Fall sunset in Ugashik
Oct 25, 2009
While returning home from Dillingham, we flew over the tundra that is starting to show signs of real winter. Lake after pond, after stream after river, after lake after pond, well you get it, mushy tundra swamp. Everything is either a shade of blue/white or brown/tan.
Up to a third of most lakes are now frozen over, mostly the southern end because the winds have been from the north lately. It had been an evening and morning of frozen rain and light snow.
Many would call this area God forsaken, many call it beautiful, and a few of us call it home.
So many thoughts were going through my head, fast, slow, back and forth, from when I first saw this area, to pondering how the future is going to show itself.
I have been reading Erin McKittrick’s book A Long Trek Home about Alaska and the 4,000 mile trip she and husband Hig took walking, paddling and skiing which brought them through here a little over a year ago. We had a great visit with this super couple when they stopped for a few days in Ugashik while on their trek.
Erin & Hig leaving Ugashik last fall
Her writings of what all they saw and experienced on their trip up through SE Alaska and then down and out to the start of the Aleutian Islands keep you turning the pages to enjoy more. The beauty, the sad things, the wildlife, the loss of culture, the maintaining of cultures, all something we need to pay attention to more here in Alaska.
Since then I have tapped into Hig’s knowledge of what all is facing us here in Alaska, everything from oil drilling and mining to coal exploration.
How he, as a well trained scientist, sees us learning about and getting involved in those things which will affect everything from our fisheries, jobs, environment, to education for our kids so they can have a future.
I found myself wondering how we can use this knowledge to hold those in positions of ‘leadership’ accountable for OUR future. From our state officials but more importantly, in my mind, our local organizations and people?
How we can move past the self–interests, racism, and short sightedness?
Push past the knowledge holders instead of knowledge sharers?
Push past those who would prefer to hold back more than move forward?
How do we push past those who REALLY do NOT care about people and cultures, despite the rhetoric, and move into a future of sustainability and thriving villages?
As we move into this season of not only cold but also of getting together for holidays, village events but also meetings and working on regional issues I will be watching and hoping we can really accomplish something towards helping people learn and be able to comment on those issues dear to them.
This is the time of year when most organizations in Alaska get together to discuss not only what has happened but also what needs to happen, from businesses organizations, fishing regulation agencies to tribal organizations. Most all meet in the next six month at one time or the other to tackle a range of issues.
How do we work to show a complete picture of what village life is like, work against those who stack the meetings/testimony (using monies that SHOULD be going to help) with only those who speak to only one side of an issue and move into REAL addressing of issues??
I hope, maybe, after the last 18 months or so and all the ‘outside’ attention we have garnered as a state it will make people realize we ARE on a world wide stage.
That our decisions and the directions we choose will impact many and for years to come.
Watching, and at times participating, has made me all the more determined to help others learn what they need so they too can speak up.
We need the tongues and feet of many to move forward.
Letting someone else always speak for you, even if you do not totally understand, is not acceptable.
To help people realize they have a right to by-laws, to minutes, to resolutions of their village governments, tribal governments and regional organizations.
If you are a member of an organization and you can’t get this information, ask WHY!! Better yet ask, “WHY THE HELL NOT?”.
The “information holders” have to go!!
We have to move toward the people who are “information sharers” so we can ALL move forward.