Archive for the ‘Native Americans’ Category

Anonymous Bloggers on TV and Radio

March 2, 2010

Mar 2, 2010

Last week most of the Anonymous Bloggers team met up in Anchorage for a few days of socializing and strategizing. During the flurry of activity they managed to get a little air time for Anomymous Bloggers.

AnnS was a guest on Shannyn Moore’s television show on KYES and talked about village life in rural Alaska, last year’s food/fuel crisis and the food drive she initiated to bring food to the people of Nunam Iqua.

Shannyn also interviewed anonymous bloggers Alaska  Pi, Fawnskin Mudpuppy, Elsie and not-so-anonymous Victoria Briggs on her KUDO radio show on Saturday. (Listen here)

They talked about how the blog got started and why people from outside Alaska became interested in helping Alaska Native people. They also acknowledged the need to improve the dialog surrounding subsistence issues and strive for parity and dignity so stakeholders can come to the table with mutual respect to work on finding solutions to the plight of people living in the bush.

Take a minute to listen and see if you think they sound like you picture them.

 

 

 

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!!!!

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!

AB is PROUD to announce a new blog from one of our AB bloggers: Pi in the Sky!

December 28, 2009

Dec 28, 2009

We here at AB want to introduce you to a new blog on Alaska issues, Pi in The Sky.
One of our board members, who lives here in Alaska, shares Native blood that is much to be proud of, has a tremendous love for the state and its people and has other talents that will show up in the posts has started this blog to help bring some clarity to more complex issues we face here in Alaska.
These issues that must be addressed,  in helping to build Alaska and all of its people into a better place, will be tackled, no matter how messy they get. We seem to have a real talent here in Alaska to walk around ‘elephants’ in the room when we get to many issues.
To REALLY bring progress to the many parts of Alaska they need to be brought forward. We believe you will find this a well researched blog and one to help us LEARN AND hopefully join a more progressive discussion on these tough subjects.
This first post that has been taken on is one of the tribes and the ‘nation to nation’ issue.
Please join with us and welcome “Pi in The Sky”. Come learn with all of us on what some of our history is and how we might head forward!!

Obama Reaches Out to American Indian Tribes

November 5, 2009

Nov 5, 2009

Pres. Obama Reaches Out to American Indian TribesPres. Obama Reaches Out to American Indian Tribes

C-SPAN  OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TODAY (11/5/09)

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

* * *

This is definitely a huge and wonderful step in the right direction!

Breaking News…A step in the right direction!

October 25, 2009

Oct 25, 2009

Obama seeks changes in Alaska hunting, fishing oversight

We’d like to credit two mudpups who helped bring this to our attention, Gramiam and GreatGranny2C, who found this breaking news.

Feds seek to reshape hunting and fishing rules

‘SYSTEM IS BROKEN’: Interior Secretary proposes to revamp oversight of subsistence in Alaska.

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.

Subsistence rights — the battle over who gets the first opportunity to hunt and fish on state or federal land — is a headline issue at this year’s convention. For decades, the debate has pitted rural Alaskans and Alaska Natives, who say they hunt and fish to survive, against sports groups and urban hunters and fishermen, who argue everyone should have equal access to fish and game.

The state makes hunting and fishing rules across Alaska. But the feds regulate subsistence on federal lands, creating a confounding, overlapping system.

In contrast to the state Constitution, a 1980 federal law guarantees rural Alaskans priority when it comes to subsistence. Some Alaska Native leaders say the feds haven’t done enough to protect that right, and are proposing a resolution at the convention today that calls for broad changes to subsistence management.

AFN leaders met with Interior officials at least twice in the past four months, outlining some of those requests, said state Sen. Albert Kookesh, an AFN co-chairman who praised Friday’s announcement.

READ the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE

Enough Fuel for the Winter? Don’t Expect the DCRA to Answer!

October 9, 2009
Nunam Iqua's Fuel/Tank Farm, picture taken Spring Flood '08

Nunam Iqua's Fuel/Tank Farm, picture taken Spring Flood '08

Those of you who visit Anonymous Bloggers know that we have been trying for months to find out whether or not the villages in rural Alaska have enough fuel to make it through this winter.  After last years crisis, we wanted to ensure that everyone got their fuel deliveries and are set for the winter.

