Page 1

, Volume Number 5

pring 1999

.4 Dr. Natural An Anchorage natur­ opath treats those in need with a combina­ tion of therapies which sometimes includes needles. By Donna Christensen

.16 Developing Trust. A profile of artist L. Saunders McNeill, featur­ ingphotographs and art­ work . from her project "Portrait ofa Divided Maritime Community." By Samantha Berg

.10 A Bridge Between 1\vo Worlds Alaska Natives of mixed ethnicity share their perspectives and relate how they identify with the world. By Brad Williams

.24 Getting Schooled in Salmon Commercial and sport fishermen struggle over Alaska's prize catch. By Robert de Lucia

.30 Spenard: That was Then, This is Now A tongue -in-cheek look at the character of Anchorage's most infamous neighborhood. By Chris Warren

.36 Language War

.36 rn~


he English only law speaks to Alaskans on both sides of the issue. By Cynthia Deike-Sims




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.9 Vara Allen-Jones VAA's new Assistant Vice Provost on the road to success. By Cynthia Deike-Sims .40 Anchorage's Three Avenues to English English as a second language classes in Anchorage. By Cynthia Deike-Sims .42 Relearning Tradition A journey of cultural and spir­ ictual exploration through the Tsimshian eyes of John Bergamaschi. By Stephanie liipp .44 Anchorage's Little Russia Students seek stability in Anchorage's emerging Russian community. By Fryderyk Frontier .47 Staff Page. Meet the True North crew. .48 Letter from our Fearless Leader, Larry Campbell


True North (ISSN 1088-7903) is published by the instructional program of the Journalism and Public Communications

U Department of the University of Alaska, Anchorage, 3211 Providence Drive, Building K, Room 203, Anchorage, Alaska, 99508. Copyright©1999 TRUE NORTH LCCN:sn96-4927. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without the express written permission of the Department Chair. UAA is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employ­ er and educational institution.



Assignment: Produce a high quality, full color, glossy magazine--and sell one ad. Well, I knew what the editorial job would entail, long hours, late nights, too much caffeine and rayed nerves. We argued, laughed and wanted to cry over nut graphs, babushkas, feelings and axe-like edits. What surprised all of us was how difficult it would be to sell ads. We needed thousands of dollars. This is True North's first appearance without major UAA subsidization. We groveled, begged, pleaded andjinally sold our ad space. The product in your hands rep­ resents the blood, sweat and moral triumph of some hard­ working, dedicated students. I'm proud of the hearty and spir­ ited bunch who put this maga­ zine together. I'm forever in their debt. My portfolio and I thank the diligence of my class­ mates and the patience of Larry Campbell. It turned out to be a REAL magazine! Enjoy! Donna "Lefty" Christensen, Co-Editor and Left Third True North Magazine


True North 1999 is about cultural, social, spiritual, and political crossroads. We show­ case people, communities and belief systems that exist, literal­ ly, in the middle of two worlds. But like the people in our stories and photographs, the True North staff had our own bridges to cross. "You will reach a sense of des­ peration, futility and hopeless­ ness when you realize advertis­ ing has not been sold, deadlines have not been met, pages have not been laid out and you are still expected to produce a publica­ tion." This intimidating piece of for­ tune cookie wisdom from the course syllabus reminds me that everyone of us had a choice to stick it out or to quit. But as the semester rolled on, each of us played an increasingly important role in the creation of the jinal product. Losing anyone's contri­ butions could have spelled disas­ ter for the magazine. Yet despite our differences, our inexperience, our bull-headed­ ness and our sometimes quirky single-mindedness, the nine of us pulled together to produce True North '99. We proudly share it with you, our readers. Samantha Berg, Co-Editor and Middle Third True North Magazine

The stories in this magazine represent Anchorage as a cross-section of many, and our staff made a conscious and immediate decision to cover how we blend. I would like to thank the advertisers who believed in this purpose. Thanks also to the people who shared their stories with us and allowed us to photograph their lives. You complete us. My personal thanks to ardent co-editors, Donna and Sam. Change is good. Thanks to my husband, Shannon, for listening to me, and thank you, Mamma, for telling me to "think long and hard about what you write down on paper because it is a reflection of you that will last forever." Thanks also to the entire True North Staff for hanging on for the ride and providing stories good enough to read over and over again. Cynthia Deike-Sims Co-Editor and Right Third True North Magazine

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by Donna Christensen he one and a half inch needle dimples her bare, chilled flesh. It breaks the skin with a pop. The needle sinks into the mus­ cle of her upper arm--one quarter inch, one half inch, an inch, and then to the hilt. The muscle twitches and spasms. A white-hot cramping pain causes her to grimace. She sucks a whistling breath of air through clenched teeth.

photos by Jason Rand cools, then numbs the pain. Six more syringes wait on a clean, white towel. As agonizing as the injections are, she knows relief is in sight. Her dark eyes tear as the doctor prepares to move to the next affected region. A naturopath in Anchorage prac­ tices medicine outside of the conserv­ ative, conventional box; he combines the safest pharmaceuticals with nat­ ural remedies.

of Asthma" and "Straight Talk about Arthritis. " Dr. Jasper is the author of most of it. A cream-colored sheet stands out; "Are You Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired?" People come to his office to engage in a part­ nership of healing--for some, that healing is an incredibly painful process. Dr. Jasper works under the titles

Cary Jasper, N.D. administers a trigger point injection to patient Barbara Nelson's tricep.

A second injection in her temple produces a crackling noise like fry­ ing bacon. She can hear the sound of needle on bone. The doctor's sure and steady thumb quickly pushes the plunger on the transparent syringe. The medication in the injection 4 True North

Plants line a granite-tiled foyer in Cary Jasper N.D's (Naturopathic Doctor) Fireweed Health Care Clinic. Framed copies of early 1900's Ladies Home Journals decorate the walls. A Lucite rack holds various medical brochures; titles like "How to Get Rid

and licensing of a naturopath and an advanced nurse practitioner. When asked to define naturopath, he com­ ments, "that's a controversial term, even amongst ourselves. When you see it, you recognize it. The mind and body must work together."

bundles of fibers within a muscle that become knotted and inelastic. This irritation results in decreased range of motion and weak­

muscles receive little attention in medical school teaching and are in fact a major source of pain and dys­ function," says Dr. Janet Travell in her book, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Jasper uses Travell's manual. It is the existing bible on trigger point injection therapy. Dr. Travell was President John F. Kennedy's personal physician in the 1950's. She treated Kennedy with the injections to allevi­ ate his chronic back pain. Travell's sucessful treatment freed Kennedy from a wheelchair before he ran for president. Jasper's injections combine a local anesthetic, lidocaine, a very small amount of cortisone, and a plant extract called sarapin. Jasper says, "The lidocaine allows the mus­ cles to relax and open up the circula­ tion again. Sarapin has been in use for over 60 years and has the ability to provide a long-term or permanent block of chronic pain. Our own bodies create cortisone to stop inflammation

ens muscles producing a condition known as myofascial pain syndrome. These points aggravate conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries by reducing circulation to the affected area. "Physicians usually concentrate on the joints, bones and nerves, the

and irritation. A small amount of this medicine can safely eliminate the inflammation that causes pain. Each ingredient alone is helpful, combin­ ing all three is highly effective." Trish Dungan, Dr. Jasper's office manager, says, "this man's a healer. I've seen the people come through this office that he helps." One patient

Bernice Estrada waits in the lobby of Jasper's office for allergy treatments.

The Oxford English Dictionary traces the origin of the word to Old French; a combination derived from

success through prevention t cl nu afterwards."

"You have more

the Latin natura meaning bodily processes and the restorative powers of the body; and pathy from Greek meaning feeling, suffering and emo­ tion as in sympathy. Stedman'S Medical Dictionary defines naturopathy as therapeutics where no medicinal agents or surgery are used, only natural reme­ dies. Jasper's broad definition of a naturopath encompasses many meth­ ods. Being registered as both an ANP and as a naturopath allows him to augment his practice with the most effective western medicine and proven natural remedies. A mandatory expansion of educa­ tion from that of a registered nurse allows him to diagnose illnesses, per­ form minor surgeries (like injections and mole removal) and dispense pharmaceuticals. Jasper's therapies and treatments include trigger point injections, allergy testing and desen­ sitization, and natural hormone replacement therapy to name a few. He's currently seeing dramatic results in the treatment of chronic pain and asthma with trigger point injection treatments. Trigger points are hyperirritable

Brianna Munson, Registered Nurse's Assistant, checks Estrada's pulse.

True North 5

Dungan observed is Barbara Nelson who, "never, ever smiled, then she

"People need

longer tolerate her pain, she began making phone calls. She phoned the headquarters of the National Institute of Health in Bethesda,

doctors to be

started having trigger point injec­ tions--she's a changed woman. She's

bases turned up virtually nothing about the treatment. Via e-mail inquiry, Dr. Clif Saper, Chairman of Harvard Medical School's Department of Neurology, states that



to guide

he "treats Myofascial Pain Syndrome with anti-depressants and anti-

them to the right healthy choices."

happy, outgoing and always smiling now." Nelson first began seeing Jasper Maryland. Doctor Roland Martin, inflammatory drugs." Although he Neurology finds no connection to a disease, he almost two years ago for chronic Director of NIH's sinus problems. One day while he Department recommended that she treats the pain. treated her for some back problems, find someone in Anchorage willing to In a 1995 article of Neurologic she told him about her troubles Clinic, Dr. T.w. Bohr of Linda with chronic pain, a pain she Loma University called thought she had to just live with Myofascial Pain a "junk sci­ because she didn't want to have ence... with little reliability and steroids and narcotics pushed at validity." He cites a "legacy of her. "My body is my body and I poor-quality science and enthusi­ have to deal with it," Nelson asts citing small methodological­ ly flawed studies." He also states says. Jasper started trigger point that these people "see themselves injection treatments in as victims worthy of a star appearance on the Oprah Winfrey November 1998 in an attempt to show." alleviate her pain. Nelson suf­ Dr. Chang-Zern Hong, of fers from the long-term effects of lyme disease, a problem many University of California Irvine Anchorage doctors do not usual­ Medical Center, conducted a ly encounter. The disease causes design blinded measurement test the protective sheath covering in a pain control clinic. He tested things like range of motion and the nerves, the myelin, to deteri­ orate. The deterioraton causes pain threshold. Significant severe neural and muscular improvement took place two impairment. She contracted the weeks after trigger point injec­ tions. Hong concluded that, "trig­ disease years ago in her home ger point injection is a valuable state of New York. procedure for pain relief." "I'm a problem patient in Dr. Torrey Smith, another Alaska," says Nelson. I've been seeing doctors in Anchorage for Anchorage naturopath, states that twenty years for various prob­ "as naturopaths, cortisone and lems. They don't listen to me. I lidocaine don't fall under our license, so I don't use these. Dr. handed Dr. Jasper all of my Jasper is able to with his addition­ information and books on this al ANP license." condition. He was the first one Jasper practices medicine he who actually took them, the first Jasper injects a lidocaine solution into Nelson's back. knows to be helpful, but he also who wanted to learn about it." Nelson says, "you really have to do trigger point injections. Nelson knows that not everyone agrees with his philosophy. He bridges two styles be at the end of your rope to have found Jasper. these treatments. The trigger point She respects Dr. Jasper's inten­ of medicine and uses what helps his injections are incredibly painful. I've sive research on her condition. She patients. Jasper has no desire to be a had them under my shoulder blades feels he keeps his patients because of doctor to everyone. His practice and collarbones, between my ribs, his perception of how to treat them relies on a very loyal core of patients. "I treat just about anything, but and in my head, face, and arms. We and how to work with what they want. work on one section at a time. It's the "He listens. You enter into a partner­ not denial. I want to be a doctor to the ship with him." people who want what I do." first relief I've had in 15 years." Nelson learns all she can about Extensive research through the Jasper says, "nothing overcomes her condition. When she could no Consortium Libraries' medical data- a negative attitude and cynical out­ look. All of


t 6 True North



but not

denl· al."

