Archive for January, 2010

Hollywood Came Calling

January 27, 2010

Jan 27, 2010

AB received an email forwarded by a fellow blogger. The inquiry was from a Hollywood researcher who was looking for people who lived ‘off the grid’ as they called it.  They included a link to the show.

The premise of the show was to observe  what we do on a day to day basis over the course of about 5 days.  Additionally, the host would be “inserted into our daily lives” to offer some comic relief.  The host is a well known comic and former host of family oriented shows, but we decided not to share the actual name.

After some discussion Vic bit the bullet just to see what all they had to say.

In a reply email she offered a few tidbits about things we did on an every day basis and a little about our surroundings.  She did not mention our last names, location or the blog.

The producer of the show responded immediately, requesting an appointment to chat, now if possible!   The producer was planning to do the filming in May,  while Vic explained that May was about the least eventful time of year since spring break-up is basically a mess and hard to get around in.  Break-up is kind of like a spring siesta.

They talked about finding families who participate in hunting,  steam baths, town gatherings, and homeschooling.  For us, who do live “off the grid”, these are staples of life in the bush.  I suppose that is the point!  They want to know more about us.

After a  short meeting following the phone call, these two Alaskans decided that it was just too weird to picture ourselves with a comedian being “inserted into our daily lives” while being filmed.  We will compose a courteous thanks-but-no-thanks and wish-you-the-best-of-luck email to the producer.   Soon.

Life in the Bush A New Topic: Violence

January 24, 2010

Jan 24, 2010

Yesterday a friend, a teacher in Nunam Iqua, posted on Facebook something to the effect of:  “We are in lockdown because someone shot someone in the head and we are waiting for the troopers.”

They were having  Saturday school and  planned to go out on the Yukon to go ice fishing for the day.  Instead they were locked in the school – no one allowed in or out.   I tried to call my sister-in-law Savanna, assuming that she was probably the health aide on call and I was worried about her.  No answer.

I called my brother-in-law who works at the school.  I asked him what was going on and he said two guys shot someone.  The bullet just grazed the victim’s head and the guy is OK.  The AK State Troopers haven’t arrived yet.  The school will be in lockdown until they do.  He said Savanna is OK.

Today, I got an email from my brother-in-law telling me that they caught the offender after he tried to runaway upriver to Alakanuk.  He has also been accused of harassment,  contributing to a minor, assault, and rape.

There is no law enforcement in Nunam Iqua  or many other villages in bush Alaska.  Nunam Iqua does not have a VPSO (Village Public Safety Officer) or a VPO (Village Police Officer) or any type of tribal law enforcement.  Our villages must rely on the AK State Troopers to respond to a problem. Often we have to wait for a Trooper to travel to our village.

I believe that the Alaska State Troopers are so understaffed that they won’t respond unless someone is killed or a child is involved.  Even if a child is involved usually it’s the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) who arrives on site.  Most people don’t bother to call the Troopers because they know nothing will happen.

What can we do to address violence in our bush villages?  How can we keep not only our children safe but also our residents?  What are the contributing factors that lead to such violence?  How do we bring public safety to the forefront of our village issues?

I think are some of the causes of violence and domestic violence in bush Alaska are:

  • Simply struggling to survive
  • Lack of employment
  • Substance Abuse
  • Family members abusing each other
  • Children seeing their parents or family abusing each other
  • Lack of education and retention in school
  • Lack of law enforcement.  Feeling like there is no one to help if the AK State Troopers don’t respond, with no other law enforcement available?  Who is going to help?  How can we stay safe?

Other complications.

Let’s say that I am a VPSO in the village.  I get a call that a man is beating up his girlfriend.  I respond.  It’s my cousin, who is drinking and they got in an argument about how they are running out of money and don’t know how they are going to feed their 4 small children.   She begs me not to take her boyfriend in.  He has to go to work tomorrow, they can’t afford child care for her to work so if I take him in they will lose their only source of income.  The boyfriend is sincerely apologetic and swears that he won’t do it again and wants to go sleep it off at his mom’s house.

Would you haul the boyfriend in?  Let’s add to our scenario that the boyfriend is also the son of the Tribal President….my pretend boss!  Now do I not only put this family’s financial well being in jeopardy but also risk bringing the wrath of the Tribal President down on my head to keep this family safe?  My cousin says she won’t press charges.  What do I do?

Here’s another complication: being a VPSO also makes me a mandated reporter.  Are the kids safe if mom and dad are fighting and dad is drinking? No so now I have to call in OCS.  This could easily result in their children being removed.  If I call OCS right then they might advice me to immediately remove the children…now I have to find a family member or emergency foster home for them until OCS can fly in.  Let’s say it’s 2 a.m. now I am calling half the village trying to find someone to take these children for the night.  I have to find a guard to go to the jail and watch the boyfriend.  If you decide to just give boyfriend a warning what will that lead to?  Next time will he beat not only her but also the children?

These are just a few of the challenges that we face in bush villages.  It’s no wonder why it’s so hard to find people to be VPSO’s and VPO’s.

What is the solution?

Happy Anniversary Anonymous Bloggers! Looking back on our first year:

January 21, 2010

Anonymous Bloggers

Working together to bring relief to our fellow Americans!

