Writing Raven

Writing Raven
Anchorage, Alaska, USA
March 15
I am a twenty-something Tlingit/Athabascan woman. I never plan on leaving Alaska. And - though I wouldn't have thought this was any kind of issue until recent inquiries - am straight, and always plan on being straight, as well. :) I am not married and have no children, so I frequently take children from my friends, spoil them ridiculously, and send them back. I've also begun to write my first book.

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JANUARY 14, 2009 1:52AM

Another Alaskan village in trouble

Rate: 11 Flag

When I spotted this in the ADN Newsreader, I had a sinking feeling becoming very familiar. 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?

UPDATE: I've been getting some requests on where to send donations. Although it is in the article (the link above) it is a long article/letter and easy to miss. I've also heard people are finding it hard to get through, and so have attached the P.O. Box suggested also:

To help, please call:
City of Emmonak, (907) 949-1227/1249
Emmonak Tribal Council,
(907) 949-1720
Emmonak Corporation, (907) 949-1129/1315/1411
Emmonak Sacred Heart Catholic Church Pastoral Parish Council Chairman, (907) 949-1011.
To assist with offsetting heating fuel costs, call Emmonak Corporation.
For distribution of food, I would suggest Emmonak Tribal Council handle this.

To send directly:

Emmanok Tribal Council
P.O. Box 126
Emmanok, AK 99581

Here's another way to give, and it could payout bigger even than the rest. Dennis Zaki of AlaskaReport.com will be heading out to Emmonak on Friday to shoot video of the situation. His coverage has some big possibilities for further national coverage, and could play out big (with big donations, big attention) with millions, not just those watching the blogs. He needs $2000 to get out there though, so if you can give a few bucks, I think you'll find your dollars will multiply in worth!

He's also donating anything above the travel costs to the people of Emmonak.

LINK TO MY USUAL BLOG, ALASKA REAL (PayPal link at the bottom of the post)

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How can this be when you have a Maverick for a Gov who can see Russia but not the needs of this village?
Heartbreaking and just this morning I read in NYTimes where conservatives are already blasting Obama's policy as too much like FDR's New Deal which saved and fed families just like this one.
Thanks for bringing light to Native issues - much needed - so much for treaty obligations, hey? According to the popular media, all Indians are suppose to be stinking rich off casino $$ - this is the more realistic picture on rez's across the country - good luck w/ your book
This is a crime anywhere, no one in the US should be starving or freezing, but in a state with BILLIONS held in a reserve fund it is unforgivable. Makes me ashamed to be Alaskan and American.

No reservations or casinos in Alaska, and in the bush even if there were no one would be able to go to them but the people in the villages cause most of them are not on the road system. A hard concept for most Americans to grasp as they can get in a car and go anywhere. Those of us who live in a large part of rural Alaska can only get places by boat or air. If you think travel is expensive in the lower 48 try flying to the next town or a big city here. Or buying heating fuel at $5 plus a gallon when its below zero outside.
I just heard this in an e-mail from another blogger, but the state, and other government authorities, have been approached for aid, but the village was turned down because it is not an "emergency."