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Thread: "They" chose to live there

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default "They" chose to live there

    Since the subject of rural subsistence has been broached I wish to discuss something that has been mentioned many times in various threads. Specifically the notion that a person chooses the subsistence lifestyle. Certainly any individual can choose to leave the grid and make, or try to make a life for themselves in the bush, and they can choose to depend primarily on fish and game for their sustenance.

    This aspect seems to be the basis of the argument some have presented against policies that allow for subsistence user preference. I feel this is wrong, both perceptually and empirically. It's wrong because while there are a handful of people who meet the description above, most subsistence users were born to that life. Furthermore this idea ignores the basic reality of average human social pathology...on a macro level, historically, human beings live the majority of their lives near where they were raised. They also tend to rely on the cultural and economic processes typical to the place and era.

    We all look at the world through the prism of our own experiences and I think we forget that as modern Americans we belong to the most mobile society in human history. Those of us who desire, can, and do, up and move, so it's easy to assume that others would choose likewise. It's easy to forget that even in more "civilized" regions the rule holds true...most people stay close to wherever they were raised. In my case 2/3 of my high school graduating class lives within a 50 mile radius of my home town. I find that surprising given the general lack of opportunity there.

    More specifically, to say a person from Shagaluk, or Huslia or any other bush village "chooses" to live there so as to gain subsistence preference, or to intimate that either their desire to remain close to their home or their fear of moving away constitutes a prejudical choice is patently unfair.

    With few exceptions, bush residents live where they were born and feed themselves by the means and methods normal for that place.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Thumbs up Thank you Erik!

    Much appreciated!

    One must not also forget, that the Native subsistence way of life, in it's RAWEST FORM, constitutes a window into the past, long before the industrialized age, long before the Iron age, & metalurgy...with that, one would hope that subsistence users, much like aged Nick Andrew Sr., who still fishes with a "fish trap" albeit made out of metal rather than sinew, & uses a four wheeler to get to his fishing hole & bring his catch home, is STILL a subsistence hunter & gather. The wealth of knowledge that he possess, is being handed down & despite the fact that modern conviences are used in hunting & gathering, the SAME methods of drying fish, or drying meat, is STILL in use to this day, along with SHARING.

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    Default well......

    then where do these "subsistence" users get their grocery staples? i don't care who chose what, it's all irrelevant. fact is, they get most of their food the same place all americans do...the store. the constitution calls for equality for all residents, and i have a hard time getting around that one.

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    Its really hard to justify a means w/o people automatically assuming they're getting shorted. People have to look past whats fair, and understand different geological areas, the races have different tolerances and chemically evolved make-up. Europeans, Asians and Africans for instance have a much higher tolerance to alcohol, grains, potatoes and processed foods. Until recently Natives have not been exposed to foods of this nature. They ate dried meat and fish mainly, lots of fresh mammals from the sea as well. When you introduce a new diet to a race of people illnesses occur Alcohol is a prime example. The same holds true w/ these yuppies that think its en vogue to eat sushi, they have polyps growing in their digestive systems as we speak, because they're system hasn't been adapted to raw fish.
    I once again lost my train of thought but what I"m trying to say is don't deny people their traditional diets because you have too much testosterone!
    Last edited by fullbush; 05-01-2010 at 06:51. Reason: now when someone starts rubbing it in that they have access and you don't then its game-on!

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sh View Post
    then where do these "subsistence" users get their grocery staples? i don't care who chose what, it's all irrelevant. fact is, they get most of their food the same place all americans do...the store. the constitution calls for equality for all residents, and i have a hard time getting around that one.
    You can't realy mean what you said about the Constitution and Equality.Remember many who signed it checked to make sure their slaves were working hard when they got back home.

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    Default pay

    fish and game is there for us all to use. I think the US stands for equality and giving one group preference over another will only breed hostility. If a person can live off the land I think thats a good life and those that do should be proud of it, there are others that want the subsistence benefits then turn around and draw social assistance to boot. That means AK taxpayers are paying for some to "live off the land" and thats wrong.

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    Member MNViking's Avatar
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    Erik,

    I agree with your economic evaluation and that the "they choose to live there" argument is for the most part garbage. I am all for an individuals right to live a subsistence lifestyle. I'm all about people living that lifestyle using whatever technology they want. (another common argument against subsistence living)

    Here is what I think you have left out. This lifestyle is subsidized by the government, or at least there is the perception that it is. The subsistence lifestyle is not efficient by modern standards. It is an economic choice by an individual to do things the "hard" way. The individual has determined it is worth more to them to live as their ancestors did than to leave and join a more modern economy. By subsidizing this with government money, the incentive to move to more economically stable areas is drastically reduced.

    I believe that without government assistance there would be very few people living a subsistence lifestyle anymore.