Jan 21, 2010

Has it really been a year since Jane started this site?  We went from just a few of us who gathered here to exchange ideas on how to bring relief to rural Alaska, to having hundreds of people visiting here every day brainstorming both short and long term solutions to the issues that face rural Alaska.

We remember in the beginning when we first got excited that we had more visitors than board members.  Today we have someone visiting AB on average every 6 minutes!

What has brought nearly 100,000 hits to Anonymous Bloggers this first year?  Let us review.   Please feel free to wander the side bar and the archives to see everything we’ve been doing.

Here’s the time-line Jane created with a lot of hard work and patience.

Anonymous Bloggers our 1st year…a review…..

Jane started AB on January 21st, 2009  but we need to go back a few weeks before that to get a full understanding of why she made this decision.

Nicholas Tucker, Yup'ik Elder, Emmonak, Alaska

January 9, 2009

The crisis in rural Alaska came to light when Nicholas Tucker presented a letter to Fuel Summit Participants sharing the stories of people in his village who were suffering. His story was picked up by regional news outlets and eventually became headline news in Alaska.

Emmonak man seeks food airlift to combat economic crisis

A combination of extreme cold and high fuel prices has created a humanitarian crisis for the village of Emmonak, according to resident Nicholas Tucker.

January 14, 2009

Prominent Alaska blogger AKM brought the crisis in rural Alaska to the attention of hundreds of readers on her blog, TheMudflats, and asked for donations to send a filmmaker to Emmonak to document the situation. The footage eventually appeared on CNN.

A Cry for Help from Rural Alaska. Is Anyone Listening?

The Mudflats

January 14, 2009

One of our local progressive media heroes, Dennis Zaki of The Alaska Report, is stepping up trying to raise money to get to Emmonak and other villages to put a camera where it needs to be. Many national and international media outlets are interested in seeing footage. Flights are not inexpensive, and he’ll be traveling on his own dime. If you want to help put a spotlight on this issue as it relates to Emmonak and ALL Alaska’s rural villages in crisis, consider donating with the Paypal button below.

***

Emmonak’s Nicholas Tucker interviewed on KUDO.

Hope Coming to Emmonak and Beyond?

The Mudflats

January 14, 2009

If you didn’t get the opportunity to hear Nick Tucker talk to CC on KUDO, he had a message for all those who have stepped up to help rural Alaskans who are having to make the choice of whether to keep their children and elders warm, or fed. “It’s a blessed day. It’s like angels have landed on Earth.”

January 16, 2009

AnnS left this comment on TheMudflats:

January 17, 2009

Enough money to pay for Dennis Zaki’s flight has been raised and he is set to depart the following day.

Alaska’s Rural Villages in Crisis – Update.

The Mudflats
January 17, 2009 Thanks to generous contributions to the effort, many coming from Mudflatters, Dennis Zaki of The Alaska Report has raised enough money to pay for travel to Emmonak and other remote villages, to talk to locals on camera, and capture footage for use by the national media. Dennis needed $2000 for his ticket, and will distribute the rest for energy relief when he arrives in the bush. As of this writing, there is $6283. in the account!

***

AnnS left a comment on Margaret& Helen’s blog (a blog that went viral in the fall when Helen made one of many on-target assessments of Sarah Palin’s character) saying that the crisis was more widespread. More people jumped into help.

By: Struggling in Nunam Iqua

January 17, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Hi everyone,

I was asked to come here and blog. I have been blogging on themudflats.net about how it isn’t just Emmonak that is struggling.

It’s not just Emmonak that is struggling it’s the entire Yukon Delta. I live in Nunam Iqua, a village that is 25 miles south of Emmonak. Not only are we faced with the same issues as Emmonak but also our crisis is harder because we no longer have a store here. Our trading post collapsed several months ago, so we have no place here to get groceries.

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January 21, 2009

The attention the crisis in rural Alaska was receiving in the comments section on Helen & Margaret’s blog caused complaints by some who thought the conversation was to far off-topic. Information about ways to help were strewn across the comments section of a number of blogs – it need a clearinghouse.

We our started our Facebook group and registered our domain name on Jan 21, 2009

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January 23, 2009

The first boxes arrive in Nunam Iqua and we started our blog!

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January 25, 2009

The first, and maybe only, story in the main stream print media about the crisis was published in the Los Angeles Times on January 25, 2009.

In rural Alaska, villagers suffer in near silence

By Kim Murphy

January 25, 2009

Reporting from Tuluksak, Alaska — As the temperature plunged to minus-40 degrees last month, Nastasia Wassilie waited.

The 61-year-old widow had run out of wood and fuel oil, and had no money to buy more. Nor was there much food in the house.

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February 5, 2009

Almost a month after the crisis in Alaska made news there, CNN brought it to national attention

In rural Alaska villages, families struggle to survive

By Mallory Simon

CNN

(CNN) — Thousands of villagers in rural Alaska are struggling to survive, forced to choose between keeping their families warm and keeping their stomachs full, residents say.

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February 6, 2009

Victoria Briggs first reported that the suffering extends to the Alaska Peninsula.

Letter: Hardship exists on the Alaska Peninsula, too

Victoria Briggs Ugashik February 6, 2009 at 1:28PM AST

Before you read any farther please realize we are not putting our hand out for assistance, but certainly do need it! I am a resident in a village that is very small, 10-12 full time residents, that face many of the same issues that the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta does.

