Victoria’s Garden Journal

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April 22, 2009

Composting was a BIG discussion for a variety of reasons and although I have always practiced it I did not realize how difficult it can be in Alaska.

Two factors contribute to the whole idea of composting being very frustrating in Alaska. The low temperature of weather delays the natural process. Not having enough of a source of carbon; newspaper, leaves, etc. can also be an issue.

We also do not have things like grass clipping since most people in the bush do not have lawns, nor leaves as most of us do not have large deciduous trees either.

Composting in the bush might solve an issue that we do have; landfill items like cardboard that many times are burned to keep it from filling them up.

We also tend to have lots of Nitrogen sources like food waste, fish parts and in my case chicken waste. (We must be careful in many areas to not attract wildlife like bears, wolves and eagles)

Jody Anderson of UAF is doing some good work, as is Mingchu Zhang, also of UAF with fish waste. This is a real issue for some of the hub towns that have a fair amount of fish processing. (In most cases I am hearing over 125 years of it and large volumes)

In speaking with Jody and Mingchu after the presentations we have created some ‘dead zones’ in our water ways due to many, many years of dumping waste. There is a regulation that has been in force for years that all waste must be ground to a certain size, I believe no larger than ½”by ½” but this is still of a concern.

The lack of strong enough water flow or tides to mix with the waste and wash it away seems to be part of the issue in the areas that have this issue.

In many areas the waste has come to feed halibut, and other bottom feeder species, nurseries where it hasn’t created ‘dead zones’, so it is a hard issue to monitor.

Work was done to see if using cardboard and fish waste can make for a good compost mixture that is workable.

Jody found out that a cardboard and fish mixture decomposes, but also quickly turns to an ammonia mixture if not kept dry enough and or turned enough. It does decompose but the smell can drive even the hardiest soul to another part of the state.

Tim Meyers also did some work with fish waste and chipped brush wood. He tells an interesting story of mixing the two, waiting I believe he said 2 weeks, and ending up with one MAJOR factory for maggot production that his chickens LOVED.

According to Tim the heat that the wood pile mixed with fish waste created such a source of protein with the maggots that he saved on food supplies for the chickens. The maggots could not stand the heat generated by this mixture and came up to the surface of the pile where the chickens had a feast.

Given we in Ugashik have a good source of fish waste due to a small processing plant in the village, I am excited about trying either of these method further.

If in time we can work out a completely decomposed and dried out product we would have something local to share with other villages. Getting the finished product to Pilot Point should not be an issue due to frequent travel between the two.

They used a small branch shredder to do the card board which might be more of an issue getting it up here but maybe something can be worked out.

Shipping in fertilizer is a big issue due to cost and even availability of it from an Alaskan source.

Our soil temperatures can be slow to raise quick enough to allow for typical fertilizer sources to be applied, break down and be available for plants to take up in the same year.

Fish waste compost looks like it breaks down fast enough to be of good use to overcome this issue.

Our fish waste in Ugashik is not an issue, much due to the low volume and excellent tidal action, but running an experiment with fish waste could be useful for long term. Another method we, Jody and I, discussed would be to dig a shallow ditch, dump fish waste, and cover with some fresh dirt. Letting it breakdown in place might be a way to prep soils where production is planned or is lying fallow that year. We might have to install a temporary electric fence to discourage any wildlife.

Overall it looks like composting in Western Alaska could get to be a big issue in the near future with some real ground breaking methods developed to deal with a number of issues.

April 19,2009

Well hopefully I can get back on track a little with updates on all that was learned in Fairbanks.

Sorry for the disruption but the need to speak out on the Salmon By-Catch issue came up and the chance to lend our voices to the fight could not be missed.

Overall while in Fairbanks I was struck by the level of commitment of the people who farm in Alaska to wanting to be progressive in what they do. They have tried many things and are determined to keep trying and learning.

Although the need to import food is great, and I don’t see that changing for some time, it will not be due to lack of farmers and business people working to bring more and better food sources to all of Alaska.

Bryce Wrigley of Delta Junction presented an interesting project to help find another heating fuel sources for Alaskans that has much promise. Barley can be grown in here, more successfully than other grain crops, and is a pretty mature crop at this point. Growing more of it in the state would strengthen the farmers here without threatening the supply for food or animal feed sources.

Both links give you more information on the subject.

There was promising information passed along about the growing of a fruit tree crop either under high tunnels or out in a zone 2. In this case it is apples and Robert Wheeler of CES has been doing work to see if apple trees can be done commercially in Alaska. They had some good successes the first year that show that it is possible with pretty quick return of some crops.

This is exciting to me; especially for this area as we are a 4/5 zone and most likely can adapt things. If you have worked with orchard fruits much you are aware it can be a 5-10 year cycle before you get something that will return a crop.

I am on the notification list for this work and will be looking to see how the second year goes and if the varieties will be made available soon.

One young lady, Allie Barker, of Chickaloon Sustainable Homestead, shared with us her and her partner’s establishment of their homestead. They had settled in a wooded area of Alaska, Chickaloon, and were slowly and with much care clearing part of their land and making a life for themselves.

First building a basic house, making sure to face it correctly for as much passive solar as possible.  They then built a solar panel up on a high tower as they are somewhat in the shadow of a mountain, also cold frames and a greenhouse.

I have to tell you that looking at all that wood, a small self-run sawmill, and located out here somewhere close to most of us and we would be in HEAVEN!!! Trees are just not part of the landscape this far down on the Alaska Peninsula and many other parts of Western Alaska. It isn’t just permafrost, which we really do not have here, but other factors like wind and soil.

It was fun to see all their projects, how they are working to live as much off their land as possible and contribute to the area and people around them. No one can say that there are not hard working young people who are out to make a difference. There seems to still be plenty of that here in Alaska.

There was a lot of general information on direct marketing and weed suppression. Both of these areas are of little concern right now for us but hopefully things will get successful enough soon to be of an issue in the near future.

When I look over what is still left to present I can’t combine them with this post so it will be short.

High tunnels
Tim Meyer and his entire set up

The three main areas I still want to share so stay tuned.

March 27, 2009

Hope the White House Joins Us!!

I read yesterday that there is a movement to have the White House get some chickens to join the kitchen garden that just broke ground.

Some like 66% of the farms in the US have chickens and more and more urban areas are allowing them in small numbers.

The Sustainable Agriculture workshop had a couple of segments on raising chickens both for meat and eggs. Also using the waste for compost was also an issue that was covered. (Compost is actually a difficult deal in our cold growing areas as we do not have enough time for it to break down to use in the first place and secondly it usually takes more than one season for it to be available in the ground)

There is actually a little bit of a history, at least 30-40 years ago, for chickens in this area. My belief is that there is probably history back into the 1800’s when the canneries were running in almost every village in the area and/or when missionaries were coming into the area, but I am not sure.

In Pilot Point there were at least one family that I have first hand knowledge from that use to raise both chickens and ducks for eggs and meat. Unfortunately when the elder that spear headed that effort died so did the raising of flocks.

