Archive for the ‘Nunam Iqua’ Category

A store In Nunam Iqua?

March 4, 2010

Photo by Beth Skabar, Alaska Newspapers Inc.

Mar 4, 2010

Shopping for a store in Nunam Iqua

By ALEX DEMARBAN

A Yukon River village is close to having its first grocery store in more than a year, a move that will help local residents who snowmachine over risky terrain or fly to nearby communities just to shop.

The two men behind Laav’kaq LLC, which means “store” in Yup’ik, said they brought the local tribe into the venture in hopes that profits can benefit everyone in the village of Nunam Iqua.

“I’m 37 years old and there’s no sense in making all that money,” said investor James Adams. “I think it’s more of a community opportunity here.”

The store will provide local jobs and the tribe can invest its share of earnings in new ventures or dividends to tribal members, said Adams, the tribe’s council president.

Adams came up with the store idea with George Owletuck, Adam’s step-brother and a village consultant originally from Marshall, an upriver community.

The company plans to buy groceries from Carr-Gottstein Foods at low rates, which they’ll pass on to customers, Owletuck said.

The last hurdle is inking a lease agreement for a building in the village. Options include the old store or the high school, Adams said.

Hopefully, that won’t take longer than 60 to 90 days, Oweltuck said.

Read the full story HERE .

Rural vs. RURAL!

February 2, 2010

Feb 2, 2010

Vic is  attending an Economic Development workshop which has emphasis in Rural Development.   She was live blogging the day.

From Vic:

We had as one of the main speakers today a lady who has an extensive resume that also includes living in what she is calling a rural area.  This lady is from an area that both Vic and I are quite familiar with in Washington.  Where it can be hours to drive to a city over 10,000, get a decent outfit for a special event or even get certain specialty items in the grocery store.

A picture of where this lady calls rural.

This lady believes her rural area is pretty similar to much of Alaska because they do not want to drive an hour and half for a business class. They are getting an influx of people from bigger cities who want high speed Internet.  Vic is trying hard not to burst out laughing.

This lady doesn’t really know rural, does she?

Nunam Iqua from a plane. The arrow is where my house is.

This shows how little understanding people have about what life is like in bush Alaska.

Nunam Iqua taken from the Yukon River last winter.

Let’s look at what it takes to get groceries and supplies to Ugashik.  You can’t jump on a snow machine since the closest decent store is 80 miles away in King Salmon.  It would not be safe to travel that distance via snow machine this winter.  Most winters here in Ugashik  do not allow the various lakes, rivers or creeks to freeze well enough to ensure safe travel of any great distance.  It is  local knowledge only to identify creeks which don’t freeze well,  critical for people to know when traveling overland. This is an active volcano area and the heat has to go somewhere if not out a mountain top.

One of many active volcanoes in the area with steam rising from its top.

That limits travel via snow machine during the winter.  You could easily travel 20 miles and then drop into a creek that wasn’t as frozen over as you thought and then you are stuck.

Planes?  Call the Alaska Commercial Company in King Salmon and ask them send out some groceries,  then pay the airlines 87 cents a pound to get them here.  Friends who have planes are usually happy to bring stuff with them if they are in the area, especially  if you bribe them with the promise of coffee and fresh made fry bread.

Fresh Fry Bread

Realistically ordering from King Salmon is expensive and the selection is limited, so what next?  The Internet provides many online grocery sites to  order from.

Today I shopped at Span Alaska Sales where they offer grocery items in bulk.  I can’t order a single box of Pilot Bread, instead I have to order a case.  That’s 12 boxes of pilot bread/crackers for $81.99.  I wanted tea which  I had to order by the case so I now have 6 boxes of tea for $17.98.  My order totaled 22 cases of food for around $900.  Span Alaska prices have the postage included.  My entire order will come via mail so it could take as little as a week to get here or, as long as a month. We only receive mail here in Ugashik twice a week.

It doesn’t take long to spend a lot of money.  Thankfully, Rollie and Vic have a warm room in their warehouse which makes it possible to make large orders like this.  If I were still in Nunam Iqua I could never place this type of order because I simply would not have anywhere to put everything.

In the late spring, summer and early fall some grocery shopping can be done via boat, or when we are flying fish out then we can have huge bulk orders flown in.  Refer to our Feeding the Crew post.

