Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Susan Kollin

Greetings from a wet Tuesday,

First of all, thanks for a fun and lively discussion last night. We worked through some of the central ideas of the class (and conference) and set the stage to delve further into a few more of them.

In addition to completing your anti-tourist tourism assignment before next Monday (bringing a hard copy of your web-ready text and e-mailing me the same at kevin.maier@uas.alaska.edu), you should read the remainder of Kollin's book, Nature's State, and then post your reading question here and attempt to answer it in twenty minutes of writing. We're focusing in on the "rapidly changing north" aspect of the conference theme, obviously, but as you've probably already deduced, the related themes of environment, culture, and place are never far from Kollin's view.

As you're reading, you might think about finding traces of the key tensions and issues we got on board last night; similarly, you might attempt to identify further tensions, or, alternatively, you can ask and write about whatever's interesting to you. As I mentioned in class, don't feel compelled to sum up each chapter; instead, try to do some synthesis work with your questions and answers.

Right now, I'm wondering when (or where?) this postcard was produced (a top hit on a google image search for Juneau Alaska Wilderness)... any ideas?

As always, e-mail with questions, comments, concerns.

Until Monday, stay dry.

Kevin

PS in case you're looking for a writing style for your tourism assignment, here's what we've got out there on the web so far: http://www.uas.alaska.edu/asle/ The plan is to put your text up in a category called "Things to do in Juneau" or some such...

18 comments:

  1. Sammy Becker


    What would Alaska be without its Wilderness?

    A revert back to an icebox wasteland, causing a decline in our tourist economy, but also an increase in the sometimes heavily eco-destructive natural resource extraction. Alaska: Where someone has at least seen every inch of it’s “beauty” by air. Although I find this highly unlikely, taking away Alaska’s wilderness would have to have some serious implications for the state. If some of our mountains were no longer thought of as places incapable of human ascent, and our rivers unpaddlable, (although these things are constantly being proven false by the most extreme of outdoor adventurers) these constructions provide a serious ideology for not only the people living in the state, but also the hundreds of thousands of tourists who come here each year. Growing up in the state, while also continuing my higher education in the state, it is so interesting for me to compare the differences in views that I become aware of every day. The idea of Alaska as a pristine and untouched wilderness is something I grew up thinking of. As a little kid playing in the woods I could only dream of the days when I would be able to go out and explore the real woods of Alaska’s dense forest’s. I can recall when the record for youngest person to summit Denali was broken by a boy from Talkeetna who was the same age and I at the time, and all I could think of was how jealous that I didn’t have the opportunity to go out and experience the beautiful mountain and all of the natural ruggedness that I imagined it had to offer. My entire life I feel like a shadow of the natural beauty that Alaska has to offer has been following me around, and every time I am privileged with the opportunity to go somewhere new in Alaska it is the only thing on my mind for weeks I feel like. It is interesting though, because although I was born and raised in Alaska and my family has been in Alaska since 1902, I feel like a tourist in my home. However just as Kollin mentions I try to elevate myself to something different, because I am aware of the fact that although there is no denying that Alaska is beautiful and amazing, in the last few years I have become increasingly aware of what it means for most of the state to be designated wilderness, and for the places that I most desire to visit to be controlled by the government and constructed socially to be these places where any human impact has been forcefully erased from the land. It has been so strange for me to think of the similarities between the views of someone who grew up outside the state in comparison to my own. This last summer I did a guiding internship for a company outside of Anchorage and I had the amazing opportunity to spend my entire summer in both Denali National Park, and Lake Clark National Park with people from all over the world. And it was so interesting to me to note the similarities between our reactions to the same places. Although I feel as though I am critically thinking about these spaces that I recreate and work within, I still am completely entranced by the way in which these “wild” spaces evoke such an immense feeling when you are in them. The wilderness ideology, the romantic idea of being the only person in hundreds of miles creates such a strong desire to want to better understand these places and the ways in which they can be preserved, but at the same time sometimes feel like the only way to preserve them, to continue their appeal to greater scale of people is to keep them as something separate, as something special, but at the same times, as Kollin highlighted in her book, that exact thinking is the source for many negative things that can happen in those landscapes. What would Alaska look like without current wilderness spaces designated as so… I have no idea.

