Sunday, October 25, 2009

The new heavy handed Gestapo techniques of Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan have reached the pages of the New York Times.

The police and social service providers say Anchorage has as many as 400 people they call “chronic public inebriates,” with up to 25 percent of them regarded as the most difficult cases. This year, after the deaths of at least 13 homeless people since the spring, there has been a widespread sense that the city’s response has been inadequate and must change.

The new mayor, Dan Sullivan, a Republican, has created a staff position and a task force devoted to addressing homelessness. The police recently gained the authority to dismantle homeless encampments with just 12 hours’ notice. Citizen groups are patrolling parks where homeless camps have been the site of rapes and other violence. But in perhaps the biggest and most controversial break from how the city has handled the problem in the past, a Salvation Army detoxification and alcohol abuse treatment center has begun accepting chronic inebriates who have been taken there essentially by force.

With $1.2 million in new state financing pushed through by one of Alaska’s more liberal Democrats, State Senator Johnny Ellis of Anchorage, the facility, the Clitheroe Center, is accepting people committed under a state law, Title 47. Under the law, a judge can order people into secure treatment for 30 days, and potentially for months, if the police, a doctor or family members convince the judge that the person’s abuse of alcohol has made them a threat to themselves and others. The person does not need to have committed a crime.

“Ten years ago, there would have been a community outcry that Johnny Ellis is locking up people with the disease of addiction,” Mr. Ellis said. “ ‘How can he do that and say he’s still a progressive?’ ” (He can't.)

Now, Mr. Ellis said, the problem has increased so much “that for various motivations people are saying let’s try something new.” He added, “The people dropping dead during the summertime really got this community paying attention.”

Before I even start shoveling through this pile of shit I have to admit that the problem of homeless people walking around drunk in public and dying around Anchorage is older than I am. I cannot remember a time when I did not see native Alaskans sprawled out in city parks passed out, or saw them asking bystanders for money. Sadly it is as Alaskan as seeing moose walking across our neighborhood streets.

And I am well aware that Anchorage Mayors in the past have made attempts to solve this problem. During his two terms from 1981 to 1987, Mayor Tony Knowles closed down a number of seedy bars along Fourth Avenue, where public intoxication was a daily occurrence. Sadly this essentially moved the problem from downtown to midtown.

Mayor Tom Fink fared no better. A Blue Ribbon Panel in 1980, appointed by then Mayor Tom Fink, described the problem of public inebriates as “intolerable”. They went on to call for more aggressive law enforcement, and a process to help reduce the visibility of the problem in Anchorage. They also pointed out that the services provided should be “minimal and humanitarian”, and that treatment opportunities should be available to those who want them.

And as we now know the problem did NOT get better, in fact it worsened.

From a 2007 "Program Update for the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority":

Current estimates put the serious chronic public inebriate population at 200 – 250. An August 31, 2005 UAA/Behavioral Health Research Services (UAA/BHRS) report that considered data between 1997 and 2005 pointed out that “approximately 150 individuals account for nearly 60% of the total number of visits” to the ( Community Service Patrol) Transfer Station. It is worth noting that, based on our current Top 10 & Top 50 listings, that the “serious” number is more like 75 - 100 individuals who account for that 60%. While this number remains somewhat of a moving target, it does make clear the fact that a very large part of our problem is brought on by a very small group of people. Until we find a way to keep this small group from “making their problem our problem” they will continue to chip away at our resources in an extremely disproportionate manor. It is also important to remember that this group, to a large degree, ignores, refuses, or in fact runs away from any treatment opportunities that we currently offer.

The UAA report went on to point out some of the demographics of our clients. Approximately 90% of the clients using the Transfer Station are Alaska Native, which is disproportionate relative to 7% of the city’s total population which is Alaska Native. When you consider only the top 10 or top 50 users, you find that nearly 100% are Alaska Native. Men also account for 70% of the clients, and 63% are between 35 and 54 years of age.