Those are just a few of our measures of  how we differ from others while considering rural vs really rural.

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!!!!

A Food Drive Adoption Story

December 2, 2009

Dec 2, 2009

In our previous post we  mentioned that there were individuals that couldn’t afford to adopt a family on their own and wanted to know if they co-adopt a family.

Here is a story of just such a group of adoptees…

THE ADOPTION

Once upon a time there were  five ladies struggling with lives full of problems and challenges. They took the time to read about the plight of residents in Nunam Iqua, Alaska and wanted to help, but in light of their problems, couldn’t even think of taking on such a big job as adopting a whole family all by themselves. Each one, in her own time, asked the question, could a group of us gather together and take on the needs of a family?  We thought about it  and said, “Hey, let’s try it!”

Thus, with an e-mail, Ann introduced the ladies to one another and left them to sort themselves out. Within a few hours, the new group began the halting steps to organize themselves. Each one thought hard and realistically about what she could afford to do and the group chose one person to be a recording secretary and one to keep Ann in the loop and to ask her questions as time revealed them.

Ideas began to germinate among them about how to best manage the job. Those with more experience, shared what had worked well previously, and the group googled to find cost effective ways to purchase, pack and ship sorely needed items.

In the process of doing this, a mysterious thing began to happen. Five women, totally absorbed in surviving unemployment, income reduction, illness and other struggles, found themselves reaching out to one another.

They shared their stories, their problems, their histories and their battles with depression and loss. A funny thing began to happen. They began to feel better. They laughed together over shopping trips and the bargains they found, about the Post Office reaction to five crazy ladies lugging in boxes that risked herniating any postal clerk who tried to lift them.

In the process, their burdens consumed less of their time, their depression began to lift and they got to know one another better. Even when one of the ladies lost an elderly parent right in the middle of all this, she had the comfort and care of new friends to help her bear her loss, and their prayers and thoughts held her up. All she could think of was, “Please don’t give up on me! I still want to be part of the group!”

The story is ongoing, but in less than a week, this little group has managed to forge new friendships, gather others to help, and boxes are flying out of Post Offices from all over the country to help fellow citizens.


Thank you for taking time away from your shopping and emails to share your story with us!  Thanks to your efforts a family of eight in Nunam Iqua will have help with food and a little less to worry about this holiday season.

Family Adoptions Update:

Out of 29 households, 19 families have been adopted by generous people in both the US and Canada.

*  *  *

Thank you to VFW AK Post 10041

This morning we received a call from “Buck” Bukowski with VFW Alaska Post 10041, who told me that they had heard about the plight of Nunam Iqua,  discussed it at a meeting, and voted to send a donation of $1,000 to help the people of Nunam Iqua!  This donation will be made to Span Alaska for purchasing much needed items in bulk.

Thank you to VFW Bethel Post 10041!  Your generosity will be of great help to the residents of Nunam Iqua!

*  *  *

Media Interviews

Anonymous Bloggers have been hard at work trying to get the word out and bring help to these families.  We  have been interviewed by:

The Alaska Dispatch:  Hungry on the Edge of the Continent  by Jill Burke

APRN: Internet Helping Nunam Iqua Prepare for Winter by: Dave Donaldson

Nicholas Tucker Sr. on Native America Calling (starts at about 32:45)

Adopt-A-Family Food Drive and Alternatives to help Nunam Iqua

November 28, 2009

Nov 28, 2009

Greetings from Ugashik!

The adopt-a-family food drive for Nunam Iqua seems to be well underway!

12 families have been adopted.

I have been been receiving emails from people saying they are unable to afford to adopt a family and would like to know of other ways to help.  Here are some options that can be used if you are unable to adopt a family on your own for the winter:

The first option is sharing a family with others who can’t afford to adopt a family by themselves.  I have been making groups of wonderful people who are sharing a single adoptive family for the winter.  It has been great fun to watch as  I put them in contact with each other and Viola! they are off and  shopping and packing!  This way the financial burden of helping a family is spread out among many and thus reducing the costs to the people that help.

Secondly, you can make a donation to our SPAN Alaska account.  Once donations build up in that account I will make an order and send it to Nunam.