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  2. Brittney Seavey

    I love the quote from Muir when he says, "The ship arrived...with two hundred and thirty tourists. What a show they made with their ribbons and kodaks! All seemed happy and enthusiastic, though it was curious to see how promptly all of them ceased gazing when the dinner-bell rang, and how many turned from the great thundering world of ice to look curiously at the Indians that came alongside to sell trinkets."

    This passage specifically focuses on Glacier Bay and after personal experience working there this summer it really made me think about the tourism industry in Southeast. Whether we work in the tourism industry or not we know how ignorant, oblivious, pretentious, expectant, and entitled the passengers can be, but we also know how important their money is to our Southeast way of living. I feel like I’ve gone over the question of “Can and how will we make them see that Alaska is not just some ‘last frontier’ that is waiting to be exploited but a unique area that needs protecting?” a million times and often am too exhausted with the situation to answer it. When I go back in my mind to all of the people I had encounters with this summer that were not usually apart of any cruise line, I am thankful because they almost seemed like a different breed of people. They were generally kind, eager to learn about the history of the land and more knowledgeable than I would have liked to give them credit for (which you can imagine made my days more enjoyable).

    Then there were people in Juneau working solely with cruise passengers who were one or more of the adjectives above. Sure, exchanged stories of the people we had to entertain for the day was laughable after the fact but no sooner than the days end. But when seriously looking at what we can do as Alaskans to help others see this land as we do I think it’s a matter of encouragement, patience and grace. People see what they choose to see and nothing more. I do think it is highly important for us to be as knowledgeable as possible about environmental concerns among other issues to be able to inform others and make them as passionate about it as we are.

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  4. Kollin's intense critcism of white culture's relationship with nature bring to mind the question, "Is white culture incompatible with the environment?" America's ideal way of life has always centered around the ideas of expansion, conquest, and especially individual experience in nature. Nature is seen as restorative and rehabilitational, and wilderness is seen as something "Out There" to experience outside of the boundaries of everyday life. This divide constructed between humans and nature brings about a mindset of consumption, both incautiously at the start of America's journey West and cautiously once the country realized that their cultural construction of wilderness was rapidly vanishing. Experiencing and conquering the environment had always been seen as the best method of making true Americans, so the closing of the Frontier meant the end of the American way of life. Alaska, and later Canada, was seen as an appropriate
    solution to this problem, a way to rejuvenate the white male fantasy of manliness and conquest.

    The change in focus from West to North had the consequences of strengthening the nation's tendency towards preservationism and of shifting the notion of manifest destiny towards the ecological. The myth of the vanishing Last Frontier, abetted by the literature of adventurers like John Muir and Jack London, placed Alaska as a rare jewel that simultaneously needed to be preserved and begged to be experienced. This, combined with ecological manifest destiny, contributed to the waves of people coming to Alaska itching to have a uniquely individual and American experience. Adventure is the American infection, stemming from the vast environmental destruction wreaked on the majority of the continental United States and from an innate need to experience Nature. It causes excessive consumption of land and natural resources if left unchecked, necessitating preservationism as a combative technique. Preservation, however, relies on the separation of humans and the environment, an unnatural arrangement that is detrimental to both sides. It is impossible, even through preservation, to return the environment to a pre-contact state; the mere act of cordoning off sections of the environment for preservation is a post-contact effect.

