Jul 1, 2009
Our family left Nunam Iqua a few weeks ago to work this summer for Victoria and her husband, Roland, in Ugashik. Although we are a few hundred miles away, we continue to stay in touch with our friends and family back in Nunam Iqua and Emmonak by phone and email.
In the last few days a lot of people have been talking about the Governor and her rural advisor, John Moller, reporting from Emmonak that my friend Nick Tucker allegedly said: “50% of the people in Emmonak already have their fish gathered and put up for this season.”
That’s pretty hard to believe with all the fishing closures, and I think most people in the know would have trouble believing it. I contacted Nick myself to ask him about this statement attributed to him by Mr. Moller and the Governor. Nick is really upset about this report! He said people are struggling to get their fish this season, just as I thought.
I’m so disappointed that it always seems like it’s us vs. them. The state government and the Governor have the ability to work with the rural residents, not just against us. Instead, they took the words of just one man in Alakanuk and embellished and twisted them. Suddenly everyone in Emmonak somehow has met, or is about to meet, all their fishing needs for the season here in late June and early July.
Those who just want to help their villages and neighbors sometimes become unknowing pawns for those with ulterior motives. Nick Tucker has gotten caught in such a political gill net on the issue of subsistence fishing on the Yukon River.
Knowing Nick, I can tell you that he is an elder in the true sense of the word. This is a man who wants only to ease the hardships and suffering of his people. He would like see this done through help with a goal toward self sufficiency.
Victoria also met Mr. Tucker at the by-catch meeting earlier this year. She agrees that he is someone who in no way has any other motive than to bring the plight and needs of his people to the attention to those who might help.
Nick has become a defacto spokesman for the plight of villagers not only along the Yukon but also other bush Alaska villages. Mr. Tucker has brought the voice of truth and concern to main stream media about the hardships and struggles that plagued villagers last winter. His heartfelt plea for help was heard across not only Alaska, but also the nation and the world. Nick has done all of this in trying to bring help and attention to the plight of the villagers.
Now that summer is upon us, another poor chinook salmon run is once again devastating not only the commercial fishing on the Yukon but also drastically limiting the subsistence fishing. With extremely limited subsistence fishing openings the villagers struggle to put away dried salmon, a major staple, for the winter.
The same thing occurred last summer thus forcing villagers to choose between buying food or heating fuel last winter. We worry this situation will be repeated this year. We are trying to bring this to the attention of those who can help before it gets out of hand again. I think I can speak for everyone by saying that we really do not want to have to have another food and fuel drive this winter to keep our villagers warm and fed! Without attention and help from the State, it looks like we might have to do so anyway.
As Nick tried to again bring attention to the disastrous lack of salmon fishing this year, he took his plea to the Federal Subsistence meeting being held in Emmonak. The public outcome of that trip is that Mr. Tucker was quoted as saying everything was fine in Emmonak and that half of of the village had already gotten enough salmon to last through the winter.
That our highest ranking government official tweeted such a bogus statement is simply unbelievable. Anyone with common sense would have heard that and thought to themselves “Maybe I should check into that before I just throw it out there in a tweet.” For them to turn around and say that Mr. Tucker made such an outrageous statement just adds further insult to injury. Mr. Tucker reports “I’ve never said that. Ten times over, I’ve never said that!”
Mr. Tucker has demanded an apology from Governor Palin for this untruth. Mr. Tucker should not have to wait this long for a forthcoming apology, no matter whether the reason for the mistatement was intentional or accidental.
This is not about politics, this is about respecting to an elder who was misunderstood or quoted out of context.
Rather than trying to save face it seems that our leaders should be trying to help the villagers struggling in this great state. Last time I checked we are all residents of Alaska. We are voters, constituents, and simply human beings.
What if the shoe was on the other foot? Do you think we would have had to wait this long for someone to apologize to the Governor? I don’t think so. Last time I checked we are all human and thus we all make mistakes. It takes a bigger person to admit to those mistakes. I think that that is one of the most important lessons in life whether you are a politician or not….admit when you are wrong! Be honest.
Tags: Nick Tucker