Thirdly, you don’t have to adopt a family for the entire winter, if you can only send one box then just let me know and I can double/triple etc adopt that family out to many to keep the donations coming in.

Thank you for all of your help and understanding in helping bring aide to the families in Nunam Iqua.

Fall Flood = Help needed in Nunam Iqua again this Winter!

November 26, 2009

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

Nov 26, 2009

I spent last night preparing food for Thanksgiving dinner and calling every household in Nunam Iqua.  Unfortunately I did not receive good news.  I was able to reach 23 out of the 36 household and out of those 23 families that I did talk to 22 were already struggling and requested help again with food to make it through the winter.

This is due to the fall flood in Nunam Iqua on November 11.  You can see from the pictures that this 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.

All of this sea ice still in the Yukon River at Nunam Iqua 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.

Not only did the ADF&G restrict commercial salmon fishing on the Lower Yukon, but also subsistence fishing was restricted to less than half of what is normally allowed.  These restrictions led to very poor subsistence fishing and lead to families not being able to put away the much needed dried and smoked salmon families depend on to make it through the winter.  Additionally due to the poor commercial fishing season a lot of families lost the majority if not all of their income that would normally be generated from commercial fishing.

Lack of dried and smoked salmon were put away during the summer due to the restrictions, plus families are not getting the fresh fish they rely on due to the flooding.  This is already causing a hardship on families in Nunam Iqua this winter.

You can see the ice on the Yukon piled up in the background

I need help with getting food to the needy families in Nunam Iqua.  Last winter I organized an adopt a family for the winter food drive.  I complied a list of every needy family in Nunam Iqua and their addresses, family size and needed items.  Then wonderful people from all over not only Alaska but the entire United States and Canada and around the world adopted these families and sent them flat rate boxes of much needed food and supplies directly to their post office boxes.

I have complied a list of the needy families in Nunam Iqua.   I am wintering in Ugashik this year, so I will not be able to accept and distribute food like I was able to last winter.  I will only be doing the adopt a family for the winter food drive this winter.

A Response? You decide!

October 11, 2009

I was just about to shut my computer down for the night, then I decided I should check email.

To my great surprise I see three emails that I was not expecting.  The first two were from Jollie, Tara L (CED) and the last was from Moller, John (GOV).

Responses?  On a Saturday?

After my first stunned reaction I click on the first one from Ms. Jollie.  Here is what I saw/read:

“I will be out of the office until October 22. If you are emailing about fuel supplies in remote Alaska, this is the most current information as of October 9, 2009.

The Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA) is working to ensure adequate fuel supplies are available in Alaska’s remote, off road, villages. To that end, DCRA has made, and continues to make, an intense effort to contact off road communities regarding the status of fuel deliveries to their community. DCRA does not influence the selling price of fuel.

DCRA has identified 583 entities that cannot receive fuel delivery via the road system. These entities include Cities, Village Councils, Corporations and Schools that must stockpile large amounts of fuel for winter use. As of 9/29, DCRA has made 1,188 attempts to contact these entities. Of the 583 total entities, DCRA has successfully contacted 517, or 89%. Of the 583, 442, or 76%, report they have received their winter supply of fuel, or are in their normal cyclic delivery schedule with either a source internal or external to the community. Our work continues.”

In my absence please direct questions to Scott Ruby, DCRA Deputy Director. Scott may be reached at 269-4569 or at scott.ruby@alaska.gov.

Tara Jollie

Director

Division of Community and Regional Affairs

Obviously an auto response.  Let’s move on to number two:

“I will be out of the office until October 22. If you are emailing about fuel supplies in remote Alaska, this is the most current information as of October 9, 2009.

~SNIP~

In my absence please direct questions to Scott Ruby, DCRA Deputy Director. Scott may be reached at 269-4569 or at scott.ruby@alaska.gov.

Tara Jollie

Director

Division of Community and Regional Affairs

The exact same auto response.

(*Note these are NOT direct responses to emails that I sent, these are responses to emails that were sent by other concerned people that were cc’d to me*)

First thing I notice is that the first auto response is sent at 10:16 p.m. but the original email was sent at 2:27 p.m.  (Counting on my fingers… 2:27, 3:27, 4:27 etc..)  OK that’s like nearly 8 hours later.  Last time I checked auto responses were sent IMMEDIATELY when the email is received, right??  Unless this is some wierd State of Alaska/Government email anomally.  But then if you were going on vacation or whatever would you have it start on a Friday NOT a Saturday?  I’ll let y’all ponder that….