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February 13, 2009

Food and donations from far-flung relief efforts begin to make a difference.

Worldwide donations find way to lower Yukon

A wave of donated food and cash has swept into lower Yukon River villages over the past month, with more than 19,000 pounds of supplies and $13,000 landing in Emmonak alone.

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February 17, 2009

The first boxes of food arrive in Ugashik/Pilot Point

ugaVic Says:

February 18, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Update – the first food reached us yesterday, thanx Seattle and MO (forgot the town – is written down – will fill in later) We got a box of food out to each of our most needy households yesterday. Since we hadn’t really said much about what we were doing until we had our food show up, they were surprised, overwhelmed and just so grateful my words can’t say enough. All of you who are working on this have them so surprised that someone actually cares – I can’t tell you the impact that has already made.

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February 19, 2009

Sarah Palin announces plan to visit rural villages on February 20.

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February 20, 2009

Sarah Palin Visits Russian Mission with Samaritan’s Purse

Video of Sarah Palin, upon leaving Wasilla with Samaritan’s Purse personalities to deliver faith-based aid to the villages of Russian Mission and Marshall. She states government is not the answer, faith-based organizations can help in the interim, but suggests young people should consider leaving their villages to find temporary work and return to the villages with the salaries the have earned to take part in the subsistence living skills they are trying to preserve.

Nicolas Tucker Sr., the brave villager from Emmonak who brought this crisis to our attention, flew to Russian Mission to speak with Sarah Palin. View a video of their conversation.

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March 2, 2009

Sustainable Gardening Becomes a Topic

The last few weeks in February brought some lively chatter in our Cold Weather Gardening threads. We were looking for sustainable solutions to life in the bush and got plenty of ideas and suggestions. Victoria answered many questions about garden tunnels and potatoes as a traditional staple; her growing season and tomatos and the 90 one-day-old chicks she was raising for summer egg production.

She told us privately she had been trying to get funds from the Ugashik and Pilot Point Village Councils to attend a sustainable gardening conference in Fairbanks to help start a community garden in Pilot Point but had not been successful.

We asked you to come up with creative ways to get her there.

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March 6, 2009

Victoria Will Travel to the Sustainable Gardening Conference in Fairbanks:

Thanks to all of you I am going to the sustainable/gardening conference!!!

L.Gardener stepped up and offered to pay for my plane ticket so it would be a ‘for sure’ thing. Then as people contributed we could gather funds and reimburse her. That is now done with a number of people from all over jumping in to help defray the cost. She shares some of the things she learned in her garden journal.

Victoria is a powerhouse! This post is a must-read to get an idea of her energetic enthusiasm in pursuing a more stable and richer life for Native Alaskans. By the end of it she’s already talking about her next project – the salmon bycatch issue!

***

Emmonak’s Nicholas Tucker rips Sarah Palin for “disrespect”

Emmonak’s Nicholas Tucker wrote to AlaskaReport.com editor Dennis Zaki and asked him to print his letter about his dissatisfaction with Governor Sarah Palin’s slow and lackluster response to the food/fuel crisis plaguing the villages of Western Alaska.

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March 17, 2009

Salmon Bycatch in the Pollock Fisheries

Our first post about the devastating effects salmon bycatch in the pollock fishing industry was having on the the salmon fisheries rural Alaskans depend on for winter sustenance.

We called for people to write letters to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which would be meeting in Anchorage April 1-7, demanding they call for a lower bycatch number than the one they were considering. We posted a petition and collected signatures from people from across the US and Canada and as far away as Germany who endorsed a lower bycatch. They were delivered by hand before the March 25 deadline for comments.

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March 31, 2009

Victoria to Attend the NPFMC Salmon Bycatch Meeting in Anchorage

Victoria, in an update, reported that she and Ann had been invited to attend the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting to speak before the council about the effects salmon bycatch is having on rural Alaska.

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April 5, 2009

Victoria Live Blogs From the NPFMC Salmon Bycatch Meeting

Victoria wrote about her first two days at the NPFMC meeting and continued to live blog through the rest of the conference. Sadly, the 68,392 limit was adopted, not the 32,500 that we had been urging, but Vic gave it all she had on behalf of all of us.

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April 16-27, 2009

Unusually early break-up on the Ugashik River

Normally it is right around the very end of April or the first of May before we start to see holes in the ice or the river flowing.

We usually go through days or even a week or more of open holes and areas of water. Then some breaking up of the river. We woke up Sunday morning, after a night of some winds in the 20-30 knot range and the river was flowing some.

Hubby, who grew up in the village does not ever remember it going from basically solid to flowing like this.

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April 24, 2009

First the bad news…

Out of Fuel in Nunam Iqua

Ann reported that Nunam Iqua’s fuel/stove oil tank had run dry. This happened because the early fall freeze in 2008 prevented their last fuel order from being delivered.

The next day, with the food drive slowing down, she and Victoria gave us a detailed update on the situations in their villages. This post offers another glimpse of the monumental task Ann and Vic undertook to help their fellow villagers and the extent to which people from all over pitched in to help.

