The rise and fall of delta life

From my good friend matt da'schidt...born and raised on the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta...now leaving for big sky country and a new life and style...good luck matt!

Reality Time...September 2006

The rise and fall of delta life

by: matt da'schidt

Imagine that you live life nomadically. Moving with the changing season, making and breaking camp, constantly on the move to subsist, elders taught you where to hunt, set traps, and pick the best tundra plants and alternate places of animal migration. You have this vast knowledge of ecological wealth that you in turn pass this knowledge to your children with the hopes of them passing this to their children. This life goes on from time immemorial to the present.

Then one day you rapidly get forced in the “western world,” by outsiders not recognizable to the region, slowly brainwashed into their world. Stay put, buy a house, pay rent and bills, purchase fossil fuels to run all your new subsistence life; snow machines and four wheelers, outboard motors, heating fuel and food from the chain store that you become accustomed to.

All that knowledge gets replaced by time loitering at the store, going to the post office or traveling by plane to seek medical needs. Living paycheck to paycheck, living off the state due to lack of jobs in your community, welfare and food stamps and showing your children that you don’t need a job out here in the “bush,” the ‘government will take care of you’, you tell your children.

Then they become accustomed to this new life, satellite dishes on every other roof in your community, youth emulating the inner-city youth lifestyle. Forgetting the past, ignoring the elders and not understanding the language that surrounds your community. Hope is lost; drop out rates rise, children having children, drugs and alcohol being made and sold in your community and suicide becomes the norm.

Then a gold mine sounds promising, jobs, but the jobs end in 20 years. Open pit companies are a cancer; they deplete the natural resources and move on leaving an open scar on the land with heavy metal pollutants that poison the land for years to come. Until they find another resource to extract and the process repeats itself, the cancer spreads.

You have become culturally blind, and cultural denial sets in, this is not our responsibility, it will be taken care of by the outsiders, we need more money to fix this problem. Money cannot reverse where the world is going; your community and leaders have the will of the people, they were elected to take issue in your community. If they can’t address the problem then elect new members.

Then one day oil prices skyrocket, strife in the Middle East, China needs more fuel for their growing economy. The U.S. dollar lowers in value. Your snow machines and four wheelers rust and contaminate your land and choke the fresh water fish that spawn near your community. Your house falls apart. Crime rates rise for survival. Wildlife population falls due to over hunting. People freeze to death in their homes in the winter time. Airline transportation stops due to maintenance and fuel prices. People die from their illnesses. Communities become ghost towns. The social infrastructure of our nation collapses in on itself.

Medicare and Medicaid cease to exist. IHS clinics take only cash upfront. Barter towns open up where central hub communities were. The education system expires and all children will be left behind. Parents can’t home school their children because the parents dropped out of school when they were younger.

The world you know now will be gone. You will not survive. Global population, failed administrations, global warming, drought, floods, famine… a new global great depression sets in. Militias terrorize the land, and no new deal will fix things.

Ethics and religion are questioned. You’ve spent the majority of your life worshipping, staving off lust and sin to serve your deity. All those years on your knees praying for a better life and it does not pay off. Religious leaders say that we are being punished for gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research or whatever the newest sin is to protest. You give more money to the church, mosque or synagogue for forgiveness and acceptance.

But I could be wrong, you wake up to the same things everyday, more oil fields are found to sustain our current normality, global warming was a trend, and ice caps don’t melt. What a crazy thought.

And as a good friend says as it is, ‘or you die in a sewer ditch drowned in your own vomit clutching a handful of loser rippies tickets, worthless government bonds, meaningless diploma, newspaper full of propaganda and lies keeping you focused on lies and frivolities while your rights, freedoms are being stolen.’