This does not translate into the residents having enough money to buy fuel and food for this winter.  We wanted to make sure that fuel was simply available.   Surely that State of Alaska has a program to monitors this type of thing, especially after last winters fuel issues across rural Alaska, right?

They do,  and it’s called Fuel Watch and it is run by the Department of Community and Rural Affairs (DCRA).   Even Governor Parnell wants to know what the fuel situation is….

I tried sending out an email to get answers:

Dear Mr. Parnell, Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Moller, and Ms. Jollie;

Waqaa!  I am writing to inquire as to whether or not any of your offices have completed fuel inquiries for rural Alaska?  There was mention that villages were being contacted to assess their fuel situations and preparedness for this winter.

Additionally, what happened and/or what is the status of the Yukon Fisheries Disaster Declaration that was sent to DC?

Any information you could provide me about these issues would be greatly appreciated.  I am gravely concerned that this winters crisis in rural Alaska will be far worse than last winters, is there anything you can tell me that is in the works or under consideration to avert another crisis in bush Alaska  this winter?

Quyana Cakneq in advance for your help in this matter.  Please feel free to contact me at the below contact information.

After sending that email one of the board members at AB found  this report thanks to ADN’s Kyle Hopkins.

So I read the report and had some questions.  So since the report clearly states at the top:

Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA)

Report to the Commissioner

September 18, 2009

From Director Tara Jollie

Ms. Tara Jollie, Photo from KTUU

Ms. Tara Jollie, Photo from KTUU

I thought well I’ll contact Ms. Jollie, I mean it does say it’s from her right?  I had some questions.  So I called her.  I about fell off of my chair when she actually answered the phone!!  So I asked her my questions.  Specifically related to clarifying HER report.  Did I get answers?  NOPE!!  Instead I got the run around and a broken record response of … “We are having a meeting today (Oct. 2, 2009) and I was planning on answering your email after this meeting.”
Ok, well now I am getting some where right??  Well just to make sure that she didn’t forget my questions I immediately sent a follow up email:
Ms. Jollie,
Thank you very much for speaking with me earlier on the phone. I am glad to hear that you are meeting today to discuss the FUEL WATCH for rural Alaska.

I look forward to your email in response to my questions.  Here is a recap with a few extra questions:

What is the fuel status for rural Alaska?
After reading report #5 from your dept.  I am assuming that only those 13 communities identified in the report are having fuel issues??  I am assuming the remaining 567 are all set fuelwise for the winter?  Would you please clarify that.
I expressed my concern that even if these communities have or will receive the fuel they need for the winter that I am concerned about at what cost and how will people be able to afford the fuel.  You stated that it was not your departments job and/or responsibility to set fuel prices.  Which I understand but I am still concerned and would HOPE that you would bring this to the Governors attention.  That simply because a community has fuel available that does not ensure that residents will be able to afford said fuel.  Especially due to the poor commercial fishing this past summer.
What is the current status of the the villages listed in report #5 from your dept?  Are they all set and have their fuel for the winter?
Does the public have access to the whole database?  I would like to review it to ensure that all communities were identified.  I am concerned b/c I don’t see Alakanuk nor Kotlik nor other YK Delta Villages listed.
Could you please include me on your mailing list for future reports on the fuel watch.  I am working on a post for my blog and would like to be able to keep up to date on current fuel information.  I will be going into wait to have this baby here in a few very short weeks and intend to fill my time actively advocating for rural Alaska.

