Thursday, 9 October 2008

The river has two eyes.

A newspaper in Saginaw Michigan, appro nothing, wrote fairly well about what Eek (a village in the Y-K) is like. It's not a perfect story, but not bad for a newspaper about 7,000 miles away. Arctic Economics makes a good point, that in the story focuses on the subsistence economy, with little focus on the cash economy that these days has to be there to support the subsistence economy. For good or for ill, the subsistence lifestyle has got tied up to things that require money. Hunting isn't cash-free anymore.

The BIA did lots of things wrong. I think there's more than a few books out there on `how the BIA ruined the world,` but to that list I'd add that they, and the ANCSA, forced a bunch of Alaska Natives thoroughly into cash economies without any support for the fledgling economies. If you're going to change over spending money for things as an important part of your lively hood, you better darn well have money, eh? This never happened.

Walkie asked me, not long ago, 'bout my attitude towards the fate of Yugcetun, and about what I thought could be done to protect the language and culture. My answer to the latter was a very quick `Jobs!` Even people in nowhere-Mongolia need jobs, if they're buying stuff. A few high paying jobs, like IT, or other sorts of work that it doesn't matter where you do it, and you don't just support a single family, but the money will slosh through the village. Sort of like it does on the state level when you spend locally.

There's pretty much only one way the cash economy would go at this point, and that's if there's a total collapse of the US. Which isn't good. Baring that, without the right fiscal inputs, it'll kill villages. Right now a lot of the lower parts of the YK primarily get their money through commercial fishing permits. But the margin on these jobs is not high enough to really allow other people in the village to continue to engage in subsistence activities when times are bad like this, so they emigrate to Anchoragua. The problem is money isn't letting them decide to continue living as they want. That hurts the long term survival of both the language and the culture more than satellite TV ever could or will.

Oh, hey, you know that your thinking is starting to get warped when you don't think Eek is especially remote, or isolated.

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