Thursday, January 22, 2009

PA's firedoglake Emmonak Diary from Wednesday

Alaska blogger and reporter Denis Zaki arrived in Emmonak yesterday evening. He stayed last night at the school, and began interviewing people around town immediately. He attempted to attend a meeting this morning, between recently arrived State of Alaska employees and village officials. Palin's people wanted him out of the picture though, so the village officials, on behalf of the state, asked him to leave the meeting.

As we enter the second week of public awareness of the Lower Yukon midwinter crisis, the Palin administration, finally reacting, is very aware that this story gained national attention through a few liberal AM radio program hosts, and progressive Alaska bloggers, centered around Alaskans for Truth.

That group, started in response to the September 2008 takeover of the Palin administration's publicity and administrative apparatus by Bush administration cleaner and hitman Ed O'Callaghan, is the most active and persistent team of critics in Alaska of Palin's policies, actions and ethical methods. I'm a proud member.

Dennis Zaki is in Bethel to report. He is there because he and members of Alaskans for Truth raised $8,200 to get him there, and to attempt to effectively distribute relief to communities in the lower Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. Zaki is arriving as relief from other sources is pouring into Emmonak from other Native communities, and from around the country and world.

Part of the reality of Alaska is that well over two thirds of the state's population lives in metropolitan Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Most of Alaska's wealth comes from outside of those three communities. From rural and virtual wilderness areas, from the sea, the rivers, and from underneath the earth's surface.

Just as the rural communities, Alaska Native majority villages and other tiny communities couldn't exist without support coming from the large communities, so the large communities couldn't exist as they do, without benefitting from Alaska's rural resources.

Whenever a new problem surfaces or an old one resurfaces from Alaska bush communities, people in the large towns and cities whine about the attention being paid toward these small towns, villages and 1,000-year-old settlements. This kind of whining has been going on since White people got to Alaska:

Why didn't Aleuts like to resettle to the unpopulated Pribilofs, to catch seals for the Russians in the 18th century? Ingratitude.

Why did Tlingits resist 19th century colonization and the Russian settlement at Sitka? Ignorance and superstition.

Why did Aleuts and other Alaska Natives resist forced relocation from the Aleutians to unhealthy abandoned canneries in Southeast Alaska during World War II? Stupidity. [A higher percentage of Alaska Natives removed to these "camps" perished than did Alaska Natives removed by the Japanese during WWII to their camps.]

Why did Inupiat Natives resist Edward Teller's plan to detonate three to five hydrogen bombs within site of Point Hope, where these Natives had resided for over 1,000 years? According to Teller, lack of understanding and possibly hidden affiliations to Communist relatives across the Bering Straits.

In early 2008, when sexual abuse of Alaska Native women - quite often by White men - was once again brought out in the public, why were the motives of the victims questioned? Because, according to Republican supporters, these women like playing the "victim card."

And now, as the growing impoverishment of rural Alaska becomes highlighted because one individual sent a detailed letter to the Bristol Bay Times, and progressive Alaskans asked questions and sought help -- what are the whiners saying?

Here are some comments from today's Anchorage Daily News:

My mom always said "the world doesn't owe you a living!!!". Since when did the government take us to raise? Where is ALL this entitlement attitude coming from? Natives should be the last ones to come asking for aid being the "proud independent" people they're supposed to be.....

How much property tax do people in Emo pay? It's common in Anchorage for people to pay $3,000 or $4,000 in taxes. Sure our fuel and groceries are cheaper, but we pay for that privilege. We also have congestion, pollution, noise, crime and gangbangers. I'd love to live in a village where it's peaceful and there's no car stereos and booming exhausts and kids shooting each other in traffic. That's a quality of life that we can't afford here in Anchorage. It's all a tradeoff.

i wonder if they will add up how many new tv's, ipods, and baggies of dope they find when they are there. ahhhh, silly me, i'm sure i'm wrong about such things.

A buddy of mine made a killing bootlegging liquor in Emmonak not too long ago. Did he contribute to their problem? Perhaps, but he didn't force them to buy from him. Yeah, let's bail out the poor natives of Emmonak just like our government is bailing out these people involved in the so-called home mortgage "crisis" for making poor decisions with their money...

Write to Obama.... he'll bail you out.

the only population in this state that cannot choose where they reside are inmates. Everyone else has a CHOICE on where they live. IF you choose to live in the bush, then better be prepared for high prices and high unemployment. If you cannot handle that, then MOVE. That is what the rest of our countryman do when they can no longer live in an area for whatever reason. NO one should have to subsidize someone elses standard of living...

The attention drawn to this midwinter fuel and food crisis in the Lower Yukon and Kuskokwim river deltas, is going to influence policy debate in the upcoming legislative session, as shown by this morning's first Anchorage Daily News article from the session (the comments posted above are in response to that article.)