This area was also greatly influenced in lifestyle by the block buster days of high salmon prices of the mid and late 1980’s, before farm salmon caused the catastrophic price fall. People made great improvements in their housing and general lifestyle. Most people in our area were able to join the modern world with well built homes, updated transportation, and the importation of more of their food. Families acquired freezers and as we’re are finding out now many skills of how to preserve food were not practiced.

People still hunt and put up the native berries and some of the local items.

When I arrived in the village about 6 years ago no one was doing much gardening and definitely no raising of chickens or small animals. Considering the pace of fishing in the summer I quickly came to understand why.

There is little time from when things thaw out in late May to early June before salmon harvest begins in mid to late June. Time to prep things just isn’t there.

About four years ago we had a family friend come up with her young son and he had always wanted to hatch chicks from the eggs. We did not have enough time to plan that but I did know we could order day old chicks through the mail and figured that might be almost as good a project for him while we were dealing with fishing chores.

Our chicken raising days had begun!

Day old chicks come in the mail. They must spend the first weeks, up to 3-4, in temperatures of 75-90 degrees. When it is -20 outside it is hard to maintain, sometimes even in a house!

Feeder chicks looking for an escape route!

We now try and run between 70 and 100 laying hens and then feed out about 50 meat chickens each year. We have had pretty good luck getting the layers through the winter, if you do not count the spring bears breaking in to slaughter them or the fox getting into the house to think the flock..

The absolute necessity of a installing a hard wired fenced yard  now fully upon us. We know that will need to be then circled with an electric fence to keep the spring and summer bears from feasting. All of this would have been done earlier if not for the time constraints followed by the costs of getting supplies up here.

At the workshop the discussion was on breeds needed that laid best in our cold temperatures. Also on which breeds we could raise for meat that would not just die at the drop at a hat. Meat breeds are bred specifically so that there is a lot of the natural behavior bred out of them. They do not strut around peck at stuff. They many times grow so fast their legs do not have the strength to hold them and they can die of heart attacks due to the stain of growing so fast. One breed ‘Redbro’ was named as one that might work well for the meat breeds.

A group of about 90 chicks that are now about 5 weeks old. They are in a brooder still keeping them at about 60 degrees, while outside is 0-20 degrees. Hoping for eggs by summer!

Working with some of the layers that are known to tolerate cold temperatures well was also discussed.

We had a great presentation from Tim Meyers of Bethel on his operation. His background is in construction and is a great believer that we must look at returning to building as it was done years ago, partially under ground.

His chicken house is actually a 3 story barn with soil burmmed up around it so that only the top story is uncovered. He has been able to maintain a warmer coop during the winter keeping his layers producing closer to summer levels.

We will be looking at modifying our present 12’x12′, with super insulation, coop to see if we can take advantage of the lessons Tim has learned.

Our hope is to have our layers, currently about 6 weeks old up and laying by the summer to assist all of us with the increased needs of all the fishing crews we take care of.

I am currently looking to secure a source of Redbro chicks to try along with normal Cornish X feeder chicks. Those will be arriving in late April, with a feed out time of around 8 weeks, and hope to use the new brooder for even more of the raising of due to higher temperatures outside.

We will see if what we learn can continue to be repeated in other villages, despite the cold temperatures, for another source of meat and fresh eggs.

March 25, 2009

After most of last week in Fairbanks attending the 5th Annual Alaska Sustainable Agriculture and Organic Gardening workshop I am still trying to process all I saw and heard.

First off Alaska is in the great position of having much more demand for its agricultural products than supply. Most of the farmers, and there is a full assortment of products produced, are making a great effort to extend their offerings to more of Alaska than just their immediate areas.

There are two main areas, basically between Anchorage  and Fairbanks, where traditionally most of the agriculture is done. This looks to be changing as a number of issues come forward such as food security, food costs, lack of variety, etc. More on this later.

On Monday, prior to the start of the conference, a couple of tours and a workshop were offered. A large group of us took off first thing for Chena Hot Springs, a geo-thermal operation that offers everything from lodging to hot house grown tomatoes and lettuce!

A VERY interesting place overall, as is the owner. He has more ideas, some of which people think are crazy, than life span left even if he gets to 120 years old. Personally I think it is worth anyone who is interested in alternative energy making the trip. He has already done a number of things, like low temperature geo-thermal power, that others said were impossible. The neat thing is he is willing to share his successes and failures with anyone who is interested. I will be passing his contact information and some of his ideas onto a variety of people for consideration.

The center is working with the University of Alaska on the hydroponics growing of produce. The lessons they are learning are being shared with anyone who wants to tap in. I am now signed up to get updates and information on this project as it matures.


Most of Alaska agriculture is still not making use of the tools to extend our current season for growing let alone doing a year around greenhouse. This is not a reasonable project for the “bush” villages as of yet, given our high cost of energy. There are a number of projects being considered for use of waste heat from generation plants and other sources that could well make this viable in the near future.

Lessons we can learn from this operation at this time is more in the varieties they have discovered that work well with our lighting and day length issues. Also, IF a community wants to attempt a year around facility, some of the things NOT to do.

After touring this facility we headed up to the Cold Climate Housing Research Center.

Another great place for many issues we face with trying to live in many parts of Alaska. Some of the issues this facility is researching will come back for making outbuildings doable in many of our areas. More of this will be discussed when I review greenhouses and raising chickens in the bush.

March 18, 2009

I heard as I was leaving Anchorage for Fairbanks, known for it’s cold weather, glorious Northern Lights and hot summers that they were also getting a ‘cold snap’. I had brought my one piece snow suit thinking it was probably overkill but……guess not ;-)

I arrived to -28 without wind chill on Sunday night right before midnight.

Met one of the presenters I especially wanted to hear in the airport waiting for our luggage. We got to talk over all sorts of ideas for growing in the windy, cooler conditions we both face just getting to the hotel.

We spent Monday touring a local hot spring resort that is ground breaking in energy production. They use the geo thermal heat, from a local warm water, 160 degrees, source to run their operation, heat greenhouses and various other operations.

I can tell you the wind blew and the zipper, plastic, on my suit froze white in a less than 5 minute walk. Also all the windows on the van, despite being plenty warm inside froze from condensation of our breath – on the inside windows! None of us wanted to know how cold it was!

In all this there were a number of things that look like we can easily apply them to our village lives. We got information on LED grow lights, extending the growing season even without heat and using our fish waste for compost.

Today, Tuesday, was spent hearing all sorts of presentations from the growing of apples in a zone two (colder than even Ann and our area is) to egg production year around.

I was able to make some connections for possible project assistance in our villages, probably the hardest thing I have found in Alaska as we do not have an extensive coop extension service like in other state.

I was able to meet people from various agencies that do not usually even pay attention to our parts of Alaska.

I am thrilled to say there is another representative from the Bristol Bay area, a young lady who just graduated from Dartmouth who is assisting her tribe to get a new greenhouse and how they might use it to extend their season attending the conference too.

The western villages are starting to be heard and we have to thank all of you for part of that voice.