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May 6,2009

In a conversation Victoria brought up to Ann how busy she was getting ready for the fishing season, and they were in need of  a good crew member for summer.  After hearing how mostly nonexistent the commercial fishing on the Yukon would be this year,  Segundo and Ann decided to take the offer and leave Nunam Iqua to spend the fishing season in Ugashik.

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May 9,2009

‘Tsunami’ Of Ice Wreaks Havoc On Alaskan Town

Breakup brought it’s own challenges on the Yukon, especially in Eagle Village which was flattened by an ice flood. FEMA stepped up to the plate this time and a plan for sensibly rebuilding the town using kit homes with the help of volunteers from the US, Canada and beyond was completed before winter set in. Bloggers worldwide contributed by donating money and supplies.

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May 18-27,2009

Watching and Waiting for Breakup on the Yukon

As breakup continued down the Yukon, communities along the way kept close watch on the flood warnings.

Bloggers waited anxiously for news from Ann in Nunam Iqua at the rivers mouth. She sent updates on May 18, May 19, May 22, May 23, May 26 and on May 27 when she reported that planes were able to land in Nunam Iqua and that her family would be leaving for Ugashik the next morning.

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May 28, 2009

The Stronghearts arrived in Ugashik.  Things are different there,  including cooking in Vic’s modern kitchen and bathing in the land of running water!

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June 28, 2009

Palin tweets that Emmonak residents are meeting subsistence needs

by Channel 2 News Staff

Sunday, June 28, 2009

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — According to Gov. Sarah Palin’s posts on Twitter, half of the people in Emmonak have met subsistence needs and the other half believe they can do the same. Palin says her rural advisor, John Moller, recently returned from Emmonak and those were his findings.

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June 30, 2009

Emmonak villager demands apology from Palin camp

Posted by thevillage

Posted: June 30, 2009

What was that good news? I asked Palin’s spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, today in an e-mail.

“The good news – At the Federal Subsistence meeting in Emmonak last week, Nick Tucker reported that 50 percent of the residents have met subsistence needs and other 50 percent are confident they will meet their needs,” Leighow replied.

(Tucker drew statewide and national attention this winter when he wrote a letter describing a food and fuel crisis on the lower Yukon.)

Here’s where it gets complicated. Tucker says he never said that and is demanding a public apology from the governor’s camp.

“I want them to take it back,” Tucker said in a short phone interview today.

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July 3, 2009

John Moller: I talked to many, many people over those two days

The Alaska Daily News rural blog, The Village, interviewed John Moller, Sarah Palin’s rural advisor, on Wednesday. They we’re specifically interested in the display of civil disobedience in Marshall but, since Moller was just back in the office after being out of cell phone range while fishing, he couldn’t address that so they talked about other rural issues including the Governor’s tweet about Emmonak.

***

Governor Palin Resigns – Ann Asks What That Will Mean for Rural Alaska

After all the time we Alaskan Natives have been dealing with both the Palin administration’s actions and inactions toward the plight of our rural people, we now find ourselves asking a lot of questions. When I look at where we’ve come from and what I want for my people in the future, I find myself contemplating right now: What does this new leadership mean to bush Alaskans? Fisheries? Subsistence? etc etc

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July 11, 2009

Vic Took a Time Out to Give Us a Glimpse of Summer in Ugashik

So much of this time of year in Alaska, at least the western parts that fish, is rush, rush, rush!! You do any projects that need decent weather, earn most of your yearly income in a few short weeks and, if you can, get the relatives up to visit when it isn’t below freezing.

In the past few weeks I felt you needed to see part of what we try to sandwich in all this work, work and more work.

Time to view all the flowers, well some call them weeds, that spring up and give us color.

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August 2, 2009

AnnS Aired Rural Woes Internationally

Monday, August 3, 2009 – Salmon Ban on the Yukon River: (listen)

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has banned commercial fishing for king salmon along the Yukon River and is limiting subsistence fishing. The ban is in response to the state not meeting their treaty agreement with Canada for the past two years to deliver 45,000 kings via the Yukon. But groups of Native fishermen are ignoring the ban – facing possible jail time, heavy fines and equipment seizure. How will village residents make it through another tough winter if they’re not allowed to fish this summer? Guest is AnnS from the village of Nunam Iqua.

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August 5, 2009

Ann Writes an Open Letter to Rural Advisor John Moller

…During the program, moderator Harlan McKosato mentioned that he put in a call to you before the show but never got a call back.

Because rural Alaskans are openly voicing their serious fears about the coming winter, we were disappointed that you were not involved in the conversation with Ann and Nick on the air. Rural Alaskans need to know advisors have the ear of Governor Parnell and need to believe that the governor realizes today that things may be even worse this winter for rural Alaskan villages than the previous one….

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August 7, 2009

Alaska’s Governor Parnell Urges Disaster Relief for Yukon Fishery!

In a letter today, Governor Sean Parnell asked Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to declare a fishery disaster in the Yukon River Chinook salmon fishery.

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August 10, 2009

Legislature overrides Palin’s stimulus veto By SEAN COCKERHAM

scockerham@adn.com

Published: August 10th, 2009 02:31 PM

Last Modified: August 11th, 2009 06:25 PM

The Alaska Legislature voted Monday to override former Gov. Sarah Palin’s veto of $28 million in federal stimulus money for energy cost relief. But it was as close as a vote can get.

