterestedPerson Says:

    Barbette, thanks for the reference.
    My computer is accepting the search;
    the ones I have looked at are in the $1500-$1800 range, plus the venting,
    I think: Biolet and SunMar, and have to be emptied in ordinary conditions
    every 6 to 12 months, and dont compost below 55 degrees. Non-electic or
    AC/DC or electric to warm the compost area.
    So they might work, but haven’t people tried such things already up there
    if they would work? or it is the capital required that prevents using them?
    They really sound ideal and a good suggestion, from my limited point of view.

  61. shrinkinggranny Says:

    If you haven’t already, check the link on the 1st page of the blog – about Victoria and the gardening conference. It is FULL of links to all kinds of things, including this: which is a blog written by Kim Sollien:

    Kim came to Alaska in 2000 and studied sustainable development at APU. Working for Chickaloon Native Village, she helped launch a sustainable foods initiative that included organic gardening classes, community gardens and a four-season greenhouse that produces fresh produce. She helped bring the national conference, Bioneers, to Alaska in 2004. Her passion in working toward food security and rejuvenating the Alaska food system influences all aspects of her professional and personal life.

    Also on that page from her Jan 19 post:
    I have been working out the details of a new business venture, Alaska Root Sellers: a delivery business linking Matanuska Valley Farmers with area restaurants, universities and hospitals. It feels really amazing to be weaving a thread of connection within the fabric of Alaska’s food system.

    I betcha (ouch) that this gal will be at the conference… as will one of the head honchos from Seed Savers (another link from earlier).

    Shoot, that looks like one not-to-be-missed conference!

  62. Bardette Says:

    I’m thinking all things considered some Macgyver (sp?) ingenuity might be called for. I’m also too thinking outside the box and am chucking ideas around in my little brain. I may have an idea that at least makes the honey bucket less unpleasant between emptyings but at miniscule cost – I need a few days to experiment. If the honey buckets could be made less unpleasant then a large communal composting unit (if built right) could be built in each village a) making waste haulage unnecessary b) providing excellent compost. The heat generated from a large composter might also provide heating for a large greenhouse. Any money saved by the State of Alaska on waste haulage should be invested in the villages.

  63. Sue Says:

    Who owns the land that the oil wells are on? If it is tribal land, then they tribe should have some sort of contract that allows the oil companies to use their land. This contract should include a section that guaranatees all the native Alaskans free or low-cost (be sure to define “low-cost”) fuel for their cooking, heating, vehicles and any other fuel you use. If the oil companies will not give you this agreement, then cancel their leases.

  64. Fresh Tracks Says:

    Good idea this site for sharing ideas. I hope we can all work together to keep the watersheds healthy so that the salmon will always be there. This is a challenge is Southeast and other parts of Alaska also.

  65. Roland Shanks Says:

    My group can help with the environmental infrastructure issues, like drinking water, wastewater, and solid waste. I’d be glad to talk with you about those kinds of problems. In fact, I’m working with some communities in the area. We are funded by the US Gov. I also worked for Alaska Inter-Tribal Council for a while and might be able to help with some of your local governece issues. I’ve worked in Alaska since 1976. I like the idea of a Native co-op store or web based store, there are some examples of this. I’ll try and find their websites. Let me know how I can help, 907 230 4918.

  66. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Roland, welcome and THANK YOU! I forwarded your post and website link to Ann and Victoria, our village go-getters /advocates/ organizers, as well as the webmaster and rural AK friends group. I am now off to read everything on your website – thank you again!

  67. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ Sue

    The mineral rights are outlined by the Alaska Native Claims and Settlement Act of 1971. This published article is from one of the Regional Corporations, NANA. I don’t know though, how evenly and accurately this all gets played out – it’s worth some research!

    How ANCSA Works

    The twelve Alaska-based regional corporations and the village corporations formed under ANCSA own lands in different ways. The Claims Act allowed both regional and village corporations to select federal lands within their ethnic boundaries (in NANA�s case, for example, Northwest Alaska).

    Village corporations selected lands near their villages, in most cases. Subsurface mineral rights to all lands went to the regional corporation. Village corporations owned surface lands. In the NANA region, all of the villages, except Kotzebue, merged their assets with the regional corporation to simplify land ownership and reduce administrative burdens.

    An important provision in the 1971 act requires the sharing of 70 percent of natural resource revenues among the regional and village corporations. Thus all Native corporations benefit when a mine is developed on one regional corporation�s lands, another region owns part of an oil or gas field, or a third region harvests timber on its lands.

  68. anonymousbloggers Says:

    This was posted on an older thread and might have been overlooked.
    Thanks for the heads up Linda!
    LGardener Says:
    March 12, 2009 at 8:26 pm
    FANTASTIC NEWS! I just found out that every Alaskan man, woman and child who have lived in Alaska for the past year is entitled to a dividend from the state in the amount of $3,269. You can apply online at:

    The deadline for the application is March 31, 2009.