us have bad things that

happen, but we all have the ability to overcome them. A professional physician should expand on this and get people over the stumbling blocks of affliction, not baby sit them." Jasper's brown eyes glitter with amusement at the analogy of his practice. "You have more success through prevention than trying to clean up afterwards. I provide more of a service preventing a fire in the first place rather than trying to put out a house already on fire." In early adulthood, after com­ pleting his mission for the Mormon Church, Jasper's experience with people's rejection of his youthful, religious message led him to his cho­ sen field. "I thought about helping people through adult or juvenile cor­ rections, but those are often people who don't want to hear your message. Being a marriage counselor, you talk to people who have already made up their minds or know the things they should be doing. Practicing this type of [preventive] medicine, people who come to me are already consigned to listen." Jasper holds a bachelor's degree in Biology and Psychology from the University of New York, and a bache­ lor's in Nursing from UNY's Regional External Degree Program. He also has a four-year doctorate from the American College of Naturopathic Medicine of Salem, Oregon and a master's in Nursing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. "The master's took me three years because I was in practice as a natur­ opath at the time. It was tough." Jasper never stops learning. He starts his day on the Internet reading 40-50 summaries of medical articles. He orders those pertinent to his prac­ tice. Stacks of medical magazines encompass his free reading time. All of this keeps him on the cut­ ting edge of sometimes controversial treatments. He attends seminars all

Dr. Jasper's Basic Plan/or

Anybody Who Wants to

Improve Their Health and

Overcome Any Major

Health Problems

Quit all sugar and other sweeteners. Reduce total carbohy­ drates to 40% or less of your diet. Each meal (in particular breakfast) should be one­ third protein. Two meals per day should be at least 50 % non­ starchy vegetables. Drink only water and drink at least 80 ounces per day. Replace margarine with olive oil or butter. Get adequate rest--eight hours per night. Exercise four to six days per week. Take antioxidants, miner­ als. Take care of chronic health problems. Serve others without hope offinancial reward. Resolve ill feelings toward others. Get right with God.

over the country to train in the latest treatments. Jasper attended a train­ ing session on trigger point injections in November of 1998. When asked what he feels are dangerous medicines, out comes the definition of his practice, the mission statement he doesn't realize he has. "Being a doctor, you are responsible for educating the patient. It's a crying shame to give antibiotics for a cold or virus. Antibiotics weaken the immune system and are over-used, especially with children. People need doctors to be doctors, not to give them a pill that makes them healthy, but to guide them to the right healthy choices." For example, Jasper also talks about the risks of using anti-inflam­ matories. According to the Food and Drug Administration, gastric erosion bleeding and ulcers kill 20,000 people per year and hospitalizes another 250,000. Kidney failure and joint destruction are also known side effects from anti-inflammatories. Dr. Jasper knows that for conditions like arthritis, "there are proven treat­ ments that work better. Medical doc­ tors just hand out the Advil. People just get ulcers and no pain relief," said Jasper. Jasper treats arthritis with a variety of things: anti-oxidant thera­ py, diet changes, eliminating food allergies, natural anti-inflammato­ ries, hormone treatments, tetracy­ cline, injection therapy or topical medications. Medical practice needs to change from what Dr. Jasper calls "convenient medicine." A method that gives "what the patient expects, not what they need." Jasper has a blunt bedside man­ ner. He has advice for people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired. It is a sensible and inexpensive approach to medicine.

True North 7

Dr. Jasper and his patients believe in what he does. In 1986, he was a key player in promoting the legislation passed in the State of Alaska for recog足 nizing and licensing naturopaths. His name appears often in the Anchorage Daily News editorials. Looking back at the dates, it seems like the medical world may catch up with him in the future. He talked about glucosamine sulfate for arthritis in 1995, and now shelves from natural food stores to Wal-Mart carry the supplement. They speak of it like a new discovery in arthritis treat足 ment. The Physician's Desk Reference will now include a separate volume on natural medicines and drug interactions. Trish Dungan, office manager and patient states, "he's giving the best of both worlds. He finds cancerous moles on patients; he saves lives. He saved mine, too." Dungan suffers from diabetes and had a sebaceous cyst. She thought it was only a lump like many others before it. " I had Doc look at it. He told me if I had waited for a week it would have killed me. I had a staff infection. He removed it [the cyst] right in the office." Author'S note: Special thanks to my "medical researchers," Loretta Andress, Health Science Librarian at the Consortium Library, and Monica Batac, Net-Surfer. Jasper and his assistant, Sarrah Mayfield share a laugh with Nelson following her trigger point injection treatment.

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8 True North

. I

By Cynthia Deike-Sims

he new Assistant Vice Provost, Vara Allen­ where without somebody telling my Mama. The people I Jones, strides confidently down the hall at the spent most of my life around have been older women with University of Alaska Anchorage to her new a limited formal education, including my grandmother, office in the Chancellor's wing. She is one of few African who's still living at 97." Racism was a fact of life for Vara in the South. Americans in UAA's upper echelon. The top floor of the Administration Building, where she and others of the "Growing up, you knew how things were," she said. "You highest level of the university staff work, is the only knew who the snakes were and you stayed away from office at UAA where the receptionist might ask you if them." When she was in middle school during integration, you'd like coffee, tea, or a glass of water while you wait. she watched the resistance to it. Several white parents When she arrives, she points to the two the brilliant built themselves a private, white school to keep from inte­ gold plaques on the windowsill in her office. She says grating and black and white students still had separate proms. they are important to her These attitudes haven't because they represent her journey. disappeared, even in the Allen-Jones traveled North, she says. "There are students on this campus right back to her historic black college, Savanna State now being shunned, being University, established in ignored," she says. "That's just how people are." Allen­ 1891, to give a speech Jones is a frequent speaker at recently. They surprised her with awards for the university on race issues. At 14, she worked her 'Outstanding Graduate' and first job at a "little mom and 'Distinguished Alumni.' "They knew me when I pop Dairy Queen-kind of was 18," she says. "They thing." She worked drive­ knew the good, the bad, and through in the pre-intercom the ugly. That's why it days when people would just drive up and place their means so much." After working her way order. As the Assistant Vice through the ranks at UAA, she was recently promoted. Provost, Allen-Jones heads Starting in November of the new Academic Center of Excellence, which includes 1991, her title was Assistant AHAINAStudent Programs, Professor of Counseling. She the Advising and Counseling then became director of AHAINA, an African Center, Educational Talent American, Hispanic, Asian, Search,Educational Opportunity Center, and International, and Native American organization that Native Student Services, pro­ viding services for the entire serves 3,200 students. This year she was given the new UAA population of 16,400 stu­ dents. title of Assistant Vice She still teaches College Provost, leading the newly Vara Allen-Jones, Assistant Vice Provost. created Academic Center for Survival Skills, as she has Photo: Cynthia Deike-Sims Excellence. since 1992, because it helped But she says the titles that mean the most to her have her as a freshman coming from a high school of 54 people. nothing to do with her career. She works hard during the In college, she was in developmental math, yet remained week, but stresses that weekends belong to her family. on the honor roll. Five years ago, Allen-Jones married a banker and they One of her students, Lisa Ustazewski, says Allen­ now have a 2-year-old son. Jones teaches students "how to keep from being victims" "Regardless of my title or position in life," she says, and how to learn to take responsibility for their lives. "the essence of who I am is the granddaughter, daughter, To believe in yourself, Allen-Jones says you must first mother, wife, aunt, cousin, friend, and woman that I am to believe in a higher power. Second, you have to find your those that truly know me and love me anyway. passion. Finally, she says, figure out the steps to get there. Everything else is just extra. I'm just Vara." "When I made the decision to move to Alaska, I had Growing up, Vara spent her summers in New York never been here. A girlfriend told me, 'faith is stepping with her parents, and her school years in Georgia with her out on nothing and believing something is going to be grandmother. In Georgia, she lived in a ranch-style brick there.' Ever since then, things have been great for me. home and grew to call her grandmother 'Mama.' You do what you need to do to create your own happi­ "It was a rural South," she says. "No stop light. No ness." McDonalds. I remember that I couldn't do anything any-


True North 9

by Brad Williams ack Dalton, 26, a writer and storyteller of half Yup'ik Eskimo and half German descent, recalls meeting his birth mother for the first time at age 22. "When I went to Hooper Bay, [Alaska], my mom gave me a Yup'ik name, Cup'Luaraq. It means little reed pipe. Then she told me a little story: 'You see, when we are walking with the land and need to drink, we use little reed pipe. You see when we are swimming with the water and need to breathe we use little reed pipe. You see, little reed pipe is the bridge between two worlds. Jack, you are the bridge between two worlds.'" Like many Alaska Natives of mixed lineage, Dalton faces the ques­ tion of what it means to be part Native in a modern, western society and still bridge the gap between these two worlds. Dalton's worlds first parted when he was only five days old. Flown from Bethel to Anchorage, he was given up for adoption and raised by a non­ Native family. His parents told him about his adoption at age 5. This was the first time he realized he was dif­ ferent from the rest of his family and others. He doesn't recall having role models. "Because I was adopted, I had this idea that I couldn't be like the people I was surrounded by." He found himself in an identity crisis between what it meant to be Native and what it meant to be white simul­ taneously. "Being Native means constantly struggling to survive. Managing to do it and being happy in spite of it," Dalton said. "I think there are very few people on the earth good at being Native." Tim Gilbert, 41, of Kotzebue takes pride in both his Inupiaq Eskimo and Metlakatla Tsimshian Indian heritage. He struggled with identity as a result of being raised by a non-Native adoptive family as well. "The burden of learning my Nativeness was solely on me," he recalled. Gilbert moved to Kotzebue to be closer to his birth father's family and assumed a position as the local hospi­ tal administrator. "Part of my reason in coming up here was to find out


photos by Jason Rand

what it means to be Inupiaq," he said, and "to be exposed to more tradition­ al ways of the Inupiaq." Gilbert's children are half Navajo Indian, one quarter Inupiaq Eskimo, and one quarter Tsimshian Indian. He encourages them to learn about their heritage. "I was always pressing them to learn more about their histo-

United States. Jennings added, "The drive has been for 250 years to assim­ ilate Natives." UAA's Associate Dean of Students and Professor of Anthropology, Kerry Feldman, con­ curred that western people have been waiting for Native Americans to be assimilated for hundreds of years. He

Opposite and above: Jack Dalton in Anchorage's Performing Arts Center.

Last April he starred in lmaginocean, a one-man storytelling performance.

ry," he said. Soon Gilbert's children will have to choose their tribal connection in order to attain their Certificate of Indian Blood. He said that one child is considering choosing Navajo, whlle the other might decide to be regis­ tered tribally as Inupiaq. The U.S. government allows tribes to determine one's status as a member using the method of blood quantums. Once the blood quantums have satisfied the tribe's minimum requirement and been verified by a birth certificate, an applicant receives a blood certificate from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Michael Jennings, head of the Native Studies Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), points out the only four times in the history of the world blood quan­ tum identification has been required: "Black" Koreans in Japan, Jewish people in Nazi Germany, South African Blacks and both Native Americans and Alaska Natives in the

feels assimilation, in this case, would mean completely absorbing Native culture. However, he does not see that happening. "Human beings have been mating on the borders for the past one and a half million years," Feldman said. He points out that what is known as race holds little merit from a biological standpoint. Variance in ethnicity and genotypic differences make up humanity. "There are more similari­ ties in genes among humans than there are differences in ethnicities." He feels that anthropologists in Alaska have not focused on this topic nearly enough. Non-Natives have been mixing with Alaska's Native population since the 18th century. The Aleuts were the first to come into contact with for­ eigners. In 1743, Russian fur hunters, or promyshlenniki, made their mark on the far-reaching Aleutian chain and its indigenous people. They forced the Aleut men to do the hunt­ ing while the Russians dallied with True North 11


Priscilla Hensley

"I have some concern that there will be this bleaching of things." She speaks of a type of "sur­ vivor's guilt." "I get the benefit of looking white. I feel like I should put a sign on myself that says 'Look! I'm Native too!'" She adds, "I don't disappear into either world. I'm something else altogether. To not be accepted either way makes us a third thing." This "third thing," the ques­ tion of identity, comes up for many children of mixed bloodlines. The U.S. Census Bureau is also struggling with racial labels and how they will apply to multiracial Americans on the national census in 2000. The Advisory Board for the Effect on Multiracial Self-classifica­ tion and Census 2000 recognizes that inevitable changes will occur in the meaning of race and racial groups. They are not finding any easy metaphors or key slogans to describe what America is becoming. The metaphors of a "melting pot" and "mosaic" fall short given what is known today. The melting pot sug­ gests a loss of identity, and mosaic suggests that people will never come together, but rather maintain a rigid separation.

guage of diversity that is inclusive and will build trust. There is no sim­ ple way to say what race or racial groupings mean in America, because they mean very different things to those who are either in or out of the target "racial" group. Will Vandergriff, 20, is a UAA broadcasting major who is half Inupiaq Eskimo, part Dutch, and part Cherokee Indian. He has strong feel­ ings about identity and where the race line is drawn. "When I think of Alaska Natives, I think of angst. They tell me I'm anti-Native. They tell me I don't appreciate my Nativeness. They say I'm too white. When they see me, they don't see an Alaska Native," said Vandergriff. However, Vandergriff has seen both sides. Once, while on tour with an under-I?, all-star, national baseball team, a fellow teammate told him, "We don't want anything that isn't 100 percent white American. So, you can take your fat, lazy, Eskimo ass home." His first memory of identifying himself as Eskimo was in eighth grade at the Native Expo at West High in Anchorage, where he did wood carving. "It was weird because they were talking in tongue and I couldn't understand. I was there for seven hours."