Part of the problem is that more and more Alaska Natives are moving into Anchorage from rural areas with very few prospects and a lack of the kind of educational background or employment history that makes them competitive in the urban job market. Though there is an effort to change that.

In the villages they have few job opportunities, live in sub-standard housing, and due to the merciless restrictions placed on their ability to live their subsistence lifestyle (Though it looks like the Obama administration might be working toward fixing that.), have nothing to take their minds off of their difficulties. Which leads to chronic alcoholism and substance abuse.

Multiply that with the fact that many villagers damn near died last winter, and it is not hard to understand why they are ending up on our street corners and in homeless camps throughout our city.

But razing the homeless camps that spring up, right before winter hits, is certainly not going to save lives or solve this problem.

"If our goal really is to stop people from camping out, is taking their sleeping bag going to do that or is it simply going to mean we're going to have an extra five or six that die of exposure this year?" said the Rev. Michael Burke, rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church on Tudor Road.

And neither is forcing them into overcrowded treatment facilities and taking their stuff. (I cannot help but think that if these were camps filled with homeless white people that the approach to the problem would be significantly different.)

Believe it or not, and you will rarely hear me say this, I have sympathy for Mayor Dan Sullivan (and to a lesser degree State Senator Johnny Ellis). This is a REAL problem that affects, not just the homeless, but the business leaders and residents of this city. I get it, it sucks! But what the mayor is doing will not solve anything!

Oh it may make some of his business buddies happy, and it will get people off of his back for not addressing the problem at all, but it will not make one bit of difference in the long run. It just won't.

You see forcing a person into a treatment facility only works if they can continue to receive treatment on an out-patient basis afterward. In other words if they go right back to being homeless, jobless, and living on the streets, they will have NO reason to live a life of sobriety. Without a soft place to land after going through the pain of detoxification and the humiliation of being locked up, how do you help a person make a healthy choice for their future?

This is just a big show with very little value except the headlines it garners and the business leaders it mollifies. But the homeless camps that are being destroyed will simply crop up someplace else, and the inebriates in treatment right now will be out stumbling along our city streets in no time at all.

The problem is too big for this mayor, or to be fair, ANY mayor. It is statewide issue, not a city issue. It is in fact Governor Parnell's problem. Which actually IS a problem because, much like Dan Sullivan, he also seems to see it as a law enforcement issue.

This is not an issue of more enforcement. It is an issue of respect.

The natives of Alaska are among the most resilient, self reliant people on the planet. They have not only survived, but prospered, in a climate so profoundly dangerous that in the dead of winter it can kill a man in a matter of minutes. And they did that without benefit of electricity, indoor plumbing, gas stoves, firearms, or even a neighborhood McDonalds. They did it when there were no roads or airplanes to bring them supplies, without doctors and medicine close by, and without telephones or radios to maintain communication.

They did it by understanding and respecting their environment in ways that Caucasians never will. You see the Alaskan natives did not change Alaska to fit their idea of what it should be. They learned to adapt to their environment until they became part of it.

They did not "own" property. They did not pave over the tundra, or raze whole forests to build a subdivision. They honored the animals they hunted, and which sacrificed their lives to feed their families back in the village, and danced to honor their spirit. They never sought to dominate the world around them, only to exist among the other creatures that called this land their home.

The Europeans who came here called that "savage", and labeled them "primitive". And that is still the way that many whites see them today.

The majority of Alaskan natives have assimilated well to a culture that is not of their own making and that they did not ask to join. They had it thrust upon them and were punished by the government for speaking their own language and attempting to preserve their way of life. (You can learn much more about this travesty by watching the film "For the Rights of All" when it is shown on PBS in November. I saw it at the AFN convention and was moved to tears.)