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    1. White cultural responses to the environment contrast harshly with Native interactions. While white ecological rhetoric construes the environment as a commodity to be preserved and cautiously consumed, Native approaches see it as a give-and-take exchange with the habitat in which they live. The traditional Native view of nature creates balance in the environment while allowing for the inclusion of humans instead of attempting to portray humanity as something less than natural. While Alaska was in the throes of American imperialism, the encroachment of white culture cast Native Alaskans as the Other by depicting them as primitive and as poor stewards of the environment. This transition into Otherness forced Natives to conform to white cultural expectations if they wanted to survive the American invasion. White culture views "primitives" as standing in the way of progress and works to eradicate and replace them with civilization but as soon as this mission is successful laments the disappearance of a rare and noble way of life. By removing the threat of another culture, Americans are allowed to appreciate its differences in the one way they know best: by gifting stolen "artifacts" to museums and by erecting tourist traps. American imperialism denigrated Native culture into just another commodity to be consumed, destroying the Native approach to the environment in its bastardization.

      White culture has utterly failed in attempting to relate to the environment in any sort of sustainable way. In order to live within the environment instead of on the edge of it we would need to do away with our myths of Nature, the Last Frontier, and the Rugged Individualist. Is white culture incompatible with the environment? Currently, the answer is yes.

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  5. LaTia Jackson

    Chris McCandless a modern day explorer?

    Kollin mentioned a little bit about Chris McCandless, a young man who had died after four months of living inside Denali National Park. I had never heard of him before and I was intrigued to know what would drive a twenty-four year old away from his life in California only to perish, hungry, cold and alone. I ended up purchasing Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I have to say that I ended up feeling a connection with Chris. It may be because I am young and feel that society is limiting. At times, I would love to get away from all my obligations and live in the woods. I certainly do not place a high value on my material goods and I like to think I could give it all away without remorse. That is not the case though. I am a young woman with pressures, to fit in, to be fit- those types of things. I do not like the idea of having to work to live. If a person does not make enough money, they are considered lower class and less important. Chris gave all of his savings $25,000 to charity, burned his identification cards, cut off contact with his family and hit the road. He spent a lot of his time with the homeless, the kind of people that lived on the fringes of society. I think that was brave. He went against the norm and did what he believed in.

    "So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure..."
    — Chris McCandless

    This quote says it all. Yes, he was incredibly naive and should have been well prepared but, he did something. Leaving everything behind is so mind blowing, I can't even begin to imagine how one would do it. This notion of adventure is what he craved. He was attracted to Alaska because it is so romanticized in books and media. I wish that he had not died in such a horrible way. It makes me think of how many other people have reached the same fate here in Alaska because they wanted adventure. I do think that it was noble of Chris to live what he believed in but, I feel like his trip was selfish. He did not embark on it to help others, he came to find himself and break away. Krakauer obviously praised McCandless in many respects but I feel torn about him. I am unsettled by the fact that many people come to Alaska for adventure. Alaska as the 'last frontier' is just an illusion. Alaska is modern.

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  6. Does the culture and traditions of a certain time period affect how women are seen as interacting with nature?

    I've read Susan Kollin's book before and I have been fascinated by her chapter on white women, nature writing, and Alaska. Reading this prompted me to read Margaret Murie's Two in the Far North and Lois Crisler's Arctic Wild. These books are very insightful to and offer a great look at what it was like to be women in the early 1940s and late 1950s in Alaska, the living conditions, the social norms, and the way each of these women view the wild they were interacting with. What I don’t understand is how I can read about these women and compare their writings to todays because they lived in a very different time from today as far as a women’s role is concerned.

    In her book, Kollin’s states “Crisler’s own experiences in Alaska highlight the problems that arise in simply casting all women as somehow in close allegiance with the natural world” (103). I believe this is the same for Margaret Murie and other female writers describing Alaska from their experiences. Despite being able to cut it in the Alaskan wilderness, far from the civilization and culture they are used to Crisler and Murie still rely on some aspects of their social rolls at the time to make their experiences seem more normal, while shedding old stereotypes to adapt. Crisler “relied on domestic practices which enabled her to assert her authority over the terrain (104) and Murie believed that “pioneer living enables white women to eschew the social restrictions of femininity; wilderness survival, it seems, requires certain gendered forms of identity to be left aside” (Nature’s State, 119). By using past writings, we can see how women living in the wilderness display gendered rolls, femininity or a lack of either.