"I hate those boxes where you have to check off your ethnicity. It's like you have to choose which part of the Aleut women. As a result, there Instead, according to the • t ." are almost no known full-blooded Census Advisory Board, yourself you lIke Aleut people remaining today.


The Russians, followed by the British, Spanish, French, Chinese, Scandinavians, Japanese and Germans, further lowered the blood quantum levels among Alaska Natives. Priscilla Hensley, 24, a UAA stu­ dent and dance choreographer, con­ tends with being categorized in both daily life and on paper, "I hate those boxes where you have to check off your ethnicity. It's like you have to choose which part of yourself you like best." Hensley, daughter of Alaska Native activist, Willie Hensley, is Inupiaq Eskimo, English, Irish, Scottish, French, and Lithuanian. As a little girl she had always feared that the mixing of races would eventually result in everyone being gray. Even now, she contemplates her "fear of

12 True North

America is becoming a new

society based on a fresh mixture of immigrants, racial groups, religions and cultures, in search of a new lan-

Growing up in Anchorage,

Vandergriff has had few opportuni­

ties to learn the traditions of his

Will Vandergriff

"It was a

big afro.

ancestry. His and holding his mother invites hands above his head. "It was a him to her home to partake of tra­ big afro. None ditional foods of the other and ways. Eskimo kids had i~"''''i'1 hair like that." "There's always lots of fish every As different time we go to as Eskimo and her house. She African­ This sense of identity was makes me muk­ American may instilled by both sides of his family. luks [hand-made seem, Blanchett His father, David Blanchett, grew up Eskimo boots]," believes there is in Philadelphia's inner city and never he said. much more of a let him forget who he was, "You're a Vandergriff common bond Blanchett," he would always say, which lies there­ encouraging pride in his son. "Every learned how to seal hunt with in. At age 14, his time you write your name, write out his uncle, but family moved to your full name." regards tradi­ Anchorage and That attitude has taken Blanchett tional ways with he found him­ far. In fact, it took him to Greenland little value, _-.._self wondering Synette Underwood how other kids and back, where his wife Karina is "That's all well from. Karina, Phillip, his brother and good, but that's not going to get at his new school would think of him. Stephen, and their cousin Ossie me a job in the real world. Tradition Fortunately, his concerns were Kairaiuak formed the group Pamyua is important, but you can't base your unwarranted, "My first day at [BUM-yo-ah]. Pamyua blends tradi­ life on it." Bartlett [High School], I felt so tional Inuit and Yup'ik Eskimo song Synette Underwood, 26, is part accepted by the black community." and dance with gospel, jazz and a Also welcomed by the Native touch of what Blanchett calls "MTV, Athabaskan and part Irish. She fishes commercially with her family in community, he attended cultural break dancing, hip-hop and KGOT Bristol Bay every summer. She events such as the Native Olympics [radio]." Also known as Afro-Yup'ik recalls an acquaintance incorrectly and the Arctic Winter Games. "I felt I music, their style is as original as assuming, "You carryon the Native could be myself when I was around their backgrounds. traditions. You fish." But the Native community," he said. As a child, he watched his mother Athabaskans have traditionally been Blanchett's identity issues did not perform traditional Yup'ik dances caribou herders, and their fishing has arise as complications, but rather as and thought about how he would per­ been strictly river dip netting, not gill affirmations. "I always felt like I had form if he were dancing. Now he's net fishing. something that no one could take doing just that. "Diversity is what we Her family has been commercial away from me," he said. "I always bring to the performance; diversity, fishing for more than SO years. But it felt blessed." and then think further," Blanchett has little to do with traditional Native Phillip Blanchett ways and more with to do economics. Underwood feels there is a conver­ gence taking place. "You don't com­ promise one tradition for the other. You're taking the best of both." If taking the best of both is the key, then Phillip Blanchett, 24, is a harbinger of things to come. Blanchett grew up in Bethel with his mother, a Yup'ik Eskimo, and his father, an African American. "I felt so honored to be a part of both back­ grounds' heritage," he said. He never felt the need to make a choice between the two. "I've always marked myself on applications as black and Alaska Native." He recalls a time in his childhood when he originally noticed a differ­ ence, "The first memory I have of being aware that I was African American was when I noticed my hair was different," he said while grinning

None of the other

Eskimo kids had




said. This convergence of traditional format combined with a contempo­ rary style is how Pamyua manifest their own unique expression of cul­ tural fusion. Wanda Conley, 31, a half Inupiaq Eskimo and half Irish UAA student, participates in traditional ways such as Native drumming and ivory carv­ ing. But she feels Native traditions are not always the best approach. "They [Natives] are fighting so hard to keep their identity, they are push­ ing out what can be gained. We like what the white culture can give us, but we are trying to keep the old." Conley has literally lived in both worlds. And it hasn't always been pleasant. While living at Pt. Hope,

One of MTV's "The Real World" Boston finalists, Cana Welm, consid­ ers the label half-breed, in reference to her mixed lineage of Inupiaq Eskimo and German, to be a "very precise term." Welm recalls her tryout for "The Real World" and how people made assumptions about her based on her looks and ethnicity. "When I was in California, I was Alaska Cana," she said. "1 was Eskimo-girl." As with most mixed marriages, her parents came from very different backgrounds. "My mom was born on a caribou mat and my dad was born in and a castle in Germany." Born raised mostly in Kotzebue, Welm spent her junior high and college

being Native means you are closer to nature and somehow more spiritual." However, for people of mixed lin­ eage, "being Native" is not quite so simple. "The Native part of them­ selves has more to do with their out­ look on life," he adds. "When you come right down to it, labels cannot define you." He feels that applications corner him into being something he does not relate to. "Other' is not a race," Dalton said. When people ask what it is like being bi-racial, Dalton tells them that it is like having two people living inside of him at the same time. "One is the Eskimo elder, who is humble and wise with a lot of important things to say. The other is the proud German who demands that 1 go

born on a caribou mat ~~~k~'~ and my dad was born in a castle in Germany.'

"My mom was

Arctic Circle, she experienced another side of being multiracial. "I was treated badly by the Natives. Then when I moved to Anchorage, I was treated badly by the whites." Prejudice works both ways, as Tim Schuerch, 33, a part Inupiaq, part European mix, knows all too well. Growing up between Kiana and Kotzebue, Schuerch has also dealt with discrimination. Natives always perceived him as white. "1 remember being beat up in school because I was 'white," he said. "Kids would tease me by stealing my hat or my scarf." However, he did not always stand alone. "There were also kids who had a sense of justice." Schuerch recognizes justice. He holds a jurist doctor and recently passed the bar examination. After graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, he returned to Alaska to apply for a job at Maniilaq Corporation in Kotzebue. "I applied as a Native at Maniilaq because I understand the politics," he said. "I wanted them to look at my application and say 'He's one of us.'" He currently holds the position of special assistant to the president of Maniilaq. He light-heartedly refers to him­ self as a "half-breed street rat" and takes little credence in its original meaning. "It's hard for me to take umbrage at the term half-breed," said Schuerch. 14 True North

years in Berkeley, Calif. Now living in Kotzebue again, she feels that peo­ ple's stereotypes and assumptions about her have reversed. "I've seen the extremes on both sides," she said. "You don't want to be seen as an out­ sider when you live here." Outsider opposed to Native. White versus Eskimo. Modern elimi­ nating tradition. Blood quantums and heritage. These controversies all beg the question, "What does it mean to be Native?" Being Native is a perception. Being Native is an identity. Being Native is where you are from. Being Native is who you are. But being mul­ tiracial in Alaska today questions all these statements and more. Jack Dalton attempts to address the question: "There's this idea that

out there to say those things." he said. "Because I'm a half-breed, peo­ ple think I would have less of an idea of where I'm from," he said. These "two sides" have not always agreed upon everything, but Dalton has found his own answer. "You can either take the good of both and make yourself a better person. Or you can take the worst of both and be self destructive." As with many Natives of multira­ cial backgrounds, Dalton has wres­ tled with his identity as well as how others perceive him. Although for Dalton, who has bridged that gap, the struggle has come to an end. "I iden­ tify myself as Jack Dalton and when I have time," he said, " 1 tell them a really neat story."



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During the summer of 1998, photographer/artist L. Saunders McNeill was invited to spend three months living with Siberian-Yupik families in Nome, Savoonga and the Chukchi Peninsula of the Russian Far East. . The photos and artwork on these pages are from her project ."Portrait of a Divided Maritime Family." They are part ofa larger collection of field sketches, note­ books, paintings and drawings that McNeill intends to .turn into a travelling exhibit bene­ fiting the project par­ ticipants. McNeill was not paid for her contri­ butions to this maga­ zine.. Right: L. Saunders McNeill.

Photo: Jason Rand

16 True North

b y


The Alaska Bug Bites While crossing the Kennecott River on a hand-operated pulley tramcar, L. Saunders McNeill mangled her right index finger in the feedback line. McNeill was airlifted over the Wrangell Mountains to Glennallen, where the clinic doctor gave her the bad news. "If you want to keep your finger, you shouldn't be in the field. You'll get a nasty infection," he said. But McNeill had other plans. "I told him to cut it off," she said. "I wanted to stay that badly." McNeill and several students visited Alaska in 1988 as a requirement for a Northern Studies degree. They planned to stay a month, performing field studies in biology, botany, and geology. Now McNeill would have to return home to Cincinnati after completing only a few days of the program. Still mesmerized by the splendor of her flight over the mountains, McNeill resolved to return to Alaska some day to work on her own research project. Ten years later, after mental and spiritual preparation for her journey, she began a photo-documentary of the Siberian­ Yupik population on both sides of the Bering Sea.


came to art school because they were too stupid to get in anywhere else. I had this idea that artists weren't smart people. So I had to prove I could do other stuff too," McNeill said. McNeill spent a semester doing maritime studies with the Sea Education Association (SEA) based in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. She went from Bates College, a small liberal arts school in Maine, to the Center for Northern Studies in Vermont. After graduating with a degree in Northern Studies from Bates in 1990, McNeill began mushing dogs for the winter in northern Minnesota. She worked for a polar explorer who had just returned from the 1989 Soviet­ U.S. Bering Bridge Expedition. The expedition, in which twelve skiers and mushers traversed 1,200 miles from Siberia to Nome, was an effort to advocate Alaska-Soviet goodwill. It also pro­ moted awareness of the difflr,ulties Native fam­ ilies faced while separated by Cold War poli­ tics. Intrigued by the expedition stories, McNeill decided to learn more. Separated by Politics

Historically, a land bridge through the Bering Straight connected Asia and North America. When the glacial ice began to melt, Jack of aU Trades and Then Some Native people on both sides of the Bering Sea continued to travel back and forth by skin boat. McNeill ended up in Alaska by a circuitous They shared hunting grounds and traded food, route. After high school, she went to the Rhode fur and presents. Island School of Design, a prestigious fine arts However, the start of the Cold War in 1948 college, but she left after her first semester. ended this freedom of movement. Siberian­ "Several of my classmates told me they Yupik families were confined by arbitrary boundaries to either the Russian Far East or St. Lawrence Island. Alaska "It sounded like cloak and dag­ ger stuff," said McNeill. "Family members living 40 miles apart couldn't visit except under the cover of darkness." McNeill realized that the story of families divided by a political / "ice curtain" had universal appeal. / Her idea for a visual documentary I St. Lawrence Island was born. However, it would be sev­ eral more years before she / / returned to Alaska to bring her pro­ / . ject to life. Bermg Sea /







