Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Alaska Natives Give and Share

While not all Alaskans are traditional philanthropic givers of funds, many give things in a lot of other ways. I know when Alaska Natives hunt and fish, they often supporting their immediate and extended family. The hunters brave the often inclement weather and large wilderness areas. There is a large non-cash economy in many villages.

There have been many recent fundraisers in the Alaska to help those in need. It struck me how wonderful it is that we come together as a community to help each other to raise funds, pray and support each other.

We help each other in times of need, like an illness or the passing of loved ones. They hold fundraisers at community halls. Often times in a search and rescue operation, surrounding villages will show up to help in the efforts.

Volunteers in Huslia tear down the old mission building to distribute wood to people who need it. Photo by Nathan Vent
Volunteers in Huslia tear down the old mission building to distribute wood to people who need it. Photo by Nathan Vent

It touches my heart to see people giving and sharing to help their neighbors. Recently, in my hometown of Huslia, the community experienced a cold snap of temperatures from -50 to -70 Fahrenheit. Thankfully, it has been warming up, but they had a pretty cold January.

The extreme temperatures have caused heating fuel to gel up, and heaters quit working as a result. People have been running their wood stoves in addition to the monitors and Toyostoves. Flights were delayed because it was too cold to fly. People were having trouble starting their snow machines, and haven’t been able to get fire wood as a result.The Huslia Tribal Council helped by fixing monitors and/or Toyostoves if they are not working. They also covered up fuel tanks and lines with snow to insulate it to prevent gelling.

Volunteers donated and cut wood for those who needed it. Volunteers tore down an old church mission, cut up the wood and distributed it around town. The community really came together to help each other for basic survival. It is warming up, and people will now be able to get wood. Many people are expecting to have a pretty high fuel bill for January. KTUU, Channel 2 did a story on the cold snap:  Extreme Cold in Rural Alaska Tests Limits.

Al and Eleanor Yatlin check their fish net on the Koyukuk River in 2011. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Al and Eleanor Yatlin check their fish net on the Koyukuk River in 2011. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

This type of giving is not tax deductible or may not be defined as philanthropic giving, but it is giving and sharing. My parents often give their first catches of the season to an Elder, like the first salmon or goose. There are hunters who will hunt and fish for an Elder or someone who cannot go out hunting. We are truly rich in traditional ways of life, knowledge, cultures and values.

Enaa baasee’ to all Alaskans who give and share!

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