The last men
(AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)
Army National Guard Staff Sgt. William F. Brown
sits a snow berm on the frozen Arctic Ocean off
of Barrow, Alaska in a Tuesday, June 6, 2006 photo.
Eskimos in some of Alaska's most isolated villages
are being called to fight in Iraq during the
first widespread call-up of National Guard
reservists from rural Alaska since World War II.
Eskimos face hard times after Iraq call-up
By MARY PEMBERTON, Associated Press Writer Mon Jun 19, 7:08 PM ET
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Military families across America often endure hardship when a loved one ships out. But there are not many places in the U.S. where those left behind have to chop ice out of the tundra for drinking water and make sure the freezer is well-stocked with walrus and seal meat.
The first major call-up of National Guard reservists from rural Alaska since World War II could mean sacrifice and upheaval for Eskimo villages that practice subsistence hunting and gathering in some of the most remote and unforgiving spots in the nation.
Eric Phillip's job in the small Yup'ik Eskimo village of Kongiganak in southwestern Alaska is to hunt walrus, seal, mink, otter, geese, ducks and other animals to provide food for his immediate family and other relatives. With Phillip shipping out, his wife and their two young sons will be moving to the city of Bethel, about 70 miles away.
"Out here it is harder for them to live alone," Phillip said. "In the village we don't have water. We have to go to the tundra and chop ice for water and melt it, and we don't have flush toilets. It is hard for a single parent to live around here in the village."
Similar stories are being told in Eskimo villages across the vast state, in places with names like Alakanuk, Emmonak and Manokotak, as 670 soldiers from some of the most hard-to-reach places in the nation head to
While Alaska's National Guard does an excellent job of helping its military families, it will be particularly tough for these soldiers and their families, because they live in such inaccessible areas, said Pete Mulcahy, executive director of Armed Services YMCA of Alaska. That makes it more difficult to arrange help for them, he said.
"These guys have a bigger challenge," he said. "Even a remote village in Texas is still on the road grid."
Amy Chikigak of the Yup'ik Eskimo village of Alakanuk is preparing to say goodbye to her husband, Vernon. She said she is not worried about food. Their freezers are full of seal, whale, fish, geese, swans and berries. The village store also is pretty well-stocked.
posted by Steve @ 1:57:00 AM