The Dahl Memorial Clinic invites the public to their Yuletide Open House Wednesday December 11th...
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Mt. Edgecumbe High School student Shanelle Afcan delivered a powerful commentary last week on Sitka’s KCAW Raven Radio about the disappearance of her Alaska Native culture.
Shanelle is a member of the Mount Edgecumbe Radio Club, which won a Spirit of Youth award last year in the category of Technology & Media.
The club hosts a youth-led, hour-long monthly radio show on the local public radio station. The show connects the Sitka community to the student community by breaking down youth stereotypes.
I’m Shanelle Afcan.
Alaska leads the nation for drinking and suicides per capita. Many have theories as to why Alaskans drink to get drunk, such as: “The Natives aren’t accustomed to it, so they get out of control.” Yet when we peruse songs, movies, history, and even the everyday household, the majority of severe drinking problems are seen as stemming from a loss, as of a loved one, as clearly sung in Brad Paisley’s Whiskey Lullaby in which the main character “put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger in order to drink away her memory.”
The same feeling of loss creates the alcoholism epidemic in Alaskan communities. After Sheldon Jackson’s report to Congress that the Natives needed to be civilized, children as young as the age of five, who had never previously left their villages, were forcibly taken to boarding schools. One man now reaching elder status recounts:
I was eight years old and my brother was six when we were sent away to the Wrangell Institute boarding school in the fall of 1955. Boarding school taught me that everything I knew about my culture, language, and world view were evil, and must be pushed away.
My own grandparents were among the generation to face this abuse. Of the horrors that they were most willing to talk about was their inability to speak a word of their Native tongue inside or outside of the classroom, lest they face severe punishment. They came back to their village after graduation so ashamed of their culture that they never taught my parents Yup’ik, and in turn I did not learn, along with the rest of my generation. Moreover, when the boarding school generation became parents, they could only parent what they knew in their childhood days, and what they knew of was cruel violence. Many, after losing so much became alcoholic.
In modern education, we no longer punish children, nor do we actively try to purge their culture. But the void that was created not long ago still goes unaddressed. I am living proof. As I was growing up I believed whole-heartedly in the power of education. And since the system we have today does not prepare students for hunting, fishing, gathering, or conversing with an elder in their native language to gain wisdom, I do not have any of these skills. Instead, I know how to get a job. But jobs are scarce in rural areas. Therefore, any student like myself who commits herself to her school work is ultimately committing himself or hersellf to leaving their hometown, lifestyle, culture, and family. The student who partially commits to the traditional way of life, and partially to school is inadequate in both, and will usually end up in limbo, in a pit of inability to support themselves either in their homes or in the cities.
This is our void. A void powerful enough to put many people at the bottom of a bucket.
The Alaska suicide and alcohol epidemic stems from assimilation. And it’s time for change.
I attend Mt. Edgecumbe High School — the same boarding school both my grandfathers were forced to attend in their youth. Needless to say, assimilation is a great success. But in that success, a tremendous loss remains for my people and for myself. A long time ago our cultures were taken away, and in their place were left alcohol, suicide, disconnection.
The challenge for us all today is to take away such corrosions, and in their places leave culture.
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It's Day 4 of the White House's new messaging push for the Affordable Care Act. Today the goal is to tell the stories of people with pre-existing conditions who are now entitled to coverage under the new health care law.One such story comes from within the White House.
A round is sent airborne as paratroopers of Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division fire 105mm howitzers during a fire training exercise at the Malemute Drop Zone on Tuesday, Dec. 3, on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. A scheduled heavy equipment airborne drop was canceled due to high-altitude winds, but the fire exercise took place as planned. Four howitzers were employed, lobbing rounds onto the Eagle River Flats range.
The release of the state’s Fall 2013 Revenue Forecast Wednesday prompted quick interpretations from both sides of the More Alaska Production Act and oil tax debate.
Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, pointed to a projected $10 billion increase in companies’ investment in Alaska oil production as a sign of the hotly contested SB21 beginning to stem the decline of oil production on the North Slope over the long-term.