So let’s look at the first sentence:

“I will be out of the office until October 22. If you are emailing about fuel supplies in remote Alaska, this is the most current information as of October 9, 2009.

OK there’s the dead give away that it’s an auto response as if having it repeated a second time in another email didn’t give that away. October 22nd. Ok SURELY this is a coincidence right?? I mean she is going to be out of the office until the day I leave Ugashik to go and wait to have this baby. Coincidence I am certain.  Just like I am CERTAIN that there must be some legitimate pressing personal matter that is taking her out of the office…surely she just isn’t tucking tail and running away because of a few emails….Right?  I am certain there must be a legitimate reason or she must have had this leave time scheduled in advance and just forgot to turn on her email vacation response prior to 10 p.m. on a Saturday.

I mean this HAS to be an auto response right?  It’s not like she’s sitting at her computer firing off a COPIED response to all the emails she’s receiving hours after receiving them.  (* Found out that someone else who had been cc’d on an email received the same COPIED Auto Response to an earlier email one minute after I got mine*)

Next sentence….  If you are emailing about fuel supplies blah blah blah….. so obviously she has received a few emails inquiring about fuel supplies….ya think?

Moving on…

The Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA) is working to ensure adequate fuel supplies are available in Alaska’s remote, off road, villages. To that end, DCRA has made, and continues to make, an intense effort to contact off road communities regarding the status of fuel deliveries to their community. DCRA does not influence the selling price of fuel.

Has made, continues to make, an INTENSE EFFORT!!  Wish I could know what Ms. Jollie’s or the DCRA’s definition of INTENSE EFFORT is?  Because not responding for months and months to inquiries seems lacking to me…JMHO ;-)  Hmm DCRA does NOT influence the selling price of fuel…doesn’t that sound like what I had in my email to her?  Let’s check…

From: Ann Strongheart <nunamiquayouth@yahoo.com>

Subject: Fuel Watch

To: “Tara Jollie” <tara.jollie@alaska.gov>, “John Moller” <john.moller@alaska.gov>, “Attorney General” <attorney.general@alaska.gov>

Date: Friday, October 2, 2009, 11:30 AM

Ms. Jolie

~SNIP~

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.

Yep that pretty much looks like something I had in my email to her.  The next section throws out a whole lot of statistics.  Wow that’s a lot of numbers!  1,188 attempts to contact, 517 contacted, 442 reporting that they have their fuel or look to have it delivered.  Then we finish it off with…Our work continues!  Can you really say OUR when you are leaving for unknown reasons?

So 442 reporting that they are set or will be set for the winter which is 76% of the villages or wait how did she word it…it was such a mess of important sounding words….aww yes here it is…Alaska’s remote, off road, villages that includes: Cities, Village Councils, Corporations and Schools.

Is it just me or does it seem like there are a whole lotta numbers and a whole lotta words that don’t really answer any questions?  Ok I know they say that they are calling around and they have all these numbers and percentages but other than saying:  OUR WORK CONTINUES…ummm whatelse is the DCRA doing? (besides staying up late on a Saturday evening sending out COPIED Auto responses to emails?  Guess I am NOT the only one up late on a Saturday sitting at the computer!)

Then Ms. Jollie goes on to say:

In my absense (no she is not tucking tail and panicking and running away!) Please direct questions to blah blah blah.  Contact information blah blah blah.  Passing the buck!!! Not going to answer all of these emails, caving under the strain blah blah blah

And there ya have, the DCRA’s Director’s Response!  It seems like magic that we even got this much of a response.

Well let’s move on to Mr. Moller’s response:

From: Moller, John (GOV) <john.moller@alaska.gov>

Subject: RE: Fuel Watch Meeting Oct 2, 2009

To: “Ann Strongheart” <nunamiquayouth@yahoo.com>, “General, Attorney (LAW sponsored)” <attorney.general@alaska.gov>, “Jollie, Tara L (CED)” <tara.jollie@alaska.gov>, “ombudsman ak” <ombudsman@legis.state.ak.us>

Date: Saturday, October 10, 2009, 9:54 PM

Dear Ms. Strongheart:

I understand your concerns with the continued high cost of energy. There are a number of programs that are available to help Alaskans in need. Attached is information about programs available through the Division of Public Assistance, which includes help in paying for heating expenses through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs (LIHEAP) and the Alaska Heating Assistance Program (AKHAP).