(snip) Palin vetoed the appropriation of $28 million in federal energy stimulus cash in May, two months before she resigned as governor.

She kept up her fight against the money by posting a message on her Facebook page Sunday.

“As governor, I did my utmost to warn our legislators that accepting stimulus funds will further tie Alaska to the federal government and chip away at Alaska’s right to chart its own course.

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August 11, 2009

Excerpt from a letter to a Tribal Administrator from Nick Tucker:

“…I want you, your children and grandchildren to get education. We’ve always been strong, intelligent, and wise, particularly our culture precious with values and teachings. Take that for our next generations. But, keep your heads up, your whole generation. We will have been a forced to be reckoned with, because I think, many of us are beginning to turn to God, and we might just rule with justice, goodness, fairness, and generosity again, but educated…”

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August 12, 2009

Obama’s Rural Tour Visits Bush Alaska

By KYLE HOPKINS

khopkins@adn.com

Published: August 12th, 2009 10:42 PM

Last Modified: August 13th, 2009 06:20 PM

BETHEL — Four of President Obama’s cabinet members whirled through a pair of remote Alaska communities Wednesday to hear an earful about the state’s novel needs and the borderline third-world conditions in some villages.

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August 14, 2009

Ann Writes an Open Letter to Governor Parnell, John Moller and others

…Although with another non existent salmon fishing season on the Yukon and winter fast approaching I am worried that this winter will in fact be worse than last winter. I was happy to see that Governor Parnell made a disaster declaration for the Salmon Fisheries on the Yukon, although I fear that this will not be enough

We at Anonymous Bloggers have been trying, in vain, to find out if the rural villages have enough fuel for the winter. We have contacted, with little to no response, the Rural Advisory Panel and the Rural Subcabinet and Rural Advisor Moller and the Attorney General.

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August 16, 2009

First Nations Call for Zero Bycatch

More than 65 first nations in Alaska and the Yukon are asking the United States’ Secretary of Commerce to ban the pollock industry’s bycatch of chinook river salmon.

At its annual meeting held recently at Lake Laberge, the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) voted in favour of a resolution urging Gary Locke, the U.S. commerce secretary, to invoke his emergency regulatory authority and order the pollock industry to reduce its annual bycatch to zero.

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August 18, 2009

We were all saddened by the unexpected death of Segundo Strongheart on Tuesday, August 18. He suffered a massive heart attack in the early morning hours and despite immediate attempts to resuscitate him including use a defibrillator under the guidance of medical professionals by telephone, he passed away at 6:00 A.M.

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September 4, 2009

Another Open Letter From Ann to Governor Parnell, John Moller and Others

…Not only is the lack of both subsistence and commercial fishing, greatly diminishing our ability to put away fish for the winter but also the lack of funds brought in from commercial fishing is now making it hard, if not impossible, for rural Alaskans to put away other subsistence game.

Moose season is now. The birds are flying now. Now is the time to be out hunting for seals and whales. All of these types of game are critical for us to survive this winter. If we cannot purchase gas to go out and hunt then I fear this winter we will have a crisis of much greater proportions than last winter. Last winter we were able to depend a little bit on other game that we had put up for the winter since we were lacking fish.

It looks like this winter that option will not be available to many rural Alaskans because they simply cannot afford the gas and other necessities required to go out hunting…

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October 23, 2009

Pres. Obama Reaches Out to American Indian Tribes

By KYLE HOPKINS

khopklins@adn.com

Published: October 23rd, 2009 11:03 AM

Last Modified: October 24th, 2009 04:19 PM

The Obama administration is launching a rapid, sweeping review of the way the federal government manages subsistence hunting and fishing in Alaska, Interior Department officials said Friday.

“The system, frankly, today is broken,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced in a video shown at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention in downtown Anchorage.

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November 5, 2009

President Obama delivers remarks at White House, Tribal Nations conference

Pres. Obama delivered the opening remarks at a White House Tribal Nations Conference and participated in a discussion with leaders from the 564 federally recognized tribes. The conference is addressing issues facing American Indian tribes such as economic development, housing and education. This is the first such meeting since 1994. Washington, DC.

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November 26, 2009

Fall Sea Ice Flood in Nunam Iqua Leave Residents Struggling

Ice piled up during the Fall Flood at Nunam Iqua 11/11/09

The flooding wreaked havoc on the Yukon River ice. The flooding brought in massive amounts of sea ice from the Bering Sea that unfortunately is still clogging the Yukon. Several people lost their fishing nets they had set under the ice and a couple of families even lost their boats during the flood.

With all of this sea ice still in the Yukon River at Nunam Iqua it has caused a hardship on the residents. Normally during the winter families will go out onto the river and place fishing nets under the ice to catch fresh fish. But due to the mess of sea ice currently in the Yukon this has become very difficult if not impossible to do now. Fresh fish caught under the ice with nets is a large staple for families during the winter.

Since Ann is spending this winter in Ugashik,  she is gathering information for promoting an adopt-a-family program in Nunam Iqua to match donors and families directly.

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December 3, 2009

Bright Outlook for Winter in Ugashik

There is some better news this year coming from Pilot Point and Ugashik when it comes to our ability to deal with our winter conditions.