I will get into more details when I return but so far the workshop has been excellent.

Oh yes, it warmed up to only -14 today:-)

Editor’s Note: We will be adding Victoria’s reports to this page as she sends them. Subscribe to this tread to receive alerts of new posts.

66 Responses to “Victoria’s Garden Journal”

  1. shrinkinggranny Says:

    looking forward to hearing more – rest up!

    So very glad you were able to go!


  2. Aussie Blue Sky Says:

    Victoria, did you meet Michele Herbert?

  3. anonymousbloggers Says:

    More about Victoria’s baby chicks:

  4. ~ Sil in Corea Says:

    Facinating! When I lived in Maine, we had meat chickens that were descended from fighting cocks. Very hardy! The only problem was that they could FLY, due to the big chest muscles (aka breast meat). Some of them escaped into the woods and went wild. As far as I know, they are still surviving there. Maine gets winter temps of -30 F.

    Look for breeds that have feathers down to their feet, too. Feet freezing on the perchs in real cold weather is a serious problem in Maine.

  5. ugavic Says:

    The name is familiar but I can’t put details to it. Any tips? :-)) I met so many and got a great chance to talk to so many with good ideas my fingers were worn out each night from all the notes!

    Since we are raising the meat bird in the late spring and summer the freezing feet issue is solved:-) My sis did have feather feet chickens as a kid and I STILL like them better. Here we worry about them getting wet if they go out in the snow and then freezing.

    We do however have to worry about it for the layers. I got the hint early on to lay the 2 x 4 perched 4″ side up so the bodies cover over the feet. Seems to work so far, God willing!

    We also looked for varieties with small combs to help those not freezing.
    We do have their coop sized for the chickens, actually we have the number of chickens for the coop for maximum body heat. Until it gets to -10 or more they do not even have to worry about things freezing in their house.
    Since the workshop we are looking if it feasible to burm up around the house more to help the retention of heat. We will see.

  6. mpb Says:

    I would always like to get hard numbers on what the experimental or “wild-eyed” projects cost– taking all costs (including energy) and grants, volunteer labor, existing infrastructure, etc. That is, would it work for those starting from scratch? for those without university interest? are these hobby ventures or would you want your life to depend on them? How much leeway (margin of error or safety margin) is there?

    On the other hand, some things are worth whatever it costs (like good coffee).

  7. UgaVic Says:

    When we change the American University system so it doesn’t reward more for research versus teaching we might a chance to figure out how these types of projects can really be implimented cost effectively.

    On the geo-thermal it is a private enterprise who invited the university system in to help him figure a few things out.

    I tend to go into these “show and tells” to look at what NOT to do than all starry eyed on what we too could do, as do a number.

    I learned some interesting things on issues such as loss time for new planting versus air rooting for continued plant growth, mixed air concerns when bringing it into the structure and water PH issues for lettuce growing:-)

    None I will get to put into pratice for some time so maybe by then many other barriers will be worked out for this type of project.

    Many more practical methods were discussed and shared the next two days of the conference, from people actual hands on farmers.
    Stay tuned!

  8. mpb Says:

    UgaVic Says: March 30, 2009 at 9:56 am I’ve found that American universities tend to favor babysitting over research or teaching. Alaska has been the worst in that regarding the rural communities both main and rural campuses have been hostile to any type of research, including extension. How can we learn what’s needed by our communities or develop what is needed if we don’t do research? (Ans: “we know everything you need to know already.” ;) )

    I agree that the what not to dos are usually the most informative.

    By the way, the modern earthen berming of buildings to conserve heat was a technique developed by Wisconsin (the university?) during the energy crisis (Jimmy Carter era). There was a manufacturing plant in Deerfield Mass. that was built that way plus using passive solar as well. The building looks nice and they save fuel. Can’t remember all the details. New England also has many underground stone storage units too– NOT pre-Columbian Celts but built by 18th Century colonists– as cold stores. I wish Newtok had been able to re-locate to the south side of the mountains. I would guess that alone would save a lot of energy. And the volcanic rock (dark) would extend the growing season, too.

  9. the problem child (an aunt, also) Says:

    I grew up in a “bermed” stackwall house (imagine woodpile walls with mortar filling in the spaces), and grassy berms up to the windows.

    Eventually, the berms had to come off, because they were causing moisture retention problems. Even though the logs in the stackwall were cedar, they started to rot and needed to be replaced, not an easy endeavour!

    If you are using wood for your construction materials, this could be a problem, even if you use some kind of vapour barrier. If you are using iron, rust could be a problem. I’m not sure what the solution is, aside from maybe a dugout type or completely synthetic construction to start with.

    Of course, if you don’t mind rebuilding every dozen years, it might be worth it in energy savings anyway.

    OT, but Vic, have you heard anything from our yogurt lady/

  10. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Victoria is making a last minute journey to the NPFMC salmon bycatch meeting this week.

    She will resume posting here when her busy life settles down. It’s a long time until spring in Alaska when growing season begins but she’s on top of it…

    For more, check out her recent update:
    Vic & Ann, salmon bycatch, gardening & more…

  11. Nan Says:

    There are instructions for making your own yogurt in a book called “French Women Don’t Get Fat” (stoopid name for a book, but incredible recipes in it!)

    The only thing is, I *think* it calls for “raw” milk – or at least non-homogeonezed (sp!) I don’t remember for sure (about raw milk or whatever), so don’t panic yet. I do remember it was do-able, at least.

    I’ve got a copy around here somewhere… I know I just saw it! Anyway, I’ll send you a copy of it early next week – see if there’s anything you think might be useful.

  12. Carrie Says:

  13. mpb Says:

    Nan I’ve had great success in Bethel using non-fat dry milk to make yoghurt, with dry cultures from (the non-electric catalog). I used an electric quart size maker, but a friend used just a covered bowl on her Toyo stove (I had a cat with a nose for good yoghurt). Yoghurt won’t produce flatulence in the lactose intolerant and makes an easy great frozen “ice cream” with blueberries. I always wanted to try it (thick yoghurt) as a substitute for shortening in agurak. I used yoghurt instead of milk or water to make bannocks or pancakes– instant sourdough taste (i.e., Bethelated pancakes) in addition to the enhanced calcium and protein. [Also may help to re-establish the needed commensals in the gut after yet another course of antibiotics for ears or lungs, i.e., the Bethel crud]

  14. Nan Says:

    Carrie, that’s awesome!


  15. Nan Says:

    Thanks! I love that Lehman’s, anyway

    I’ll have to try that frozen idea of yours, it really sounds good. But use it as “shortening?” Wow.

    Uh, what’s “agurak?” Inquiring minds and all that.


  16. mpb Says:

    various spellings but Eskimo ice cream. Originally made with seal oil whipped into blubber or caribou fat (suet), dried fish, fruits. Now made with Crisco, berries, dried fish occasionally, sugar.

  17. anonymousbloggers Says:


    Thanks for the link – a window to Yupik life before electricity and plastic.

  18. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Good News!!!