The problem of public inebriates and homelessness in Anchorage will not be solved until either the people in the villages have REAL job opportunities, or their right to live their subsistence lifestyle is fully restored to them, which means that by-catch does not steal the fish from their freezers and their ability to hunt is not limited to government regulated hunting seasons.

It is too late to undo the damage that the Europeans have done to the native culture in the last 200+ years, but we can start to make amends by respecting them enough to treat the reason (no jobs, lack of direction) behind their incredibly high rate of alcoholism rather than the symptom (homelessness, public drunkenness).

And while they are in our fair city perhaps we could help finance some additional short term shelters for these desperate people rather than to destroy the only homes they have and throw away everything they have in the world. These are human beings in pain, not sheep to be rounded up and herded out of the public line of sight.

Winter will soon be here, and if nobody does anything substantial about this problem there will be more deaths from exposure than in any other year in the past. Count on it.


  1. what me worry12:09 PM

    I live in the land of Oprah mansions and our homeless problem is serious. The year round beautiful climate hasn't stopped their death rate from rising. It is worse, that is a national problem. They blame immigration here. The Latino culture does better with their people, so the inebriates and shelters that you see are more of the Caucasian culture. It is more middle class, family and people that look like your mother now. Reagan gets a lot of flack for what he started around here.

  2. In Fresno, the city ended up having to pay a huge settlement after disposing of the personal belongings (including medications) of the homeless after destroying their encampments.

    Regarding Salvation Army "treatment" centers. Their usual treatment model is God & Work. Psychotropic medications are not allowed (at least not at the facility here), and clients are not given the necessary relapse prevention tools as God is seen as the only tool necessary, thus ensuring failure.

    I'm not in any way suggesting that God does not belong in treatment, I am however, saying that God alone is not enough to ensure successful recovery and yes, I have a masters in counseling and have worked as a substance abuse counselor.

  3. Anonymous1:06 PM

    Wow, great article, Gryphen! Very well-written, and deserves wider publication. Thank you for bringing attention to this issue for those of us in the Lower 48.

    (p.s. should be "undo" in the third from last paragraph)

  4. Gryphen. I have pondered this problem for many years. I have spent time hanging with the homeless in Anch and other places. There are those who will never get off the bottle. But there are those who would do otherwise given the opportunity. And we know that most are not ready to be a sales person at Fred Meyers. I think i have an idea that would offer employment to those with no skills at all and give them a reason to stay sober. I wont go into the workings right now but if we could offer work to those who could chose to be sober rather than being drunk we could alliviate some of the problems. Im thinkin of a place where you showup in the morning and blow into a breath test and if you are over the limit you dont work but if you pass you can work. I know this is just one part of it. The other part is feeling you are doing something useful. I can tell you that i have done what i am proposing and it is most fulfilling. We can take alder and make it a commodity. Yes it is actually worth something.I have the process and i have the experience we could make not only a sellable product. But give work and creative meaning to those all over the state that have alder.
    I know what i am saying i only wish some help making it real.

    In everyones heart is a creative soul. That is how we solve the problem. Ideas? please contact me.

  5. Europeans did the same thing to the Aborigenes in Australia. Alcohol is a huge problem over there...
    That's what happens when the native cultures are discarded by European settlers. No respect at all, it's scandalous.

  6. Anonymous2:17 PM

    Gryphen did a superb job expressing this awful situation. I am with Reverand Burke, we can't take away people's sleeping bag. I bet some of the police officers who have to do this enforcement, find it disgusting and inhumane.

  7. Anonymous3:24 PM

    The primary issue is that there are no reliable on data on and no public involvement of actual homeless. Thus, everyone confuses and conflates who is involved and what is happening. A better question should perhaps be asked-- how do people make a living in Anchorage? Then focus in on, how do people without stable housing make a living? This will result in much better actions and results than the current.

