Sunday, 29 November 2009

Ann Strongheart: Please help the Yupik people in Nunam Iqua to get over the winter!

Most readers of the Alaskan blogs will be familiar with Ann Strongheart and the recent tragic event in her family as well as with her efforts to help the Yupik people in Alaska - for a short overview please click here.

Ann sent an email to several blogs and media outlets with an urgent appeal for help. As Palingates was one of the recipients, we are more than happy to publish her appeal and hope that some of our readers will be able to help Ann Strongheart in her efforts.

Ann is very concerned about the situation in Nunam Iqua, a village on the western edge of Alaska ("Nunam Iqua" is Yupik and means "end of the tundra"). In the village, a severe winter crisis with food shortage is developing.

Here is a map so that you can get an impression where the village is located (click to enlarge):

Ann Strongheart has written a blog, explaining the current situation and gives details of how the readers can help.

She writes:

Happy Thanksgiving from Ugashik!! Well Thanksgiving is here and I spent last night not only preparing food for Thanksgiving dinner but also calling every household in Nunam Iqua. I called to not only wish them all a Happy Thanksgiving but also to check on everyone and see how they were faring so far this winter.

Unfortunately I did NOT receive good news. I was able to reach 23 out of the 36 household and out of those 23 families that I did talk to 22 were already struggling and requested help again with food to make it through the winter.

Ice piled up during the Fall Flood at Nunam Iqua 11/11/09

This is due to the fact that on November 11, 2009 Nunam Iqua experienced a Fall Flood. As you can see from the picture above and the one below this flooding wreaked havoc on the Yukon River ice. The flooding brought in massive amounts of sea ice from the Bering Sea that unfortunately is still clogging the Yukon. Several people lost their fishing nets they had set under the ice and a couple of families even lost their boats during the flood.

With all of this sea ice still in the Yukon River at Nunam Iqua it has caused a hardship on the residents. Normally during the winter families will go out onto the river and place fishing nets under the ice to catch fresh fish. But due to the mess of sea ice currently in the Yukon this has become very difficult if not impossible to do now. Fresh fish caught under the ice with nets is a large staple for families during the winter.

Now if y’all will recall this past summer not only did the ADF&G restrict commercial salmon fishing on the Lower Yukon but also subsistence fishing was restricted to less than half of what is normally allowed. These restrictions led to very poor subsistence fishing and lead to families not being able to put away the much needed dried and smoked salmon families depend on to make it through the winter. Additionally due to the poor commercial fishing season a lot of families lost the majority if not all of their income that would normally be generated from commercial fishing.

So now the problems in Nunam Iqua are compounded twice over. Lack of dried and smoked salmon were put away during the summer due to the restrictions PLUS now families are not getting the fresh fish they rely on due to the flooding. This is already causing a hardship on families in Nunam Iqua this winter.

You can see the ice on the Yukon piled up in the background

So again I am asking for your help! I need help with getting food to the needy families in Nunam Iqua. As most of you will probably recall last winter I organized an adopt a family for the winter food drive. I complied a list of every needy family in Nunam Iqua and their addresses, family size and needed items. Then WONDERFUL people from all over not only Alaska but the entire United States and Canada and around the world adopted these families and sent them flat rate boxes of much needed food and supplies directly to their post office boxes.

I have again complied a list of the needy families in Nunam Iqua and I am hoping that y’all will be able to help me get food to them. Since I am wintering in Ugashik this year I will not be able to accept food and distribute it like I did last winter. So this is why I will only be doing the adopt a family for the winter food drive this winter.

If you would like to help and can adopt a family for the winter please email me at I will then match you with a family in need at Nunam Iqua and provide you with their name, address, family size and needs.

Quyana in advance to anyone who is able to help! I will never be able to thank y’all enough for your continued help and understanding in my peoples time of need.

Again Happy Thanksgiving and Quyana Cakneq!

Ann Strongheart

writing in loving memory of my beloved Segundo!



If you cannot adopt a family, but would like to make a donation, please also send an email to Ann Strongheart!

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Mona said...