Alaska State Representative Les Gara (who beat ex-Representative Ethan Berkowitz, but narrowly lost to Tlingit Diane Benson in an AK-AL poll last week), has chosen this time to remind Alaskans that some wanted to address rural needs in 2008. But Gov. Sarah Palin and a few legislative Republicans in close 2008 races, chose to push Palin's "spreading the wealth around" $1,200.00 energy rebate bribe to every Alaskan.

Palin and the urban GOP won last year's round.

Who wins this year's is up in the air.

The Bethel Newspaper, The Tundra Drums, has an article on and pictures of the arrival of food from other villages. Some of it was air-dropped, according to Dennis Zaki.

image - Emmonak kids - by Dennis Zaki


KaJo said...

Sorry, this first comment is totally OT, and I'm posting it even before I've read your blog entry (and I will!).

I couldn't find an alternative place to post this heads-up, so I'm putting it here -- yes, it's about Sarah Palin and her plans for her future -- for bragging that she wasn't such a Washington DC "insider", she sure is pulling in the insiders to serve her personal ambition.

See "Palin Moves Closer to Possible Book Deal", a Reuters report at

(I was amused to see the tag identifying the writer of the article, Paul J. Gough --> "(Hollywood Reporter).

Annette said...

I am sure they didn't want Dennis there...why would they want the truth reported...they want to be able to spin it their way not the truth..Palin never wants the truth to be told.

clark said...

i could be mistaken but was under the impression places on the north slope were settled more like 10,000 years ago.

AKPetMom said...

Just a heads up, I emailed the Alaska Federation of Natives seeking info on whether or not they were willing to take a public stance on the issue of Emmonak and the more widespread crisis in the region. I just mailed them and it will probably take a while for someone to get back to me but I'm interested in what their feelings might be regarding the crisis. I know that everyone has to parse every word they write or say with something this politically sensitive, but I have a feeling that AFN has been following this story very closely.

Anonymous said...

The State of Alaska should simply send the people of Emmo money, food and supplies.

The people, especially the children, need to eat and stay warm.

The State of Alaska is rich off of resources that belong to Alaska's first people.

The people of Emmo would work if there were jobs. They are not lazy.

Alaska owes it's Native people a lot more, but sending food and fuel is the least they can do.

HarpboyAK said...

"He attempted to attend a meeting this morning, between recently arrived State of Alaska employees and village officials. Palin's people wanted him out of the picture though, so the village officials, on behalf of the state, asked him to leave the meeting."

What??? He's a member of the press. He has a right to attend a public meeting! Any action taken would be in violation of the Alaska Open Meeting Act!

Why didn't Dennis insist on his First Amendment right as a member of the press to attend the meeting?

Star the wonder pup said...

I'm sorry. I gave my hundred bucks. Who wants hungry children?

But get real. There is no right to a lifestyle. I live at the beach. Will y'all kick in to help me out if I can't afford it anymore?

BTW, your word captcha sucks in spades.

flying fish said...

It's extremely difficult to read the lighter colored fonts on your pages.
Thank you for continuing to report what's going on up north. It amazes me that people continue to believe it's a simple matter of moving to the cities to solve the 'village problem' I wasn't able to thrive in Anchorage and I'm a city raised white Alaskan from Juneau!

Anonymous said...

Everytime there is a story on rural Alaska communities or even a rural person, the comment section of ADN spews with racist, sterotyping, clueless comments. I did find one lone sentence that sums up this great land of Alaska:

"Alaskans are more tolerant of racists, as opposed to people of colors and/or religions."

My husband comes from one of those Alaskan Pioneer goldrush families. He states today, "at the age of 14 I got out of the family, changed my name at 25 and never looked back...". He says that for at least four generations, his biological family actively participated in racism. The latter generations were centered around the goldrush era. Generally the dinner table was a "bible thumping scenario" that aimed hatred against Alaska Natives.

What made my husband leave his family? "In public my dad would never trash a Alaska Native, but once that car door shut or the front door to the house shut, he was all over the hate towards some Alaska Native...".

My husband and I believe there are so many racists in Alaska, that they outnumber our first peoples in population.

Who is my hero: the store clerk at Blookbuster Video, who saw the self produced tape of Wiseman and his buddies shooting frozen paintballs at Alaska Natives, and called the police.

Like my husband, this store clerk saw something wrong and was honest and brave enough to say/do something. We need more Alaskans that choose to display this type of honest, brave behavior.

I commend you for answering to a few of the comments. And to AKreal. It is tough to do, with all the sterotyping that has spun out of control...

Do we, as a tough Alaskan folk, have to be more tolerant of racists, as opposed to people of color? Gawd that is a sad question.

Philip Munger said...

anonymous @ #9 -

A BIG HUG to you and your husband!

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