    I think to analyze the current views of women in nature the most effective approach would be to read books written in our cultural time period. Reading books like Kollin’s gives us a good view of what comes from analyzing books of the past with criticisms of the present, but what about books written about nature now? I believe it would answer a lot of questions about women in nature if we analyzed women’s literature on nature now and compared them to those of the past.

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  7. Jen Smith

    Is conservation an extension of the "unmapping" and "remapping" imperialist idea?

    The idea of "unmapping" and "remapping" appears throughout Kollin's book in conjunction with a culture obsessed with the notions of authenticity. Historically America has sought the original adventure, the most authentic lifestyle as it pushed itself west across the continent and eventually north. Kollin posits that the appropriation of the North ensued as a continuation of this frontier experience that remained an integral to the American identity. Throughout her chapter "Border Fictions", she uses several arguments to establish the connections between wilderness advocacy and the "crisis of Anglo-Saxonism" (64). By using examples of contextual literature Kollin demonstrates how this crisis is temporarily averted by the narratives of London, Beach and Curwood, and their literary rhetorical devices employed to perpetuate colonist ideologies. However, these men do something particularly different in their literature by not only encouraging the appropriation of Northern land as American duty, but also introducing the notion of the conservation of this land as an extension of this responsibility or national mission. We read, "conservation operates not as a way of curtailing outdoor adventures but as a means of enabling and continuing the nation's frontier saga into the present era" (82).
    While London cleverly blurred the lines between Alaska and Canada in an attempt to bolster the support of a union between America and northern lands, Curwood uses the popular American genre of the Western to effectively "unmap and remap" the Northern landscape with a decidedly American stamp, but with a twist. While the main character, Holt, is able to show his true American colors by functioning as the "Northern equivalent of the American farmer" (83), and his mate too, "invokes a heroic American tradition" (84). Fear based rhetoric is also employed by Curwood. Using a "red-scare" type of tactic Curwood places the notion of conservation as the nation's only saving grace. Kollin paraphrases, "Only through conservationism, the careful and efficient development of natural resrouces, can Alaskans be saved from Bolshevik danger" (87). If the suggestion of conserving the latest frontier in an honor of traditional American masculinity were not enough, Curwood was sure to employ political rhetoric of safety to ensure nationalist support. Using these rhetorical strategies, Curwood successfully "remaps" the North to become part of the immediate West, making not only the ideas of northern expansion compelling, but also those ideas of conservation. These authors cleverly manipulate ideologies, beliefs and fears of the time to propel the reading public in a general direction, and seem to be quite accomplished in achieving that goal.

    While conservation may have been employed historically in cahoots with expansionism, does conservation still exist in the same fashion today, in imperialist and fear based motivations? Can a system that hails from such a suspicious beginning function without a tainted lens or leaning inclination?

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  8. Is the notion of the Last Frontier detrimental to the Last Frontier?

    In the chapter The Wild, Wild North there is a section called Unmapping America. The section, as well as the entire book, discusses the prevalence of Alaska Nature writers putting the region on a pedestal above the rest of the lower 48. Is this pedestal not fueling the interest in development. The title in itself (The Last Frontier), implies a continuation to development. Historically speaking you can split Nature ethic into two categories; Conservation Ethic which implies what the majority of the nature writers in this book are advocating for which inherent in the name includes less development, and Frontier Ethic which goes in line with America's history of Manifest Destiny, expansion, and development. The Last Frontier seems to imply the last time for this get in and get out mentality to establish itself. While the presence of Frontier in the name implies a potential issue for those advocating for preservation, The Last may also be an issue as well.
    At the end of the section Leslie Marmon Silko highlights the frequency of Alaska possessing a higher value than other places. "Such compromises imply that there is a hierarchy of value, with some places and some living things not as important as others. No part of the earth is expendable ; the earth is a whole that cannot be fragmented "(57). Deeming Alaska as a more valuable location while dangerous to Alaska itself, is much more dangerous to the rest of the world deemed less valuable. If Alaska which is valuable is a potential location for a variety of development, what will become of these lands that are apparently less valuable?