Scale in miles

The Return to Alaska

',,­ St. Matthew Island RON ENGSTROM I Anchorage Daily News

During the summer after the mushing job ended, McNeill trav-

True North 17

d loak and da .r s u Family mem­ bers living forty miles apart couldn't visit ex~eot under They did me a from Sea Education Association that th e cover 0 f d ar k ness. " Juneau. favor by canning me," she changed her life. As an alumnus of eled cross-country with a friend. Then she returned to northern Minnesota to stuff boxes for a catalog company. For a while, she framed pictures for an art gallery. For three years she lived with a carpenter in the garage of the house he was building. They had no elec­ tricity or running water, even in the winter when temperatures dipped to 40 or SO degrees below zero. "Northern Minnesota prepared me well for Alaska," McNeill said. "Anchorage is the banana belt in com­ parison." In March of 1994, McNeill man-

said. At the time, she had difficulty

recognizing the favor. Almost broke from spending all her money to get to Alaska, McNeill pondered her situa­ tion during a typical stretch of Juneau bad weather-47 consecutive rainy days. Most people would have packed it up and left, but not McNeill. Despite her financial and meteoro­ logical hardships, she still thought of herself as a "tough chick from north­ ern Minnesota," so she wasn't about to go crawling back to her family. McNeill took a job slinging fish on a slime line and quickly earned a

SEA, McNeill could apply for the Armin E. Elsaesser III fellowship to fund a creative, independent, mar­ itime project of her choosing. She applied, and they awarded her $4,000 to begin her project. A Visual Project McNeill wanted her photos to be personal and intimate, rather than anthropological or ethnographical, so she asked the Siberian-Yupik people if she could spend an entire summer living with them. She planned on three weeks in Nome, six weeks in

Four generations of Hallie Kingeekuk's family, Savoonga, AK. Photo: L. Saunders McNeill Opposite artwork: L. Saunders McNeil

aged to land a well-paying job work­ ing for a tour company in Juneau, Alaska, but after two months, they fired her. "I look back at that point in my life, and it was absolutely perfect. If it hadn't happened, I'd still be in 18 True North

promotion to biological sampler. She eventually wound up as a deck hand/naturalist on the Liseron, an eco-tourist boat, and she worked part­ time for the Alaska Environmental Lobby. Then McNeill received a flyer

Savoonga and one week each in New Chaplino, Old Chaplino and Provideniya. McNeill intended to take pho­ tographs as templates for formal paintings and drawings. At the end of the project, she would transform her

per­ sonal notebooks, field sketches, pho­ tographs and formal artwork into a traveling exhibition. Everything would eventually become part of a permanent record that could be returned to the villages. McNeill used a minimalist approach to her photos, relying on nothing more than an ultra-violet fil­ ter for outdoor shots. Many of the Elders had cataracts or other visual problems that could be aggravated by an indoor flash, so McNeill rarely used one. The success of her photos caused her original project to change. Other Yupik Elders saw her photos of Savoonga Elders, and they requested McNeill to come to their villages to take their photos. McNeill hopes the "Elder Project" will continue to expand as she gets increasing sup­ port from the Native community. Lalurumka Bakes Cookies

The challenges of the project went way beyond the visual ones. McNeill does not speak Russian or any Native languages. She was completely unprepared for the cultural differ­ ences between Siberian-Yupik people and white people. She realized that she had made assumptions about Native people, just as they had made assumptions about her. "It was often like one of us was lying on the bottom of the ocean look­ ing up, while the other one was float­ ing in the air looking down," she said about most of her early interactions. McNeill got off the plane in Savoonga on a rainy day. She looked at the island surroundings that would be her home for the next six weeks, and she wondered how she would get along without knowing anyone. "As a white woman, an outsider, a non-islander, I figured I'd be lucky if I wound up talking to anybody," she said.

But by the time she walked halfway down the road from the airport, the town had passed on the news of her arrival via CB radio. People came out to meet her, and the questions started rolling. They asked, "Where are you from? What are you doing here? Are you mar­ ried? What does your husband think about you being here? Who are you?" Some people referred to her as "Lalurumka," (laa-loo-rum-kaa) which is the Chuckchi word for "white clan" or "bearded clan." In McNeill's case, the word literally means "white woman." Despite her initial misgivings, ­ McNeill was humbled by everyone's generous hospitality. Strangers invit­ ed her to stay in their homes. They also fed her and made sure she was safe. McNeill tried to help people feel relaxed and comfortable so she could take their pictures. Sometimes she baked chocolate-chip cookies to take with her when meeting some­ one new. She brought a bunch of bal­ loons to give to the Russian children. As another part of her acceptance into the community, McNeill was occasionally subjected to what she

calls "gentle teasing." It was more like a lesson in humili足 ty. Once she asked an Elder if it was OK to take her pic足 ture. She fumbled through the Siberian-Yupik words while all the Elder's adult children teased her: "Who's

Sarah, a Special Education teacher in Cincinnati, recently invited McNeill to speak to her third graders about the Iditarod. McNeill ended up mesmerizing 120 kids for more than an hour and a half with nothing but a couple of hand puppets and a vivid imagination. "Saunie didn't have any props with her, because it was kind of last minute. When she invited some of the children to come up to 'be the dogsled,' everyone raised their hands. She had one student lay on the floor as the sled. She got a student in a wheel chair to be the wheel dog, and then she got a female student to be the lead dog. I was impressed. She covered inclusion, feminism and personal power and she kept the kids fascinated the entire time," Sarah said. Ignorance, Respect and Dancing McNeill made a lot of mistakes, too. She once pointed a camera at someone when she did not have permission. "I got carried away with the beauty of the shot, but before I could push the button the person looked at me through the lens and shook his head," McNeill said. McNeill also learned not to ask Elders too many ques足 tions.

Above: Nelson Alowa, a Savoonga elder. Photo: L. Saunders McNeill. Right: artwork by L. Saunders McNeill

teaching you our language," they asked. "You're too white to speak our language." While most of the teasing was funny and good-natured, McNeill rolled with the punches even when things appeared cruel or blunt. One man in particular kept telling her, "Your butt's too wide," and he called her "trou足 ble." But McNeill knew it wasn't a personal attack. The man was only trying to test her reactions, so she laughed and teased back. McNeill understood that humor played a substantial role in the dynamics of Siberian-Yupik culture. She learned to regard teasing as a way to be included. The important part was that people were talking to her. McNeill's older sister, Sarah, understands McNeill's unique social abilities.

20 True North

foods, like mungtuk (whale blubber), that they planned to eat. He didn't want to feel like he was eating "on stage," and he didn't want to explain himself for her benefit. It was an important lesson for McNeill about respecting personal privacy. Sometimes McNeill found herself in situations where she couldn't help but feel awkward. Two Savoonga Elders had their 74th wedding anniver­ sary party in the town's gym­ nasium. One of the Elders "called" McNeill to the dance floor and McNeill felt hon­ ored and obligated to dance out of respect for her. "There were a bunch of men sitting in a row drum­ ming on traditional skin drums. It was a rhythmic song, with the men singing from their bellies. Yupik dances are complicated, but I tried to repeat some of the motions I had seen with my own ' goofy dance style. People were howling Above: Tim Gologergen, Sr. (Bigaba) with his with laughter and no grandchildren: Rayray and Pinaya (Amos) one came up to dance Photo and artwork: L. Saunders McNeill - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - with me," McNeill said. "You show respect by listening. Being invited into people's They'll share things with you, but it homes and lives is a privilege, takes time," she said. and McNeill already felt a McNeill says her ignorance about strong obligation to everyone Siberian-Yupik culture was the hard­ who participated in the pro­ est issue to overcome. She found her­ ject. But in that moment, she self making presumptions about peo­ intimately understood her ple based on belief systems she didn't relationship to the people who know she had. She reminded herself had graciously allowed her to constantly that she was a guest in share their lives. someone else's world. "Everyone can relate to But McNeill found that most peo­ being that uncomfortable," ple were tolerant and forgiving of her she said. "That's how mistakes because they assumed that Siberian-Yupik people felt she simply didn't know any better. with me, that's how they feel In Nome, a Siberian-Yupik woman when researchers come into named June Martin invited McNeill their world to do the 'fish to live with her. Married to a New bowl' thing. It was good for Yorker, Martin could relate to me. I'm really glad the Elder McNeill's cultural stress of trying to called me out." "walk between two worlds." McNeill McNeill currently works in turned to Martin for advice about an administrative position for how to behave. the Rural Governance One time Martin asked McNeill Commission and the not go to a family dinner. One of the Department of Energy. In the Elders worried that McNeill would future, she will return to the react negatively to the traditional villages with an exhibit to

share her artwork and field sketches. She hopes to expand the Elder Project at the request and permission of Yupik Elders. At the end of the Portrait Project, all project materials will be returned to the participating communities as part of a permanent exhibit. The Portrait Project is a non-profit under­ taking, and McNeill does not receive a salary for her participation. Continuing funds for McNeill's project are provided by the Alaska Humanities Forum (underwritten by the National Endowment for the Humanities) and by the National Park Service Shared Beringian Heritage Program through a coopera­ tive agreement with the Savoonga IRA. Photos were provided courtesy of the Portrait of a Divided Maritime Family Project and the Savoonga Elder Portrait Project. If you would like information about either project, please call 278-1168.

Savoonga Cookies

1 C. brown sugar 1/2 C. white sugar 2 eggs 2 tsp. vanilla 2 tbsp. Coffee brewed (not the grounds) 1 C. Crisco Mix above ingredients in a large bowl until smooth. Then add: 1 tsp. baking soda 1 1/2 C. white flour 1/2 C. oats 12 oz. Semisweet chocolate chips (Raisons are optional) Bake at 350 until golden brown and soft in the middle. Share them with everyone.

Above: The village grafitti artist and his work. New Chaplino, Chukchi Penninsula. Right: Teenager Audrey Kulowiyi, Savoonga, Ak Photo: L. Saunders McNeill

22 True North

The University of Alaska Anchorage serves over 17,500 students with excellence in 115 certificate and degree programs including engineering, nursing, journalism, and business. The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest college in Alaska. To learn more just call, 786-1480 or visit your University of Alaska Anchorage homepage at­ http://www.


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oo~ ~ ~ ARN f [I R U f E // is Ihe policy of rhe University ofAlaska Anchorage IO provide equal education Qnd employment oppummilie.~ and to provide service and beneflls fO all students wi/h-Ow regard 10 race, color, religion, nalionaJ origin, se)..., age, disability or slatus as (I Vielnam era or disabled ,'eteran, mariwl SIaIllS. changes in I1UU;101 Slams and pregnancy or pare1llhood. Š UniversiTy ofAlaska Anchorage, University Advancement

True North 23

dventure in my heart and dol­ lar signs in my eyes, I finally made it to Alaska in the spring of 1995. Walking the docks reinforced my lofty expectations. Veterans in the purse seine fleet regaled the uninitiated with stories: tales of danger, deck-loaded boats overflowing with fish, and sizable bankrolls at season's end. For most fish­ ermen, the bankrolls already had des­ tinies. Some were putting themselves through school. Others wanted to buy some land. Many opted for the Third World lifestyle of an expatriate. I had those dreams and then some, at least five seasons of dreams. Looking back through my journal that summer, I marvel at the tenacity with which my fishing brethren and I held onto those hopes. To this day, fishermen impress me as some of the most hopeful people I've ever met. It didn't matter how bad the day was, there was always better fishing, weather and prices just around the next point. We killed a mess of fish that summer. Unfortunately, the price sank like a fish­ erman dumped overboard in his rain gear and extratuffs. As fall approached, most of the fleet owners and crew swapped dreams for necessities and hoped for better prices and strong runs next season. That type of "dream" season has not materialized for the salmon industry. That type of season may in fact no longer be a possibility for the commer­ cial fleet as it is structured now. This industry, that used to drive the state's economy, is rapidly being replaced by an expanding tourist business. Ironically, the two industries involved both rely on the same resource, salmon. As the commercial fleet's revenues fall, a booming sport fishery is crying out for a larger share of Alaska's salmon runs. This sport fishery fuels the Alaskan tourist industry. One in four tourists incorporates fishing into their Alaskan experience. The management and allocation of this resource is becom­ ing both delicate and controversial. Hopefully, the salmon involved in this struggle will not be the ultimate losers. Since the late eighties, a price war with farmed salmon has slowly been draining the life out of Alaska's commercial fleet. To minimize their losses, the commer­ cial fleet hopes for generous allocations and a large harvest of fish. The monu­ mental growth of Alaska's sport fishery also demands a larger draw on the fish population. The fish population, beyond dodging True North 25


obert de ucia

the various types of gothic torture gear used by the commercial and sport fisherman, also faces threats from environmental nightmares in the seas off Alaska's coast. Between the environment and the economic battles, the abundant stocks of Alaska's wild salmon could be in seri­ ous jeopardy. Alaska's commercial salmon industry has weathered storms before, largely with government assistance. These new crises will

again test policy

makers. By providing a crutch in the

past, the government has set a diffi­

cult precedent to follow. Similar sup­

port and protection in the future may

not be the solution. The managers of

this resource now face very uncom­

fortable questions and difficult deci­


Board of Fisheries hearings

already convene around the state with the undertones of a battle. The commercial and sport armies mobi­ lize their constituents to join in and testify to the hardships of their par­ ticular cause. Often the ability to pro­ vide for a family, save for retirement, or avoid bankruptcy relies on these allocation decisions. As a reSUlt, the frustration and animosity developed between these two fisheries intensi­ fies every season. The sport fishery is an unlikely enemy for the commer­ cial fleet.