    Keep in mind the following--

    "It needs to be emphasized that the Anchorage mayor does NOT have a task force or a special assistant to work on the homeless issue. Yes, that is the title, but according to Mr Hess himself (personal correspondence, Oct 16, 2009), the task force is only to deal with those public inebriates who receive police services. The task force and his role is *not* homelessness.

    *not all public inebriates are homeless. [a lot of the publicly inebriated work in the Atwood Bldg or City Hall)

    *Most homeless in Anchorage are not chronic drunks

    * "public inebriates" does not equal Alaska Natives

    *Sullivan's "task force" has 1 member of the public and no members of the homeless community

    *Alaska has had provisions to involuntarily commit people for their own safety for at least 15 years. They have done so for alcohol intoxication. However, most places cannot manage dual diagnoses (alcohol and drugs). There are too few beds anywhere for the population in need.

    * No one has the data on number of individuals to be involved, either the homeless, the street intoxicated, the mentally ill, those who camp out (many of whom don't drink and do hold jobs), et al.

    * rural Alaska and the Unorganized Borough has had to make dire choices since 2007 (in this latest episode), i.e., since before the VP-to-be process brought the issue to attention of those not in rural Alaska (AKGovSarah's good deed, though inadvertent)

    The true shame is that the mayor (among others) is using the homeless issue to cover up that the only effort anyone wants to expend is to move the uncomfortable looking away from parks and street corners. The lack of evidence for any of this is appalling in the amount of suffering thereby covered up."

  8. Anonymous3:42 PM

    I think we all have homeless people in our towns and cities. It is a nation-wide problem. I don't know what we can do about it; no one seems to have a program that works. We have a shelter in our town, but the homeless people I have talked to don't like to go there; I'm not sure why. I know that many of them do eat at our soup kitchens. It just seems wrong, to me, that in the richest country in the world, we have people who do not even have a roof over their heads. Of course, it is also wrong that in the richest country in the world, people cannot afford adequate health care. Our country is broken; the rich get richer while the middle class and poor get poorer. It no longer matters if you have a strong work ethic or not; the system is set up to cheat us. I had hoped that President Obama would have changed some of this by now, but it seems that he is more interested in getting along with others than in doing what needs to be done. I am greatly disappointed.

  9. Polly4:15 PM

    @anonyomous 3:24= Well said. But, don't give up on President Obama. Remember he said we had to change D.C. to get things done. That is a tall order. Anyway... this homeless situation disturbs me too... I don't like the idea of taking homeless people's belongings as a way to solve anything. It is juvenile and stupid to enforce this. Here is an excerpt from an essay I found: "Man's Inhumanity to Man"

    Even though those in charge of inhumane acts are usually portrayed as sane and rational, this does not affect how inhumane the acts are. During this war, sane government officials give orders to bomb innocent people, which rational soldiers are able to carry out. Sane members of the Nazi party were able to perform atrocious acts over and over again as part of their day to day activities. In the Vietnam War photo, soldiers were carrying out orders to bomb innocent children, orders that were given by a rational and sane commander. One of the most well known accounts of an inhumane act is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
    We need to find a more dignified approach to cleaning up homeless camps than Sullivan's in my opinion.

  10. Polly your right on. these people need to feel a part of something. and it has to be something physical not spiritual or psychological something you can touch. I think these folks are just like the rest of us they need to see that what they do is seen and acknowledged. I think we could go much farther by allowing them to be creative than by taking what little they have now. I would venture to say that the best artists in alaska are living in the bush right now. You just cant see it from where you sit.

  11. This offends me in so many ways. First of all, why is state money being used to finance a Salvation Army facility? And how can the state forcibly incarcerate people in this institution, where they are no doubt subjected to endless Christian preaching? Where is the ACLU?

    It's past time the Native Americans sued the European Americans for reparations payments. How ironic that we have a Holocaust memorial in DC, but no memorial commemorating the victims of the greatest act of genocide in history--the near extermination of the original inhabitants of this country.