    Pebble Fund announces $1 million in grants
    The Alaska Community Foundation announced its first round of grants from the Pebble Partnership-endowed Pebble Fund. The endowment is expected to provide $5 million total in competitive grants over the next few years. The next round of awards is in the fall.

    Ugashik Traditional Village: Greenhouse Project
    This grant is for purchase and shipping of a greenhouse, construction costs and miscellaneous supplies required to start growing fresh produce.

  19. ugavic Says:

    Nan and others –
    Our lady who is in need of the yogurt got home the day before I left. Here pregnant daughter was putting the machine to use that day as I spoke with her.
    We hope to visit when I get home the first of the week.
    She was thrilled to get the machine and I was also thrilled her daughter was there to help for a bit.

  20. ugavic Says:

    On bermed housing or buildings. Thanks for the extra info on how they got started here.
    The cold weather housing group looks to be working with a coating that they put over a shell to deal with the moisture. They were basically making it water tight and testing it in Fairbanks over the winter.
    What I was also thrilled is that they were also concerend with air quality and addressing that issue.

  21. ugavic Says:

    gotta run – fish meeting resumed

  22. Michigander Says:

    So pleased to hear about the grant for the greenhouse project! Hoping there will be more grants to come for other projects.
    I’m praying for a good outcome from the salmon bycatch meeting – the facts support the requested limit. I can’t see how they could not at least compromise.
    Sending positive energy to Victoria and Ann also. You women are running yourselves ragged. You represent the good in this world and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  23. ugavic Says:

    Thanks for the good wishes. We are also hoping for a godo outcome although it looks stacked against us.
    My bum has had two full 8-9 hours of sitting and is numb:-)

    HOPEFULLY tomorrow they will start with testimony and I am about 200th down the list. At either 2 or 4 minutes – they cut the time due to so many- I will get my time. By then many times edited and rehearsed!!

    I am already delayed one day of heading home and am hoping we can get it done tomorrow or I might have to hold off one more day.
    Will keep in touch as I know more.

    I did get to meet and speak with Mr Nick Tucker and can’t wait to see what he has to say in his time which is near the start of testimony.

    I am sure all of you were excited to hear that Ugashik Traditional Village, our local tribe, was awarded over $14,000 for a greenhouse.

    I can say I wish I had been also. I really had nothing to do with this, besides giving the basic idea to one of many consultants the local village tribe hires on a regular basis as a POSSIBLE future project that COULD provide employment in the village, and have had no input.

    The Pebble Fund awarded this grant and I have to say that this was done without any input of the village residents, as is so often the case in what our tribe does. Although some of you have reservations about the Pebble Fund I am not opposed to the awards going to the villages, it looks to be for many projects that might not getting funding otherwise.

    If you feel it is a case of trying to ‘buy’ approval BELIEVE me this happens ALL the time and is nothing new in ANY way. I have yet to meet a group in Alaska that will stand on values if the check is large enough. I HATE this but let’s call it as it is.

    Many people also wish it were different but many ‘leaders’ of all kinds know exactly how to tweak the message to either raise approval or disapproval of a project. I wish I could say the area is filled with rebel rousers who are independent thinker AND will speak out!! NOT the case!

    I am still looking at it and trying to find out what all happened since 70% of the village was never consulted and when you are in a tiny village as we are, about 10 full time residents, most over 60 years old and some in only so-so health, you would think they could do that!!

    As I find out what was claimed and promised I will update you but I seriously doubt it will be positive for helping the actual villagers!

    No one is more sorry than me it is like this- BELIEVE ME:-)

  24. mpb Says:

    ugavic at 11:09 pm

    re: greenhouses. At one time the Kenai (I think) Soil and Water conservation district worked with the school to get a super modern and efficient greenhouse, using waste heat , for very little. They were able to get the state troopers to donate the sophisticated grow lights, heaters, even hyrdroponics, I believe. I can probably find the contact for you. Really makes the dollars go further.

  25. Michigander Says:

    Dear Victoria,

    Don’t distress yourself over the Pebble Mine grant right now. That can be sorted out later.

    Just do your best at this meeting. Say a prayer that your God guides your words before you speak and you will know that you did all you can do.

    Yell Ganbatte (gun-bot-tay, accent second syllable) in your mind or out loud if you want. It is Japanese for (I/we) Can Do It! My Asian friend taught me that some time ago and it works for me! Feels Spiritual w/a karate flair. Bless you Darlin’

  26. alaskapi Says:

    Hang in there Vic!
    Too bad the chance to go and testify happened so last-minute we didn’t have a chance to send you with a doughnut cushion for the long hours sitting.
    Waiting to hear what the Council decides is antsy-making but at least the rest of us out here don’t have our hineys on the line!

    We are starting to thaw here in SoutheastAK… I have lil tulips poking out of the snow which has covered the ground for months!
    Oh- how I wish Pilot Point was the greenhouse grantee… but we will all help get the kids going before school is out there , no matter what.
    Best wishes to you, our fish and farm woman.

  27. ugavic Says:

    Sounds great- just to know even how they went about it- we might be able to dupilcate.

    Mich- LOVE the ‘yell’ – will keep it in mind:-)) Anything to channel the ‘forces’ is always good!

    AKPi- Thanks. Sitting just does not seem to be my thing. Oh I wish I had tulips and daffys- miss flowers!
    I am determined to getting PIP going and keep telling myself more pride comes from a hard won success that an ill gotten gift:-))
    Hopefully that will work!!
    Thanks all and keep thinking =low cap, low cap, low cap:-)))

  28. Just wondering Says:

    “I really had nothing to do with this, besides giving the basic idea to one of many consultants the local village tribe hires on a regular basis as a POSSIBLE future project that COULD provide employment in the village, and have had no input.”


    Maybe you should move this topic to the fishing section – it smells fishy to me.

    So, the 30% who knew about this were the local leaders who hired the consultants, wrote the grant and will accept the money for the garden? Are the other five (not counting you two) villagers, who are nearing or past retirement age likely to seek employment in the garden?

    Do other members of the tribe live away from Ugashik and return during fishing season? Are the tribal leaders full or part time residents?

  29. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Michigander –

    FYI – Vic is at the NPFMC salmon bycatch meeting sending updates as they happen.

    Thought you might be interested,

  30. ugavic Says:

    Just wondering —–

    You have a point!! I missed posting it in the right place totally:-))

    I am not sure that a consultant was hired for this project specifically BUT there has been more I can count over the last 5-7 years than I can’t keep track of.

    I am also pretty darn sure than NOT even all three of the members in the tribe who live here knew it was applied for.

    My guess is that it was worked up by those who live out of state and are on the council, definately deciding w/o getting full community support, wrote it and will definately do the accepting of $$ part.

    When I asked some of the out of state tribal members, but not on the council, they HAD NO idea and had the same questions I did.

    Employment – oh it will never get to that-except to get it built. There is no one who knows enough to organize the business, get it staffed, find the markets, and run the business.
    As far as those in the village who will use it???

    Most who return are here do so for fishing and there is no way that any employment opportunity like this would make them come all this way, not enough to even pay their expenses.