Geez, are they going to ask for help every winter?

At what point do they realize they can't afford to live there? Why should we be asked to subsidize their lifestyle?

Anonymous said...

Did you read the post?
This area has suffered both some natural disasters, flood but also a failure of their normal fishing season. Then restriction on how much they can fish for even subsistence fish. This is a government regulation that has effected their life.
Do we ask people who have suffered a flood, tornado or other disaster to pick up and move? Do we ask people in cities who have issues supporting their families to move?
If you don't want to donate, don't.
To top it off, IF they were to move, how do you propose they support themselves, gather job skills, afford places to live? Who is going to take care of the kids and elders, something shared in villages, while the able adults are off working in city jobs they might be lucky enough to get?
Are you ready to have YOUR taxes up to support ALL the services they would need to bring these villages into a larger city?
Overall your comments show a supreme lack of understanding of the issues in this particular case. Instead try learning a little about the culture, that has supported itself for centuries in western AK.
Join a conversation instead of just throwing jabs, you never know you might grow a little.
Rose Rau

Anonymous said...

Where is the Alaskan government in all this? It's not as though they had no clue there may be a problem again this year. All Alaskans should be ashamed that this continues. It was bad enough that Palin ignored them until she showed up with cookies and basically told them to move to where the jobs are but where the hell is the new Alaskan Governor? What Alaskan so-called Christian charities are helping? Someone up there has got to seek a solution. Truly shameful. I think less and less of Alaskans for not addressing this mess with sound solutions. They have the temerity to continue to take millions of dollars in Federal money yet they ignore these villages. Something just isn't right in that state.

Martha Unalaska Yard Sign said...

Mona - consider yourself not included in the audience for whom this update for Nunam Iqua was written. Next time consider not posting a rude and uninformed comment on the next blog post you read. With only so many hours in the day, we choose to use that time to help our neighbors in need rather than respond to people like you.

If you don't like the subject matter of a blog post, dear, just move along. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see ADF&G prioritize subsistence fishing over commercial fishing. If they can estimate how many fish can be caught, they can also estimate how much is needed for subsistence. ADF&G could then ensure the subsistence allowance is large enough to satisfy the people's needs, assuming the number of catchable fish is large enough to satisfy the subsistence needs. If subsistence fishing cannot be satisfied by the available fish, then the state must know that people are going to be facing a disaster. ADF&G also needs to consider the possibility that people may not be able to catch an allotment due to something like the ice in the river, as it is now.

I am not an Alaskan, and I don't know anything about fishing, but think that what I have written could be a longterm solution to the problem, or a beginning.

Anonymous said...

One of the problems I have is that I can't afford to adopt a family. I can donate some money and would like to, but where can I send it? I would like to do what I can. I understand that Ann can't actively spearhead things as she did last year, but isn't there anybody who could take funds and buy and ship food and clothes? I bet a lot more people would be responding if it wasn't phrased as "adopt a family." Although I respect the people who can do so, lots of us don't have the funds for that.

Ann Strongheart said...

Anonymous said...
One of the problems I have is that I can't afford to adopt a family. I can donate some money and would like to, but where can I send it? I would like to do what I can..... me:


Ann Strongheart

Mona who knows better said...

I've lived in rural Alaska. I know it's expensive. THAT'S why I moved.

Mind you, I'm not Alaska native, so I'm not entitled to all the "benefits" Alaska natives receive.

Martha Unalaska Yard Sign, how about you tell all the nice readers about the "benefits" Alaska natives in rural communities receive?

Let's see some YouTube videos of a recent polar bear hunt by a villager on a snowmachine with a high powered rifle!!!

Most of you have no idea what goes on out there. And it's probably just as well, because it would break your heart.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE stick to Palin! I live in Alaska and this is a complex problem that may or may not have a solution. Your readers cannot solve the enormity of this complex social problem.

Please stick to Palin's compulsive lying.

Anonymous said...


This is like Alaskans chiming in on Aboriginal issues in OZ. We are just too far removed from all that history in your country and this is not the forum for either issue

Anonymous said...