  12. Anonymous6:12 PM

    "I cannot remember a time when I did not see native Alaskans sprawled out in city parks passed out, or saw them asking bystanders for money."

    Ah. Now I see - homelessness and public inebriation is a NATIVE problem. And in the "land of Oprah", it's a LATINO problem.
    But how did you know that they were all Alaska Native, Griffin? Did you stop and ask? Maybe some were Puerto Rican, Lower 48 Natives, maybe Latino?

    That's funny, I was raised here, and _I_ CAN remember a time when I did not see drunk and homeless Native Alaskans. _I_ saw homeless PEOPLE, some drunk and some not.
    When I was a teenager with a pocket full of fishing money at JC Penney, the crazy bag lady on the curb loudly scolding and arguing with her pile of bags was a dirty scary white woman. The middle-aged guy standing up on the Seward Highway off-ramp, he's white. The angry man who ran across the road flipping me off, he was black. The string of dirty people with inappropriate scary stoner smiles near the greenhouse on Tudor; well, they're all ethnicities. I'd be hard-pressed to know what they are.
    Mostly, the only strangers to ask me for money have been Caucasians. White Anchorage teenagers, just this Saturday night outside the convention center; a white woman begging at Dimond Center; a pushy white man in Seattle that wouldn't back off my 8 year-old daughter. She was so concerned and sad, she bought him a MacDonald's breakfast.
    I've been pan-handled many times in my travels, from one end of this country to the other. They ALL looked white to me. But I didn't ask.

    The one and only time that a drunk homeless Native asked me for money, I responded by asking HIM for money, since we're a Native family working hard raising Native children to do good things and need money more than he does. He felt bad and I was ashamed. Of myself, not him.

    Race doesn't occur to me when I see them. Mostly I'm annoyed, and in my kinder moments, I'm curious about individual circumstances. I wonder which one of these people plays chess, the violin. I think of the Eddie Murphy movie "Trading Places".

    Mr. Griffin, I've been reading your blog all winter, sharing some of the same political views as yourself.
    The one thing that Sarah Palin did, was give voice to being Native. That's why she had so much support, especially out of bush Alaska. Whether or not it was disingenous, or she did anything real, doesn't matter.
    Thank you for shoving this into my world today, Mr. Griffin. Your timing is amazing. Today of all days. On a rainy afternoon, I drink good coffee and wax philosophical about the pride and excellence demonstrated in the Native community this week. I'm thinking about the launch of the high-end Arctic skin-care line out of Bethel. I'm savoring the fact of Orso's exective chef being Native.
    And I'm thinking that by the time the Alaska Federation of Natives conference rolls around again, there may well have _finally_ been an Eskimo in the Olympics. I have butterflies in my stomach about the possiblity, 110 short days from now. How awesome.

    Yesterday I gleefully purchased a teeny-tiny pair of hot twin-tip freestyle skis (just like the big boys) for my little grandson (a Native). He's been outfitted with a most excellent European helmet and a good pair of Atomic boots for ski program. Just like the white kids.

    Coincidentally to browsing Alaska bloggers, I'm catching up on Olympic parent administrative duties; Vancouver 2010 and the International Olympic Committee's commitments to peace and inclusive policies:
    "The Make Your Peace Program extends the Olympic values of friendship and respect through an open invitation to make your peace. In essence, individuals are encouraged to create everyday peace at home, school, work and in the community, based on the belief that lasting peace starts at the local level."

    Glo Chythlook

  13. Anonymous7:10 PM

    6;03 WELL said and thought out. I've agreed with Gryphen many times, but this one is like Faux Noise, half assed bull crap. Sorry, this one pisses me off too. It's not only a NATIVE problem, there are blacks, whites, natives, hispanics, orientals, and every nationality imaginable. This actually was a fairly Racial statement. I,being an Alaska Native, possessing a BA in business administration, feel like I've just been slapped. Gryphen, this was not one of your finer moments. B Johnson Anchorage, Ak

  14. I believe my post is very accurate in portraying the homeless problem in Anchorage. I never intended to imply that ALL of the homeless in Anchorage are natives, nor are they all inebriates. There are plenty of homeless Caucasians and other ethnicities as well.

