Monday, September 15, 2008

Exodus from an Alaskan village

Everyone in Adak is leaving. The village cannot afford to pay its gas bill, and they have been cut off. Their numbers have already been cut in half in recent years, but gas prices will force them all to leave.

The mayor/chief of police resigned.

I cannot imagine where 130+ people go to start over, and from something that is not a natural disaster. A hurricane did not hit these people - high gas prices did.

I am still stunned at the lack of attention this is getting, from the local media, the state, our Governor, Sarah Palin. I posted this on Saturday night, and figured it would be headline news by the next afternoon (and no, not because of me - because a town in American cannot afford gas and is shutting down!) I posted again on Sunday night, happy to see it, at least, on the ADN.

The Anchorage Daily News reported on it Sunday night/Monday morning (and props to them for getting it on the front page of the Web site - if not the paper copy). A radio station in the region Adak is in mentioned it. No local TV news - or non-local, for that matter. I noticed a paper in South Carolina grabbed it from the ADN. But nothing else? Really?

Palin had a message today for Alaska that the local TV media did pick up - her message was to attack the man she fired and reverse her previous opinions and reasons. Her only message for Alaska today, the day Adak residents met, found out they no longer have a mayor and started planning how to restart their entire lives - her message was of defense of herself and an attack on a former employee.

In some wierd bit of irony, one of the news stations visited a different village to report on how many people were having to leave Rural Alaska because of the costs. No mention of entire town being told to leave that day.

This is not the first Alaskan village to have to leave the land, and it won't be the last. How many residents will be forced into the city this winter? How many villages will be facing extinction?

I have heard suggestions that the villagers go to stay in the governor's mansion. Why not? Even if she were not running for VP, she doesn't use it much. They will need a home, and jobs, and schooling. And they will need to get off the island - it will cost the individuals of Adak their entire energy rebate - $1200 - just to get them off the island. Will Governor Palin lend them her private jet?

I have also heard some terribly cold comments - so what, it's only 130 people? So what, it's a "newly incorporated" village - they should have known better? Palin shouldn't be responsible for their "irresponsibility."

I ask these people to look at the history of Adak - the real history. Aleut/Unungax people have lived there for thousands of years. They have prevailed through enslavement, relocation and disease during the Russian "discovery." They have prevailed during the further massive deaths after Alaska was bought by America. The Aleut people of the Aleutian chain were forcibly removed from their homes during World War II by the American government when the Japanese invaded and occupied two of the islands. They came back. They stayed after the military base shut down in the 90's, incorporated as a village to be able to stay, and they stayed through a winter of frequent blackouts.

They are finally undone by energy costs.

Big processing ships have outmanned them on the water, so they had little money to work with in the first place.

I cannot tell you what this does to me, to hear that another village is being emptied, that these people will not be able to stay, and it is entirely preventable. This is not a hurricane to prepare for and rebuild after - but nothing to do but wait in between. The gas is literally in the town - but they can't afford to buy it.

And our governor dares to run on the platform of being an "energy expert?"

Please, look at the exodus from the villages, look at this town that is vacating the island - then look me in the eye and telling me she's doing everything she can?

She is doing nothing at all.

UPDATE!: Thank goodness!


Meryl and Bob said...

I would hope this would make news too - and am wondering who you've sent it to that could run with it.

Rachael Maddow? Thomm Hartmann? The Obama campaign? Olbermann?

How about the women who organized the anti-Palin rally?

It does seem like it needs to get into the right hands.

Isiik said...

This situation just makes me sick. how DO we get the word out?

Unknown said...

This is an outrage. I really feel for my fellow Americans of Adak. of Adak. The Governor of Alaska ought to be taking steps to prevent this catastrophe.

I mean that. Having said that, I am curious of one thing. How did the Aleut people get thru winter before the time of oil and electricity? I am just curious. There is little wood there, isn't there? How did they keep arm in that harsh climate?

The Aleut people of America are a real treasure. These fellow Americans have a rich history, as was overviewed on the blog. I too hope the main stream media picks up on this.

Cindy said...

If the State won't fix this, can we, either by donation or some sort of Kiva model?

I am so sad and angry. And I don't know whether I'm angrier at the State for doing nothing or at people who try to blame those who are suffering so much.

Two Sentz said...

This is quite interesting and sad. I never would have even known about it if it werent for the whole Palin thing. Check us out here on the east coast (Maryland) if you have time.

Two Sentz

just jen said...

i posted on my blog and linked back to yours, as well as to the article in ADN. it breaks my heart.

Lo said...

I am linking to you, also.

Thank you.

Ishmael said...

The electricity is only on for seven hours a day now. The seafood plant manager is buying the city 1,000 gallons for fuel -- good for just a few days. The city manager is recommending residents leave for the winter. KIAL Radio in Unalaska is doing a good job reporting on this (heard on APRN elsewhere in the state). Meanwhile, Palin fiddles while Adak disappears.

Cindy said...

I am glad the people of Adak do not have to evacuate, yet, but I fear it is just that - YET.

And which villages are next? And it infuriates me that STILL there is this huge divide in resources between urban and rural. I though that's what municipal revenue sharing was FOR.

Thank you for letting us know what's really going on in-state.

Kodiak Perspective said...

The power of white man’s magic to destroy is awesome. Here is a culture that has survived thousands of years, and yet, in a short time, less than 200 years, the natives have become dependant on Diesel Fuel, and have to abandon their homes.

how614 said...

God Bless you my son and I will pray for those suffering Alaska. ITS a shame. Exxon should supply for free given its 45.2 billion dollar profit last year. ITs all rather disgusting.

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