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  9. Liz Hendrix

    While reading “Nature ‘s State” I kept coming back to the story Kollin included in the introduction about the guy from D.C who wanted to come to Alaska and “get rid of the map” (24). I think that this is the mentality of a lot of people from the lower 48. The fact that Alaska is known as the “Last Frontier” only helps further this mentality. There is this image that Alaska is this untamed, wild land that would make boys into men, and where people can test their survival skills. Obviously, that’s not true for the entire state (I wouldn’t be here if that were!), but this almost stereotype is perpetuated by society. I don’t know how I feel about people “position[ing] the region as…the nation’s last undeveloped wilderness area” (24). Granted, compared to the rest of the country, this would be true, but I don’t know if I like it being known to the masses.
    Here is where hypocrisy comes in. I myself like to think of Alaska as a secluded, less travelled place than other parts of the country, and I cringe when I see 5 cruise ships at the docks, swarms of people clogging what little space downtown offers. I find myself grumbling about how I wished all these people would go home to where they came from and leave us alone. But how can I deny them their “Alaskan” experience; their desire to feel the magical pull Alaska puts on people? Isn’t this the same exact reason I came up here? I may not have come on a cruise ship, but didn’t I come 2,000 miles away from home to experience what it’s like to live in a more “natural” place than the concrete jungles of SoCal? Despite my annoyance at the frustrating meandering of lolly-gagging tourists, they too are entitled to come and visit this unique place. Whether I like it or not, Alaska is truly is one the last places in the country where the natural aspect of the region is still pretty much intact without being completely destroyed by humans. I realize there are some negative feelings toward the stereotype/mentality of what Alaska is, but the truth is that people will always come to experience the “wilderness”.

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  10. How is the Alaska’s colonial history tied to Juneau’s present?

    In reading chapter four of Kollin’s Nature’s State, entitled “Beyond the Whiteness of Wilderness: Alaska Native Writers and Environmental Sovereignty,” I am struck yet again by the fact that I so often let myself overlook and forget the colonial past that has shaped Juneau into its present state. The colonial apparatus is still very much at work in our hometown. I am reading Haa Kusteeyi in Alaska Native Social Change – mentioned in this chapter and written by Nora Marks Dauenhauer – and it serves as a good reminder of the history that I was born into that is so blatantly obvious, but so readily glossed over by my gaze which is certainly infected to some degree by the Euro-America mentality.
    There are important connections made in this chapter regarding the artificial Western dichotomies of past/present, static/dynamic, colonizer/colonized and their being imposed on the minority groups of the world. The poem “Chillkoot River Village” by Dauenhauer addresses meaningful way that history asserts itself into the present – that history is in no way removed from the present – and that to Western imperialism and sprawl this has no significance. More central to Juneau, the indifference of the tourist industry that sends its wealthy passengers on their route to consumption “through the city’s underclasses.” The gaze of the tourist is reminiscent of the colonial gaze that is meant to determine colonizer and colonized – that which uses and that which is to be used.

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  11. "through the city's underclasses" (133). Wooops

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  12. Kristie LivingstonFebruary 6, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Is idealism hurting our nation?