I look forward to your response.
AnnS

I give her 7 days to respond, then I send a courteous reminder:

Dear Ms. Jollie, (AG and Mr. Moller see below)

It has been 7 days since I not only emailed you about the Fuel Watch meetings/information but also spoke to you on the phone.  You assured me that you were going to respond to my email when I spoke to you on the phone.  I have attached that email again.  I look forward to hearing your responses to my questions.
Like I mentioned I am working on a post for our blog (https://anonymousbloggers.wordpress.com/) and I had hoped to include information about the meeting that you said was happening on Oct. 2.  But since it looks as if you will not respond to my emails I will just include what information I have managed to gather from other sources and will also mention that I have been unsuccessful getting any type of response from you or your office/department.
I plan on putting that post up tomorrow, Oct. 9, 2009 and following it up with an interview I am doing for APRN.  I would really like to include POSITIVE information that I have received from you and/or your office but since y’all don’t seem to want to respond to my emails…..sigh.
I really would like to include up to date information concerning the fuel watch meeting that you said occurred on Oct 2.  I am anxiously awaiting your response to my email below.
Quyana Cakneq in advance for you assistance in this matter.
AG Sullivan and Mr. Moller,
Would either of you be able to offer any answers to the questions below?
AnnS

Ms. Jollie’s contact information:

Phone: 907-269-7959

You, too, can join the quest for answers!

Additionally, I include the AG and Mr. Moller in my emails that I send out, so here’s their email addresses also….

“Attorney General” attorney.general@alaska.gov

“John Moller” john.moller@alaska.gov

Please feel free to post any replies that you receive here in the comments or email them to me.

-Ann

The Natives are RESTLESS and NO ONE cares!

August 14, 2009

Dear Governor Parnell, Mr. Moller, Ms. Jollie and Others*

My name is Ann Strongheart.  I am from the village of Nunam Iqua on the Yukon Delta.  I am certain most of you already know who I am, if not I invite you to visit my blog to learn more about me.  https://anonymousbloggers.wordpress.com/

Like Mr. Nicholas Tucker Sr., I have become an advocate of sorts for the people of bush Alaska.  After last winter’s crisis not only on the Yukon but also across bush Alaska I along with a group of wonderfully generous hardworking individuals have been trying to keep this winter from turning out like last year’s.

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 Sub cabinet and Rural Advisor Moller and the Attorney General and I could keep going and going with our attempts to get answers to the following questions:

Are the meetings for both the Advisory Panel and the Rural Sub cabinet open to the public? If so can we get a 1-800 so we might listen in?

Also, is it possible to get an agenda for both?

If we see something either on the agenda or missing from the agenda that concerns us is it possible to speak to the issue? If not who would we direct our concerns to?

As rural Alaskan citizens we have a number of concerns that are specific to our areas and are looking for a forum in which to have those issues addressed.

Those are just a few of the questions we have asked and had ignored.

I am curious about a few things, and I am hoping that SOMEONE that receives this email will help me learn.

Are rural Alaskans time and respect worth less than yours??  As rural Alaskans we take time out of our busy schedules trying to put away enough food for the winter to contact you all with our concerns.

Instead of prompt courteous responses we are either ignored or referred to someone else who in turn refers us to another and another.

Is this something that our Government officials take a special class on and learn how to placate their constituents?  It seems like to me that y’all figure if you ignore us enough or give us enough of a run around that maybe just maybe we’ll go away??

Are our concerns less important than urban Alaskans because it is so hard for us to make it into Anchorage or Juneau due to the cost of travel?  Does this make it easier to ignore our legitimate questions?

Is it your hope that eventually we will just all give up and move to Anchorage so y’all can take over the resources in rural Alaska ?

Let me assure you that will NEVER happen.  Alaskan Natives and Native Americans across not only Alaska but the entire United States are tired of being ignored, used, abused, discarded and manipulated!  We have been knocked down, and told what to do and not do for hundreds of years.  We, all Natives, are very proud people.  We may have been ignored and pushed around but no longer.  We are learning that we do have voices and that we can be not only heard but also listened to.  We will not give up what little land and resources we have now nor in the future.  We have already had too much taken away from us.  So don’t think that by placating and ignoring us that we’ll just give up.  We have just gotten started.  The “Natives” are restless and tired of being ignored and stepped on.

We have the same rights as every U.S. Citizen granted to us by the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence among others.  We won’t go quietly into the bush and continue to be ignored and taken advantage of.  I am quite certain that we, Native Alaskans and Native Americans, have earned more respect than we have been allotted by our Government Officials.   But what have you done to earn our respect?  I don’t think respect is earned by placating and ignoring someone, do you?