    Keeping it maintained, when we can’t even do that correctly to the other equipment and buildings in the village now, well THAT is anyone’s guess.

    We will see what happens but someone has to be asking WHY and HOW!!!
    As we say here is another episode of “As the River Winds” :-)

  31. anonymousbloggers Says:

    “My guess is that it was worked up by those who live out of state and are on the council, definately deciding w/o getting full community support, wrote it and will definately do the accepting of $$ part.”

    Your reply made me curious. I Googled your village and found your Tribe’s website – pretty slick for three aging villagers!

    Not many links where it seems there should be some…maybe one of the consultants put it up as a PR piece…again, just wondering.

    You’re probably exhausted from the fishing bycatch meeting, THANKS for doing that!

    When you get caught up, could you give us a little background info on the oil lease the newsletter refers to?

    I hope everyone will check out the Tribe’s newsletter that’s linked from the site. I don’t see many of Vic’s neighbors there.

    Click to access may08newsletter.pdf

    Something’s fishy!

  32. ugavic Says:

    Anonymous –

    Will give you more in a bit BUT —
    Everyone we have in the whole tribe, minus the three in the village, live outside the village.
    THE council – see the page – is mostly of out of state.

    One of them live in the village. One other lives in the state, the rest out of state. We just got the one in the village as of last summer, but I am not sure what that has brought us.

    The tribal office located was to have been in Anchorage ONLY until the community center was built. That was at least 8 years ago- you can wonder what is up with that:-)

    As you say the site is interesting in what it is MISSING!!

    As the past President said – to a Lake and Peninsula Borough meeting in Nov of 07 – “We live and die by the federal dollars that come through our tribal office”.
    I believe that says SO MUCH!

  33. anonymousbloggers Says:

    As the past President said – to a Lake and Peninsula Borough meeting in Nov of 07 – “We live and die by the federal dollars that come through our tribal office”.

    It seems like the outside Tribal leaders are exploiting the elderly villagers to line their pockets. Should we anonymous bloggers be giving this greenhouse project a closer look?

  34. ugavic Says:

    In my view this is an ill placed request that has nothing to do with REALLY helping the villagers, elderly or not, at least not at this time.

    I do worry about the lack of information I believe was missing from the grant application and THAT is something that no one should want to see happen to any community.

    In my view there is much to explain here.


  35. Nan Says:

    I’m confused. There are tribal officials that actually live out of state?? That doesn’t make any sense. Why aren’t they living in or near the village they’re representing?

    I’m also confused about the greenhouse – is it to be *in* the village?

    It feels a little like I’ve missed a sentence or ten somewhere.

    All that said, “should you be giving this project a closer look?” It probably wouldn’t hurt.

  36. ugavic Says:

    What most do not realize is that the tirbal leaders represent the tribe NOT the village. There is no reservation here and the village is a general area that is common to the tribe but NOT their land, although there is another issue battle going on it our village to settle that mess also.
    Tribes here were not shuttered off to lands as they were in the lower 48. When the Native Lands Act was settled individuals were granted lands, tribers where granted some lands but not in huge blocks like reservations. Ours grouped with a few more other tribes andjoined their lands and have a seperate group that they use to develop them.
    The idea was not to repeat mistakes that were made in the lower 48 on this issue.
    The greenhouse will be here in the village, probably on some of the land that is considered common village deeded lands.
    I believe the statement of having a ‘closer look’ was to see what all was submitted and claimed by the tribal council to the granting group and get the answers to better understand.
    Does that help or just muttle the view more?? :-)

  37. Nan Says:

    That does help, thanks.

    So, I take it that’s what you hope to find out – who the greenhouse is for – one specific tribe? for all the tribes whose land is adjoining? like that. (no?)

    I’m not trying to be nosy, just trying to follow along, really.

    thanks for your patience, and for the clarification,
    Nan :-)

  38. ugavic Says:

    Glad it helps and it IS confusing:-))

    No, what we hope to find out is WHAT was told to the granting group about how this to be used by our tribe and or villagers.

    Who did they claim was going to run it, who would use it and what if anything they claim it supposed to accomplish?

    When you have such a small popultion as we do, and most are the age they are, over 60, and have NO experience setting up or running a commercial greenhouse, how is this going to serve anyone with any chance of success. (running a successul commercial sized greenhouse in any capacity is not just a “plant and watch it grow” operation)

    Also was the granting agency aware that the tribe only has 30% of the residents in the village and no village meetings were held to ask the villagers WHAT THEY wanted.

    This granting fund is to specifically to benefit VILLAGES in the area NOT tribes.

    I am not against the idea of this project, it just seems like a disaster waiting to happen in our village AT THIS TIME, unless they have some magic we do not know about:-)

    When I asked other outside tribal members they also thought it was a strange and did not look like something they thought would be successful either.

    Funny to me is that they were not even consulted, but that is normal for the tribal council:-))

  39. Nan Says:

    yeah, it does seem odd. Actually, for that to be the norm kinda seems – well, I don’t quite understand that, but I don’t have to, I guess.

    Well, here’s hoping it works out well. You’ve been on the go for ages!

    you take care,

  40. elsie09 Says:

    So, Ugavic, how does one go about getting the Pebble Mine Fund to answer the questions about how they determined the grant for the Ugashik greenhouse, and to whom the money is actually going to be sent? Any ideas on that?

  41. ugavic Says:

    From what I have seen understanding is EXACTLY what the tribe does not want anyone to do, undertand them or their structure.
    Lots of “confidentiality” is claimed when anyone asks questions, even for members.

    I have first hand knowledge of what I see here but have heard for ages of other tribes that abuse the heck out of their members. I use the ‘new immigrant’ though process – trying to figure out how “the whole darn thing works”.

    What is interesting to know is that holding people accountable, as we see in our own government and big businesses is something that is hard to do.

    The tribes by law are not held to the standard that many of the other organizations are, i.e., open meetings laws, and SEC oversight for stockholders, etc.

    In my opinion when you keep things behind closed doors you have an enviroment for abuse.

    We will see if we can get to the bottom of this one, but it might be a struggle.

    A call to the Pebble Fund has been made to ask how the decision was made.
    The Fund is run by another outside organization, which is great from all I hear.

    They then used a group of people from the area to do that actual decision. They had 95 applications and a short time to review them.
    There is a good chance that no one knew all the details of the village make-up.

    We are tight knit group in some ways, those of us in Bristol Bay, but we are seperated by no roads in betweeen s details are easy to miss.

    The person who must be involved is out of the area and will not return until May.

    The grant will be held up until some questions are answered so there is a chance it will be reivewed in detail.

    Will keep you up on it.

  42. Just wondering Says:

    I just did a quick Google search and an EPA document came up. Projects they have undertaken in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Alaska.

    Click to access 910-R-04-002.pdf

    “Redeveloping an Old Cannery at the Uhgashik Traditional Village, Alaska Abandoned canneries litter Alaskan native villages. A Targeted Brownfields Assessment conducted in the Ugashik traditional village helped support village efforts to redevelop this old cannery site as a flash-freezing facility to support native fishing activities.