Mike Beathers, a guide and member of the sport fish council shares, "The least of a commercial fisherman's problems in Alaska is the sport fish industry." The sport fish harvest of just over 1.1 million fish pales in comparison to recent commercial harvests that have fluctuated between 150 to 215 million fish. Beathers con­ tinues, "It's the market sit­ uation they have to deal with." The market situa­ tion has been the largest enemy for the commercial fleet. They have been feeling a price • crunch from far m e d salmon since 1988. When aquaculture joined the - salmon scene, no one pre­ dicted its pre­ sent effective­ - ness or suc­ cess. Gunner Noreen, a commercial salmon fisher­ man in Douglas, describes the shock, "We never thought they'd get this

big. We were working hard. I would­ n't let my mind go there. It was like the boogieman's gonna come and get you. You don't think about the boogie­ man gettin' you, cause you're too busy. But the boogieman is here now and he's the Norwegian fish farms." Instead of wrestling with market share and profit margins, the com­ mercial fleet remains content vent­ ing their frustrations and grappling with the smaller allocation battles. Commercial interests dominate both the advisory and regulatory boards. The hearings are a comfortable arena of familiar issues for the commercial industry. With their influence, they are able to exert some control over their future. Unfortunately, its only in the immediate future. It is the long run that worries Beathers and the sport industry. The sport fishermen know their issues and concerns fall on some deaf ears at these hearings. Beathers speaks mostly of concern for the resource. He does not want larger bag limits to keep more fish for his clients. He simply wants to make sure that healthy fish runs will continue into the future. Beathers feels that, "Ever since limited entry ... the regulatory process has lost a whole lot of credi­ bility." The people involved, he con­ tinues, "are too worried about their wallet and not the resource." Beathers, who had at one point worked as both a commercial fisher­ man and guide, spoke fondly of an "old guard" of "gentlemanly" com­ mercial fishermen. Prior to limited entry, these gentlemen were involved with the Board of Fisheries. " It did­ n't make a dang bit of difference what the issue was before them," he said. "They'd say, 'Well golly, What's that going to do to the resource?' That was their number one question." These older fishermen remem­ bered the commercial fleet's struggle through the dismal fish runs of the sixties. These memories might have increased their sensitivity to sustain­ ability and harvest levels. Beathers worries that the fishermen who replaced these gentlemen, lack this history as a tangible memory and­ warning. These younger fishermen only witnessed the golden years of the salmon industry in the eighties and early nineties. Beathers admits that some sport fisherman market their services by



the pounds landed, but says most have a gentler attitude toward the resource. He describes the attitude as, "Use it, be careful with it, make a little, maybe catch a lot and throw them back, and take a couple home for the barbie." The actual har­ vest is only one component of their business. "They are here to catch fish, sure, but they are also looking at the mountain and the bear on the beach." British Columbia faces these same issues along with substan­ tially weaker salmon runs. In their allocation process, they now give priority use of their King and Coho salmon to their sport fishery. Beathers sees this as a trend on its way north. He says, even commer­ cial fishermen "know that the real value of king is not in a gillnet at ninety cents a pound." Gunner Noreen is the first to admit that "sport fish and charter businesses bring a lot more dough into town and spread it out fur­ ther." At the same time, however, he feels his industry is largely being forgotten. "You think the state spends money promoting tourism? You better believe it."

Noreen is also quick to mention the govern­ ment money spent by the Norwegians mar­ keting their farmed fish. He knows his fleet needs similar assis­ tance. "They [the state of Alaska] need to help us out here. If we're one of the top indus­ tries, we're one of the legs holding the table up. You can't put all your money in one leg. You need a diverse economy." Noreen sees a future for the commer­ cial industry, but prob­ ably without him. Both he and Beathers agree that less gear in the commercial fleet will be a necessity for a successful future. Less gear, of course, implies fewer boats and nets. But it is also a polite way of saying fewer fishermen. Only a radi­ cal restructuring of the fleet and a focus on stronger market­ ing will insure the survival of the commercial salmon fishermen. After twenty years, Noreen wants out. Though he knows the fleet will

eventually recover, he knows there are years of stormy seas ahead. As if the job was not hard enough, in these lean years, fishermen will have to work even harder. There are few

wholesale buyers of salmon in Alaska. There is only one in Noreen's section of the Southeast. Without competition, these processors are free to buy the commercial fish at the lowest possible price. To combat this, many fishermen, Noreen included, have not only caught the fish, but also cleaned, packed, and marketed them privately just to squeak by and make a living. For Noreen, the importance of his family and long-term financial security made a career change inevitable. It prompted him to return to school to "retrain and retool" him­ self for a career in computers. Even with the possibility of a new career, Noreen says he'll probably fish this year. "It's hard to get out of it now. I

can sell my permit, but I want to make more than a case of beer off of it. I bought my dad's [permit] off of him at

state constitution, the government cannot allow the fishery to become too exclusive. The legal and tax questions

market value, and it ended up being his whole retirement." With permit prices dropping as more fishermen try to leave the industry, Noreen will actu­

ally lose money. Though skeptical of

government involvement and its stipu­

lations, both he and Beathers think

there should be a government buyout

program. It might be the only way

Noreen has the "opportunity to get out,

and get something for it [his permit],"

Noreen said.

In 1997 and 1998, Governor Knowles brought together many peo­ ple involved with commercial salmon to discuss the future of the industry. The strategy session in 1998 asked the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission to research options for fleet consolidation. In December of that year, the Commission had drafted an outline that included different buy out possibilities. The Commission cautioned that any buyout options would raise some constitutionality issues. Under the

of financing such a deal would also need to be hammered out.

producing a high quality product, to an informed and eager market, which in turn will pay for the outstanding qual­ ity of wild Alaskan salmon. The trends are apparent. The fleet, processors, and state, however, need to co-operate to achieve these goals. More than the boogie man fish-farmers, that co-oper­ ation may truly be the largest problem

Nonetheless, the Commission recom­ mends taking the first step. They would like to see the results of an inde­ pendent and professional study that determines new optimum gear levels for the fishery. With the scores of legal questions, along with the many years it will take any decision to work its way through the legislature and courts, this study would be a logical beginning. Without help from the state, fleet consolidation will no doubt continue, only with devastating consequences. People will go bankrupt. There will be fewer fishermen on the seas. In the face of this nasty situation, Noreen retains his humor and suggests, "They need to get Willie Nelson or Waylon up here to do a FishAid or something." Hopefully, when all is said and done, Alaska will have a smaller fleet,

facing the salmon industry. Reinforcing this idea, Noreen adds the disclaimer that he's "just one and if you ask ten different fishermen, you'll get ten different answers, because we're all independent kiss-my-ass kind of people." Some foresight will see the com­ mercial industry through the stormy salmon years. The Alaskan tourism industry, pushing the 1 billion dollar revenue mark, shows no signs of slow­ ing down. For Beathers and others in the sport fishery, these are their gold­ en years. But he warns all to be cau­ tious. "So many people, both sport and commercial fishermen, don't look beyond their bow roller. They don't look at the big picture. They don't look far enough ahead." Only foresight will ensure that there will always be wild Alaskan salmon around the next point.

28 True North








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resor~ on the north very time I walk side of the lake, complete with a or drive around the dance pavilion, beach, and bathing Spenard area, I see houses. something new and more inter­ In 1949 a canal was built between esting than the time before. Did Lake Spenard and the adjacent Lake you know that there's a Hell's Hood. It took nearly a year to com­ Angel's Clubhouse in Spenard? plete, but it is still in operation today. It's a shack or a trailer, or a trail­ Spenard built his place in two er-shack combination just off months. He broke ground in May and Spenard Road, behind the by July the Elk's Club used the beach Gentleman's Retreat, where the for their annual picnic. sign outside reads "Playmates" I met a beautiful, 93-year-old on 36th and Spenard. woman with soft blue eyes who Spenard, it's an area about remembers swimming at the lake as a three or four miles south of girl. Decema Kimball Andreson, is downtown Anchorage. From 1949 the proprietor of Kimball's Dry to 1953 it was actually the city of Spenard, until Anchorage Goods on Fifth Avenue. She came here in 1915 and although she didn't absorbed it. There is a unique charm Decema Kimball Andreson at work in her

about Spenard. On the surface it store, Kimball's Dry Goods.

appears a little bit seedy maybe Photo: Jason Rand.

even trashy, but once you dig in to it, you find that it's really this ery service and taxi service in fantastic little neighborhood full of Anchorage, called City Express. interesting little tidbits, sordid tales Spenard was a little quirky and a lit­ and a good bit of the area's history. tle flamboyant, and just a little wild. It's not racy New Orleans, and it's Any day quickly turned into a not bohemian Haight- Ashbury, but special day when Spenard was it's definitely in the neighborhood, around. Local children would pile into and it's definitely got character. his automobile, some hanging off the One of the area's pioneering sides. While wearing a bright yellow characters was Joe Spenard. In 1916, suit and top hat, Spenard would drive YMCA Spenard Homemaker's Club, 1953. Spenard moved to Anchorage from them through downtown Anchorage. Photo courtesy of Anchorage Archives; Valdez. He was originally from Anyway, he decided to build a Anchorage Museum of History and Art. (#639-1) Ottawa, Canada. He ran a local deli v- homestead out on Spenard Lake, only then it was called know Joe Spenard, she did spend Jeter Lake. Thomas quite a bit of time out at the lake. Andreson's family moved to Jeter was actually the first homestead­ Anchorage when she was nine years er in the area, but he old. Her father opened Kimball's Dry built on federal land Goods and she took it over when he when it wasn't legal died. She's lived in Alaska all her life. to do so. He fought She said, "I arrived in 1915 with that in court to keep his influx of people. I stepped off of the homesteading boat, onto the barge plank and into rights, but ultimate­ six inches of blue clay in my best shoes." ly lost. Andreson and a group of her girl­ Ironically, Spenard came along friends walked from Anchorage, four after the dispute miles through the woods, to Lake ended and the govern­ Spenard for a swim. "1 learned to Opposite page top: Lake Spenard bathing resort, 1918. ment opened the land swim out at that lake," said Andreson. Photograph courtesy of Anchorage Archives; Anchorage Museum of History and Art (#B57.5.153) to homesteaders. He She always went with a chaperone, laid claim to 160 acres because in those days young women Opposite page bottom: Spenard Lake, Photo: Jason Rand. didn't go anywhere alone. of land. Andreson went to the Elk's pic­ Spenard saw Above: Joe Spenard's City Express. Photograph courtesy of Anchorage Archives; Anchorage Museum of History and the land as his person- nics, too. She drove out with a dozen Art. (#639-1) al gold mine. He built a other kids on the back of a truck. She