I know y’all are busy, but last time I checked everyone is.  I think our time is just as precious as yours.  I think if we can take the time out of subsistence fishing and gathering etc. to contact you that the least y’all could do would be to reply saying “I received your letter/call/etc. and I am busy but will respond to you when I can or forward your inquiry to someone who can respond.

At least take the time to blow us off properly by responding that you did in fact receive our letters rather than completely ignoring us.

It seems like the only way we, Alaskan Native and Rural Alaskans, can get your attention is to get the media involved.  We have to step up on our soap boxes and yell loud enough for y’all in Anchorage and Juneau to hear us.  Why in the world is it so hard for OUR elected and non elected officials, who are supposed to represent us, to address our questions?

So can anyone who received this email answer my questions?  At this point since the meeting is on Monday I’d even be happy to hear back from the Anchorage Daily News or the Alaska Dispatch, or any other media or individual since I doubt I will receive a response from any Government Officials.

Quyana Cakneq in advance for your time in reading and hopefully responding to this inquiry.

Ann Strongheart

(Attn:  Any MSM/newspapers whom are receipients of this letter have my permission to publish it.  Please feel to contact me if you have any questions)

*Sent: Friday, August 14, 2009 2:30 PM
To: sean.parnell@alaska.gov; john.moller@alaska.gov; emil.notti@alaska.gov; tara.jollie@alaska.gov; ombudsman@legis.state.ak.us; jonathan.katchen@alaska.gov; michael.black@alaska.gov
Cc: Annie Feidt; Art Nelson; beth skabar; Wesley ADN; Dennis Zaki – AlaskaReport.com; Linda Biegel; Rep John Coghill; Cora Crome; Rep Nancy Dahlstrom; Sen Hollis French; Rep Carl Gatto; Karen Gillis; Rep Max Gruenberg; Rep Lindsey Holmes; TONY HOPFINGER; Kyle Hopkins; wesley loy; Rep Bob Lynn; Simon Mallory; Sen Lesil McGuire; Philip Munger; Harlan Native America Calling; Rep Jay Ramras; Neva Reece; Harley Sundown; Sen Gene Therriault; Nick Tucker; Sen Bill Wielechowski; bakerotz@otz.net; bacydfda@yahoo.com; tmack@aleutcorp.com; N1857@conocophillips.com; deweyskan@hotmail.com; robin@bbedc.com; gcannelos@denali.gov; Mary_pete@bethel.uaf.edu; Kathie@akml.org; jadams@gci.net; goneill@citci.com; Merlaine.kruse@ak.usda.gov; AFNInfo@NativeFederation.org; alex@alaskanewspapers.com
Subject: The Natives are RESTLESS and NO ONE cares!

Note: I’m posting this for Ann because she’s spent much of her valuable time today rebooting her computer just to  get this letter out.

In Bethel, Ethan Berkowitz, a former state legislator who lost a bid for Congress last year, joined the meeting to push for $180 million in stimulus money to create the infrastructure for broadband Internet in rural Alaska. I second that!

Also, Ann neglected to mention that both she and Nick took time from their busy lives to be guests on nationally-aired Native America Calling on  public radio recently. John Moller was invited to participate and didn’t reply.

~ Jane

***

Warm-Heart smallEagle Warm Hearts Fund

Buy gift cards for residents of Eagle who lost everything including their survival gear in the Yukon breakup!

Big Ray’s  is offering a 20% discount to Eagle Village residents and distributing gift cards to those who need them most. Gift cards are $10 – increase the quantity to donate more.

Get the latest from Eagle here.

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Valuable Lessons and Wise Words from Our Respected Elder Nicholas Tucker!

August 11, 2009

Nicholas Tucker, Yup'ik Elder, Emmonak, Alaska

Nicholas Tucker, Yup’ik Elder, Emmonak, Alaska

Aug 11, 2009

As many of you know,  Nick Tucker is one of Western Alaska’s respected Yup’ik Elders.

