Saturday, March 12, 2016

Notes from here and there

1) Inipiat woman surprised to here her voice in a major Hollywood film. I'm personally more surprised that they chose an Inupiaq recitation for a story set among Plains Indians. And lately I've been so pleasantly surprised by the increasing levels of historical faithfulness that Hollywood seems to be displaying. Oh well.

2) Two Iditarod mushers were hit by a snowmachine, resulting in the death of one dog and injuries to three others. It seemed so deliberate that both mushers described having been "attacked". Yet the next day, the snowmachine driver stepped forward and admitted that it had been himself. It had not been a deliberate attack, he said, but he had been driving blacked-out drunk and was shocked to realize he had hit two of his favorite mushers.

This whole story makes me feel so many conflicting things--shock and horror for the mushers, heartbreak for the death of a sweet-looking dog named Nash, relief to learn that it had been an accident instead of a deliberate attack, gratitude to hear that the guy seems full of remorse and wants to take full responsibility, and anger at the continued scourge of alcoholism in rural Alaska. Who the hell drives around so blackout drunk?? The last part of the story adds a cultural dimension. The Nulato Tribal Council has issued a public statement.

Six days ago when the Iditarod mushers left the starting line, we were eager to welcome the teams to our village-an annual event that we look forward to each year. We are disturbed and saddened that celebrated Iditarod veteran dog teams led by Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle were struck by a resident of our village.

The tribe has a deep respect and admiration for the “Last Great Race on Earth” and the dedicated dog mushers and their beloved dogs. It is with great regret and sadness that we offer our condolences to Jeff King for the loss of his dog Nash. We pray for the speedy recovery of the other injured dogs.

Nulato recognizes the complex behavioral health issues that impact our village and we ask for prayers as we seek wellness for all. We will be monitoring the situation closely and commit to work with law enforcement.

The First Chief Mickey Stickman stated “Over the years we have supported the race in all aspects from racers to dogs to logistics. Nulato has been recognized many times by the Iditarod Trail Committee for the community’s hospitality- we hope and pray this incident does not determine the future of the village of Nulato. The Native Village of Nulato apologizes for the harm to the mushers and their dog teams.”

The Dispatch article also states that "Nulato residents gathered into the gymnasium Saturday afternoon. Some posed for photographs with King, offering their condolences...
Kathleen Sam, born and raised here, said the community will host a fundraiser Saturday night for King and Zirkle's kennels. They will sell crafts like earrings and hats, she said."

I feel gratified that the people of the village feel responsible for the actions of their young man. These are clearly people who believe that "it takes a village", and that in this case, the village failed. I cannot imagine even the City of Fairbanks apologizing for the actions of one of our residents, were one to harm someone.

Edited Sunday to add: Apparently the latest reports don't mention alcohol and do indeed make it sound like an attack of pure malice. :(

1 comment:

mdr said...

The moose looks more like someone using computer graphic on the original moose picture to me.