Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More on the Situation in Emmonak

-- by Writing Raven

I've talked about a few dying villages, and villagers just trying to make it this winter. This story is one of the more heartbreaking.

Originally in the Bristol Bay Times, the article is actually about a letter written by an Emmonak resident, asking for help for his village. Short of fuel, short of money, short of food, he talked to 25 of the 200 households in the area, and every one of them had a grim story to tell. Just one:

P. R: Single, separated, with five children. (He chokes occasionally, holding back crying.) He and his children are staying in the same household with his brother’s family. Cost of fuel is so high and everything else and we’re able to get just a few things at a time. We have no other subsistence food left. Only thing we’re surviving on moose meat alone and it is almost gone. Everything is so high – only able to get little bit. We can’t catch up on our bills. We’re really hurting even we are given some from other people. Right now, we can’t eat during the day, only at supper time. And, it is still not enough. If there had been no school lunch, our kids would be starving. It is going to get worse in two weeks when our new heating fuel supply is airlifted in. Price of fuel will go way up again. I am lucky that the Women’s Shelter is able to give me some coffee.

Yes. This is America today.

I was privileged to meet with a family from Emmonak last month, getting to know them. Although going through a tough time, a death, I had no idea of the rest of this. This also makes me wonder how much the economic situation is affecting the alarming news of the suicides in the area. Although the area, and the area just above, are the two highest in Alaska for suicide rates - and Alaska the highest in the nation - lately there has been even more than usual.

This is just one village. I wrote before about a village on the Aleutian chain being told they should leave because the village couldn't power itself. Despite an article proclaiming that it's not as bad as people have said... it seems pretty bad.

The letter left some information on where to go to help. As he says in his letter though - these are just the ones he was able to talk to - how many more are remaining silent?

image - kids in Emmonak in summertime


Crystal said...

My mother was born and raised in Emmonak. She died this past May. My aunt and remaining extended family are still there. Thank you for getting the word out. Hopefully help will come to them soon.

Anonymous said...

This is the situation in way too many villages and rural homes. The situation out there is dire, and worse part is nobody seems to care. Where is our Governor, giving interviews in her front room. She does even bother to come into the office. If somebody doesn't start working on these problems soon. There are going to be many villages left, and even less of our heritage as Alaskans, both Native and non Native.

Annette said...

Such a sad state of affairs.. this has also been posted on HuffingtonPost now. AKM did a blog on it. It needs traffic to bump it up. Also a post at Kos...

Philip Munger said...

Annette - why don't you do a Kos post, if you're registered. I have to drive my son to the airport. He's headed back to college in CA tonight.