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The real Alaska is vanishing

November 8, 2013

the journalistFrom his undisciplined beard to his well worn cloths, and from the fur edged ruff of his hood to his gator covered boots the man walking from the store was the visual embodiment of what people across the country think of as an Alaskan. He loaded his, no doubt, weekly supplies into a pickup that had definitely seen better days and as he drove off one could just make out the noise of his dog sticking out the trucks window………

The direction and composition of Alaska in the 18 years since I arrived here is increasingly changing. However just like in the ‘lower 48’ it is not a night and day change but a gradual erosion of an archetype that was once proudly proclaimed as America’s last frontier. The other day sitting in a Fairbanks parking lot and watching an ‘old timer’ load groceries into his truck I was struck with the composition of the people shopping there. Other than a scant few like the old timer described above, most appeared to be in their mid 20’s to early 30’s and unlike him most were driving small cars or newer sedans.

I was made aware of this dichotomy because of the direction of many of Alaska’s new laws and regulations that once would have been seen as an infringement on an Alaskans personal freedom. From new borough regulations dealing with noise and trash pollution, to the state agreeing with the federal government when it comes to the perceived pollution created by the burning of wood for heat. Add to that the limits on trapping and driving snow machines on certain trails because it now interferes with hikers, people walking their dogs and cross country skiers and you have the beginnings of a new Alaska.

The many new people who have moved here over the years did so not only because of employment but because of the mystique that is perceived when you mention Alaska. Now here and settled in they are not content with the way of life that drew them here. They now want to make it ‘better’ more like it was where they used to live. They either don’t care or are forgetting about the tens of thousands of people who were born here or who have lived here for decades and want there state to remain unchanged.

Is this not exactly what is happening to America in the ‘lower 48’? Every year thousands upon thousands of foreigners arrive because of what America stands for and in a short time they want to change things and make it more like what they were used to. My grandparents were immigrants, they did not come here to change this country…..they came to America to become “Americans”.

If we continue to adapt to please others
the America we love will be gone forever. 

eagle

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2013 3:10 pm

    Yes, it is very common and I started noticing it within a year or so of moving up here. First, they love living in Alaska, then they would love it better if it was just like “home”. then they start petitions and get measures on the ballot so others just like them can all be happier living just like they did back “home” only they are doing it in Alaska. Isn’t that so neat? Los Anchorage is almost a lost cause because of it and Fairbanks is following right along. Fairbanks lost out on having all the oil companies headquartered here at the very start of the pipeling because of greed and they have not learned their lesson yet. Tear down everything that made Fairbanks unique, rebuild to the ideal of the sprawl of the Lower 48 and make it every dream come true for those that want “just like home”.

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  2. spiritualphilosopher2013 permalink
    November 9, 2013 2:20 am

    Reblogged this on Spiritual Philosopher 2013 and commented:
    Sir, I have always wanted to move to Alaska… I would never act in the fashion you describe… You’re spot on with your views, and you’re right, Alaska and America is vanishing…

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  3. November 9, 2013 5:19 am

    Change is complex. Sometimes things have to change to keep the most valuable parts the same. Air up here used to be cleaner. More people burning wood and coal has resulted in dirtier air. So friction develops between people who value the clean air of the Alaska of old verses the people who value the pleasure of wood burning stoves of the Alaska of old. Neither side is “right” or “wrong” or “evil” or “good, per se. Like a lot of folks, we like both: clean air and wood burning stoves. Sometimes having it all involves compromise, and working out the details of compromise is an ongoing process.
    Take fishing as another example. Too many people taking too many fish has resulted in some places not having fishing as good as “in the old Alaska.” Some people want to restore the quality of fish stocks so that they’re more like in the old days. Others want the continued freedom to take as many fish as they want to take, regardless of the health of fish stocks. So, debate ensues regarding fish management and regulations.
    You can look at most issues this way.
    Meanwhile, people who truly value freedom need to make sure they are behaving responsibly and encourage others to do so. Don’t throw cigarette butts on the ground, throw them away. Don’t trash our state up. Don’t take more fish and game than you can use, and use everything you take. Handle firearms responsibly and teach others to do so; that way the federal government won’t be prompted to come in and tell us how to write our gun laws. Make sure you have a reasonably clean-burning wood stove so that you’re neighbor doesn’t have to breathe an unreasonable amount of the woodsmoke pouring out of your chimney.
    A lot of this comes down to common sense and courtesy, which, unfortunately, selfish people have in short supply. That leads to government involvement.
    Because on the one hand, it is true: more people mean more problems. On the other hand, this is still a sparsely populated state, and it seems to us the greatest threat to our continued freedoms up here is the selfish and irresponsible behavior of some. You know, if everyone lived an ethical, responsible life, we could fit all our laws on a single sheet of paper and sign it with a handshake. When people don’t behave responsibly, that’s when problems arise and calls go out from some for the government to get involved.