Our fishing season was much better this year than last on our main season of Sockeye salmon, although the Chinook/King returns continue to be dismal.

This allowed for most everyone to either work in the industry if they wanted/needed to and also to get fish put up for the winter…

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December 14, 2009

Rollie Briggs’ Energy Ideas for Rural Alaska

Roland Briggs watches new technology, guess it might be the Mechanical Engineering part of his background which keeps him “tuned in”, and he wants to share some of what he sees as exciting. As things cross his path and they look like they might have use in Alaska you will see him post on his new page in our Energy Section.

January 7, 2010

Alaska Federation of Natives calls for Native and rural subsistence priority on all Alaska lands

By Alex Demarban

The Arctic Sounder

The Alaska Federation of Natives lays out an ambitious agenda that seeks to expand hunting and fishing rights for Alaska Natives as part of the first-ever review of the federal subsistence program in Alaska.

In a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar offering ways to improve the program, the statewide Native organization draws on historical arguments and legal precedent to make the case that all Natives, as well as rural residents, deserve priority over other hunters and fishermen.

Salazar announced the review in October.

The Jan. 7 letter, signed by AFN President Julie Kitka, also asks that the rural subsistence priority be applied to all land and waters in Alaska as Congress originally intended.

Read the story

January 15, 2010

FEDS DECLARE YUKON FISHERIES DISASTER

January 15, 2010 by alaskapi

From Governor Parnell’s news release:

State of Alaska > Governor > News > News Details Federal Fisheries Disaster for Yukon Chinook Printer Friendly FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 10-010

Secretary Locke Declares Federal Fisheries Disaster for Yukon Chinook January 15, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska –

Governor Sean Parnell today welcomed a decision by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke finding that a disaster has occurred with the 2009 Yukon River chinook salmon run, opening the door for federal aid to the area. “I appreciate Secretary Locke’s recognition of the severity of the situation along the Yukon River and the dependence of Alaskans on these salmon runs,” Governor Parnell said. The federal disaster declaration is in response to requests made by Governor Parnell, the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Alaska Federation of Natives. The request detailed the biological and economic situation on the Yukon River and the impacts of the reduced chinook runs. The declaration does not bring immediate aid to the affected area. The congressional delegation must still secure a federal appropriation. Federal aid, once secured, could be used for relief programs, stock research, training programs, fisheries infrastructure, or other regional projects.

Here's a copy of the actual letter from Sec. Locke to Gov. Parnell

YES WE CAN!!!!

Disaster declared – now what?

January 20, 2010

Secretary Locke's letter to Governor Parnell

Jan 20, 2010

Here’s what AB has so far….

We were able to reach Senator Begich’s office this week and speak to a Legislative Aide who is familiar with both the process and declaration itself.

Part of the reason the actual declaration took so long is that there is not a set group of procedures or rules for how this process is supposed to work.  As any good government division should do,  NOAA wanted to sit down and make some rules  so that there would be an outline to follow.  Most of the funding following formulated requests have  been fulfilled through ear marks. This is a process the federal administration has declared that they want to get rid of.

With the official declaration there is now the work to decide what types of aid and programs should be requested.  Work has started on this task by the various agencies and organizations who deal with Yukon area issues.

The Senator’s office will continue to work with them until a complete plan is formed. It will most likely be run through one of the more umbrella groups serving the Yukon region and its people.

Everything from research, economic development, to direct aid will be discussed and a plan draft formulated.

It then will be presented to Congress for funding. The push is to try and include it in this round of budget talks.

There is also a state component, due to the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA), which matches the federal aid with 25% of our monies. This will take coordination with the state Legislative body and Governor’s office to calculate and complete.

We will continue to work to find out what is being worked on, what is suggested and how the time-line is progressing.

Jan 20, 2010

Begich, Murkowski, Young: Next Step in Fishery Disaster – Recovery

January 18, 2010

Jan 18, 2010

In May 2009 the federal Alaska Delegation,  Senators Mark Begich, Lisa Murkowski and Representative Don Young, signed a joint letter asking Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to declare a fisheries disaster in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.  The three officials praised the recent announcement by Secretary Locke to issue a Disaster Declaration for the Yukon River Chinook salmon fishery for 2008 and 2009:

US Senator Mark Begich:

“I am very pleased Secretary Locke has answered our requests and those of Western Alaska fishermen to declare a disaster after complete fishery failures in 2008 and 2009.  This declaration recognizes the hardships imposed on Alaskans in this region by the closure of commercial and subsistence fishing for Chinook for the past two years.

My staff and I have worked closely with the Commerce Department for a number of months on this issue and I appreciate the Secretary’s recognition of the magnitude of the disaster.

Residents who live in this remote region of our state face some of the highest costs of living in the nation. With heating oil at $8 per gallon this past winter, residents reported having to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families. The fishery collapse has made these already dire circumstances substantially worse.

This announcement from Secretary Locke while visiting Alaska comes as great news. Our next step will be to move forward on funding to support the disaster declaration.”

US Senator Lisa Murkowski:

“I am pleased that the Department of Commerce has determined a commercial fishery failure for the Yukon River Chinook salmon run. The poor runs in 2008 and 2009 have had a devastating impact on the commercial and subsistence fisheries and the declaration authorizes the Department to work to restore the fishery. I look forward to working with local communities, the State of Alaska and Commerce Secretary Locke to find resources to assist in the recovery and restoration of the Chinook fishery.”