    As I was reading I realized that much less attention is given to those writers who had a more realistic and useful perspective toward nature/wilderness than the ‘wilderness sublime’ writers. For instance, everyone knows who John Muir is and it is hard to find anyone that doesn’t like his work. After deconstructing the rhetoric in his writing and how interpretations of that rhetoric lead to events that were probably unintended by Muir, such as the eradication of natives from “wilderness” and large scale tourism, but happened as a result of his and others like his discourse, Muir seems not quite as likable to me anymore. The writing and work of Robert Marshall and Sally Carrighan seem to have a much larger, long-term vision of what wilderness should be. Although Marshall’s writing still had a focus of the utopian wilderness dream that is the epitome of the western cultural construction of wilderness, he rejected the notion that wilderness was preserved for the elite and focuses more on the under privileged. He also talked about careful management of wilderness in the North so that it would not be “consumed” like other wilderness areas in the lower 48. Sally Carrighan was a very smart woman in that she foresaw government overregulation—nature being managed by people too far removed from the landscape. One key element in successfully managing common pol resources is local management and control. The people who live closest to that ecosystem has a much better understanding of the characteristics unique to that area and they also depend on that area so it is in their best interest to manage it wisely. I wonder how American history would have been different if more attention had been given to nature writers like Carrighan and Marshall instead of Muir and Walden.

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  13. The self-imposed identification as “traveler” is generally employed to distance oneself from those who, in the “travelers” opinion, cannot break with modernity, nor its excesses, to truly experience the “bare” wilderness. Can this action also be looked at as attempt to obfuscate the “travelers” class identity, so that they may appear truly individualistic and “disinterested?”
    Kollins is quick to note that travels in early Alaska required a financial base inaccessible to the common individual. This information could have a very damning effect on “travelers” such as Muir, Young and Marshall. The author goes on to explain that the lure for these self-proclaimed geographers was the intensely individual experiences they had in the wilderness. For Muir and Young this is an obvious attempt to mystify themselves as new explorers/geographers as they were accompanied by a handful of Tlingit guides. To promote the individual nature of their experience and distance themselves from the common “tourist” it was necessary to scale down the impact, and intellect, of their guides.
    Robert Marshall seems to have understood the class distinctions found in preservationism as it often benefits only those of a higher financial status, those who can afford the modern forms of transportation. Marshall himself was not immune to this as he made his trips to the Brooks Range at the height of the American Depression, a time when many could not fulfill their basic needs. Instead of turning to the social implications of losing oneself in the wilderness, Marshall saw only the individual effort and experience of his mountain climbing. Disregarding that Muir had guides, the individualist nature of both his and Marshalls writing belies the manner in which these men accumulated wealth, which at the time is anything but individualistic. Thus “travel gains importance precisely by distancing itself from the political economy that enables it.” (Kollins 43)
    With Marshall, objectivity becomes important as well to validate his claims as a new explorer/geographer. Kollins explains that prior to Marshall there was little American voice from the greater Alaska as those who had come before left poor records due to their blue collar nature. This “disinterest” displayed by Marshall only deepens the rift between traveler and tourist, elitist and common. Marshall creates an identity as a new explorer/geographer in a place that has been occupied, or at least acknowledged, thrice before. Whether it is his intent or not this burying of prior histories attempts to destroy the validity of the original inhabitants claim to their land as well as devalues the lives and experiences of the first colonial wave of settlers. The fact that Marshall is “disinterested” does nothing to alleviate these implications it merely makes the rift that much grander.

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  14. Yosuke Sano

    What is the image of Alaska going to be in the future? People still think Alaska as last frontier? or something else?

    Kollin and many authors in Alaska have mentioned that media and tourism companies advertise Alaska as place which has untouched nature, unlimited resources, and freedom.
    However, Alaska is changing day by day. Many people in Northern Alaska are experiencing the rapid climate changes, and their lives especially Alaska Native people's lives are really affected by climate change. There are some serious garbage issues in rural villages. We are losing Alaska Native languages and cultures. There are many things are happening in Alaska which disgrace the images of last frontier. In the near future, we are experiencing these issues more and I was wondering how the media and tourism companies describe Alaska as... still as last frontier or something else???