True North 31

Cash Alaska. The men had to truck in water from Spenard Lake. They stored it underneath the fire足 house in two 80,000 gallon tanks. ____ . Otto said "The 800 pounds of pressure on the hoses actually caused us to blowout more fires than we put out." "I could do more shopping in Spenard thirty years ago than I can today," Beth said. They had a Piggly Wiggly Market, a movie theater, a Montgomery Wards, beauty parlors and several shops and department stores. Otto said that back when they first moved in, Spenard was a utility district. Residents paid taxes only for the barest public amenities. Taxes were much lower than in the neighboring city of Anchorage. The boundary between the Elk's Club Kid's Picnic, 1953. Photo courtesy of Anchorage Archives; Spenard Utility District (SPUD) Anchorage Museum of History and Art. (#665-1) and the City of Anchorage ran said there weren't many cars during house that they bought in '46 on 29th those days, so they all drove out Avenue. Beth said, "Our back yard straight down the middle of together. used to butt up to a potato field. Now Montgomery Wards Department Store. Spenard put everything he had it's a Safeway." Otto said that Montgomery Wards into the resort and one year after he They came up on the Aleutian, built it, the entire thing burned to the out of Seattle in 1945. They had a bit had the first escalator in town ground. Just after the fire, he broke of an argument when they related (Actually everyone I talked to said his leg and had to move to California. their story as to whether the war this; it must have been quite an He said he'd be back, but he [WWIIJ was over then or not. attraction). Otto said, you could get never made it. Spenard died in 1934 Anyway, they got off the boat in on the escalator in Anchorage and get in Sacramento, California, before the Seward and took a train into off in Spenard. He also said that in area really began to boom. Anchorage. Beth reserved a room in order to pay fewer taxes, the owners Between 1935 and 1950, the Anchorage before their arrival, but shifted all their merchandise to the population of Spenard grew from a their boat was late and as a result Spenard side of the store during inventory. mere 3,000 to 47,000. they lost their rooms. Beth said that they have never Otto and Beth Schneider, a couple The town was so crowded that had any real trouble living in I met, were just moving to the area, she and her daughter were forced to Spenard, except that one time with during this growth period. She's 84 stay at a woman's boardinghouse and he's 85. They still live in the same while her husband and sons stayed in the Buckaroo Club. Back then there a bunkhouse. She said "It was very scary being in a new place with young children away from my hus足 band." Otto was one of the first volun足 teer firemen in Spenard. Otto and eight other men with the help of the Lion's club, built the firehouse, the old one that used to Rabbits Alive! Piggly Wiggly Superstore, Spenard, be on Benson and Isaac's Trailer Court, Space 1, Deadman's Curve, 1956. Photo courtesy of Anchorage Archives; Spenard Road. It's a Spenard, 1953. Photo courtesy of Anchorage Archi Anchorage Museum of History and Art,(#2175-3) pawnshop now, Anchorage Museum of History and Art. (659)

32 True North

wasn't anything between their house and the bar and the music funneled right into their home. One night while she was trying to sleep the music just seemed to get louder and louder. So, she got dressed and marched on over there. She told them to turn that music down or she was going to call the police. This went on occasionally, but mostly on the weekends so it was­ n't that bad. The Buckaroo Club paved theway for several more clubs during the 60's and early 70's. The gambling and the whorehouses came in with the pipeline. The men worked so many days on and so many days off, and they spent their off-time in Spenard. Spenard became littered with strip clubs, bars, gambling parlors

So, he said, some­ thing was definitely going on up there. Over the years several customers have dropped in and told Eagley that they used to rent out the upstairs and they would tell him stories about the prostitutes and the big time gamblers. Some of the old hous­ es are still around, and some are still in operation. There is that whole area on West 27th just east of Arctic Boulevard and the ones pushed back from the road on 36th Avenue. Then there's my house, located in Spenard. It's obvious that at one time it was something and whorehous­ else entire­ es. People didn't ly. Smokeexactly rent out pink mir­ buildings for rored glass these activities; covers up they just set up win dow s shop in their on the east homes. They side of the turned their house. The homes into broth­ mil' I' 0 l' e d els and afterg I ass hours clubs com­ ext end s plete with gam­ from the bling, prostitu­ Above: Gwennie's Old Alaska Restaurant. middle of

tion and full bars. Inset: Gwennie's owner Ron Eagley. the wall to

Photos: Jason Rand Ron Eagley, the ceiling,

owner of ~.....-;:"_~ _ _~___________ demarcat­

Gwennies, said that the former own­ ing a bar. However, if there was any ers of his building ran a gambling- speculation, the fuse box clearly whorehouse from the second floor of labels the area "BAR". The bathroom the building for almost 10 is about 14 feet by 7 feet, and the only years. From 1972-1981 it was thing in it is a small sink and a known as the Pagoda. The Jacuzzi size tub that could easily hold owner of the Pagoda ran a tea­ three. The back of the house is an room on the first floor and addition to the original structure and rented out the second floor. it's just a large room with a bathroom The people who rented out the in a separate room, like a closet. It's not like a water closet; it's too small. second floor used it for gam­ It's just a toilet in a closet. bling and for prostitution. Eagley said, "there The prostitutes may not be as were eight cribs [rooms] on prominent as they once were, but the second floor." The ease they are still recognizable. You can with which he said this made see them walking between Benson me cringe. Boulevard and 36th Avenue or up When Eagley tore around Minnesota Avenue and down a wall upstairs, he found Wisconsin Avenue. They don't look the typical prosti­ a second story money drop that emptied out onto the first tutes; they wear Sorrel boots and big floor. jackets over jeans and sweat­ Left: Deadman's Curve, Spenard shirts. They really don't get too Road, 1999. Photo:Jason Rand. dressed up for the job. But, you

True North 33

see the same women out there night after night. I bet they must pace at least ten miles a day out there. My favorite is this woman who has hair the color of coal, a face that looks like it has seen the back end of a shovel and not a tooth in her head. Spenard still has so much to offer. It has the best hole-in-the wall pizza joints. The one on 26th and Spenard is my favorite, Omega Pizza. The bars and strip clubs offer everything from live music to all the fully exposed women you ever wanted to see (or didn't want to see). I like the music and the burg足 ers at Chilkoot Charlie's. Peruse the history that covers every square inch of the place and enjoy a burger and a brew at the same time. Gwennie's is great for break足 fast on Saturday or Sunday and you don't need to wake up early, they serve it all day long. VVhatever your pleasure, Spenard has it all. It all comes with an ear-full of history, or some assorted tales of woe. If nothing else, it's an excellent place to peo足 ple watch. If you stand still long enough in Spenard, something is bound to catch your eye and you'll never look at the area quite the same way again. Last February, as I drove down 32nd Avenue, I noticed a woman with wild, flaming red, curly hair, She was barefoot. She wore shorts and a tank-top and stood on the porch of her snow-covered trailer. In one hand, she held a nearly empty lO-pound bag of apples. In the other hand, she held a half足 eaten apple. The other half had been eaten by the biggest bull moose. I've seen all year. The moose had climbed up her stairs and was just inches from walking through her front door as I arrived. She turned to me and said, "Can you believe this? Someone told me I could get fined for this. Do you think he'll come back every day? I'm gonna have to buy more apples."

Right: Winter Sunset over Spenard. Photo: Jason Rand

34 True North

The following people at the Anchorage Daily News consis足 tently support the UAA Journalism and Public Comminication Department's True North magazine produc足 tion class. without their invalu足 able services, True North would not succeed. Thank You,

Fuller Cowell Larry Walker Wayne Martin Ron Engstrom

True North 35

In the November 3, 1998 election, English became the official language of government in Alaska. The law states that the people of the state of Alaska "declare a com­ pelling interest in promot­ ing, preserving and -strengthening its use...The English language is to be . used by all public agen­ -cies in all governmental -functions and actions." -



- - -In February 1999 Alaska courts combined the cases _into Alakayak and Kritz v. State of Alaska, which -- oppose the law. The above cases blocked the law on March 3, 1999. Native American .--Rights Fund, the ACLU, and attorney Doug Pope are responsible for bring­ ing the cases to trial.



_On September 1, attor­ -neys in Alaska will argue - - too kill the law because it -goes against the free speech clause of the First Amendment for specula­ tive reasons, it conflicts with the Alaska Constitution and it is not . ;"content neutral." 36 True North·

by Cynthia Deike-Sims

'Gearing up' for problems William "w.J." Elliot is one of over 70 percent of Anchorage citizens who voted an official English initiative into law in Alaska in 1998. "Sure, I voted for it," said Elliot, a fishing guide and University of Alaska Anchorage biology major. "I hate it when other people are around you and you can't tell what they're saying. I work at a fishing lodge at Redoubt Bay in the summers, and at the bar, there will be French and German guys, and you know they're making fun of you. I just think it's good to have to speak in English." Anchorage office manag­ er and UAA student Curt Achberger has a view of the American flag from his desk • at the Republican Party on \ Fireweed Boulevard where he ~ works. "The Republican Party supported it. I voted for it," Achberger said. "It makes sense from an economical-fis­ cal perspective, especially in our state. That's the sole rea­ son I did." Susan Fischetti is the offi­ cial spokesperson of Alaskans for a Common Language, the law's sponsor. She says the "proactive" law's purpose is to block the government from Susan Fichetti, spokesperson for Alaskans for a Common Language, printing documents in other stands mfront of her Eagle River home. Photo: Jason Rand

languages like other states have done. Alaska cases will be decided together on Sept. 1, 1999

doesn't print documents in other languages, when arguments will decide the fate of the

she says, but she is concerned because law.

"Alaska is a young state with a large influx of Fischetti says most Natives, even in vil­

people from other countries." Besides, it'll lages, speak English. "Why all of a sudden, bring unity to immigrants and Americans, she now, are they going to go backwards? Some of says. their languages weren't even written. If we Can ethnic unity be achieved just by want to have all the Native people stay in the speaking English? "Definitely," Fischetti villages the rest of their lives, that's fine, but answers. times have changed," she says. Not everyone agrees. Citizens in the state U.S. ENGLISH, the Washington D.C. orga­ of Alaska put the law in limbo in February of nization for Alaskans for a Common 1999 when the Alaska Civil Liberties Union Language, wants to make the law national. and the Native American Rights Fund filed But only five official English laws cleared in Alakayak, v. State of Alaska, and attorney the 1990s, compared to 12 in the 1980s, when Doug Pope filed Kritz v. State of Alaska. The the U.S. ENGLISH movement began. In 1998, the Arizona Supreme Court overturned True North 37

'6 ,......



Arizona's official English amend­ "Imagine those who come over here ment. In 1988, Utah's amendment was and have to start paying rent," Lema rejected. By court order, Alabama says. removed their English-only driver's It takes more than a language to license policy in 1998. succeed in America; Lema explains: The oft-quoted U.S. Supreme Court case against official English from 1923, Meyer v. Nebraska, states: "The Constitution extends to all, to those who speak other languages as well as to those born with English on the tongue." Before the state enacts the law in Alaska, judges will decide if "gearing up for problems" is a legitimate reason to limit certain kinds UAA student William "W.J." Elliot of language. Photo: Cynthia Deike-Sims -------------------Learning the Language "You put a lot of information in our brains, but it takes us years to be Susan Fischetti admits she does­ able to speak it. Also, when we have n't know anyone personally who has an accent, people look at us in a bad immigrated to the U.S. or struggled way. It is frustrating for us. Picture to learn English as a second language, yourself in a country where there is nor does she know how many more in your head than you can say. Alaskans this law will effect. You have to have a very strong per­ "Do we have any idea how many sonality to fight that." people who don't know English-or Alaska Native opposition anybody that knows their language­ that needs help? Where are they?" She asks. Alaskans Against English Only This concerns Aura Lema, an fought the law with members

become 'like California' by producing documents in other languages was unfounded. She says misinformation about the offering of California dri­ ver's licenses in different languages led voters to believe it. The California legislature created the pol­ icy; people didn't demand it, as U.S. ENGLISH would have Alaskans believe, she says. "There was also misinformation that the Federal American Languages Act protected Native Alaskans, but federal courts (in Hawaii) have recently held twice that the statute offers no federal protec­ tion for languages," Kendall-Miller said. A 1998 poll of Alaskans showing a 79 percent approval for official English also said Native Languages would be protected. Kendall-Miller is concerned the law could curb Native languages in half of the 227 rural villages that are organized as cities. Alaskans for a Common Language sued Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer for removing a statement from the ballot summary that said basically, "the Federal Native Languages Act protects Native languages and this initiative doesn't conflict with the act." The group lost. "Other groups opposed to the ini­