US Representative Don Young:

“I am very pleased Secretary Locke has answered the requests of the Governor, the Congressional delegation and those of the Yukon River fishermen to declare a disaster for the Yukon River King Salmon run,” said Rep. Young.  “This decision recognizes the suffering by Alaskans in this region caused by the low returns of King Salmon over the past two years.  I will continue to work with the delegation, along with the state, and the local community however I can, to assist in the recovery and restoration of the fishery.”


Thanks to all three for bringing national attention to the hardships the fishery failures have brought to the Y-K Delta. We’ll be looking forward to learning more about sources of funding to support the disaster declaration.

Victoria Briggs: When We Have Days Like This

January 17, 2010

Jan 17, 2010

After a winter which started out cold with November in the negative temperatures, the last 6 weeks have been more like a winter from someplace “down below”!

We’ve had almost no snow and too many days in the 30s and 40s to maintain ice on the river.

Finally we have been moving into the 20s and lower.  Single digit and negative temps have shown up a few times to give us hopes that the river would again build up ice on the top layer soon.  This allows us to get out to hunt, trap and run to Pilot Point to visit :-)

 

Not frozen enough to travel on!

 

THIS MORNING  we woke up ……..

A river almost frozen over!

You can see little ‘holes’ of water, overflow, seeping through due to incoming tide.

 

Just the way we like it!

It looks like it will stay frozen at least for now,  since the tide has come in and nothing in our section broke up.

We hope the temperatures stay cold enough to build a minimum thickness of 4-6 inches so we can travel on it safely.

 

Could that new ice really be flat?

We were blessed that it froze smoothly in some sections, almost never heard of around here!  We do of course have to travel over all that chunky shore ice to get to the river, so travel on the river is never completely without hurdles.

 

Our local volcano smoking a mere 20 miles away.

What a beautiful morning!  We look forward to what the rest of the winter will bring.

All is good, at least today.

Enjoy!

Beautiful morning!

FEDS DECLARE YUKON FISHERIES DISASTER

January 15, 2010

Jan 15, 2010

From Governor Parnell’s news release:

State of Alaska > Governor > News > News Details Federal Fisheries Disaster for Yukon Chinook Printer Friendly FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 10-010

Secretary Locke Declares Federal Fisheries Disaster for Yukon Chinook January 15, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska.

Governor Sean Parnell today welcomed a decision by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke finding that a disaster has occurred with the 2009 Yukon River chinook salmon run, opening the door for federal aid to the area. “I appreciate Secretary Locke’s recognition of the severity of the situation along the Yukon River and the dependence of Alaskans on these salmon runs,” Governor Parnell said. The federal disaster declaration is in response to requests made by Governor Parnell, the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Alaska Federation of Natives. The request detailed the biological and economic situation on the Yukon River and the impacts of the reduced chinook runs. The declaration does not bring immediate aid to the affected area. The congressional delegation must still secure a federal appropriation. Federal aid, once secured, could be used for relief programs, stock research, training programs, fisheries infrastructure, or other regional projects.

US Commerce Secretary visiting Anchorage tomorrow, Jan 15

January 14, 2010

Jan 14, 2010

This just in…
by The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke plans to discuss trade and rural development opportunities when he visits Anchorage this week. 

Friday’s trip with U.S. Sen. Mark Begich also is set to include a meeting with officials aimed at raising awareness of the upcoming 2010 Census. There’s a lot at stake with the decennial count, which helps decide federal representation and funding.

Begich’s office says the visit comes just weeks before the first count of the census begins in Alaska.

WHO: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK)

EVENT DETAILS: 9:00 A.M.Fri., Jan. 15, 2010

Roundtable Discussion with Alaska Business Leaders on Trade Expansion
Captain Cook Hotel
Endeavor Room
939 W. 5th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501

11:45 A.M.Fri., Jan. 15, 2010

Anchorage Census Office Tour and Complete Count Committee (CCC) Meeting
Census Office
Airport Business Park
2000 W. International Rd., Suite C-6
Anchorage, AK 99502

How did you find us? A Guest post

January 8, 2010

Jan 8, 2010

We asked a dear friend of ours who goes by GreatGranny2c if she’d consider doing a guest post.  She has been incredibly active in the food drive, adopting families and coordinating for others to do so.  Being humble and magnanimous, she declined our suggestion to talk about these efforts.  Instead she decided  to share  her thoughts on Alaska and how she came to discover Anonymous Bloggers and the vast blogosphere of like minds – one of many rewards she received for her involvement.

*   *   *

My current viewpoint on Alaska

By: GreatGranny2c

There are countless people from all over the world who discovered the sphere of Alaskan bloggers for the sole purpose of wanting to know who the heck is Sarah Palin. As I continued to watch the drama unfold on national television, I was amazed at the misconceptions about Alaska on the part of so-called reporters and commentators, as well as my wanting to know more about this woman who exuded such arrogance (yet sounded a bit uneducated to merit her behavior) and managed to incite crowds to a dangerous fervor. The one thing I can thank Sarah Palin for is my renewed interest in Alaska.

