Village Life: constant suffering

by George Pletnikoff

January 16, 2009

This is a story, or part of one, written in today’s Anchorage Daily News (you can read the whole story at ADN.com):

A heartsick letter describing cash-strapped families choosing between food and heating fuel in the village of Emmonak has state officials reconsidering a long-simmering request to declare a financial disaster in the region.

"I’m just now today getting information in from surrounding villages," said Tara Jollie, director of the state Division of Community and Regional Affairs.

A letter written by Nicholas Tucker of Emmonak describing parents battling to feed their families in his hometown — plus concerns from others in the region — prompted state department heads to plan a teleconference this morning. The topic: a crippling combination of high fuel prices, poor commercial fishing prospects and an unusual cold snap in the Yup’ik village and others like it.

I am posting this story here because I hope you focus on the problem of the people in Western Alaska not being able to care for themselves, much less their families. This can be due to the large salmon by catch the pollock industry has when they are fishing for pollock in Bristol Bay. We at Greenpeace have been working to force the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council to cut down the salmon by catch, or cut the pollock fishery down to a few days to stop the constant raping of the ocean, taking much needed food away from our people in the villages. 

One of the more serious problems facing the people, especially the children of Village Alaska, is malnutrition. When we are not able to get our foods, especially the food we have depended upon for thousands of years, many physical and spiritual problems develop. This is the main reason we have been working on the establishment of the Marine Cultural Heritage Zones. We need to bring attention to this serious problem. 

Thank you all for your continued support and attention. We are working diligently to bring environmental justice to Village Alaska.

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