What are we doing 3 ?

This is a departure from the direction I have taken here and here in trying to pick my way straight uphill towards something I want to talk about.

Am going to try to come at it from somewhere else…

Hoping the leap doesn’t end in one of those Icarus type flops 🙂


We have huge gulfs here  in Alaska between urban and rural dwellers. So far, most public conversations derail before they even start.

Economic and racial cross talk marks most attempts.

So, where are our feet?

Where do we stand?

What follows are conversations I started elsewhere…

Please join the conversation!


Alaska Pi wrote:
“Our issues here for POC are primarily those surrounding politics and attitudes regarding Alaska Natives who make up about 15% of the population and a further 5 or so percent who are of mixed Native/White race like me. 

Mr Wise’s stance on the inherent failures in colorblind attitudes and policies are finding a deep resonance in me. 

It is likely of little interest to most who come here to lay out the whys and wherefores of the Alaskan landscape but the cultural diaspora created by the Alaskan Native Settlement Claims Act , a neoliberal take on owning one’s future , has had serious detrimental effects on Native peoples here. 

We have yet to even begin to be able to start talking or dealing with it meaningfully, in the Native community and beyond, as colorblind policies and attitudes rob us of a decent place to start. 

At present we struggle with even getting past the endless drunk-native stereotype… 

We need a different place from which to work . If being honest about the damage colorblind policies do to reframing the starting line, I’m all for it.


Numerous treatises about neoliberalism are available :

(note: neoliberalism is NOT to be confused with liberal/progressive- it is an economic view… one espoused by the likes of Milton Friedman )



“A final summary definition of neoliberalism as a philosophy is this:

Neoliberalism is a philosophy in which the existence and operation of a market are valued in themselves, separately from any previous relationship with the production of goods and services, and without any attempt to justify them in terms of their effect on the production of goods and services; and where the operation of a market or market-like structure is seen as an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action, and substituting for all previously existing ethical beliefs.”



I prefer an elected revolution to an armed one…. longer lasting, and a lot less messy. the last one’s aftermath ( the Civil War) is still with us today.

  • Alaska Pi

    yes and no, here… we just sat through a quiet 30 year elected revolution
    which has harmed us terribly…

    We accepted with little comment , until the recent financial meltdown, that positioning ourselves economically was the be all and end all of human activity.

    “The notion that man must dominate nature emerges directly from the domination of man by man… But it was not until organic community relation … dissolved into market relationships that the planet itself was reduced to a resource for exploitation. This centuries-long tendency finds its most exacerbating development in modern capitalism. Owing to its inherently competitive nature, bourgeois society not only pits humans against each other, it also pits the mass of humanity against the natural world. Just as men are converted into commodities, so every aspect of nature is converted into a commodity, a resource to be manufactured and merchandised wantonly. … The plundering of the human spirit by the market place is paralleled by the plundering of the earth by capital”

    —Bookchin, Murray, Post Scarcity Anarchism, p.24–25

    • benlomond2

      There has been comment on the economic positioning as the be all and end all of human activity; Eisenhower warned against the military industrial complex.. and I think for a time during the 60’s , there was a general awareness and resistance to it. Social gains were made.. however, with the election of Reagen, and the struggle to provide the basics during that recession, the American public’s attention on the corporate world’s grasp of our political system faded. As the Senate has less turn over, and longer terms of service, we now see their control of our goverment more clearly.. The House was devised to respond to the Public more rapidly, two year terms, while the Senate was designed to change more slowly, and provide a stablizing factor to wide shifts in public opinion…It will take a while for the Public to recognize and then correct the attitudes in the Senate.

      • Alaska Pi

        Yes- there have been some voices and I am hoping for many, many more.
        I was not being very careful about what I said- I have become increasingly cranky about tea party horsepunky.

        The difficulty of getting to a place of actually looking at how the accepted (now) economic policies affect us is wearing me down lately.

        The ONLY sympathy I have for the tea thingy phenemenon is a recognition that many are folks who know they are stranded but since they bought the “individual responsibility ” thingy they can’t find a way to adequately float a boat back to any notion of community…

        ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”

        Also- much of Alaska is corporatized beyond what most Americans experience
        Mr Stevens loved that form of organizing human activity.
        Resolution for many, many problems here lies outside sensible reach currently because of the limitations imposed by corporate structure of activities…


        Gonna go work in my wet garden and try to sort things out some and cool down…

        • benlomond2

        understand about getting heated up… I do so, also, too. … ( amazing we’ve adopted that little phrase, isn’t it ? gotta quit using it, ) there are times I am just amazed that a large portion of the population can’t seem to have a logical thought process, or recognize “buzz words” being foisted on them for an emotional response.

        easy example – if you replace the word “tax” with “goverment income” , you can just BEAT the heck out of the Republican economic policy…makes it easier to draw a parallel with a person’s own budget, and the goverment’s. if you have a cut in Goverment income, then there must be a cut in spending to keep from having a deficit.. what are you going to cut in your budget, or what are you going to do to make up the lost income ? are you going to get a second job ? and if your partner was the one doing all the excessive spending, are you going to keep giving her the credit card before you get out of debt? when would you give her/him the credit card again… before or after you are out of debt… ? at what point would you divorce her/him for the lack of restraint ? and would you re-marry that person down the road after such a breach of trust? the message has to be put in real everyday terms for the existing people to see what’s happening… the 60’s was easier… trust the gov and go to Nam… these issues are tougher…..