    However the homeless camps are predominantly occupied with Alaskan natives. I worked with a mental health program and visited many of the camps in the past.

    Some of the occupants were desperate alcoholics who were literally drinking themselves to death, but others were newcomers who had come to Anchorage to stay with friends or relatives and found themselves living on the street. And yes the majority of them had developed substance abuse problems.

    Some that I spoke to wanted to return to the village but did not have the money. Others were so addicted to drink or drugs that they did not care where they were so long as they could continue to get high.

    I am very aware that the vast majority of Alaskan natives are just like everybody else working and raising their families in Anchorage. However it is also a fact that an inordinate number of the homeless in this city are native Alaskans. And nobody could argue that substance abuse is prevalent among the homeless in this city, regardless of their ethnicity.

    The point of my post was twofold.

    One, treating the homeless like public eyesores that need to be hidden away so that the taxpaying citizens don't have to see them will not solve the problem. Nor is it any way to treat human beings.

    Two, that if there were real employment opportunities in the villages there would be fewer homeless on the streets of Anchorage.

    If there is doubt in the minds of any residents of Anchorage about the numbers of Alaskan natives that are among the homeless than I invite you to visit the Brother Francis shelter or Beans Cafe. See for yourself and then decide if I overstated the problem.

    And then ask what we can do about it.

    Those who read my blog on a regular basis know that I do not shy away from controversy. I open myself up to criticism with virtually EVERY post I make. And then I allow those criticisms to be published for all the world to see.

    If I am wrong about this subject then feel free to correct me. If there is information available that contradicts what I have found then educate me.

    I will publish all comments so long as they are respectful.

  15. Anonymous9:33 PM

    Why isn't it listed under national news in the MSM? Good, it made the Times! and why shouldn't it! Seeing as American Indians and Alaskan Natives have their lands, their health, economic and educational welfare in Trust to We, the People, the "Feds" as some may say..., then maybe the whole United States should hear about it. Everyone from Maine to Hawaii should be concerned of the health and well being of these people.
    I'm ashamed of the MSM for not covering these national issues about these Nations within our Nation. Why, I didn't see any AK papers cover the cutting off of electric wires to American Indians last winter in the lower 48.
    The citizens of the State of Alaska are first US citizens and as We the People you should also be concerned with the well being of the other American Indians in the other States, as well as all the folks in the lower 48 should be concerned about this.
    All of We, the people should be concerned with All the Nations that reside within our borders.

  16. onejrkitty3:11 PM

    I do not believe the homeless should be catagorized by race.

    However, if you think natives make up the majority of homeless, then why aren't the native corporation and other native groups doing something to help their people?

    Why won't the Alaska Native Hospital accept patients who are alcoholics? I have been told ANS does not want to take the responsibility of being an "enabler", making it easy for alcoholics to continue being alcoholics.

    And can't the homeless claim their property if it is confiscated? It is not being destroyed but stored, as far as I know.

    I think that involuntary committment likely saves a few lives. I have seen homeless alcoholics unable to care for themselves and YES! putting themselves in danger.

    I live next to APU and UAA's acres of woods. I have walked by dogs there for 25 years. I only do so know with pepper spray and a doberman and I am still very watchful.

    The drunks stumbling through the woods, the empty bottles and bear cans and human excrement have effectively deprived many people of a pleasant walk in the woods.

    Yes, I know these people are suffering. I do have compassion, but I also know you cannot help someone who does not want to be helped and far too many just want money to buy more booze.

    I don't have an answer. I wish I did. I think calling the Mayor, who I do NOT like,"Gestapo tactics" is a bit more melodrama than necessary.