"I just think it's

good to have to speak in English"

Anchorage resident from Colombia, who works at a homeless program with, among others, Hispanic immi­ grants. Lema began learning English during her first five years in America in New York and has been in Alaska for six years. Currently attending English classes part time at the University of Alaska Anchorage, she also spends time tutoring English to other immigrants. "Many Anchorage Hispanics sup­ ported English Only," Lema said. "What they saw on TV gave them lit­ tle reason to think the legislation would effect them, but it does." Learning English is not as simple as just taking a few classes, she says. "I took classes many times. There are many economic inconve­ niences. It took more than five years to become proficient. It is not as sim­ ple as it sounds," she says. Lema studied at the university and washed dishes, staying in her brother's apartment rent-free. 38 True North

Richard Benavides, a Hispanic UAA tiative wanted the summary to say graduate now working for the Alaska that it would illegally constrain peo­ Legislature, and Heather Kendall­ ple from speaking their language. I Miller, an Athabaskan attorney for was getting it from both sides," the Native American Rights Fund. Ulmer said. They presented their side through Before the issue went on the bal­ the media, but they say misinforma­ lot, the Attorney General concluded tion from A 1ask an s Heather Kendall-Miller, Native American Rights Fund attorney. shown for a infront of her office in downtown Anchorage. Photo: Cynthia Deike-Sims Common Language and U.S. ENGLISH and less money put their cause at a disad­ vantage. Kendall­ Miller says Alaskans' fear that their state w 0 u 1 d

Dalee Sambo Dorough, Director of the Indian Law Center and activist for indigenous peoples.

that it "raises constitutional issues in the areas of freedom of speech, due process of law, and equal protection of the law." But it passed into law, anyway. Dalee Sambo Dorough, an Inupiat and the executive director of the

or forced language choices," Dorough says. "But it's deeper than just lan­ guage," she says. "Rural Natives see everyone else as immigrants. She says the effect of the initia­ tive is to force people to make a deci­ sion

"It takes more than a 1anguage


Indian Law Resource Center in Anchorage, says Alaska Natives have much more political power in the fight against English laws than immigrant or Hispanic groups in Alaska. She says Natives might belong to the only state in which aboriginal peo­ pIes are powerful enough to fight English only laws and win. Dorough, who has spoken before the United Nations consistently for 17 years, says UN covenants give indigenous peoples the right to use their languages, but laws, like English only, go against those covenants. "The United Nations' International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 'ensures that distinct communities are free from imposed Right: Dr. Theodore Kassier, Dean of the College of Arts and Science at UAA. Photo: Jason Rand

really unwarranted," Dorough says. In December 1998 and January 1999, three Alaskan villages rejected official English. Tuntutuliak and Kwilligillingok adopted Yup'ik. Chilkat Indian Village declared that would fight against attempts "to remove, demote our language or the genocide of ~~~e~~nguage and our

succeed in America"

about the language that comes first in their communities. "It is the colonial attitude that 'our way is the only way' and that 'they should be like us.' It creates political and social tensions that are

He a the r • Kendall-Miller has fought the Supreme Court once before for Native rights, and she now gears up to do it again, if necessary. As lead attorney for the 27 plaintiffs in the case against official English, continued on page 46

by Cynthia Deike-Sims Promptly at 8:30 a.m., a woman in blue slacks and a bur­ gundy, long-sleeved shirt begins writing energetically on a large marker board. An older Asian man stands from his desk in the middle of the room and asks, "Teacher, teacher, yesterday have paper?" "Yes, I have the paper from yesterday," she answers. This is one of many questions instructor Christy Smith will answer today. Light yellow walls with maps on them surround 27 desks. By 9:30 a.m., Fifteen people have filtered into the upstairs classroom on busy Minnesota Drive. This is the Adult Learning Center. It offers beginning English classes for the thousands of English as a Second Language (ESL) students in Anchorage. The good news is that it's free. The bad? Like most ESL classes in America, many students wait several months for their turn. There simply are not enough people who teach ESL in Anchorage to keep up with the demands for English instruction. New York turned its waiting list into a lottery because waiting lists became redundant. The waiting list for free ESL classes at the Adult Learning Center, affiliated with the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), spans four pages and averages 100 people with only three ESL teachers and 40 people to a class. The Anchorage Literacy Project has free classes, with a wait list averaging 40 people, and a six-month wait for in-home tutoring. Most of its teachers are volunteers. UAA has no waiting list for ESL classes. Its classes cost hundreds of dollars each and few non-English speakers can afford them. Alaskans for a Common Language, the group behind November's official English law, intended the law to be an 'incentive' to get people to learn English faster. Where people will do this is unclear. As it is, there

Top: ESL instructor Tara Palmer listens to student Anna Velazquez. Center: Anna Velazquez Bottom: Dr. Conny Katasse answers student Albertina Valerio's question Photos: Jason Rand

40 True North

are not enough ESL instruc­ tors to teach English to the hundreds of people of var­ ied languages who need it. The official English law, currently under constitu­ tional challenge, does not make provisions for the increasing demands the law will place on teachers of ESL. The three biggest ethnic groups at the Adult learn­ ing Center are Hispanic, Asian, and Russian. Some immigrants are able to take another road to English by attending the University of Alaska Anchorage. In UAA's Preparatory English Class, only 10 people, the bare minimum enrollment, are registered instructor Tara Palmer. The nationalities represented in this UAA class are Georgian (former USSR), Peruvian, German, Mexican, Dominican Republic, and Thai. Palmer, an energetic 26-year­ old in jeans, groups people together and says, "Do you guys promise to speak English?" Palmer hands out fluorescent flash cards with questions on them. "We'll work on this while we wait for the others," she says. As groups form, all class members crowd to one side of • the room. The youngest Hispanic girl, Anna Valazquez, has a fluid accent that flows through the consonants in the words. Although it is clear that she understands a paragraph as she reads it aloud, the sound, for the most part is mud­ dIed. Another Spanish-speaking woman, Albertina Valerio, cups her hands together and brings them up by her mouth. She waits for the question as her eyes move from one to another of the group's members. Her eyes only occasionally spark recognition from the words the Russian woman in her group speaks. Dr. Conny Katasse is the director of UAA's ESL pro­ gram. She says that in the case of language learning, some people have a "gift" and learn easily while others have great difficulties. "For example, while others may be good at art, others are not, no matter how hard they try." Palmer, a certified ESL instructor currently working on a master's in adult education, opposes English initia­ tives. "The law negatively effects minorities who are cit­ izens," Palmer says. "All the surveys show that there is a high initiative to learn English. The real carrot would be more free English classes."

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beaded capes, fringed leather shoes and feathered headdresses. ohn Bergamaschi Jr. will The dancers flowed out onto the spend four to 10. days in the wooden floor, their bodies moved wilderness, ram or sun­ with the drumbeat. shine, starving himself of water, Feet pounded, hands moved food, sleep and human contact. He and some dancers held clan sticks plans to head up a mountain on an and drums that were painted and Alaskan summer day with only a beaded. They sang chants along small bag of basic provisions in with the insistent drumbeat that hand. He wants to spend the days could have moved anyone to join listening and seeking knowledge, in. The drum represented the direction and answers to questions heartbeat, according to that he has about life. Bergamaschi."I never know what What he will do is called a I'll do when I get on stage until "vision quest," one aspect of his I'm right in that moment and it's Native faith. By depriving himself then that I find it within myself, in of the external world, he can be my heart," Bergamaschi said. more receptive to his own spirit Bergamaschi remembers and soul. learning to dance with his group. To him it is practicing his It was difficult for him. The group ...",....._~ faith. But the outcome promises went to a dancing conference more. He saves his culture by once where he saw Tsimshian relearning traditions and beliefs dancers for the first time. He felt that his great grandparents lost. his own genetic rhythm. He found L.. ~=--~ ~-:--:-:":",,,:;::-::, After years of being told to that Above: John Bergamaschi dances during a Native deny themselves of their culture, Tsimshian dancing came easi- potluck at the Fairview Recreational Center, their heritage and their natural er to him than Tlingit-Haida. He ...:p~h:.:.:o:.:t.:.o:....:s=-t:..::e,:.p.:..:h:....an_i_e...,.Tr---:ip...:p_--:_ spirituality, many Native people says it was in his genes and came out onto the floor to dance. want to reclaim their Nativeness. naturally. Family is very important in y This is one man's journe:................... Bergamaschi is a Native faith; it holds the power to across generations to h a r d - w 0 r kin g , spread the knowledge about her­ reclaim what was devoted family itage and spirituality, Bergamaschi lost many years man. He drives says. Relatives have helped him in ago. a nice Ford his quest to learn and reclaim Nat i v e r n i n i van, Native faith, traditions

works at a About four years ago, like danc­ local ware­ Bergamaschi's cousin took him to a i n g

house and drum making class at Alaska sin gin g,

plays bas­ Pacific University. In a moving car v i n g

k e t ball ceremony, the class burned sage and paint­ when he and blessed the drums, Before he ing are

can. His took the class, he read a book on vital, com­ w i f e , Native Spirituality, In his first mon com­ Karen, is a attempts to reclaim his Native ponents of

b Ion d - identity, he began to feel and think Native faith.

haired, blue- differently, Things at work became Bergamaschi,

eyed local hair­ easier. Instead of getting angry he a Tsimshian

stylist. They taught himself to sit under a tree from Fairbanks,

have a son who or on a rock and let his feelings dances with a Tlingit-

plays soccer and a vent away. He says it is the positive Haida group of about 15

daughter who shines at talent energies from things like trees and people who also practice Native shows. They take family vacations rocks which help pull negative spirituality.

and have barbecues in the back­ forces away. At a Native potluck, his group yard on nice summer days. About a year after he began his came, dressed in red and black "There's my daddy," his nine­ journey, his father died, He claims year-old daughter, Taryn, says that his newly learned knowledge Above: Artwork, Everlasting Love, by with prJ'd e, as s h e sees h'1m com e made deall'ng wl'th the death eaSl'er. Kevin Stevenson. °

by Step h 3nle


42 True North

As a child, Bergamaschi's father was sent to a boarding school in Washington State, completely isolated from his culture and taken away in •

Spirit gave each race a responsibility; the red race having knowledge of the earth, the yellow race being of sky and advanced knowledge, the black •

Cook Inlet Tribal Council. She says that prayers and healing songs can be passed down by elders to help a youth's well-being. When children take part in reclaiming their Native heritage they preserve Native faith for future gener­

relIgIon and Native ~~slem~~~;~p~tSS~o;~f ai th both believe humans Christian

have a ations.

•• I . Bergamaschi's SpIrIt and a sou. But only In children know about their herNative faith other things like animals, plants and

time, it common

was for

h Iand h Sa pl· r 1·. t attend itage. When his children t ea Iso ave a dance perfor­

Native children to be sent to schools in the states as part of the conversion to a "white man's" way of life. When missionaries came to Alaska, they tried to convert Alaskan Natives from Native faith to the practices of Christianity. Christian religion and Native faith both believe humans have a spirit and a soul. But only in Native faith other things like animals, plants and the land also have a spirit, according to Bergamaschi. Conversion was a long hard process, but the missionaries succeeded. Now many people, like Bergamaschi, have no elders in their family who practice the original ways of Native faith. Most had been converted leaving subse­ quent generations lit­ tle chance to relearn something that had been wiped away. Native spirituality can easily mesh with west­ ern religion. Some bridge the gap between native tradi­ tions and dominant American culture by blending a deep devo­ tion to Christianity with Native spirituali­ ty. Bergamaschi points out that in the Bible, Noah sends out a dove to find vegeta­ tion and a raven to find dry land. This coin­ cides with the Native belief that the raven demonstrated the land's ability to sustain life. Bergamachi believes that the Great

being of water teachings and the white being of fire teachings. He concludes that the saving of Native culture and faith concerns all mankind because every race has knowledge to share that is needed by all. Relearning tradition is the most effective way for native culture to be reclaimed. It is the education of the youth and the knowledge of the elders that will make native traditions become a more integral part of people's lives. Identity, wellness and self-worth can be taught through Native cultural education and the learning of tradi­ tions, according to Cea Nickly, a cul­ tural education specialist for the

mance and the ddncers call out for the Tsimshian in the audi­ ence to come join, the kids get up, stomp their feet and move their hands. Seeing this means something. It means that Bergamaschi has been successful, so far, in reclaiming his past and reviving his present cul­ ture. Bergamaschi's children are learning and so is he. Everyday is an opportunity for him to teach and to learn. For now, dancing and the vision quest will aLow him to reclaim his Native Faith. -----------------­ At Home. J. V. shows mom, Karen, his new Nintendo game.