    I hope I don't come across as some kind of anti-native bigot in the highly polarized, PC world we live in. I'm just a staunch libertarian that believes government handouts hurt the subsistence cause, rather than help it.

    Edit: I am all for hearing opinions on this. I am neither an expert nor a scholar. I am however a big boy capable of having adult conversations.
    Finally, Brad Childress is GONE!

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    Default slaves

    Amigo you need a history lesson..... read your own constitution! amendments 11-27 section 1.

    viking its not just natives..... there is a huge amount of Govt money spent each year on airfare alone taking people in and out of rural AK villages.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon254 View Post
    Amigo you need a history lesson..... read your own constitution! amendments 11-27 section 1.

    viking its not just natives..... there is a huge amount of Govt money spent each year on airfare alone taking people in and out of rural AK villages.
    The Constitution is one thing and the Amendments are the changeing of the Constitution, some for the better maybe and some not.

    I believe most subsistance people would love for the goverment to get out of it and let Alaska go back to the way it was in 1900. Of course the now big city folks would hate it as they would also lose the subsistance money the goverment gives the state to keep things going and Anchorage and Fairbanks whould soon be back to small towns

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    Default there were no slaves

    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo Will View Post
    You can't realy mean what you said about the Constitution and Equality.Remember many who signed it checked to make sure their slaves were working hard when they got back home.
    when the alaska constitution was written.

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    Good thing it's spring and cabin fever has been cured or I might of been suckered in by this one!


    Ryan
    "If you are not working to protect hunting, then you are working to destroy it." ......Fred Bear

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    Default Shssssssh...

    Quote Originally Posted by sh View Post
    then where do these "subsistence" users get their grocery staples? i don't care who chose what, it's all irrelevant. fact is, they get most of their food the same place all americans do...the store. the constitution calls for equality for all residents, and i have a hard time getting around that one.
    Generally not true at all. Not for in-laws anyway, and I would venture to say that they are representative. Yeah, they buy cigarettes, pop, candy and condiments and a few other odds and ends at the villages store(s), but most of their sustenance comes from the country. Lots of fish, ptarmigan, waterfowl, berries, greens, and big game, day in and day out. I wonder, do you know just how high the prices are at a village store by the time the items are landed and the store keeper puts on his mark-up? If you don't, let me tell you; twice to three times as much as you pay at your local Wallmart, Safeway, or Freddy's. That, and paying $5.00 a gallon or more for gas. Most folks who live in the bush don't have really high paying jobs either.

    In my experience, folks on the road system (me included) want the best of both worlds. We want what we have, and we want what they have. Well, we have chosen where we live too. We get cheaper food and fuel, but not the larger stocks of fish and game the folks in the bush have. Everything is a trade-off.

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sh View Post
    when the alaska constitution was written.
    When the Alaska constitution was written all those Rural native communities were already there... many of the northern Natives communities are where they are due to a few factors one being availability of food sources... secondly they were impacted by other natives, and European and Russian slave trades in the early part of the century. Alaska's natives for a large part are barley 150 years out of the stone age and many were still living in the barest of conditions through the 1950's 60's and early 70's... WWII brought the largest change to the AK natives and there commuintiess... and to make it short....

    until you go spend time and money in a village of 30-200 people and try to buy a cart full of " staples" you don't know what your discussing here other then continued urban resentments.


    the US has been returning rights and lands for its wrongs for decades.. Hawaii is now returning lands to the local natives there that were taken from them ... LONG before the US owned it. the same applies here. what folks do NOT take into account regarding AK native cultures is that they are only one or two generations removed from the raw subsistence lifestyle that is there heritage.

    most of the resentment here is from undereducated newer residents that do not understand the history... Now... when all but one of the " tribes " in AK gave up the Tribal status and became cooperations. things changed again... causing some of the easement and access issues. that further the resentments due to lack of proper planning by state and corporate entities while surveying lands and allotments. hence the differences between " tribal lands" and " private Property" but make no mistake... they chose to live there, many were forced to... long before The state of Alaska came along some 50 meer years ago..
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Here is an interesting example: The thread regarding the Chuit and the Tyonek natives. The village of Tyonek is 40 miles from Anchorage, and has grocery flights and other supplies flown in daily. They also get to subsistence fish salmon, and hunt moose in subsistence.

    Is that right? They get the commodities of living in Anchorage and the benefits of the bush?
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

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    Default good thread

    thanks Erik for this thread... so far I'm encouraged at the relatively civil discourse so far.

    It has been alluded to in prior inputs, but I'd like to remid folks that the systems, processes and laws (like subsidized air freight and other rural programs) were all set up by "us".... folks in the bush were doing just fine before western culture came in and started taking lands and doing things that dominate cultures do.... the system that exists today is because of "us"... not "them". "They" are playing the game dealt to them...