    Now, just think if everyone in Alakanuk (population 700), Numan Iqua (pop. 164) and Emmonak (pop. 767) each contributed $1,000 of their dividend to purchase a plane to fly in supplies from either Anchorage or Seattle, how much more economic sense that would be? It would be very exciting to have folks from these towns take flying lessons too. I calculated that just those three villages would have approximately $1,631,000 to spend. Other villages could join of course.

    Wouldn’t that be less expensive than paying an outside company fly in supplies as it now stands? When I saw that a pound of spaghetti noodles was going for $6.45, I thought that surely, there must be a better way.

    You could open food cooperatives in each town as well, with volunteer coop members who could provide services in exchange for discounts on purchases. Also, from the money that is saved on food purchases, greenhouses could be set up to grow fresh produce.

    So hurry. At the very least, don’t let the folks in your town pass up the opportunity to obtain money that legitimately belongs to them.

  69. Jim Says:

    A percentage (I think 25 percent) of Alaska’s oil revenues are deposited into Alaska’s Permanent Fund, which last Summer stood at over 30 billion dollars (amounting to about 50,000 dollars for every man, woman, and child in Alaska). The Permanent Fund is kind of a large savings account. It was the idea of Jay Hammond, one of Alaska’s greatest governors, and it is constitutionally mandated. Each year a dividend is paid to Alaskans. Last year the dividend was over 2000.00 and there was an additional one-time “energy rebate” of 1250.00.

    Unfortunately our Permanent Fund got pulverized in the last few months along with the stock market. Oil prices are also way down. Alaskans probably won’t get anything near 3250.00 this year. In fact there has been talk in the legislature of not having any dividend payment in 2009. My guess is we will get a dividend which may be less than a thousand dollars.

    Probably the cheapest way to ship food is with a barge. A barge didn’t make it to some villages this year because of early freeze up.

    Even with increasing rates the post office is much cheaper than airfreight. See:

    Emmonak is about 500 miles from Anchorage so it is about a 1000 mile round trip. Just as an example, a Cessna 185 can carry about 1650 pounds, including pilot. It would take about an 8 hour day for a pilot to fly to and from Anchorage from Emmonak, (she would have to refuel along the way with this particular plane but we’ll ignore that). If I recall correctly a 185 gets about 10 miles/ gallon so it would cost about 400 to 800 dollars for fuel and there are other operating, maintenance, and insurance costs– I doubt any airplane and pilot alternate could compete with U.S. mail for shipping costs.

    Sorry to be a devil’s advocate. Might be good to get some pilot’s comments too, and if (heaven forbid) they ever stop subsidizing mail, perhaps private carriers will become the best or only option.

  70. Jim Says:

    I forgot to mention that virtually all Alaskans who qualified with a year of residency applied for and received Permanent Fund Dividends and energy rebates last year– my family of 3 got about 10,000 dollars total. Some legislators tried to focus State energy cost relief on places that had greatest need (like villages) but they were the minority and also in opposition to the governor. As a consequence the 1250.00 energy rebate was distributed along with all Permanent Fund dividends regardless of need, and despite the “heads- up” that villages faced an exceptional energy cost crisis.

  71. Jim Says:

    Finally, just saw in the March 13 Anchorage Daily News:

    “PFD could fall to $68”

  72. LGardener Says:

    Gee, what a letdown! $68 is a far, far cry from what was available last year and it looks like that would only buy me about 10 boxes of spaghetti in Emmonak. When I saw the PFD website, I thought that the $3,269 was available from last year to be paid this year.

    So, we’re back to square one=extremely limited resources. I hear you on the plane/mileage issue. According to your numbers, it looks like airlifting cargo would cost from $0.25 to $0.48 per pound (just in fuel) and that does not take into account other operating costs (landing strip rights in Anchorage for example), maintenance, insurance, etc.

    However, I wouldn’t totally discount the usefulness of having a tribally owned and operated plane or even a barge. A bigger plane might be more useful perhaps – like a Cessna Caravan? Also, there are some very interesting things going on in the fuel efficiency arena that may be able to be applied to air and barge cargo transport.

    In addition, there is an interesting article I read on “Common Dreams” about a city in Brazil that basically eliminated hunger by adopting the concept that food should be a basic human right instead of a consumer product.

    In conclusion, Jim, I think you’re right on about the flat rate boxes being the best deal for as long as the post office continues to offer it.

  73. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Send your comments calling for a cap on salmon bycatch:

    This affects all of us and we must let the North Pacific Fishery Management Council know we’re watching.

  74. old salt Says:

    I know you folks are getting a lot of suggestions on how to move forward. I want to suggest two simple things. FIRST….Set up an account so that people from around the world can donate directly to you. There should be a “donate” button on your anonymous bloggers page. SECOND…Maybe you have already done this but if you haven’t…Set up an ebay account. It is simple to do, doesn’t cost anything to set it up and by setting up a companion paypal account…you are paid directly for your items. Along with Ebay, there is Craigslist and These last two are free to put things on there for sale.

    GOOD LUCK TO YOU ALL. We sent two boxes to Pilot Point last week. Hope they made it OK.

    Larry Beck
    USN Retired

  75. A Nana Moose Says:

    Just excellent!

  76. Thanks Says:


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: