Wednesday, January 14, 2009

As Sarah Palin whines the Alaska village of Emmonak is dying right before our eyes.

Here is a portion of a letter sent out by Nicholas C. Tucker, Sr., a resident of Emmonak a village of 800 mostly native people in Alaska's southwest.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

From several years ago, our heating fuel and gasoline costs have doubled in Emmonak. Current retail prices are $7.83 per gallon for heating fuel and $7.25 per gallon for gasoline, including the city sales tax. Our village has run out of heating fuel and the first airlift shipment has arrived at the airport. As early as today, the retail for our winter shipments is expected to be anywhere from $9 - $11 per gallon or higher.

Last summer, we experienced a king salmon fisheries disaster. We did not have any king salmon commercial openings. We had a chum salmon commercial harvest which is nothing compared to the king fishery. Chum harvest traditionally covered our king salmon fishing start-up costs, most of the purchase of new equipment, repair and maintenance, supplies, and operating expenses. Our commercial fishermen did not make any money. Our income from this meager, small-scale commercial harvest is basic to and vital to our seasonal subsistence fishing and hunting, berry picking, plant gathering, motor oil and gas, supplies, equipment, and cash for repairs of our outboard motors and our snowmachines used for winter wood gathering. This income pays for our many household bills.

Last fall, we weren’t delivered our usual fall fuel orders due to early freeze up. Following this, we got hit by a rare weather anomaly: It has been very, very cold since last part of September. This cold snap still persists as of this day. Households have tell me that there is more snow covering the driftwood out in the tundra and the coastlines, making it difficult finding the logs for firewood. A lot more gasoline and motor oil is being used in search of the driftwood. This winter-long, extreme cold snap is causing the furnaces and boilers to run constantly and to their maximum.

My family of ten, with a household of six adults and four minors, is one of the causalities of our current high costs of heating fuel and gasoline that are devastating families and households here in Emmonak of 847 residents. I am 63 and my wife is 54. For the first time, beginning December 2008, I am forced to decide buying between heating fuel or groceries. I had been forced to dig into our January income to stay warm during December. Again, for this month, same thing happens. I am taking away my February income this month to survive. Couple of weeks ago, our 8-year old son had to go to bed hungry. My wife and I provide for our family with disability, Veterans’ benefits, social security, and unemployment incomes. We are several months behind on our city water and sewer bills. We had originally used up all our $1,200 energy subsidy to prepay electricity for the winter and other bills in hope of surviving for this winter due to these high fuel costs. We didn’t anticipate the early freeze-up that prevented our native corporation getting its winter supplies of fuel. We didn’t anticipate an unexpected winter-long bitter cold. I don’t recall anything having occurred as cold as it has been and its length that we have to endure. The following are the costs of heating fuel and a 100-lb bottle of propane between December 12, 2008 and yesterday, a period of 29 days:

December 12, 2008, Stove oil, 55 gals: $ 440.54
December 14, 2008, 100# propane: $ 173.04
December 31, 2008, Stove oil, 55 gals: $ 440.54
January 9, 2009, Stove oil, 59 gallons: $ 471.85
Total: $1,525.97

Nicholas used a VHF radio announcement to reach out to other villages to find out how bad their situation was as well. Here is just a portion of what he heard back:

P. & K. A.: Middle aged couple, family of five. They are forced to buy heating fuel over food.

M. & M. G.: Middle aged, family of six: No wood at all; hard time buying stove oil.

L. M.: Young single parent, mother of one. On her last energy assistance, 10.2 gallons left, Dad in Anchorage for medical check up; his snowmachine and a 4-wheeler are frozen.

E. & A. U.: Elders, ages 68 and 65, family of eight and helping daughter in another house with food; gets no food stamps and both have no work. They have to buy heating fuel and gasoline for snowmachine over food.

T. & J. L.: Young couple, family of four. Hard time getting heating fuel; have no gasoline for their snowmachine to get wood and credit line at the local fuel tank farm is over limit. Family gets some food stamps but goes fast due to high cost of groceries in the village. Sometimes, having just little bit of food in the house because whatever money they have is used primarily for buying hearting fuel.

R. & T. A.: Young couple, family of seven. Family is having difficult time getting heating fuel. They are having hard time getting any jobs in the village. They are forced to get heating fuel and have little bit of food. Wife has to get heating fuel from her father to keep their house warm and keep the hot water heater turned. Both are having very hard time keeping up with electricity and water/sewer bills.

G. & K. F.: Young couple with family of five. Wife is unable to sleep and stressed out not knowing when they will be able get their next heating fuel. A 100-lb. bottle of propane gas that usually lasts four months is now lasting only two months because they use it to heat water. This costs them $200 every two weeks. They do not have hot water heater. Wife has very little income and uses $375, the one-half of her gross income every two weeks, to get heating fuel. She has no food for her family sometimes, because, she has to split the rest of what little is left for water/sewer and electricity. Gasoline for her 4-wheeler is very expensive. Her parents help her with food and firewood. They cannot afford a snowmachine or a boat to get logs. Heating fuel and propane is taking her food money away. Her added worry is that the village native corporation is running out of heating fuel and is being airlifted in. New cost is expected to be near $9 - $11 per gallon or higher.

And where is our Governor during this time of crisis? She is whining to anybody who will listen about unfair media coverage and those "anonymous bloggers"!

But here are citizens of her state who are literally freezing and starving to death and she does nothing! Nothing!

This poor man has to beg for handouts to save himself and his neighbors because of the cost in Alaska of heating oil and gasoline. And where is his government? Where are his legislators? Where are his Senators? Where is his Congressman? And where in the hell is his Governor?

Sarah Palin is the one who is supposed to declare a state of emergency and get help to these people. Does she not have enough time between interviews with People magazine, Esquire magazine, and John Ziegler to do her goddamn job? Do the needs of our citizens interrupt her social calendar?

Well if our Governor will not help our people I guess it is up to us. Listed below is the contact information that you need if you want to help save the lives of these people before it is too late.

I have already written my check and I am asking for your donations as well. I do not usually use this blog to request money, but these are special circumstances and I cannot just sit idly by and let this horrible situation continue. Thank you for any help you can give.

To help, please call:
City of Emmonak, (907) 949-1227/1249
Emmonak Tribal Council, (907) 949-1720
Emmonak Corporation, (907) 949-1129/1315/1411
Emmonak Sacred Heart Catholic Church Pastoral Parish Council Chairman, (907) 949-1011.

Update: I just got off of the phone with Nick Tucker, the author of this letter, in Emmanok.

He told me that the best way to get them help fast is to send a check to this address:

Emmonak Tribal Council
P.O. Box 126
Emmanok, AK 99581

I asked Mr. Tucker if he had contacted the Governor yet and he said that the Tribal Council had just agreed to make a formal request based on the king salmon fisheries disaster. According to Mr. Tucker the lack of heating oil and food resulting in residents barely clinging to life DID NOT COUNT AS AN EMERGENCY TO THE STATE OF ALASKA! Can you believe that shit?

So maybe you would like to ask the Governor's office how this situation is NOT considered an emergency yourself by calling (907) 269-7450. Let me know what their explanation was to you.

Update 2: For those who asked me if there is a faster method of getting money to the city, Mr. Tucker tells me that if you call the City of Emmonak (and the numbers are listed above) they will accept credit card information over the phone.

By the way Mr. Tucker also informs me that his phone has been ringing off of the hook and he had the ADN on the other line as he was speaking to me. He sounds much more upbeat then earlier today.

Update 3: AKM, of the wonderful blog Mudflats, has posted her version of this story over at Huffington Post. Please do me a favor and click on over there and give it a "buzz up" and leave a comment and see if we can't get this story onto the front page. We want this story to get as much attention as possible. And if I can speak for my Alaskan neighbors for a minute I would like to say thank you very much to those who donated to help the people of Emmonak.


  1. thank you for doing this...this is WHY you are a great blogger....and one that helps Alaska...( too bad Sara is Sooooo scared of Real Bloggers who tell the truth and care about their state..)

  2. This makes me so sad and angry at the same time. If there were people in out state (VA) starving and freezing to death, our governor (Tim Kaine) would be on a plane himself with food and fuel. This is an out rage!

  3. Anonymous10:25 AM

    I sure hope other blogs pick this up. Sarah's actions are just like Bush's after Katrina. Her twelve hundred dollar energy assistance was such a joke! Money wasted on people in Anchorage and Wasilla so they could buy a new flat screen TV while people in the bush are starving and freezing. She should not only be impeached but she should be jailed for robbing the REAL people of Alaska.

  4. Wow. What do Emmanok and New Orleans have in common?
    Republicans calling the shots during a crisis.

  5. I became interested in Sarah Palin for her entertainment value, following the soap opera "Who's Trig's Mother?".

    I considered her dangerous and shuddered at the thought of having her in the White House, perhaps as president, if anything happened to McCain. Thankfully, they lost.

    I'm not American and don't live in America, but as the soap rolled on, I started following links to various Alaskan blogs.

    She's not so entertaining anymore. What I read so far is truly appalling. She sent a confidential wish list to Washington, but Begich let the cat out of the bag: she didn't ask for enough and what she asked for was linked to the gas pipeline. So she's trying to come across as a fiscal conservative to further her own agenda in pursuit of national office at the expense on Alaskan communities.

    Perhaps all the whining about the media and anonymous bloggers is a smokescreen to distract people so her real shortcomings as a governor go unnoticed. But I don't think any amount of whining and hogging the media's attention is going to impress anybody in the communities facing so much hardship. I suppose they're not important to her. Can she be elected for anything without their votes? If she can, that would explain her utter contempt for their plight.

    Is there anybody else in Alaska with enough clout to address this problem? I understand the Governor has a lot of power, being the only elected executive in the State government, then she appoints at will. Is that correct? If it is, what can Alaskans do to get rid of this callous, selfish, unspeakable woman?

    When similar emergencies happen in Africa or in the Indian sub-continent, there are international appeals for aid. But the international community wouldn't expect to contribute to an appeal from one of the states of the richest, most powerful country in the world. They would expect the government of that state to provide for their constituents or at least for the federal government to intervene. This woman has no shame. She'll gadly allow the people of Alaska to exist bellow the acceptable human dignity level, driven to suicide, simply to feed her vanity and ambition.

    I hope you can find a solution for this millstone around your necks.

    How can I forward this to Barack Obama? Somebody has to do something! You shouldn't have to resort to appeals in blogs for donations to help Alaskan communities.

  6. I just posted this too. It needs to be everywhere...Thanks Gryphen.. Bless you for doing this.

  7. Anonymous11:01 AM

    I sent a copy/paste version of this to the Rachel Maddow show. Seems bloggers are paying better attention to Alaska than the highest paid state official....sounds sorta like she's working on becoming impeachable, no?

  8. Blue_in_AK11:29 AM

    Grphyen, I can't afford much, but I'll send a check out there. This is so shameful.

  9. Thank you, all of you, for your support.

    And blue_in_ak don't you feel like you did give enough, if you give ANYTHING it is far more then our Governor has given for these people.

    And have no fear my friends. I sounded the e-mail trumpet and I am proud to say that the best bloggers, and radio hosts, in the country are about to make sure that this terrible situation is rectified in the next couple of days.

  10. blue_in_AK11:42 AM

    I have an old artist friend who hales from Emmonak so I feel particularly drawn to this story. I'm glad to hear you're broadcasting this far and wide. I posted a link on Democratic Underground.

  11. I just posted on my blog, too. Hey, I may be in the warmer side of the lower 48 but I so heart Alaska. :)

  12. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Maybe this is a dumb question, but aren't checks going to take a while to get there and then clear, like weeks! Is there any other way to make a quick contribution?

  13. So far there does not seem to be a faster method.

    But stay tuned there is some movement happening on that front I think.