Alaskan was repeatedly referred to as “The Last Frontier” or “The Frozen North” and it seemed like everyone thought it was similar to the wildwest, full of crime and graft, limited educational and cultural opportunities – in another words, a real backwater! I think every reporter should have to go to whatever place they are reporting on, so that they can offer some facts and reality instead of misleading people.

As an Army family, my husband, myself, and our two daughters enjoyed nearly four years of life in the Anchorage area back in the 1970s. I worked for RCA Communications, we had purchased a home in the city, our daughters were in a public school, we involved ourselves in community activities, and many of our friends were *civilians* as opposed to being other Army families. I believe this gave us a greater insight into the political and cultural aspects of the state. (Especially when I got to meet Robert Redford at the AKPIRG debut of “All The President’s Men”!!)

From the beginning of our time in Alaska, we were very aware of the difficulties facing Native Americans in the state. My husband had gone on any number of treks into the wilderness and on river explorations, visiting small villages, experiencing the remoteness and seeing the shortages that caused so much suffering for so many, and sharing his thoughts and photos with me. We were also aware of the problems that were created when subsistence hunting and fishing laws were changed and the ways of life for the First People were forever changed. So many young people would leave their villages for months at a time to attend high school in Anchorage, be exposed to a totally different way of life, moral standards were much looser than they were accustomed to, it was very hard for these young people to return to their villages and families, knowing that they had outgrown their previous lifestyles, and that there likely were no jobs for them. So most stayed in the city………and so many suffered. The *free* money they received from the state turned out not to be free – it enabled way too many to become alcoholics and worse – too high a price for them.

The occasional article in the Anchorage Daily News talks about the bodies of homeless drunks being found on the streets, and I think “Everything changes but nothing changes”. It was a problem in the 1970s and is still a problem that no one seems to have a solution for. When we lived up there, I saw the prejudice against the Natives, just as I’ve seen it in the south against blacks, in the west against Hispanics, and in the midwest against the Indians. No matter how well-meaning some may think they are, throughout history, millions of people have been permanently damaged by the do-gooders who think Christianizing the heathens, forcing them onto reservations or designated lands, taking the children from their homes and putting them into boarding schools that were more like orphanages, and forcing them to think and act like *whites* was the right thing to do. I’m sorry, but I’ve never agreed with the needs of powerful people who want to fit others into a mold that they think is the only acceptible one.

My first contact with the Alaskan bloggers was at The Mudflats and within days, I had become familiar with Ann  and the Anonymous Bloggers, Immoral Minority, and on and on until I was spending half my day going from one site to another. I found out all (and more) than I ever wanted to know about Sarah Palin, but I couldn’t get enough of Alaska itself. We had retained some wonderful memories of our years in Alaska, but as we continued to travel the world over the next 20 odd years, then settled into retirement with grandchildren coming along, Alaska became a far-distant memory. Suddenly, Alaska was at the forefront of my thoughts, and I wanted to know more and more, make contact with locals, and re-engage in any way that I could, now that I was retired with plenty of free time on my hands.

I had not been with the blogs when the flooding took place last spring. People from around the world responded to their needs and I was very heartened to see so many good folks still willing to help others. I’ve made many friends via the Alaskan blogs. I will never meet any in person, but I feel I know them as well as I know my next door neighbor. I’ve helped a little here and there and so enjoyed the shopping trips to see what I could find that would be useful, as well as adding in some goodies that would just brighten someone’s day. I have countless websites bookmarked that are all Alaskan businesses – mostly the small ones. I try to shop them whenever I can to support the cottage industries and help to promote Native craftsmanship.

In just the few short months that I’ve been a part of this on-line community, I’ve seen the sites grow by leaps and bounds, which is no surprise. The caliber of the people who run the sites is A+. They care deeply about Alaska and its people, they research their topics, and strive for truth and fairness. Overall, conversation is civil at the majority of the sites that I visit, everyone is allowed to air their opposing views as long as they do it politely, and that keeps me going back for more. I’m thankful for the people who work so hard to improve the quality of life for their friends and neighbors, and I’m proud to be a very small part of this community. I wish them all much success in being heard and making a positive impact. Their continuing selflessness on behalf of others is fantastic.

*   *   *

We think she is pretty fantastic, too!

Christmas in Ugashik

January 5, 2010

Jan 5, 2010

We did have a good Christmas.  Vic went all out with decorations in her house and even got one of the villagers to bring us a tree for inside my house.  Christmas Eve was spent at the community center with fellow villagers enjoying snacks and conversation.

Christmas Day was spent at Victoria and Rollie’s opening presents followed by an enjoyable German Christmas Dinner prepared by Vic.  CC had fun opening her presents while taking her sweet time to draw out the fun.  We all got lots of gifts not only from each other but from family and friends.

New Year’s… A fun night spent with Victoria.  We went to her house to ring in the new year with snacks and to play with the girls.  Vic’s Christmas Tree was full of sparkling lights, balls, icicles and garlands…a curious two year old’s dream!

Vic whipped up fresh cream to top the chocolate cheese cake I made.   CC had fun with the kid’s job of licking the beater.

You didn’t know we had elephants, did you?  These were the elephants on the video Jungle Book!  Whenever they’d start singing, Vic and I would jump up and dance with CC  to the elephants marching cadence,  filling the evening with giggles and squeals.