In some areas of Alaska , these programs are operated by Alaska Native organizations. Attached is a flier that provides information about Heating Assistance, and it includes the list of Alaska Native Organizations that are operating Tribal LIHEAP/Heating Assistance programs. Kodiak Area Native Association and Bristol Bay Native Association’s programs are new this year and they are in the process of getting their offices ready to begin accepting applications.

The Women, Infant’s and Children’s program is administered by community grantees. Bristol Bay Area Health Corp. in Dillingham operates the WIC program in the Bristol Bay and Dillingham area. They can be reached at 842-2036. Families can get more information about the WIC program and how to apply at http://www.hss.state.ak.us/dpa/programs/nutri/wic/Participants/Default.htm

I hope all Alaskans apply for these programs that apply to them if they are in need. I hope you find this information helpful.

Regards,

John Moller

Rural Advisor

Office of Governor Parnell

907-465-3500

Before I start analyzing this one I’ll share my reply:

Mr. Moller,

Quyana for your response to my email. You offered some information about some programs which I will be sure to pass along.

Although, I can’t help but notice that you didn’t answer a single one of my questions. So here they are again. I hope that you will be able to address them. I am assuming that since you are the Rural Advisor to Governor Parnell that you will have access to the necessary information to answer them, even though they were originally directed at the DCRA and Ms. Jollie.

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 .

Quyana Cakneq in advance for your response and attention to this matter.

Ann Strongheart


Let’s take a closer look at Mr. Moller’s response.  I;ll paste it here and put my thoughts and translations  in blue.

Dear Ms. Strongheart:

I understand your concerns with the continued high cost of energy. (I am tired of receiving emails and hearing about your complaints concerns! ) There are a number of programs that are available to help Alaskans in need. (I am giving you all this information in hopes of distracting you and getting you off of my back !  No it is NOT passing the buck to another government agency in hopes that you will pester them with your steady stream of emails and questions!) Attached is information about programs available through the Division of Public Assistance, which includes help in paying for heating expenses through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs (LIHEAP) and the Alaska Heating Assistance Program (AKHAP).  (Please contact them and stop emailing me! because it’s hard work coming up with such a long run-on sentence that seems this impressive with lots of words!)

In some areas of Alaska , these programs are operated by Alaska Native organizations. (If you don’t already know your AVCP does this type of stuff for the Y/K Delta!) Attached is a flier that provides information about Heating Assistance, and it includes the list of Alaska Native Organizations that are operating Tribal LIHEAP/Heating Assistance programs. (Please print these out and distribute them and quit pestering me to do my job!) Kodiak Area Native Association and Bristol Bay Native Association’s programs are new this year and they are in the process of getting their offices ready to begin accepting applications.  (Maybe you can help them too since you are in Ugashik for the winter and hand out these flyers for me!)

The Women, Infant’s and Children’s program is administered by community grantees.  (WIC, you are pregnant and have a toddler!  Let’s see if I can distract you by throwing them in this email also!) Bristol Bay Area Health Corp. in Dillingham operates the WIC program in the Bristol Bay and Dillingham area. They can be reached at 842-2036. Families can get more information about the WIC program and how to apply at http://www.hss.state.ak.us/dpa/programs/nutri/wic/Participants/Default.htm (You are in that area now, so I am going to put their specific contact information here just for you!  DISTRACTION!! DISTRACTION!!! Leave me alone please! DISTRACTION!!)

I hope all Alaskans apply for these programs that apply to them if they are in need.  (Can you mumble that again?  I hope ALL Alaskans apply?) I hope you find this information helpful.  (Please don’t notice that I didn’t answer any of your questions and that I am simply trying to placate you and distract you and hopefully get you to start pestering another government agency and leave me alone!)

Regards,

John Moller

Rural Advisor

Office of Governor Parnell

907-465-3500

************

I will discuss these responses or lack thereof in the future.

-AnnS


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

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.

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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