"As I watched the inauguration yesterday, I couldn't stop wondering if the villages in Bush Alaska that were probably listening to it on public radio had heat and food to go with the ceremony. I wondered if they wondered whether the promise of America would ever make it to where they live.
It's been a long time since the first non-Natives hit these shores and announced they would bring "civilization" to the people they found here. So far, our achievements are underwhelming.
It seems we did a pretty good job of disrupting a way of life that survived the cold, harsh climate for thousands of years. We left behind people who can no longer survive in their homes because of what we took from them. When the U.S. government first told Alaska Natives they had to give up their nomadic existence and stay in one place so their children could go to a government school, we stripped from them their ability to survive by denying them the right to use their traditional knowledge for survival. If the caribou were 200 miles south but they had to stay put because that's where the government school was, it stands to reason they would face a difficult time trying to survive and remain independent.
And so here we are in 2008, and the state seems honestly bewildered by the extent of the problems in the Bush. A cynic might also comment that they are not exactly rushing to help. As for the feds, well, they're too busy bailing out billionaires on Wall Street. They have little money left for the people of Bush Alaska."
Get the Story:
Elise Patkotak: Where is the help Alaska villages so desperately need?
(The Anchorage Daily News 1/21)