when i first came to alaska...
I first came up with a group from the college I went to in Chicago, to be counselors at a summer camp in a village. ... My first impressions, in general, of where we were, was just how beautiful it was. The village where we were was Unalakleet, which is right on the coast, and it was: I'd never been somewhere that was so beautiful. I grew up in northern Michigan, which has plenty of beauty in it; but just seeing the mountains and the rivers and the ocean and the animals, and the way that people lived with the land, and off the land, and were so thankful for everything that nature had provided them and that God had provided them, was so cool, and I had never witnessed that before. That was the first thing that really struck me. ... I came back to Alaska the second time to be at the camp again. Feeling that camp was a place with a lot of peace and it felt really comfortable, and it felt like it might be a place that felt like home. So I came back to kind of see what that looked like, but then, met the guy that became my husband! That really became the feeling of home, and that became really the reason to stay, the reason to be here.
"Joining a community even though it’s unknown. ... The place, the people, that’s all new; but it’s all loving and accepting and welcoming."
living here as a learner
So many years ago, if you came to rural Alaska as an outsider, you had to depend on people who already lived there for survival, like, not even knowing anything. … But we don’t face that same struggle [now]. We have heating, and can buy our food at a grocery store, and there’s not that essential need to rely on the people that are already there, and to rely on the Native wisdom that’s already there. … But to really be part of that community, we still have to invest in those relationships and be open, open to learning. Which, I think for me has been somewhat of a struggle, just feeling like: I’m not independent, I’m not autonomous living here. I still have so many things to learn, so many things that I don’t know.