Monday, August 7, 2006

Unalaska, Alaska Journal Entry 5

A thick gray mask has covered this island for the past couple of nights. The fog which has descended upon the village serves as a reminder that this region is an enigma; detached from the shared events of the whole. The present populace shows genuine concern with intimate interaction and displays a subsequent devotion to the indigenous. Forgetting the commercial aspect of the attached island of Amaknak and its port of Dutch Harbor, the Unalaskan village displays a faithful tie to its ancestral lineage. Influence of outside communities is evident-whether it’s the Russian Orthodox Church that represents one of the most recognizable man-made structures or the invasion of I-Pods amongst those adherent to a global technocracy- but, in my view, appears to be one of the last places in our nation to avoid immersion with an authentic sense. Members of the society have contemporary professions suited to the physical advantages the stretches of open water provide; leaving about eight-to-ten of the demographic to be directly connected to the sea (a potentially frustrating and sensitive topic being that the majority of this majority is not of the opposite sex). Levels ranging from: the immigrant fishery worker that departs his distant homeland for an opportunity to provide financial benefit, and hopeful comfort or escape to his family living lives away; to the coast guard worker serving a personally felt obligation to serve his country in a capacity he/she is restful in (not complacent?!); to someone convicted of a past misdemeanor, which he/she has distanced from and behaviorally recovered over, that can only discover employment in an encompassing factory at the end of the earth; et al. This is the career-oriented life found on the commercial side.

The village is tied to its surroundings in a natural manner that is aware, but not exploitive of these surroundings. A gratifying discovery remaining only in a handful of civil settings, which in my cynical view appear to be rapidly diminishing. This embedded pride in embracing the community predates the arrival of cutters and trappers, and will hopefully flourish long after their exploits conjure guilt. At a simplistic level that is why the cabin (note to reader: the cabin I previously wrote of, was completely incinerated a week after the memorable excursion) will be rebuilt. There is importance in maintaining a grip to the past and amplifying the positive impressions it has left with us. Leaving us with a higher level of community awareness.

This break from the reality of life in Portland has been refreshing and invigorating.

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