Published in: on September 25, 2010 at 10:02 pm  Comments (17)  

17 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Having read the opening entry, and the referenced 2 earlier threads, I was struck by something I had read from Kenneth Roberts in his book “Arundel” about the Abeneki Indians and their relations with the American Colonies; the concept of property as “owned” by an Abeneki was for that individual’s use, and not the sole proprietary ownership that as the White man concieved it to be. Two different cultures, with differing veiwpoints on Land Ownership. If you recognize this difference in cultures on this one point, and can then expand it and recognize additional differences, one could see that the American Goverment Agencies are attempting to find a different and more equitable way of interacting with the Alaskan Native population then was imposed on the American Natives of the Lower 48. It is still trying to put a round peg in a square hole…the Feudal Ownership basis of Western Culture vs the Native American Stewardship of the Land viewpoint, will be a difficult issue to resolve. Add into it the Business model where one person ( or small group of people) is allowed to “speak” for all members, and acquire or sign away all rights – and you have a difficult situation made even more complicated. Is the Alaskan approach the right one ? or is it at least, a better method than those previously forced upon the American NAtive? I’m not an Alaskan, so a bit more education on my part is needed.

  2. I’ll have to agree with Pi on this idea of a “Business Model” speaking for the masses. This method came in strong 40 years ago with the Land Claims Act and I declare it out-dated because even after all these years, there are still people uninformed about their role in the decision making process which in many cases drastically influence their lives.

    Take for example the issue over the 8(a) contracting that is going on. The shareholders of the corporations really have no say in getting involved and the monies earned have not really benefited them except for maybe a handful, mainly those managing the business.

    Another great farce is the CDQ program – that Business Model has taken millions of dollars from the destructive Bering Sea Factory Trawler Pollock Fishery and poured the money right back into the destructive fishery and the people don’t yet realize that they are responsible for destroying the salmon they depend on both culturally and subsistence wise.

    The Business Model allows crooked men to keep certain details to themselves for the sake of “the business”.
    This also allows them to use profits from “the business” to help them stay in control of those said profits – huge, unjustified bonuses; paid lawyers on staff to cover their mistakes, and on and on and on. The poor can’t even start to challenge this corporate structure.

    • Man_from_Unk-
      you have hold of a great deal of what I have been trying to puzzle through.
      Alaska Native life is bounded by the corporate business model on all sdes since ANSCA.
      I was trying to explain to a friend Outside how many for-profit and non-profit corporations touch/affect the everyday person here everyday. When you add them all up- Reg Corp, village corp, CDQ corp non-profit and feeder for-profit ( for coastal peoples ), sometimes group of villages corps… agh!
      The very nature of the model limits participation of everyday people to the sidelines and to having to accept whatever flows from the few to the many.

  3. will finish reading the articles/Moore show this week, Wife’s dad passed 2 weeks ago and have been in NM. Ed

    • I hope your wife is doing ok- you too.

  4. Stereotyping is as old as languages and I think it’s about time to study all those ethnic lists and start putting them to rest one at a time. It’s the only way to reach Social Justice in our country.

    I’m very excited about modern technology because it’s breaking down the barriers and helping people become more informed about other ethnic groups than ever before. People of all ethnic groups are starting to see common traits in each other’s groups. That’s a great starting point.

    Pi, this article is information over-load so I suggest you take one little bit at a time and perhaps those who question can make connections bit by bit. But than again, I guess it depends on the population you are trying to reach.

    • LOL- think you are right !
      I guess the first and foremost issue is that we have very little language in common to describe what we are saying.
      Conversations are too often framed in language which negates one party by diminishing or ignoring the concerns that party has.
      Married people almost always have to deal with some kind of agreement to accept that their partner is deeply affected by something they themselves are not- if they hope to make the relationship thrive and succeed.
      If they work at it, folks learn to listen and offer support even if they don’t quite get what the other partner has at stake in these differences.
      We approach our social dealings somewhat differently. We attach status to each stakeholder which gives them more or less standing in the group. Whatever is right about that also has a not-right side.
      As the status attached is often derived from UN-inspected notions of value , we often devalue folks because we aren’t paying attention to our own measures of worth carefully.
      Or we simply accept that something like “subsistence” is obvious in the mere word… basic feeding and survival for oneself… and ignore/obstruct any conversation which attempts to broaden the definition of the word or replace it with something more fully explanatory.

  5. It’s all about what’s being taught in the homes by the first teachers – the parents. Parents come together with two different stories and in some cases those stories don’t fuse together so then the children become seeds blowing in the wind. Seeds of tolerance especially if the child is of mixed race. Children of mixed race are becoming more and more common so I view that as Hope for the future. People of the world is getting closer and closer together through their children.

