As an Alaskan expatriate I try to keep up on things in the Great Land, the land of my birth, and Anchorage, where I was raised. People in rural Alaska are having to make a choice this Winter between spending money on heating oil and buying food for their families.
I first became aware of this story from The Mudflats, a blog looking at Alaska news and politics. Politics is the most popular spectator sport in the 49th State, and Gods know we’ve had a few interesting characters involved over the years!
Of course the fact that for the largest State in the Union we have one of the smallest populations helps, Alaska has been described by one frustrated friend of mine as the worlds largest small town! At around 350 thousand people Anchorage, my hometown, is the largest city and has a little under half the States population.
Most of Alaska’s towns and villages are out in the wilderness, or as we Alaskan’s call it “the bush”, accessible only by small plane or by river boats and barges. Many of these are from old mining camps or are Native villages that sprang up when the U.S. government put up schools in a specific location and told many of the formerly nomadic Native peoples that they needed to stay in one place.
For the better part of the last several months rural people in Alaska have been facing starvation, and no one in the U.S. media seems to care. They would much rather report on Governor Palins celebrity foibles and misadventures, rather than the humanitarian crisis in rural Alaska that Palin’s administration had every opportunity to face and help to prevent over the last couple of years.
Of course, she’s been busy, out of State.
Running for Vice President in the “Real America”, rural America don’tcha know? She’s also been busy speaking at Republican governors conferences and forming her own Political Action Committee!
She has also been ignoring the serious problems with the Alaskan Fisheries were factory trawlers over fish various fish populations and devestate the sustainability of the fishery population.
Then, too, she’s been busy vetoing or ignoring any energy related proposals that don’t relate to oil development or rocket research; including detailed plans from some rural villages for alternative energy development on the local level to help provide plentiful heating energy for rural Alaskan’s and plans to develop some large Oil Tank farms to be shared between multiple villages.
It’s not her fault of course, she had to make her interviews with Esquire and gear up for the important things like that animal rights feud with Ashley Judd.
Luckily there are some folks helping out. Alaskans are (normally) a caring people and a lot of grass-roots relief efforts have been going on in State and in Anchorage. Folks in Seafood marketing industry have been doing fundraisers to help buy heating oil to help ease the financial crunch. The Venezuelan Government is helping out, indirectly, as a U.S. subsidiary of their national oil company will be providing 100 gallon fuel vouchers in February.
It may be enough to get rural Alaska through this Winter, barely, one can only hope that the State of Alaska, and the U.S. government will be able to find a way to help solve this terrible problem.
Sadly the Governor of Alaska is too busy elsewhere to bother with it.
Where is the help Alaska villages so desperately need?
~Elise Patkotak, Anchorage Daily News
Village Crisis Update
~Linda Kellen Biegel, The Alaskan Standard
Opinion: Alaska Native villages desperate for aid
Salmon dining to help suffering Alaskan villages
~Hal Bernton, Seattle Times