    I share some of the frustrations as voiced in here however the target for that vitriole needs to be at those who established the system, not the end user.

    thanks

    Greg

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    Member cjustinm's Avatar
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    ughhh.... i've been a member less than a year and this seems to come up a lot and it gets real ugly. If you live in anc. and don't agree with subsistence hunting move somewhere else where you can do it yourself then you won't complain and we won't have to listen. I think most who are against it have no experience with it and know nothing about it. I doubt if you've lived in the bush your against sub. hunting and it ALL ABOUT JEALOUSY!!! "If i can't do it then nobody else should", is what i'm hear when this topic comes up.

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    Default Problem is

    Every one has a choice in life, most don't have the courage to change, or are just to settled in there ways. In my home town there were no jobs, so I left at the age of 18, and wow life is good now. Was it hard, hell ya! Oh, cost of fuel, cost of this, cost of that, its not fair. Life ain't fair, bet almost everyone has told there kids that. Well, then they say its customary and traditional, but people must change with the times. Heck, slavery was customary and traditional and the slaves had to adjust when released a 130 years ago, and look, now we have a black president. All citizen of this country should be equal, all should have the same federal rights, and with-in their state should be treated the same. As long as we give any group of people special privileges, our great country will not be all our founding fathers dreamed of.

    Terry

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    Default been there

    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    When the Alaska constitution was written all those Rural native communities were already there... many of the northern Natives communities are where they are due to a few factors one being availability of food sources... secondly they were impacted by other natives, and European and Russian slave trades in the early part of the century. Alaska's natives for a large part are barley 150 years out of the stone age and many were still living in the barest of conditions through the 1950's 60's and early 70's... WWII brought the largest change to the AK natives and there commuintiess... and to make it short....

    until you go spend time and money in a village of 30-200 people and try to buy a cart full of " staples" you don't know what your discussing here other then continued urban resentments.


    the US has been returning rights and lands for its wrongs for decades.. Hawaii is now returning lands to the local natives there that were taken from them ... LONG before the US owned it. the same applies here. what folks do NOT take into account regarding AK native cultures is that they are only one or two generations removed from the raw subsistence lifestyle that is there heritage.

    most of the resentment here is from undereducated newer residents that do not understand the history... Now... when all but one of the " tribes " in AK gave up the Tribal status and became cooperations. things changed again... causing some of the easement and access issues. that further the resentments due to lack of proper planning by state and corporate entities while surveying lands and allotments. hence the differences between " tribal lands" and " private Property" but make no mistake... they chose to live there, many were forced to... long before The state of Alaska came along some 50 meer years ago..

    spent time in many villages, going on my 29th year in this state. i am very familiar with this issue and am not an "eneducated newcomer". fact is, the constitution allows for equal access to all fish and game with no mention of skin color or residency. i don't see much hope for changing anybodys ideas on this issue if they can not get past that. refer to mcdowell vs. state (1989) that affirms urban residents right to equal access.

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    Default hmmmm

    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    Generally not true at all. Not for in-laws anyway, and I would venture to say that they are representative. Yeah, they buy cigarettes, pop, candy and condiments and a few other odds and ends at the villages store(s), but most of their sustenance comes from the country. Lots of fish, ptarmigan, waterfowl, berries, greens, and big game, day in and day out. I wonder, do you know just how high the prices are at a village store by the time the items are landed and the store keeper puts on his mark-up? If you don't, let me tell you; twice to three times as much as you pay at your local Wallmart, Safeway, or Freddy's. That, and paying $5.00 a gallon or more for gas. Most folks who live in the bush don't have really high paying jobs either.

    In my experience, folks on the road system (me included) want the best of both worlds. We want what we have, and we want what they have. Well, we have chosen where we live too. We get cheaper food and fuel, but not the larger stocks of fish and game the folks in the bush have. Everything is a trade-off.
    i wonder who costco is shipping to with all those "bush orders"? nobody is living on JUST moose, fish, and berries. there are way too many other food staples that come from village stores or costco, etc., no matter what the price is. my point is that,i eat and consume the same foods as rural residents. some food sources cost them less, some cost them a lot more. so, why should anybody have a priority over anybody else? because their zip code is different? ridiculous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sh View Post
    my point is that,i eat and consume the same foods as rural residents. .
    Respectfully, I highly doubt that.

    Having lived in a few Villages I can honestly say that it would take a cast iron constitution (and stomach) to eat the "same foods" as the Locals. Seal oil? Muktuk? Stinkheads? etc, etc.

    No thanks.

    We're the newcomers. In regards to respecting and treating fairly the indigenous peoples on this Continent, we didn't even begin to try and get it right until the last 50 years (and not too stellar a job then either IMO). As a lifelong Alaskan, I have no issues with allowing folks the preference they have coming to them. We crashed their party, uninvited, and some would like to see that attitude continue to the ruination of varying Cultures.
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

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