  6. Pi, I’m still pondering your idea on “devalue folks” especially where you say “because we aren’t paying attention to our own measures of worth carefully.” These ideas seem to be two different issues.

    When I think of folks that are devalued, I think of BULLIES picking on those they think are weaker than they are. They prey on fears of others and pick at them like a scavenger would just to give themselves a boost in ?????, I want to say self-worth but it doesn’t fit here. I think BULLIES are afraid because they are victims of BULLYING themselves. At some point in their lives, their emotional development stopped because of something they couldn’t control. When you can’t connect to other people through common emotions, you don’t have value for self.

    People who “devalue folks” don’t have positive feelings of self-worth. They work to destroy others because they don’t understand what it means to have self-worth. They had fear early in life and they haven’t taken the time to address the fear.

    Perhaps I’m on the wrong track but I’ll keep thinking about this and get back to you.

    • I think you are correct as regards personal behavior people show towards each other and would extend it some to the behavior which happens when bullies aggregate ( come together/band together ) but I really do think that there is something else going on .
      Not sure if this will work as an example :
      We talk a lot about America being on a cash economy and accept it as an underlying truth which we don’t question much . ( Am speaking in very general terms here- esp as regards the “we” )
      Almost all conversations about rural Alaska turn on the notion that given this “fact” thus and such is true…
      We don’t question that value enough, to my mind.
      If we accept it totally, there is virtually no reason for people to choose to live their lives in rural Alaska ( nor rural America- this has damaged all of rural America as well)
      If we ignore the reasons people have for continuing to do so in the face of this “value” we have devalued them and narrowed the civic dialogue to a single measure of worth in human activity.
      I was talking to someone recently who grew up in western Kentucky. There is something similar going on there to what is going on here.
      Cash is scarce and jobs are scarce except in the coal mines. The mine owners call all the shots as folks have no real options for paying work unless they leave their homeland.Pay is poor but better than anything else available, safety concerns are very, very real but folks have adjusted to watch their own backs to have a job…
      Previous to WWII this area did ok with a mixed cash and akin to what we would call subsistence economy.
      Putting-the-nation-back-to-work policies after the war changed that dramatically and have changed the conversation since then.
      At this point rural folks cannot get a meaningful seat at the table with urban corporate interests to even begin to address their personal concerns let alone their concerns about damage to watersheds, land, or communities in relation to the mines.
      There is something deeply wrong with accepting that all human activity can be reduced to economic stature and participation and yet we cannot even get a word in edgewise these days.

  7. After reading the Newsminer articles, I was struck with the recurring concern of limited shareholders . if you were a Native American when this whole kaboodle began, you got “shares”, if you were born afterwards, you’re SOL, until you inherit them. There might be several ways to address this disenfranchising of the younger generations; 1) Have the Charters for these corporations ammended to automatically issue x amount of shares to each newborn child, to be held in control by the mother until the age of 18, where it reverts to the new adult or 2) the parents of each child, upon the age of 18 transfer a portion to the new adult ( how many shares to transfer will be a problem with large family vs small families) . Having all and future generations as active and EQUAL “shareholders” in their Corporations will have a profound effect, as the younger generations will be able to bring their knowledge of this changing world to help change the Corporations to benefit ALL the shareholders.
    I still have to watch Shannyn Moore’s shows on the topics, Life’s little drama’s still affecting us here, but it’s only little whoop-de-do’s now, instead of those heart wrenching dives over the top of the cliffs ! 🙂

    • I am glad things are evening out for you. All of the stuff accompanying the loss of a family member is yucky… all of it.
      Ms Moore will have another podcast up soon as relates to tribal sovereignty- from her show of this week.
      Some of the Regionals have issued the second class of stock to enfranchise their youth. Mine is nowhere near even allowing an open discussion of it.
      The 1991 amendment to ANSCA law to allow that , that the Newsminer article references, allows for lifetime-only shares to be issued – non-transferrable and expiring upon death of the shareholder. It’s an odd accomodation of the desire by Natives to mantain Native control of their Regionals…
      I’m still struck by the problems of trying to deal meaningfully with land issues when the land is tied to for-profit Regional Corporations by and large.

  8. I got to watch Ms. Moore’s show on tribal sovereignty and MAN OH MAN she one heck of a gal! That one smooth talking dude kept talking around her afraid to be honest just to save his own paycheck. It’s too bad for the Native People to have some weasel like him to toot their horn. He only says what the Native Leaders want to hear. Perhaps HONESTY will get the people farther and faster in their plight for equality and justice in the bigger picture.

    • I’m still waiting for the podcast of that show to be available since I don’t have TV. Having had the opportunity to meet and be interviewed by Ms Moore I have to agree – she IS one heck of a gal!

  9. Happy Thanksgiving everybody. A nice big King Salmon roast would be wonderful but it’s got to be turkey once again.

    • Happy Thanksgiving to you too.
      I can remember a year we only had potatoes to doll up for the day and with winter looking just as bleak as our holiday table we somehow managed to bring our families and selves to the table with hope for the future.
      I wish the best to all! We have much to do but much to be grateful for.

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