Recently he included me as a recipient of an email he sent to a Tribal Administrator.  It was a very heartfelt and honest letter about lessons that we should all learn and respect.  With his permission, we would like to share his letter with you.

*  *  *

Dear (Friend):

Look who’s writing! You have just touched a heart that is in pain. Thank you! I recall you as an infant being fed by your Mom.

I do not want you to have to go through what my generation, the many generations before us and your Mom and Dad had to endure us to stay alive from one year to the next. I do not want your cousins in here having to go through the same. How many more generations are we going to cry out. Will the generations of those who rule and make laws continue to be the generations of those for the last too hundred yearss, and for our State, the last 50 years?

Look at your dad. He is over 70 years old and is still struggling to feed his grandchildren, great grandchildren and your mother who is the same age as I am, failing some in health. At his age, your dad is resorting to work working many hours a day plus commercial fishing. He and your mom should be enjoying their senior years. But, the preventable, ever-existing high fuel prices, groceries and you name it prevent just have us keep going so that everyone else around us wouldn’t go hungry and cold. Yoiu know too well it got so bad this winter for many villages that great number of us had to choose between heating fuel or food on the table, and saddest of all, some without one or the other or both and, in case of food, some just one meal a day and some without days.

(Friend), remember us.  In our pain and struggles, we raised your generation. We had the best of hopes for you all while we had our own social problems that had been seeded and spawned from generations ago when the first non-Native stepped on our land. It could have been a beautiful, caring country – us having been accepted, trusted, respected, and honored – with our backyard resources generously shared with us. We did, but the recipients want more and more, and eventually all.

Your dad and I, as was with many generations well ahead of us, never held grudges, revolted, nor revenged no matter the treatment, but always wish well of our oppressors with kindness, care, and generosity – like our elders say, even if you only have a cup of tea, and, continue to treat them with open arms that we did  two hundred years ago. I want you, your children and grandchildren get education. We’ve always been strong, intelligent, and wise, particularly our culture precious with values and teachings. Take that for us 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.

Remember, Israelites were under oppression 400 years. The Pharaoh was given opportunity to work with God. He refused. Then from the lowliest of Israelites came Moses.

You are all from strong men and women. Know that. Your Dad, even barely able to see and having to use a magnifying glass to read, having been hospitalized number of times, and enduring much like rest of us, is telling you all who you really are. Young men and women of great strength. Tell your generation. My family is a family of veterans – we’re doing our part so those we leave behind will be free to treat each other as they feel. But, for your generation, look to ours. It is precious.

I’ve never talked this way to you. But, it is time to pass on some things. We’ve always shared and protected our resources. Now, they have been allowed to be squandered elsewhere, dishonored, and even in one case, literally thrown overboard while we cry for it.

Thank you so much for rising up.Please  look back at your ancestors and your elders today. Be patience, kind, generous, compassionate, caring, and sacrificing, but with one formidable tool: education. Use it with wisdom.  Make sure our future administration knows who you are. You equal to the rest of the esteemed citizens and do not have the right to be denied our country’s promised benefits and privileges. The generations ahead of you sat quietly in a cage, in a corner. Someone from the outside has opened the door. It is up to you all to walk out, men and women to be reckoned with -without revenge, without violence, and without ill-feelings, but with confidence that you can contribute in making our state better, even for former oppressors. Some didn’t know. Forgive them. Together, you will get the Alaska you want.

Nick

A glimpse into the Future? I hope not!

July 21, 2009
Nunam Iqua's Potlatch (annual meeting) 2009

Nunam Iqua’s Potlatch 2009.  Nick Tucker is seen in the plaid shirt.

Jul 21, 2009

My family is spending the summer in Ugashik fishing.   I was given a glimpse into the future – an eye opening experience that made me stop and think:  “I hope my people, the Yup’iks, do not end up like this!”

Since I have been in the Bristol Bay region I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of Tribal meetings.  My thoughts going into these varies from excitement at seeing another community’s culture and traditions, to wondering how local politics operate here compared to Nunam Iqua on the Lower Yukon River delta.