  14. Anonymous12:45 PM

    Thank you Gryphen for all this information. I am in New York and only know Alaska from afar but what those people are going through is torture. I will contribute but hold off for a day or two to see if something quicker pops up.

  15. Anonymous12:50 PM

    And, coming from NYS again, where is that Gov of yours? How can she sleep at night? Something tells the trials of others cause her no real discomfort. But her THOSE are serious.

  16. Blue_in_AK1:19 PM

    The governor is busy filing suit to overturn federal protection of the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales.

  17. majii1:30 PM

    I'm down in GA and want to send someting to help these people. I will wait until Friday to see if a quicker method of sending payment is up and running. I can pay through paypal if it is activated rather than send a check by snail mail. I visit your blog everyday and will be checking to see if you have found a faster way to send money. Governor Palin should be very concerned about this instead of granting interviews.

  18. that is sad and disgusting! She can't even be bothered with the people in AK!

    I have very little money, but will plan to contribute what I can. Like Anonymous @ 1245, I'll wait a day or two, and see if an electronic method might become available. Much faster than snail mailing a paper check.

  19. Gryphen,
    Thanks for this. You are the best. Perhaps we'll see some action eventually from ADN and SOA, but in the meantime, you are a life saver!

    I'll call out there with my credit card in hand.

  20. Anonymous2:50 PM

    Gryphen - is there any umbrella organization (i.e. Red Cross or something) through which funds could be passed? The village council, or regional corp?


  21. Anonymous3:51 PM

    A blog with a huge readership, Americablog has just picked up the story.


  22. Anonymous4:01 PM

    From comments at Americablog:
    Mudflats ( reporting that you can help:

    City of Emmonak, (907) 949-1227/1249 (They will take donations by credit card. Please specify the donation is for heating oil!)


  23. Anonymous4:30 PM

    Just left a donation with the city of Emmonak on credit card. I am told there are 265 families making up a total of 800+ people. The phone number is above.

  24. Thanks for the tip about the HuffPo article. I didn't know about that Buzz up feature.

  25. WHY has no one picked up on THIS!
    All I ever read is how Palin is the saint and savior of everyone. How LOVED she is...
    When will the people of Alaska realize she is MISSING IN INACTION!?

  26. Ratfish6:00 PM

    Speaking of whining here's what the Tennessean had to say

    There are reasons Palin isn’t taken seriously

    Sarah Palin needs get over herself. In a recent interview with a conservative talk-show host, Palin continues to, once again, bemoan that all her troubles are due to the unfair media.

    Mrs. Palin wrongly compares herself to Caroline Kennedy in asking if Kennedy would receive the same treatment that she received. The answer is yes.

    The media have been just as critical on Kennedy as they were Palin, if anything probably harder and longer because she is a Kennedy. Furthermore, Mrs. Palin continues to rehash the Katie Couric interview and the “condescending” way in which she was portrayed. If anything, Couric’s interview was tame by most standards. Mrs. Palin has herself to blame for the questionable and nonsensical answers she gave.

    This constant pity party Mrs. Palin is throwing for herself is why she can’t be taken seriously. She, and the Republican Party, has expressed interest in her running for the office of president in 2012.

    If this is to be true, Mrs. Palin will have to get used to hard questions and the mocking by late night TV hosts and the satires of Saturday Night Live and others.
    Those who have thin skin do not belong in politics.

    Mrs. Palin has learned one important lesson. The Republican Party has taught her well in blaming all her problems on the media. In the future, when Mrs. Palin sits down to a lovely Alaska meal of moose burgers, maybe she should enjoy some cheese to go along with her whine.

    ("nuff said!)

  27. From Greenville, SC.... and as others, I will wait to see if PayPal, or some other electronic means becomes available for donation. While I am a true republican, I am also a "COMMON SENSE" person and I am just miffed at what I see these days. Palin has lost focus and it's become very evident to the public. I pray that these people get the help needed and quickly.....and may our government officials "get down to the business of real government".


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