    (photo of aged cannery)

    The main cannery building at Ugashik traditional village was collapsing before it was redeveloped as a flash-freezing facility.”

    There isn’t an “after picture.” Vic- Is there a flash-freezing facility in Ugashik?

  43. Just wondering Says:

    Could someone tell me how to do a tiny URL please?

  44. elsie09 Says:

    Just wondering…so you mean, by tiny URL, just a portion of the longer version?
    like on the full link that begins with yosemite above, just going through to the .gov part? Like, ???

  45. Just wondering Says:

    I see links like this:

    Somehow it encodes the long URL you see when you visit the link.

  46. ugavic Says:

    Just Wondering –

    First off the picture used is of private property and not tribal owned.

    Makes me wonder what was submitted. This is a pattern we know goes on, the stretching or omitting of info, but we can only draw attention when it is caught.

    What was brought out to me by a number of officials not long ago is that when all this is brought forward it has a tendency to destroy goodwill to the future. You do enough of that and things could get difficult.

    No one seems to be worried about that and it continues. Reminds me of a kid who has yet to learn there are consequences. Given those don’t happen much, consequences, it is hard to believe it will stop without some REAL efforts.

    Anyway…..We DO NOT have a freeze unit or anything else like that in the village that is owned by the tribe.

    The tribe has for years said they were not trying to open a plant, given there is one already a small one in the village, but continue to pursue this.

    The village can not really even support the one without bring in fish from down river, something they are now working on. A long story.

    The tribe is at this point trying to get a new dock in for millions of dollars. It is hard to put a real figure to it since the permits said around $6-$7 million BUT you have some tribal leaders claiming that is for a small processing plant too. Usually that is not included in engineering studies like I saw for the dock, since it is another speciality consultant needed for that estimate.

    We have only 6-7 drift boats in the village and no commerce will be conducted over the dock at this point, although we keep hearing ‘others will use it’ :-))

    A funny, at least to me, but insightful to at least some village thinking… we had a meeting with a consultant last fall. It included at least some of the summer residents that come up for 2-8 weeks.

    We were there to offer ways to back up the request for the village dock project and also to discuss possible sustainable economic development for the village.

    After some discussion I had to ask IF people really even WANTED to see growth. Well kind of but only a few and the impression was only those we pick:-) I could not help but chuckle at those statements.

    Then we discused the dock, why it needs to be replaced, even if it is falling down,etc.
    Lots of talk but little of use for the needs of the dock. Finally getting pretty bored with all of it I asked IF the dock were to fall into the river tomorrow for some reason, “what or how would it hurt your fishing business (es)?”. The best reason one of them came up with was it would be ‘inconvenient”.

    That pretty much summed it up in my view.

    You have a tendency to see this in SOME villages that “we deserve it” attitude because someone else got it. I haven’t figured it out but that thought process is not one that I see working long term in the bush.

    I do not know where any monies that came from the dock remodel/freezer plant project have gone to. An inquiry to EPA should probably be done.

    Given we have had another EPA grant in the last few years, two windmills and a solar panel, that my understanding we got due to a ‘loop hole’ in the grant rules I have to think there are “eyes watching”. I believe this energy project was to run the village’s community center and also be gathering data for use by others for other projects in the future, since you need to usually have a study done to gather info before funding.

    To the best of my knowledge the monitoring equipment is not installed, after almost 3 years.
    The community center still needs to have a back up diesel generator as the modifications needed to make it energy efficient have not happneed,so I am not sure what is being accomplished.

    The amount of money sunk into it so far is about $225,000.

    It does nothing to help the villagers with their energy needs.

    As you can see there is much to view even in our small village. I have seen many good projects in the area but there is this type of abuse and to think of WHAT could be done with some more oversight makes me wonder!!

    Where we go from here, we will see.

  47. Just wondering Says:


    WOW! So you have seven elderly Tribe members in Ugashik – are any of them Tribal leaders? I’m at a loss for words as to what to ask next!

    This is all so…what?

    One thought that came to mind. How would the Ugashik dock have been constructed 100 or 1,000 years ago?

    With very few young people in Ugashik and the learned elders memory’s of ancient ways fading, wouldn’t it be interesting to make the building of the dock a lesson in ancient ways? I’ve read about some programs that include traditional culture and life skills in rural public school curriculum – I think in Russian Mission.

    A village as small as Ugashik could be a living classroom for young people wanting to stay in the villages and keep the culture alive. From everything I’ve found on Google there are more houses than people in Ugashik.

    Perfect world scenario…

    Instead of using grant money to build a big, modern dock, why not bring architects and elders together to create drawings of docks they remember and create plans utilizing local resources as building materials?

    Then employ younger people from other villages to live in the empty houses to build the dock and then take the lessons learned from the participating elders back to their villages.

    Young people leaving the villages to help with projects in other villages and learning more about their heritage seems so much more productive than sending them off to the oil fields.

    Just a thought – I feel like the 10 of you in Ugashik are a little toy village. Someone else seems to be running the show.

  48. ugavic Says:

    Just Wondering-

    Our village was pretty much wiped out in the early 1900 due to the flu pandemic. Story has it that only 3 young children survived. I have never found it documented, despite some long searches, but there are mass graves here so I do believe it is based in truth.

    We have only 3 Ugashik full time tribal members, and the rest are a mix all different nationalities. Even our ‘Natives’ are from my understanding only what you would call 1/4 Native. I am not sure of the Alaska Native cut off for these ‘blood’ standings requirements, to be called Native. Most have spent large portions of their lives out of the village, either for school or living in other areas. None are leaders.

    Most of Bristol Bay and other parts of Western Alaska that have any large fish runs have had over 100-150 years of outside influence by large out of state fishing companies. It is sad reading of many of the Natives that were basically slaves of fishing canning companies. Many residents STILL feel close to that in the control they have over the resource in our waters versus the benefits we get from them.

    Also there was a strong Russian influence in missionaries, trappers and other business people. We have Yupik and Eskimo also in the area villages.

    The dock was built I believe in the 30’s, by a canning company and was last used for commercial purposes in the mid 50’s, as you will find in many fishing villages.

    The ‘culture’ you might be referring to is much more in the northern villages as I know of no one in the area who even still speaks Aleut, the most common Native group in this village.
    Skills are mostly self taught at this stage of life here.
    We do not practice any real ethnic cooking, except for drying of fish and a few recipes at gatherings, nor dancing , nor speciality clothing, etc.

    I truly can’t think of any skills that we have in the traditional way of life that residents could teach younger ones.

    The homes you speak are filled mostly by people who return in the summer to fish and many that aren’t used need MUCH repair as a whole. This is common in villages where fishing is the main income.

    Most of our summer residents are not of the tribe either so it is a real mix although many have years of ties to Alaska.

    Hate to destroy the concept of a ‘old traditional village’ but we are more closely related to just a little wide spot in the road that faces a real danger of drying up to be just a summer place for fishing if things don’t change in the next few years. Maybe that is how it should go, towns do die, but at this time at least there are a few of us who are willing for change to see it survive.