Unfortunately, my excitement about the prospect of learning about the culture and traditions of another village was  immediately let down.  I walked into an annual meeting expecting to see celebrations of Native culture, pride in being Native and efforts to keep their Native ways, language, and culture alive in this ever westernized world we now live in.

I donned my traditional kuspaq thinking that since this was their annual meeting, everyone would be celebrating their heritage and culture.  I was so wrong with that train of thought!   There was nothing that I saw which even hinted that this was a Tribal meeting.  There appeared to be no Native aspect involved at all.  Not once did I hear a single Native word uttered.  Not once did I see any tradition that I could remotely relate to keeping their culture intact.  The only thing I observed was a whole lot of squabbling and discussions of money.  Money here, money there, money, money (or lack there of) everywhere!

In all of the money discussion I expected to hear  about spending money on programs to help protect and sustain or even recapture their Native culture, traditions, or language.  Nothing!  My heart began to ache for these people.

This is just the meeting portion, surely at the potluck dinner there will be more culture evident…  They set up the buffet of BBQ and potluck dishes and I am happily surprised to see two things happen.  First they did offer Grace, and second they honored the elders by allowing them to serve themselves first.   I stood there and anxiously waited to see what types of Native foods will be offered and wondering what new dishes I will be introduced to.   What Native foods do they enjoy here compared to the dishes on the Yukon?  Certainly there will be fry bread?  I have never been to a Native gathering that didn’t include fry bread!

Fry bread I made in Nunam earlier this year.

Fry bread

I looked down the table at the offerings.   I took a plate and  I am handed a hamburger bun.  So here is the fare:  chicken casserole with broccoli, shredded BBQ beef and pork, shredded carrot raisin salad, potato salad, fruit salad, green salad, snack mix, corn, green beans, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mt. Dew and Coke, juice, and coffee.  For dessert there was pumpkin pie, pineapple upside down cake, ice cream and Otter pops.

Where’s the fish?  Where’s the fry bread?  Where’s the akutaq?  Even Rollie was surprised that there were no corn fritters which he fondly remembers from his childhood growing up here.   I would expect this type of buffet in any south, Midwest or western town gathering.  Everything tasted delicious, but I was sorely disappointed that I didn’t get to try any new Native foods…sigh.

I noticed something else, looking around at everyone there…why isn’t anyone dressed in any Native clothing?  I am the only one…the solitary person who has donned any type of traditional clothing.  Everyone else is in jeans or sweats and t-shirts, and a few with dressy shirts.  Surely some of the women must have beadwork on?  A pair of beaded earrings or a beaded hair pin…nope.  Just me.

I began to think to myself:  “Is this what will happen to my people 100 years from now?  Will we have completely given up our cultural customs and become westernized by only fishing to make money?  Will we have lost all semblance of our heritage?  Will our children and our children’s children never know their native language, traditions, culture?  Will my people only squabble about money and give up the fight for these Native ways?”

I have now come to treasure every detail of my life back home in Nunam Iqua.  We are definitely PROUD of our NATIVE heritage and culture!  If you were to come to Nunam Iqua when we have our annual meeting, which we call a Potlatch, there would be absolutely no doubt in your mind that we are Native and darn proud of it, too!

Not only will I ensure that my children and god-willing my grand children will know where they came from but also they will learn their language, culture and traditions!  And I will also, do everything in my power to ensure that my nieces, nephews, cousins and others know these as well!

How did this happen?  Where did their culture and traditions go?  How can you claim to be a Tribe and not have any traditional practices other than fishing?  Where’s your language?  Why doesn’t anyone dance?  Or sing?  What caused this total loss of their Native heritage?  It’s not like there are big cities out here, this is very rural Alaska.  Don’t you have to keep your culture and traditions alive to survive?   How do we keep it from happening to my Yup’ik culture?

Although I mourn for these people and what they have lost not knowing or sharing their culture, traditions and language – I am grateful that I have been given this glimpse of what the future could hold for other Native villages across Alaska if we don’t take the time to fight for the old ways.  It was like stepping into the future and receiving a warning…