Mona, go back and sit in your warm home and eat some leftovers or something. You ignoramous.

bacci40 said...

why, in one of the richest countries in the world, do people have to beg for food and base assistance?

why are more elderly lining up at food pantries across the united states?

this is the friggin 21st century, and i feel like we have gone back 40 years

Anonymous said...

You know, I am an avid reader here. If some of you can't take a few minutes interruption in your Palin blasting (I am a Palin blaster myself) to help out some of our fellow human beings, then just go read somewhere else for a bit. Jeez.

Mona said...

Thanks. I am in my warm home and I just ate some leftovers! Natural gas is a lot cheaper than heating oil and I love that Fred Meyer is a mere 3 miles from me and has turkey on sale for cheap! Those are 2 fantastic reasons to live on the road system.... which is why I left rural Alaska.

Sometimes, ya just have to woman-up and do what makes sense.

Mona said...

O/T, check out this nice piece:

People are reading her book and are starting to realize what we all know to be true!

Anonymous said...

Last year I was in no mental or financial position to help, so I skipped over the Alaska Village posts. I would suggest, Mona, that you do the same, rather than posting snarky comments.

Pat in Texas

Mona said...

No thanks, Pat. I think I'll read and comment on whatever I wish.

Signed, Mona, in Alaska, who has actually lived in rural Alaska and knows what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

Mona wrote: "Mind you, I'm not Alaska native."

That's obvious from your anti-Alaska native responses.

Mona said...

Maybe this is a race issue with you, but it isn't for me. Please don't project your socially unacceptable bias onto me.

I have no problem with hard working people that pay their own way... regardless of their nationality.

It's the freeloaders and people that ask me to fund their lifestyle choices that I'm against.

We're all responsible for the choices we make. Choose carefully.

Truly Madly Deeply said...

OK Mona, you have had your say now. We all get it. You don't want to support the Alaska natives in Nunam Iqua. That is your choice. Now please respect the wishes of those who do.


Anonymous said...

Mona, how is this not a race issue? Who do you think was on the land you're living on now BEFORE white people took it from them and built roads?

Get real. Your own racism is hard to face? You've proudly displayed it all over this board.

A First Nations member who's read all of Mona's posts on this thread

Mona said...

Anon: No one was on the land I'm living on. The trees were removed by colonists during Roosevelt's 'New Deal' program. No one took it from anyone. The United States purchased Alaska from the Russians. Remember?

Who sounds racist? The "First Nation's member," or me, Mona?

And to 'Truly Madly Deeply', I will continue to defend myself against attacks. If you don't want to read what I have to say, that's fine.

Anonymous said...

Who sounds racist? You do, Mona. Your revisionist history especially....

Anonymous said...

The name "Alaska" (Аляска) was already introduced in the Russian colonial time, when it was used only for the peninsula and is derived from the Aleut alaxsxaq, meaning "the mainland" or more literally, "the object towards which the action of the sea is directed".[6] It is also known as Alyeska, the "great land", an Aleut word derived from the same root.

Lani said...

What a shame. The issue at hand has been derailed by a Monaphobe. Next time try staying on track with the concerns and exploring solutions instead of responding to self-righteous smugness. Some people love to stir things up and take delight in their little victories. It replaces their lack of empathy and simple human decency.

Thank you Ann Strongheart. At least there is a way to contact you.


wv: cotpropo

Mona said...

Feel free to send them money, Lani. Save some for next year, too tho. And the year after that, and the year after and the year after that... etc.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy this issue is covered on Palingates. Thank you, Ann Strongheart, for bringing this AK crisis to international consciousness. I will be writing to you to find out how to make a donation.

sjk from the belly of the plane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Doc dlcs said...

you are greatly mistaken. Judge and you shall be judged.
Dr Doc dlcs

Anonymous said...

Please don't feed the trolls. Do your best to ignore them completely. If a genuine person posts a dissenting view, please reply politely. If the discussion descends into something fruitless and annoying as the recent performance we saw here, treat as trolling and simply ignore.

Thank you