Out There

Emmonak, Nunam Iqua, hard times, and publicity

Posted in grim stuff, politics by Pete on January 28, 2009

In case you haven’t heard, its been a hard winter here in Western Alaska.  I don’t have time to delve deeply into this issue, but wanted to at least mention it and put up the relevant links involved because it is getting some national attention.  I feel personally unresolved on the whole thing.  Obviously my sympathies are generally with my neighbors, who we love, and who are the reason we live here.  So I resent a lot of the mindless oversimplified criticism they receive all the time, and especially during times of crises like this.  However, to me it seems like the other side is oversimplifying things too, painting everyone as helpless victims.  A little bit of the “natives are pure, innocent children who must be left untouched” vibe seems to come into play in their tone at times too.  This is all (obviously) quite volative, explosive stuff.  And like I say I’m somewhere in the middle and haven’t personally processed or figured out where I stand on a lot of it.  I need to pray.  But at this point I’m darn sure that the issue is complex.  Far moreso than the neophytes posting on these various message boards believe.  Issues of cultures colliding, differing values, and other big stuff that is really unknowable from the outside.   Now all that said, I think it is fantastic that people want to send cold/hungry eskimos help in the way of food and money, pretty much without any questions and sight unseen.  That is amazing!  And its cool that some of them are using the super-duper flat-rate priority boxes from the USPS to do it.  That is a huuuuge $$ saver shipping to AK.  OK, I have work to do and have been reading some of these links for hours now and HAVE to stop.  Here is all the hullabaloo:

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-na-rural-alaska25-2009jan25,0,2236427.story?page=1

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http://www.themudflats.net/2009/01/25/shopping-day-in-nunam-iqua-alaska/

I have to say that this website mostly annoys me because he is such an unabashed Palin-hater.   She could sell all her posessions and give them to a leper colony in India and he would find a way to see evil in it.  I feel the dude, and 90% of the commenters, have lost perspective.  Between that and the woeful ignorance that comes from those from outside who try and speak with authority on alaska issues, I don’t even try and counter them on that site.  Pearls before swine.  I’m not a Palin fanboy, but remember my formative years in Alaska politics were under Frank Murkowski and the astoundingly arrogant and corrupt GOP establishment in Alaska.  And they ALL hate Palin with a passion, and she kicked their butts and helped get most of them out of places of power.  For this she has some measure of undying goodwill in my book.  And no, I didn’t vote for her, in the primary or the general election.  But these guys just go too far in demonizing her.

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http://anonymousbloggers.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/hello-world/

This one is devoted to the issue, the blog serves no other purpose, and it is run by a nice travel agent from Florida (who has actually even visited my blog, making her 1 of a very select few…)

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Then there is a facebook page, of course, already with hundreds of members:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=45538795204#/group.php?gid=45538795204

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And finally the most popular site of the bunch, by far, is the amusing and offensive octogenarian writing found at:

http://margaretandhelen.wordpress.com/

specifically, this post is where they mention it:  http://margaretandhelen.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/apparently-ann-coulters-feet-are-as-big-as-an-emus/

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Obviously, the latter site’s occupants are huge Palin fans as well.  Ha ha ha.  I don’t mind dissent.  What annoys me is that a lot of these people seem to be expressing concern for my neighbors only out of a desire to shame and criticize Palin, who they perceive as slow to respond to the issue.   Just like Hugo Chavez giving oil to our villages to shame George Bush’s lack of care for first nations people.  We willingly take the help because we need it (using “we” in the broad sense.  My family doesn’t qualify, nor does it need it), but at the same time its not exactly a pure love gift, is it, when politics are the driving force for many of the givers.  Actually, by setting herself up as a national punching bag for the left, Palin has provided for us, just not in the normal way…heh heh.  Palin haters are giving until it hurts!  : – )

I know my tone here is of a Palin defender.  But its only because of the irrational diatribe filling the ‘net on those other sites, its like I have to swing the other way a little bit.  Its my site.  Deal with it.  Sure, rural Alaskans have it tough.  Yes, there is a double standard.  But it has largely been this way since….forever.  This is indeed an unusually tough winter, but its not unheard of, and its the same stuff as always, just a little worse this time.  The story told by the woman from Nunam Iqua about what she has to do to go shopping, that would have been largely the same story last year or 1o years ago.

The response I always have for those who say we should all just move out of the bush because of the lack of services is “What do you think Anchorage was like 60 years ago?  Or any big city – they all started out as a frontier town at one point.  Does that mean they should never have gotten indoor plumbing?  By that logic the pilgrims should have gone back to England and never stayed here.”  Stupid.  There are colonists and people who choose to live on the frontiers of civilization, and they accept that it will be hard.  However, it is only natural for them to want to improve their situation, and appeal to the centers of power and finance for help in that regard.  This was the case when this place was “Russian America” and they besieged the czars for funding and help colonizing the territory and it remains true today.   I suppose some Russians in Moscow begrudged the royal coffers going to help the territory and probably used the same line (“if you don’t like it you should just move back to civilization”).  So I suppose the criticism is inevitable, but I believe its short-sighted and selfish.

Not to say that every citizen in Western Alaska is a shrewd money manager or makes all the right choices.  Of course not.  OK, I’m stopping.  Time to get some real work done.  The kind I get paid for, I mean.

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