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Leaving Home by Matthew Gilbert

In community, culture, government, immigration, North America, politics on January 8, 2013 at 00:48

From: Leaving Home: The Problem of Outmigration Discussed in Arctic Village, Alaska by Matthew Gilbert, Cultural Survival, http://www.culturalsurvival.org

Trimble recalls how many young Native people who moved to Fairbanks from Arctic Village died from alcoholism. “Addiction and gambling, they get addicted and don’t want to return home, and end up homeless. I was down at the graveyard this past Memorial Day and saw all the young men and women who died from alcohol. If they were living in Arctic Village, they would still be alive.”

Trimble says, Natives were the keepers of the land and all its food and vegetation. Nobody moved away from their lands, not even when it got really cold. “People should think back and honor our Elders who survived for thousands of years. Elders told me, ‘Don’t leave the children behind,’ so my wife and I stayed here. Our ancestors are buried here too, we can’t just leave them.”

Sarah James is a world-famous Gwich’in leader and lives in Arctic Village. At the 2011 Arctic Village High School graduation ceremony, she told the students. “Whether you’re living in the village or the city, you have to respect and live in both worlds.” She says. “I’m not encouraging them to move to Fairbanks, but to stay in the village and be proud of their culture and keep the environment clean. To make your life comfortable you have to work for it. Money is something you have to learn how to use, to budget. If not, you can’t make it in either world.”

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Reposted with permission from: Cultural Survival

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