Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kotzebue Culture

Monday, March 28

I loved the NANA Museum of the Arctic. Berry picking season sounds awesome--I'd love to be here in late summer just for that! I am glad the people here are striving to preserve the values and skills of their native culture--they are impressive and just plain good. But the current culture, which has emerged in Kotzebue as modern conveniences and government aid have been incorporated, lacks the beauty and the character-building sense of community that seemed to exist in the past. In too many instances, resourcefulness, creativity, and physical labor have been replaced with entitlement, addiction, and slothfulness. How sad to lose the traditional Inupiaq values and language. My generation doesn't speak the language, but with the help of the elders and the school, the kids now are learning. And at the museum, they have resources to pass down some really cool skills. Like this book I found that my dad would love--A Guide to Edible Plants of the Tundra--wow. Imagine just surviving off of the land up there, with no food flown in--impressive.

Speaking of food flown in, we also visited the 2 grocery stores in town today. Milk was $11 a gallon at the cheaper store. The selection was actually better than I feared, you just have to pay for it. Cuties were $7.88 a pound, not a box.

Potatoes were $13.99 for 10 pounds, at the cheaper store. Are you serious? Potatoes are supposed to be dirt cheap. Not in the Arctic tundra. A delicious-looking 2-lb bag of fresh snap peas cost $14.95. Even non-perishable items like cereal were plenty expensive.
At least apples were on sale for $1.98 a pound, which is only twice the cost of sale prices up here in Montana, and maybe three times the cost of sale prices in Colorado. Somewhat reasonable. People shared their ways of keeping their grocery bill down. You can order a box of farm fresh produce online and everyone picks it up at a local church, which keeps shipping costs down. People also fly to or through Anchorage quite a bit. While they're there, they head to Costco and stock up. Alaska Air lets you check 4 carry-ons per person for free for in-state flights, so you can get it home without shipping costs. I guess you can make it work, but being as frugal as I am, I would seriously struggle to let myself buy luxuries like green peppers and snap peas.
Could I really see my family living here? People who live here tend to describe it as a struggle. You make do. It's an adventure. The real bush experience. Day-to-day life with little kids? I dunno, it just doesn't strike me as the most family-friendly location on earth. Most of the providers we talked to at the hospital either came within the last year or so or are planning on leaving in the next year or so. I could do it for a couple years, but do we need to, honey?

1 comment:

jessica said...

Amazon prime shipping...2 days and their groceries aren't that expensive. NO produce, but you can get everything else shipped to you relatively cheap...no tax...no shipping:)