    Yes, we ARE a “toy village” in that others run it from outside but the majority of residents seem to be happy with that.
    I have yet to see a town run from outside survive but that seems to be lost on this set of residents at this point. No one seems to want to bother with making an effort to stand up and change it right now.
    Time will tell:-)

  49. Kath the Scrappy from Seattle Says:

    Thanks Vic, so MANY things to sort out. What a can of potential worms. Unbelievable, no offense intended. Can the Pilot Point Council help to give input, or are they outside the realms of this “donation”, given that they are not in the Village itself. Maybe I’m missing something here (hopefully).

    Will keep checking in to see what you discover.

  50. Kath the Scrappy from Seattle Says:

    Rather strange that the website shows Tulips, like everything grows so nicely. If you look at the new Job Announcements link, Tribal Administration Manager, Start Date: 4/6/09:

    Ugashik Traditional Village –206 E. Fireweed Lane, Suite 204, Anchorage, Alaska, 99503

    Welcome To Ugashik Traditional Village

    Based out of Anchorage. The whole situation seems very strange, speaking as a former Accountant.

  51. lgardener Says:


    I suggest that you apply for the position. I doubt if they’re really going to be able to pay enough to attract anyone to live in Anchorage.

    It seems that you are amply qualified plus you actually LIVE in Ugashik. Simply request that you be allowed to stay in the village rather than move to Anchorage. You can email/phone the Tribal President when necessary. If you need help putting together a resume, please let me know.

  52. ugavic Says:

    Scrappy and L G –

    It IS a mess and if they were doing right by ALL their tribal members I would be fine letting them go. IF they would get out of village calling themselves the ones that represented the villagers I would care less.

    You are thinking of this as if it were a city type or open governement body, it is NOT. No open meetings laws, no accountability to us villagers, no budgets or finance disclosures to us in the village. This again would be fine if they were not claiming they represent us and take both borough and other monies saying they do.

    I am not even sure how open it is to its tribal memebers of which myself and 70% of the villagers are NOT.

    I have attended meetings of other tribes, been exposed to their council members and staff and never have seen all the back door stuff this group does.

    Although they put themselves up as the village governing entity the state and federal laws prevent it. We just have a group of villagers who believe what they are told and seem less than inclined to be proactive. Easier to whine and blame than get involved and fix it. Remember they are older and pretty much are happy with status so do not really look forward. I call it the ‘I don’t have to care for the future of things since I most likely will not be here to see it” mentality.

    I would never be hired, nor want to be and until the tribe gets ticked off enough to fix things and move them back to UGA they will remian in ANC.

    They will find someone, they usually do. They have had, I think, 4 managers since I have been here. The staff turns over so fast I seldom can keep track of it. The Tribe President lives in NM so the phoning and such already happens:-)) Only one other member on the council besides the one they have in the village lives in AK, the rest all over the western part of the US.

    PIP tribe, a totally different group and operation, is run from its village, hires its local members and villagers as much as posible and holds meetings in its village on a regular basis. They have a group of people who seem to care about making opportunites for their young ones, keeping a sense of community, helping their elders, and generally seeing thier village change and grow if that is needed to make it survive.

    I just have to concentrate mostly on the positive, help those who want to look ahead. I figure in a few years most of the ‘issues’ will have either died off or moved to where it is easier to live due to their age and we will see if there is anything to salvage.

    We are working with a group of people in PIP and that come up for the summer from both villages who are forward looking on projects. The rest of this I have to keep an eye on, call attention when it gets to smelling too much, stop if it is wrong, and overall let them collapse in on themselves:-))

    Either that or we import a dozen or so progressive people and just do what is right, you never know:-))))

  53. ugavic Says:

    I meant to say if they got out of village issues and just took care of their tribe instead of saying they represent the ENITRE village of residents, I would care less.
    Phrased better!!

  54. Just wondering Says:

    “Even our ‘Natives’ are from my understanding only what you would call 1/4 Native. I am not sure of the Alaska Native cut off for these ‘blood’ standings requirements, to be called Native.”


    On the website there’s information for people who want to enroll into the Tribe.

    What are the enrollment requirements? Can Native people join a number of Tribes and benefit from each? This isn’t a Native corporation but are members paid a dividend?

    So far we know the outsiders are working on building a new dock. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has built roads and a landfill. There’s an after picture on page 4 for so it looks like this has been completed.

    Click to access BQ_fall06_web1.pdf

    We also know that the EPA thinks there’s a flash-freezing facility in Ugashik that hasn’t been built. We don’t know where the grant money is.

    We know, from the “Bristol Bay Fishing Woes” page on this site, that the company that has been buying Ugashik’s fish for over 50 years suddenly stopped doing so a couple of years ago.

    Does it seem to anyone else like the outsiders are subtly putting in the infrastructure to move in and actually build the flash-freezing facility and start a commercial enterprise that would benefit every Tribe member except the 3 members who live in Ugashik?

    Am I too skeptical?

  55. ugavic Says:

    Just Wondering-

    No, on the joining of more than one tribe to benefit. A number of people have the chosen, since it is not based on your blood but where you have family ties, to join more “successful” tribes than Ugashik, if they had that choice.

    This tribe and a good portion of the smaller ones are not even close to being business minded enough to get to the stage of having something that pays dividends.
    Igiugig is the exception and if people would REALLY study what was done and not just be envious they too could do it. I FIRMLY believe that but it takes having focus and patience to do it and NOT overnight.

    The ‘outsiders’ TRYING to build the dock is the tribe with some summer drifters, fishermen, who come up here to work for a few weeks each year. One person, well maybe two, in the village is honed in on this as they drift and want this project.
    You do hear that the processing plant that is suppose to go with it and is not designed, permitted or financed, but is what they are aiming for. This a cover.
    The drift fishermen have markets and the local set net fishermen do not and THEY DO NOT need a multi-million dollar dock, in fact no real dock to have a plant. A flash freezing plant without a change in energy, like drilling for natural gas, would go under in less than 2 years from what I see.

    As I said before nothing to do with building business or long term growth. We do not even have a way to maintain the dock IF they were to build it. The drift fishermen, any of them, are not willing to charge themselves a docking fee like happens in other larger villages. THEY JUST WANT IT:-)) and feel because some other smaller village got one they should too. I think call that an entitlement attitude :-)) Something we have seen nothing of in the rest of the US :-)))

    The tribe, with BIA funds, did the road, as is done in MANY villages. Easiest way to get it did.

    When the tribe gets a contract they get so much for admin costs and have some, depending on the grant, ability to keep monies not used in the grant. This is the ‘live and die’ part that helps them pay all their expenses admitted to by their past President.

