Mar 4, 2010
As I am sure many, or even most of you, heard we were in Anchorage this past week for a ‘get together’ with most of the other AB contributors and the Anchorage blogger community. There are so many things to ‘report’ it will take us a bit to sort it all out and get to you’ all!!
To say that five women, plus a few others throughout the week, were busy with ‘discussing’ various topics might be an understatement!!
OK, any comments on women and ‘discussing’ or other things it might be called can be stifled at this time! :-)
One of the themes that I noticed we sure worked over well was HOW we are talking about issues. The language we use, the way we approach and try to bring issues forward, and generally how to facilitate more understanding of the issues we want share with all of you was an interesting discussion.
One of those, for sure, is the issue of subsistence. As was pointed out in Shannyn Moore’s Moore Up North TV showed that aired last Saturday and is also available on her blog, the actual words and definitions seem to be different between us.
One thing that came out was what appears to be pretty much a total disconnect about subsistence and how we each value it and then of course try to discuss it.
It seems, and I am leaving room for this to be a generalization which is always tough, that those of us who come from more of an urban background look up the definition of subsistence:
a) The minimum (as of food and shelter) necessary to support life b) a source or means of obtaining the necessities of life.
Now armed with the definition and some time learning how that might relate to Alaska and the rural areas we feel that we understand.
Those of us who come from the rural areas of Alaska and most likely have at least some Alaska Native heritage come to this discussion with an experience that doesn’t have a ‘definition’ for subsistence.
The activity of subsistence was a full range of things. Time spent with the family, usually a number of generations, gathering, hunting, foraging for things needed to assist the daily life of your family, and sometimes the village. It is not JUST a matter of having the ‘land’ provide for your family and is also not just the act doing things as a family.
There is NO WORD in English to define what it means in Alaska, and probably many other places, to lead a ‘subsistence life’.
We also have the issue that the actual activities are changing some due to the changing of lifestyles of all our rural people.
Maybe realizing these differences makes it easier to see WHY we are having such a difficult time with this discussion of subsistence.
Just in the little bit of time I have had traveling back to my village and being able to speak to others about this example there has been a few “Ok, I can see that” moments.
So IF we can start to help the two sides come to an understanding of this inclusive word and how it might affect the entire structure of families and a culture we are onto the right track.
Having respect for the ‘other’ side, no matter where they come from or bring to the table, when trying to discuss our many issues is a good place to start and I hope we can bring some of that beginning here on Anonymous Bloggers.
~ Victoria Briggs