Friday, December 5, 2008

Why do you live there?

Many of you have asked us "Why on Earth would anyone live in a place like Unalakleet?" Unalakleet sits out on a little strip of land sandwiched between the Unalakleet river and the Bering Sea just a few miles south of the Arctic Circle. I even found myself asking the same question the other day when it was -21, blowing wind, icy darkness and I was trying to take a walk.

But then why do any of us live anywhere? People here have a sense of community. Everyone knows your name and your struggles. You know where to ice fish for trout and where for smelt. You love the food and the smells. You plan for the annual pick nick and Christmas bazaar. No one here asks where you are from. And the space, good God, the huge expanse of the ocean, frozen and open, and the land that goes on uninterrupted for hundreds and thousands of miles no roads, no power lines. It is enough to make Montana, Idaho, and yes even Wyoming seem over developed and over populated.

For those of you of a more libertarian bent you have no need for a firewood permit, or a Christmas tree permit, or a burn permit. If you are native you need no fishing licenses, no hunting licenses. Ofcource with all of that freedom from oversight you are also left with no infrastructure. If you get lost in the woods there is no search and rescue. There are no fire trucks, no coast guard. But even that can feel like home to some. There is a great satisfaction in really taking responsibility for your own life. If you go out seal hunting on the ice you damn well better know what you are doing. No one will hold your hand and no one is going to be able to save you. If you know that and you are still able to live and thrive here you have a pride in your self and in your community made up of people like you.

So why do people live here? The same reason we all live where we do, because it is home. And if you live here you get the extra bonus of being able to call yourself "bush" tough.

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