Photo by Jason Rand

by Fryderyk Frontier asers flash and fog enshrouds about 100 college students reveling in each other's sweat and spirits as they grind to the music of Russian and American hip-hop and electronica.


Elana Farkas, owner of "Russian From A to with fellow Slavs in her store last March.

Russian is the language spoken at the quasi-monthly Rave-like dance par­ ties at the Academie De Danse. GQ-esque businessmen in fur­ hats and black leather coats smoke outside accompanied by women in high-heels and micro-miniskirts who appear undaunted by the swirling Arctic winds. No, this is not a college bash in the Russian Far East, but a glimpse of the growing Russian com­ munity in Anchorage. Limited amenities, sporadic pay, and political instability in the former superpower have increased the num­ ber of Russians emigrating to the United States. Alaska's proximity to Russia makes it the obvious reloca­ tion choice for those seeking econom­ ic and educational betterment. "I'll follow the money. Wherever I can make it, I'll be there," said 44 True North

University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) finance senior Peter Varnavski. He came from Petropavlosk-Kamchatski six years ago to dodge a draft. Eighty-three out of UAA's 190

ernments send deserving students to Alaska instead of Seattle because they pay resident tuition here and because Alaska more closely resem­ bles their regions' environment, cli­ mate, economy, and culture. Russians believe American diplomas are more prestigious, even though their high schools teach the equivalent of lower division American university courses. Some students come from areas not cov­ ered by the Russian Far East's in-state tuition arrangement , • with Alaska. Since political science sophomore Ilona Demenina is from Moscow, she pays over $5,000 per semester at UAA. "Studying abroad is worth it for me even though I have to struggle. My parents' bank has forbidden hard-cur­ rency withdrawals. I'm grateful for scholarships," Demenina said. In 1991, the Z", discusses politics and the bombing campaign in Belgrade N o r thern Photo by Jason Rand International international students are Russian. University in Magadan had one com­ Most study business. This sum­ puter. They did everything by hand, mer, UAA will add an additional including grades. Now they even exchange program by hosting 23 stu­ have e-mail, faxes, and a copy dents from the Far Eastern State machine kept behind locked doors. "In '92, education majors didn't Transportation University in Khabarovsk. believe they would ever see photo­ The majority of these students copied transparencies, portable are here on exchange programs. phones, laptops. [But,] this is a coun­ Upon graduation, they will have to try where literacy levels are better work for their regional governments than ours. The moment they get tech­ for three years. Average yearly nology, they learn it quickly," said Dr. tuition in the Russian Far East is Gretchen Bersch, Developmental Education professor and co-organizer $3,000. It doubles in Moscow. Whereas communist Russia once of the relief effort Operation subsidized higher education for Magadan. everyone, capitalist Russia assists Opportunities are precisely why only the brightest 10 percent. Ilona Demenina came to UAA. "I gave However, many "free" universities in up a full scholarship to Moscow Russia unofficially require entrance University, one of Russia's best, to come here. I knew I'd make more bribes. Russian Far East regional gov­ professional contacts here,"

Demenina said. Russian professionals also come to Alaska for instruction. Most visit UAA since it houses the American Russian Center (ARC). Founded in 1992, ARC's one Alaskan and four Russian Far East locations have pro­ moted capitalism and democracy by training individuals to open or improve small businesses. So far, over 19,000 professionals and stu­ dents have passed through the cen­ ter's seminars and courses. "We want them to go back to Russia as agents of change. We don't tell them to impose the American sys­ tem, but to work out their own ver­ sion of capitalism. Russians tend to be unwilling to accept direction from abroad," said Russ Howell, the cen­ ter's director. However, the Russian Far East's business sector values guidance from Alaska. US Senator Frank Murkowski commends the cen­ ter's efforts. "Russia is a huge untapped mar­ ket. Although they do have problems, it is in our own best interests to pro­ mote trade between our two coun­ tries. First, this creates closer ties between us, and second, it gives our companies a foothold in this poten­ tially lucrative market," Murkowski wrote in an e-mailed response. Students and immigrants re-cre­ ate a Russian atmosphere in

Susan Kalina.

Anchorage through entertainment, commerce, and food. UAA's Russian Club organizes movies and games. Anchorage's Russian stores are hubs that link the local Russian communi­ ty. Elena Farkas, owner of Spenard's "Russian from A to Z," said people sit and talk in her store for hours, dis­ cussing Russia's plight. Many, like Boris Krasnopolski, want Russia to balance socialism and democracy. "The reforms came too fast. National properties were delivered to friends of politicians. Big business leaders do not think for the future, just for personal profit. Now, 90 per­ cent of industry is bankrupt," said Krasnopolski, Magadan exchange student advisor and American Russian Center coordinator. The "Russian Village" grocery store and restaurant uses its univer­ sity area location to tempt homesick palates with imported Slavic foods. Although Russian Village also sells and rents movies, music and books, "Russian from A to Z" has a larger selection. A to Z also publishes "Contact," a Russian language month­ ly newsletter. The newsletter is a good source for locating Russian artists, musicians, and scientific lec­ tures. "We do a lot for the kids. They are the future," Farkas said, referring to the language and art classes adver-

Photo: Jason Rand

The onion-domes of Saint Innocent's Orthodox Cathedral. sprout from an East Anchorage ridge Photo: Freyderyk Frontier

tised in the newsletter. A to Z hosts potlucks the last Saturday evening of every month. Attendees span in age from toddlers to the elderly. If you go, be prepared to drink vodka, eat herring, sing and dirty-dance. Some members of Anchorage's ever-changing Russian population sing in Slavonic at Orthodox churches. Archpriest Nicalaus Molodyko­ Harris caters to his multi-ethnic flock at St. Innocent's Orthodox Cathedral with bilingual texts and sermons. He is pleased by the over two-century influence Orthodoxy has had on Alaskans. Some Alaskans value the Russian presence as a learning opportunity. While enrollment in Russian pro­ grams declines nationally, UAA's has remained stable. Four of the eight students who graduated with a lan­ guage degree in 1998 specialized in Russian. About 100 students take Russian language courses at UAA. According to Dr. Susan Kalina, UAA's only full-time Russian instructor, people study Russian to enhance career opportunities, to interact with another culture and to connect with their immigrant ancestry. "We [even] have returning students in their 60's continued on page 46

True North 45

From Little Russia

and 70's taking it [Russian] for fun," Kalina adds. Languages major, Patrick Ryan, took advantage of UANs exchange pro­ gram to enhance his Russian language skills. He spent a semester in Magadan at the International University of the North.

"Russians are always ready to open their house to you; feed you. They're insulted when you say you're full. People are so impressed that you are an American and you're there. They want to talk to you. Once, two kids asked me to translate Nirvana

lyrics; they don't even make sense in English," Ryan said. Ryan's experi­ ences helped him fit in with Anchorage's Russian community. As long as the situation in Russia deteriorates, Anchorage's Russian population will continue to grow.

meaningful and useful interaction in English," he says. "It takes about seven years for a school-age person to get their next language, The law is supposed to only apply to printing and reading government docu­ ments, but O'Neil says that's where the problem arises. "As for government documents: most native speakers of English can't read tax­ filing instructions," he says. At the University of Alaska, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Theodore L. Kassier, was previously a pro­ fessor of Spanish and chair of the depart­ ment of languages at UAA. "Drafters of the law know nothing about English education, and they corne from a nar­ row, uninformed perspective," Kassier says. Kassier disagrees with the propo­ nents' claim the law will save money. "The cost of printing ballots or rules and regulations in languages other than English does not substantially exceed the

cost of pnntmg those items in English itself. You've got some initial translation costs that are kind of a one-time cost that are really immaterial in the context of a state budget," he says. "It does strike me as directed against minorities and directed against those whose native language or first language or heritage language is used. If you look at the map of 'official English states,' Alaska, California and Hawaii are anom­ alies in that most of the states with the law have limited non-English populations." Hawaii actually has two official lan­ guages-Native Hawaiian and English. This means that the only states that have substantial non-English speaking popula­ tions and have agreed to become official English are Alaska and California. Kassier says that because English is so prevalent in the U.S. and the world, declar­ ing English as the official language "seems like passing a law to declare that air or oxy­ gen is the official respiratory gas."

From Language War she is confident about the future out­ come of the case. "I don't think this is a case that will lose," Miller said. Educator's opinions Some of the strongest opposition to 'official English' nationwide has been from educators. Wayne O'Neil, professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a specialist in second language acquisition, linguistics and education. "The situation in Alaska does look like it is the beginning of a language war, and of course, this is what people will do to protect their language and terrain," O'Neil said. "U.S. English says generations of immigrants got their English without spe­ cial provisions being made for them. Well, the truth is that previous generations didn't get English so neatly: they got it quite unevenly: some did, some didn't, and some not so well. And it was painful," O'Neil said. "Language learning requires much

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April 27, 1999 Note from the Editor-In-Chief, Larry Campbell: It is very near to deadline as I write this. Now I think my students finally appreciate what I told them more than three months ago when they started this class to produce True North: "Working on this magazine will be one of the most exhilarating, painful, exasperating, exciting, awesome undertakings of your lives," I told them. "You will be exhausted at the end of it. Before it is over, you will have laughed, cried, yelled and hugged each other. This will be one of the most challenging - no, one of the most difficult classes in your educational career. You will, sometime this semester, feel like quitting. You will, sometime this semester, feel like you've taken on more than you could handle. At some time during the course of this semester, you will all wonder why you ever took this class. And, hopefully, at the end of the semester, you will be amazed at what you've accomplished ...Are you ready?" Since then, everything I said to them has come true. Tonight they are beginning to realize that. This evenIng, they are all huddled together in the computer graphics lab in the UAA Department of Journalism and Public Communications, putting the final touches on the magazine. The pages are almost ready to go to the printer. The stories have been researched, written and rewritten; edited, torn apart and researched, written and edited again. They sold as many ads as they could to cover the printing costs, but just barely. Pretty good for a group of students who've never sold an ad in their lives before. Pretty good for a group of students who've never worked together before, never built a magazine from scratch before, never seen each other scared before, never negotiated and compromised and been disappointed at their own individual shortcomings, yet thrilled at their own collective cre足 ativity before. , That's how difficult JPC 401 Magazine Production is. But as you peruse these pages, yo~ should also see how rewarding it can be. In the past couple of weeks, as deadlines creeped closer and closer, these students put in more hours than most students devote to a class in an entire semester. They spent long nights, in the writing lab laying out pages. Others edited the stories of their fellow classmates. Some just stuck around to provide moral support and run for coffee. They began to work as a team. In 15 weeks, these nine students learned how to produce a magazine, from concept to dis足 tribution. Few in the class had even been published before now. Some are hoping to work in the business someday. A couple of them took the class just for the experience. I hope they all got what they were looking for. It's moments like this evening, knowing that my students have worked hard and are within reach of the finish line, that a teacher always strives fOr ina class. I've done all I can; now they must finish the race. I think they will. If you are reading this, then we know who won. Thanks, gang. You folks are excellent. 48 True North

. ..,: :, _.,-------------足


This magazine would not have been possible without the help from a select group of businesses, organizations and individuals. To those, the staff of True North would like to extend a heartfelt thanks. We would also like to recognize our primary supporters:

Anchorage Daily News

Mactel Communications

Thanks to our advertisers:

Spinnell Homes

Mac Tel

First National Bank

Saturn of Anchorage

ATU Bombeck

UAA Chancellor's Office

UAA College of Arts and Sciences

UAA Consortium Libtary

Community and Tech Colleges

Glacier Brewhouse

Special Olympics Alaska

Wilma Williams

Additional thanks to the following members ofthe UAA Journalism and Public Communications Department who contributed their time and sage advice during our project:

Edgar Blatchford

Roberta Weaver

Larry Campbell

Carole Rich

Larry Pearson


, .24 Getting Schooled in Salmon .40 Anchorage's Three Avenues to English English as a .4 Dr. Natural .9 Vara Allen-Jones VAA's new Assistan...

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