    Being involuntarily committed at least gives these people a chance to dry out a bit and think for once about what they are doing to themselvels.

    Sorry kiddo, but I felt your article was racist too. A

    And by the way, I lived on Barter Island in the village of Kaktovik for 4 years and for a year in Kotzebue.

  17. Anonymous8:36 PM

    Like which Native Corporations would you ask? The Thirteenth? The shareholders of The Thirteenth? How 'bout them! You'd push it back on the very people who struggle themselves. What other Native groups? Chavez? The Cree? Hospitals are for people who need things like surgery. Can you claim your property if your property is confiscated? Involuntary commitment is "gestapo tactics."
    It's not happening to the just Natives, Gryphens already made that clear. Treat the reason not the symptom.
    Having your twenty-five years of pleasant walks in the park ruined by the realities of poverty and its unsightliness does not justify strong arming and criminalizing indigence.
    And having lived in Kaktovik is, more than slightly, O/T.

  18. I am an Alaskan indigenous Dene. Gryphen is right and whoever saw racism in his commentary jumped the gun. What many Natives forget is how damaged as a peoples we are and due directly to the genocide that was/is perpetrated upon us and all lower 48 Natives as well. From the beginning of first contact with whites, into each passing generation that the whites came among us, we were on the path of assimilation. My opinion of that assimilation is where I believe the roots of our greatest damage to psyche and soul began.

    How else can you decipher thinking that believed our groupings were "subhuman"(President Andrew Jackson's words), "savages", "primitive", "backward", "dirty", "stupid", "lazy", "drunken" among the many dehumanizing WORDS USED TO BRAINWASH and otherwise depict the actual most peaceful, wise, kind and gentle people on earth? I KNOW our history was written by whites who called our headmen and women "chiefs". "Warriors". In our language, those were non-existent words. Assimilation! We went right along with dehumanizations. Assimilation. A dirty word in my book. The longer the whites were among us, the more we lost of our culture and traditions. The more we drank. The poorer we became. We continued to allow ourselves to be dehumanized. Few whites really understood what was being undertaken by "Manifest Destiny". The breakdown of over 500 "American Indian" tribes. When I say breakdown, I mean assimilated. Breakdown! Drunks and homeless on your streets, otherwise middle classed and a few very educated. The reservations equal internment camps but still accepted by us and this nation. ASSIMILATION!

    I believe Gryphen has come the closest of any in Alaska, including our own, to telling a truth. I for one, have the saddest heart for those among my peoples that I see "drunk and homeless" and I EMPATHIZE because I know for a damned fact this is not the life they chose! It came through the layers upon layers upon layers of their traumatic losses right back through their grandparents and then THEIR grandparents ad infinitum right back to the FIRST CONTACT WITH WHITE PEOPLES. Yes, we have lived this.

    The mirror (dominant and ruling white society) that our young HAVE to look in to looks back at them and says they are not ok. They are not assimilated enough. They don't "look" white enough. Act white enough. Aren't smart enough. So they kill themselves. Yes.

    In Native Alaska, in our villages, of which I also am from, we straddle two worlds. Its been spoken of often. IMAGINE THAT CONFLICT.
    Gryphen's commentary WAS NOT AN INDICTMENT NOR WAS IT RACIST. It was a slice of truth he has deciphered It appears he can abstract think.He understands what he is "seeing".

    Come sit with me sometime and I will tell you of Just Laws of "the people". I will tell you of our power of love for humans and our beautiful (now dying) planet. Yes, come. You've never really done that you know.

    We wait for your visitations of true peace. True understanding. Shame for your guilts. We wait for your amends. Eternally wait. I will believe until I am shown otherwise, what one of our own stated a few centuries back: "When you came, we died". We still are.

  19. Thank You Gryphen, Deennaa...Getting back on what to Do...AKjah mentioned his work with the homeless and also something about Alder wood and I would like to hear some more about that.


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