    The company that quit buying fish here did so as a “change of business atmosphere”. No big deal except that there is no one to take their place and has hurt the area greatly. They could return with a fleet of drift fishermen any time they want the fish if supplies get low so the resource is not lost to them.
    If the set net fishermen, those that are based on shore and mostly locals, go away . No big deal. They just come with the fleet take what they need and leave again. I believe in the state that 60% or more of the drift fishermen permits are now owned by out of state people, who return “home” when done fishing.
    Up north in Ann’s area not so, but here in Bristol Bay, SE and around Anchorage the percent is probably even higher.
    This is why we are working with the new fishermen’s co-op and PIP tribe to try to develop a plan that will be based in the villages.

    There is no big group wanting to take over, besides a tribe:-) Many villages face issues that are similar just not all at once like us.

    There is lots of potential here but we have to get past the self-centered issues. I do have faith that many of the younger people of the area are sick of this and want a way of life that allows dignity. We are working together to do things and give it our best shot.

  56. Just wondering Says:


    So, the current members of the Tribe, sprinkled all over the lower 48, have an office of paid employees in Anchorage to write grants to get money to add infrastructure to the village of Ugashik. Do the three resident Tribe members of Ugashik Traditional Village have family ties to the original Ugashik Tribe?


    Is this weird? You have a background in accounting? Any way to get a glimpse of Ugashuk Traditional Village’s books?

  57. Kath the Scrappy from Seattle Says:

    @ Just Wondering ~ “Kath-
    Is this weird? You have a background in accounting? Any way to get a glimpse of Ugashuk Traditional Village’s books?”

    Sorry, this is WAY out of my league! I worked with totally different systems 20 yrs ago. Still, this sounds like apples & oranges trying to get shoved into fitting together, by people who don’t even live in the state, and must surely be getting some kind of payback for their interest. That was why my comment.

  58. ugavic Says:

    Just Wondering –

    They do grants for all sorts of things from help with Child Welfare programs, to energy assistance, etc. There are some benefits people get via these programs administered by way of the tribe no matter where they live and overall are good.

    It is pretty complex and you can spent weeks just getting familiar with BIA and other Native agencies. From some of the programs I can see a lot of use, others are a big mess, like the roads program. Enough for another whole blog:-))

    Oh we have at least one member who likes to play that “my blood is purer than yours’ game when it comes to ties to the village but I do not go there!
    It is childish and does not bring people together but makes hard feelings.
    We have enough jealousy here to go around 50 times so I try to stay out of that. Hand in hand with that “entitlement” thought process leads to a lot of villages spending going no where!

    Most of the families in Bristol Bay, no matter the village, are so inter related that it really makes no difference if they are from some ‘original tribe’ or not. All they had to do was show some families ties and residency for membership.
    Kath and Just-
    From what I understand not even members can call for an audit of the tribe books. They are exempt from regular regulations. I believe it needs to be a federal agency like the FBI and my guess is it is pulling teeth to do .

    I believe Sen. Stevens got even the regional tribes corps exempt. CDQs are another one with fishy rules on audits. This is where tribal members need to ask for changes so they can see what they have and where it goes.

    CDQs, which are NOT tribal, come up for Congressional review in 2012 and I am hearing all sorts of word for what is wanted and needed to make them accountable.

  59. Jim Says:


    I’ve just been sitting back and reading this information over the last few days. I appreciate your taking the time to write.

    What stupendously complex (and perhaps inefficient) corporate and government bureaucratic infrastructures! So many decisions coming from so far away. I wonder if sometimes it may be cheaper for you to travel to Europe than to some of the locations where they make binding decisions about your remote village.

  60. Just wondering Says:


    I’m sure you saw this interview in the Newsminer today:

    It’s an interview with John Moller. He said the “climate was/is right for change” three times but I don’t think he ever explained why he feels that way or what direction change will take..

    I remember reading somewhere that Ann talked to him – maybe in Emmonak. Do you know if she’s still in touch?

    Maybe he’d like to write a guest post about the people and villages he has visited, share his ideas for change and detail his plans for the future of rural Alaska.

    Maybe you could ask Ann.

  61. ugavic Says:

    Jim –
    You make a good point with which I have to totally agree. It is a shame and overall why so many times we just have to work around the various people here.

    PIP overall seems to be more progressive, amazing what a few miles can make:-) and thus we work usually better there.

    With UGA being so tuned into themselves we go back to the options of either import a group big enough to change the direction or let them collapse in on themselves.

    Seems like they are getting closer and closer to the latter and a belt tightening of the federal $$$ belt might hasten it!

    Just Wondering –

    Thanks for the link. I did notice his comments on change.
    I am not sure where he is on the visits to the area, let me check. I know both Ann and I would welcome him out to see what all can happen.

    We both have also gotten a lot of support for the attention we are bring to a number of subject, some not as welcome as others by those in power but all needing some hard discussion.

    Will get back with you on where the visits stand and his input. I think it is pretty much agreed that continuing to do the same things are not going to show much result if they haven’t already.

    I should have another installment on the sustainable conference in Fairbanks in the next day or so.

  62. InterestedPerson Says:

    Hi, VIc,
    I wrote a long time ago about Growing Power and Will Allen, hoping that a
    connection could be made there. Only this week was I able to get to talk to
    someone, and that briefly.
    So you may know this already, but anyway:

    Hope Finkelstein [sp?] is in Anchorage working on ‘her own project’ there.
    She was one of the founders of Growing Power in Milwaukee with Mr. Allen.

    The person, who was busy in the midst of conference there,said she would give my phone to Hope when Hope calls in. So at last there is something to
    follow up on. [I have adopted worms from them, so will be going back
    and forth in person.] that seems to work better than phone.

    So if you haven’t heard of her already, I hope this will be useful. Because the principles behind Growing Power should be applicable.

  63. UgaVic Says:

    I remember and will see if I can find out anything from this end. I SO agree that the principles look to be a good fit here and would love to see something similar happen here.
    Many Western Alaska villages have old canneries that are no longer in business, many shutting down in the fifties, that might work with this also.
    Thanks for the tip and I will wait to see if a connection can be made.
    THANKS for passing the info on.

  64. Say NO to Palin in Politics Says:

    wow Vic! I just got through reading this thread. Fascinating and complex indeed.
    I applaud you for getting involved like you are, I am impressed. You girlfriend, are a true community organizer!

    Please do share when you can and let us know if there’s anything we can do to help. Never hurts to ask.

  65. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Vic’s update about composting from the gardening conference is at the top of the page.

    Just wondering-

    A while back you asked about tinyurls. Go to and paste the long URL, somehow they give you a short one.


  66. InterestedPerson Says:

    Not sure if this would help with the composting aspect; but at Growing Power they use, and sell, coir for worms to live in. I think it is light-weight,
    to send to you. If it is a ‘hot’ compost and big enough, worms are supposed to live through the winter in it.

    I know “winter” is a relative term. And I havent researched this in any depth, as you can tell. But I just got my 5 gal bucket of worms in dirt and sticks from them this week and they were so great, vigorous, teeny skinny
    and big fat ones, that they are on my mind. [I started my compost garbage
    can with holes too late in the fall to have worms survive, it was too small,
    so it was starting to have its own odor, as the would-be compost thawed.]

    But I will see what I can find out that could be applicable.
    I really appreciate all what you are reporting, Vic.

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