China's leaders hope to be able to fight and win two regional conflicts by 2020, according to the Pentagon in a report that highlights the East China Sea, site of recent tensions with the U.S. and Japan. The showdown over air space is the latest example of what the Pentagon sees as a resurgent Chinese military.
Probably the best feature of the retooled HealthCare.gov website is that you can actually use it. People are now able to get a customized list of plans and prices, and click through to see an insurer's provider directory. Still, better though it is, it's clearly not 100 percent.
The notoriously short night's sleep that many tired adolescents get isn't all about surging hormones and too much homework, according to a sociologist who looked at shifting sleep patterns from ages 12 to 15. Teens who report good relationships with family and schoolmates tend to sleep better.
Having trouble wrapping your head around southern Europe's staggering unemployment problem? This week, Ikea advertised for 400 jobs in a new megastore on Spain's Mediterranean coast. It got more than 20,000 online applicants in 48 hours, before the retailer's computer servers crashed.
McGee could be the face of a bleak holiday to come for some Southeast dogs and cats.
The overweight, friendly, 10-year-old Australian Shepherd was surrendered by owners who could no longer care for him. He’s in the care of the Ketchikan Humane Society, which put him on a diet and plans to neuter him before he’s put up for adoption.
As a likable, active, housebroken purebred, he’s got a good shot at eventually finding a home.
But in the meantime, he and other humane society dogs are in need of some temporary housing over the holidays.
Before they’re adopted, most society pets spend time in what’s called a foster home. They’re socialized, house- and kennel-trained, and treated for any illnesses, if there’s a need.
“The Ketchikan Humane Society tries to foster our rescues in a home environment as much as possible,” says Board President Gretchen Moore. “So when we place an animal, a cat or a dog or a macaw or a rabbit or whatever we have, that animal’s ready to slide seamlessly into a family home and be part of a family.”
(Scroll down for links to Southeast shelters, animal control offices and rescue groups.)
But right now, there’s a shortage.
Another society board member, Suzan Thompson, runs a kennel and pet-supplies shop called Groomingdales Pet Resort. She cares for a number of the dogs at home, and keeps them in empty kennels while at work.
She says those kennels will soon fill up with paying customers, because so many people board their pets while traveling for Christmas.
“I take the rescue dogs to work every day with me and I take them home in the evening. But during the day I’m going to run out of spots here because I have a lot of guests who are going to be showing up for the holidays,” she says.
As a result, the humane society is looking for more foster homes, which usually take pets for a few days to a month.
John Harrington, another board member, says Ketchikan also has more rescued cats and kittens than it can handle.
“It is so much so that at this point, unless this community comes forward and starts adopting them rapidly, we’re going to be moving into a kill process of getting rid of cats all over the place,” he says.
Juneau’s Gastineau Humane Society has also seen an influx of cats and kittens this year.
It also boards dogs. But Office Manager Samantha Blankenship says it doesn’t have so many holiday reservations that rescues will get pushed out.
Meanwhile, the society is warning against another holiday issue: unwanted gift pets.
“We, of course, always encourage people not to give an animal as a gift to someone unknowingly. They should be a part of the decision of both deciding to get an animal and choosing the animal for themselves,” she says.
Both the Ketchikan and Juneau societies are trying to find homes for older pets.
Juneau’s Blankenship says they don’t usually need house-training, and are easier to care for.
“There’s plenty of animals that are in need of homes that are in their senior years that still have many years left. (They) just may be a little bit more mellow than a puppy or a kitten and may be not requiring of so much effort,” she says.
The Ketchikan society, like Juneau’s and many other towns’, spays or neuters all adoptees, to limit the number of new strays.
Here’s a list of some Southeast Alaska pet shelters, animal control offices and rescue groups. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if we missed your group and we’ll add it.
- The Ketchikan Humane Society
- The Gastineau Humane Society, Juneau
- Southeast Alaska Organization for Animals (SOFA), Ketchikan and Juneau
- The Petersburg Humane Association
- St. Francis Animal Rescue, Wrangell
- Sitka Animal Shelter
- Haines Animal Rescue Kennel
- Paws and Claws Animal Shelter, Skagway
- Craig Animal Control