Apr 12, 2010
We learned much about life in Nunam Iqua last winter during the fuel/food crisis. Here’s a look at a side of the village that is not pretty but only by discussing solutions will life in bush Alaska ever change.
Alaska Pi addressed it thoughtfully at piinthesky.wordpress.com. Her post is reprinted here with permission.
An important story hit the news this week, first in the Tundra Drums, then in the rural blog at the ADN.
By ALEX DEMARBAN
The employees at a Southwest Alaska village clinic are quitting, citing a lack of local police that makes their job potentially dangerous and exposes them to harassment from fellow villagers.
Harassed and exhausted, the workers at a Western Alaska village clinic have resigned, leading the regional health agency to indefinitely close the facility because of what the agency’s chief calls a “hostile environment.”
The regional health agency for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is indefinitely closing its health clinic in the small Yukon River village of Nunam Iqua because of what the agency’s chief executive calls a “hostile environment” for health aides.
The Juneau Empire and Associated Press have picked it up.
Information about what is going on in the bush is sparse and often lacking context. This story , as reported in both original venues, is more well rounded and in context than is the norm.
The comments on the ADN story took the usual turn … right away.
Important facts and issues in the story took an immediate backseat or were forgotten in the stampede to spout off about village life, Alaska Natives, Native corporations, big and samll…
Aside from the lack of knowledge displayed by so many commenting there ( yikes- those folks are my neighbors too !) the utter disregard for the issues facing Nunam Iqua, the health clinic there, the VPSO program as it really works was astounding.
The articles , right away, set me to thinking about my community and what we do and what we expect :
In my community first responders, EMTs, are accompanied/met by police officers who secure unsafe situations so that medical folks can do their job.
In my community bullies and ne’er-do-wells are brought to task when they try to shove others around…
In my community harassing health care workers would bring the whole town down around the ears of the harasser(s)…
Nunam Iqua has a long way to go to come together as a community, picking up and making it’s way into the future, but simplistic responses to these troubles won’t get them there…
Not within Nunam nor without…
Nor will ignoring the problems there , willfully or by default, advance Alaska as a larger community.
Not within Nunam nor without…
Far too often villages stay quiet about problems simply because of all the horsepunky which crops up immediately like the move-who-cares-you-all-drink- gobbbeldy gook spouted off at the ADN.
If we are going to get real about solving domestic violence and related unacceptable behavior , we are going to have to get real about our attitudes…
All of us…
While solutions must start in the community, it must gain the will to face it’s own problems, they must be solidified by the larger community with the kind of framework and infrastructure which supports the rest of us in our quests for safe communities.
So, why do we do we always seem to derail off into the ozone when stories like this appear?
To the point of forgetting what the point even is…?
Why do we do this?