Sunday, October 26, 2008

Home Again

I'm sorry that I wasn't able to blog this past week ... it was a busy one! Fairly successful, too, even if I do say so myself. Yesterday, after packing and checking out of the hotel, Teddy (King Island elder), Larry (our linguist), and I worked on placenames for about four hours. We double-checked spellings, duplications, translations, and some locations. We each were working off of several lists. It got confusing at times, but in the end, I think we have a "near final" version. I say "near final" because I think this placename list will ever evolve, depending upon input from others. I need to make changes to the spreadsheet this week and will send it to the rest of the research team.

I showed the proposed web design on Friday evening for our interactive map to a few community members: Teddy, Agnes, Becky, Joe, Aleta, Rudy, Clara, Grace, Cindy, mom, Grace's son Kian, Eddie, and my grad student, Danielle. All thought it was a great design and are anxious to see the "final" result up and running, which might not be until summer. I received some feedback, the most important of which was to make sure that I copyright it to the King Island Native Community and that I put a copy of our Intellectual and Cultural Property Rights statement with the map.

On Friday morning, I saw Matt Ganley, the guy who is creating our photo-map. He said he would try to get something to me soon. If I don't, I am instructed by him to "keep kicking me in the butt" to get it. If other King Islanders want to help me "kick his but", please feel free to do so!

Community member, Jimmy, made a couple of ivory beads for me to give to Scott - he wanted one for his pierced ear. Jimmy, ever the joker, told me that he was only going to charge me $30 and that he gave me a $100 discount. He knows he owes me. Can't tell what he owes me - but I thought I'd just say he owes me anyway.

I sat and listened to a session about the energy crisis in rural Alaska on Friday morning. Turns out that many rural (mainly Alaska Native) communities are experiencing a rather large out-migration due to high energy costs. One person, Orville Huntington of Huslia, mentioned that he spent $950 for two barrels (I think they were 50-gallons each) of oil for heating which would probably last two months. Other people from other rural communities, including the Bering Straits Native Corp, are turning to alternative energy sources. BSNC has recently turned on 18 small wind turbines to help with the energy costs. Charlene, the King Island Native Community coordinator, reported that King Island has installed a small wind turbine on our King Island community building which will basically take care of the heating in that building - she reported that it cost KINC $3000 every two months. Another community, Kwethluk, had to have emergency fuel flown in because the ice froze up, preventing the barge from delivering the oil. One person mentioned that in the wake of contact with westerners (i.e., Euroamericans), Alaska Natives started building houses above ground . . . which lose a lot of heat compared to the semisubterranean houses most communities used to have.

I would also state that the Anchorage Daily News has been doing a great job reporting on Sarah Palin. Larry, our linguist, stated that a lot of Alaskans are finding out more about her actions since she was tapped to be McCain's running mate - and what they are finding out about what she's done hasn't really gone over very well, in general. She had a tape-recorded message at the Alaska Federation of Natives on Thursday in which she promised to create a "subcabinet" for rural affairs. This idea received a rather cool reaction from AFN - they want an emergency task force created - not an extra layer of bureaucracy once removed from her office.

I was able to interview an elder from Unalakleet about the Alaska statehood; I also interviewed Teddy and then another woman whose father was opposed to statehood. I've interviewed four people total and Brenda has done some good archival research for me on the Inupiaq view of statehood.

I also interviewed a couple of people about Alaska Native Corporations, including the president of BSNC. I also found out that a board member for BSNC lives in southern Oregon and I plan to visit her to interview her as she's been involved for a long time. All the stuff I read in the Anchorage newspaper will also contribute to that project.

I was also very fortunate to see many many KIs there in Anchorage. I want to list them all, but I'm still trying to settle in at home after my trip - things like laundry, Eddie's homework, getting my checkbook caught up, ironing, etc. I will list everyone I got to see later ... it was a really really productive trip, I think. I only wish I could've done more interviews, but I think I set too many goals for this trip. That'll just mean I have to go back to Alaska! Sooner rather than later!

Thank you - everyone!! - for the trip. Becky & Joe and Teddy & Agnes & Cindy fed us and several people sat with me for an interview - Teddy, Sylvester, Tim, Fran, and Dixie. I owe so many people thanks...but I need to remember! So, as soon as I do and I have time, I will thank everyone!


Carver said...

Sounds like a fruitful time and an interesting project. I hope you'll get a chance to catch your breath and rest some now that you're home.

IMNrose said...

If your interactive map is partly or fully public, please share the good news. We can even feature your work on the website if you like. Mostly Indigenous / Native American map makers, GIS practitioners and associated folks. Also people who are working with Indigenous knowledge and creating maps. Your work sounds awesome. oh yes, welcome home!

Dee said...

Hi Carver,
I actually worked on three projects while I was there - I really need more time in Alaska . . . maybe this winter? Anyway, it was fun and really busy!

Hi imnrose,
The interactive map isn't ready to go yet - we only have one placename sorta up and running. My students will be working on uploading content this fall and winter. But when it does go public, I will post the information about it on my blog . . . so keep posted, but keep in mind that it's probably at least six months away! Thanks for visiting!