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  4. November 9, 2013 6:26 pm

    I’ve lived in Alaska since 2006…not that long, so I don’t know that I can see the changes as clearly as you. But I know from talking with people who came here in the early 60s (came up to teach and stayed) that so much has changed…this couple taught in Kotzebue, and the stories they tell! Those were still very much pioneering days in many ways. I must admit, I’m so glad to have internet and cell phones! But some of the changes are not good, I agree. I live in Ketchikan now and have heard a lot about how life here has changed. The lumber industry is all but dead, and fishing is different now too. Lots of regulation! Some good, probably some bad. Very thought provoking post! ~ Sheila

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  5. November 10, 2013 1:23 pm

    It IS a sparsely populated state, but the laws on the books are increasing at a rate that lends itself to New Hampshire or Washington. Consider that the majority of Alaska is truly uninhabitable by those with a Lower-48 mindset or experience. Not be derogatory; it’s a fact that someone from America would be inexperienced with how Alaskans typically make a living or live their life, sometimes one in the same, sometimes not. For the population vs the land mass, what is concentrated in the livable areas is affecting those who live in the boonies, where all these rules really should NOT apply. If you choose to absent yourself from the masses, why should you pay the taxes and fees that make that life affordable while reaping none of the benefits in your home area? Why should you not be allowed to fish or hunt when you need food if you aren’t availing yourself of a store or having anything shipped in? What you eat doesn’t make any more of a dent in the resource than a community that whales or takes seals or can subsistence hunt to fill the larder in a community with stores. If you live the lifestyle, you should be equal to the folks who’ve traditionally maintained it by harvesting accordingly. But that’s just my opinion. It was fewer than 30 years ago that I could skiff to town through a snowstorm, hike up from the harbor at 2 a.m. with my zootsuit on, my dry bag over a shoulder and shotgun in my free hand. The cops would drive by, recognize me and continue on without making a U-turn with lights flashing. I understand how times have changed, but there you have it – it USED to be like that, and not so long ago. F&G would step over a deer on the dock the last day of hunting season to come up and have coffee without reminding me I had no more days to hunt – he just accepted I took what I needed to live and that it WAS still a legal day to do that. I don’t agree that every habitable area in Alaska needs to be in a borough, producing revenue, or that every individual in this state needs to be accounted for through PFD. When I take a class at the University, I have to prove my residency (since at least before 1959 and statehood) simply because I choose not to enjoin myself to that payout. I don’t care if I’m a dollar short because of it, and I don’t think I need to explain why I don’t, but in order to get resident tuition, I must be tied in to the PFD or go to great lengths to prove I’m actually a resident. I say BS. It’s like requiring a person to sign up for welfare to get a senior lifetime hunting license – one should not depend on the other. More and more and MORE I resent what the Outside has brought to this state – more people, more conveniences, more restrictions, more laws. This is a topic to be discussed face to face so we can enjoy watching the veins pop and the eyes bug out. It really gets my ire up. But cheers and carry on. :-)

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  6. Jon permalink
    November 11, 2013 12:43 am

    You really know it’s over when light (f)rail comes to Anchorage. Sad to see & government induced “progress” is partially responsible for killing downtown Fairbanks.

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  7. November 13, 2013 6:30 am

    In the Southwest of my boyhood, we lived on an umpaved Los Angeles street with RFD mail service and much empty space. It all became concrete and people, with time.
    The empty space around our present home once supplied us with nighthawks and quail to watch; we see neighbors now instead. And we note folks retiring here from all over; they love the historically storied desert milieu…which they continually work to bring into conformance with what they left behind. I think you see very clearly a component of human nature. Our species changes its environment as it can, to optimize it for itself.
    But so does all life: beavers, buffalo and even bacteria… I guess we”re just the ones that get sentimental about it…t

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