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  15. Will Media ever present Alaska as non "pristine"?

    What I mean by that is this notion (I spent waay too much time with the section on Northern Exposure) that has dominant number of white europeans, with the token Native Alaskans. I know as I was reading that portion I was somewhat upset that it was being discussed. Whether it is a legitamate critique or simply *still* being disgruntled about a show that is set in Washington with Native Americans instead of Native Alaskans which in turn somewhat defined what people outside of Alaska thought of us locals in the 90's. I'm somewhat upset that here it is, a book about Alaska, and here we are critiqing this narrative that frankly is based on Washington, and it's supposed to be meaningful because it is "based in Alaska (Washington.)"

    Meanwhile I'm wondering about a friend of mine, John Chase, who is in Big Miracle and he was able to post some pictures of himself on the "set" and I think it is so interesting. He is an Alaskan Native male in MODERN traditional gear (tho I must ask about the Parka, it looks traditional, but it is sooo darn white, that I wonder "whose" it is. I know in Bethel (where we both grew up) that traditional parkas are handmade family affairs.

    Anyways, from my understanding they use quite a few recognizable white people from Anchorage, and when they go to "Barrow" (tho still filmed in the state) there is a majority of Native Alaskans (including John as a ship captain.) So I am thinking that this is pretty typical demographics... and not tokenism. So perhaps one of the answers is "maybe."

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  16. "Moving to Alaska can be a huge adventure! It is not like moving to any other state. Snow and ice are to Alaska the way sun and sand are to Florida."

    http://www.royalalaskanmovers.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Moving-to-Anchorage-Alaska.jpg

    The Royal Alaska Movers site posts a picture under the heading of "More About Moving to Anchorage and Alaska." The picture has a grizzly bear, a float plane and a polar bear. None of those things say "Anchorage" to me, but it is an image that an Alaskan company is using to entice outsiders. In fact, after living in Palmer and Seward as well as spending time on Kodiak and in Denali National Park, I think of Anchorage as the Big City. Anchorage is not what Alaska is about, it is a small part of the experience. While you may see a moose chewing on some leaves by Northern Lights Blvd, you won't be seeing a Polar Bear strolling up 4th Avenue.

    After reading Susan Kollin's book, I find myself questioning little details like Kevin's Juneau caribou postcard and my own fiction writing as well. Should my South-Central town have totem poles? What are the local legends? Where would the kids hang out for fun? How diverse is a village? It is an emotional battle in my own writing to try to be true to Alaska without loosing the mysticism that fuels the ideas.

    My interpretation of Kollin's work is this: What is real and what is romanticized to be real are almost opposites, sometimes diametrically opposed to each other. We must break down the learned assumptions and find the truth underneath. We need to hold on to the idea that we have something real here to protect, without calling it something that it is not for the sake of emotional comfort or economic advantage. Some of the myths and stereotypes we perpetuate are subconscious, being raised hearing them daily for years. Some are so obnoxious they are jokes, like the five foot tall mosquito as the state bird. But how many people in the lower 48 have a tee with that image, and don't actually know what a Ptarmigan is?

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  17. Kollin describes the idea of “un-mapping” and “re-mapping” of Alaska as writers like Muir describe the landscape while adding their own names, images, and views onto it(30). What will the “New Alaska” look like in the future as the rest of the outside world view is altered by celebrities, movies, and reality T.V.? Muir and Murie and many others created the image of Alaska for those who could not experience it for themselves. Although their views may have influenced others they tried to be faithful to their descriptions of the landscape. The image of Alaska as the Last Frontier or a Piggy bank full of natural resources has evolved over time. As its image changes the ideas of how to best use it are adapted by entities largely based outside of the state. Events such and the Exxon Valdez oil spill have a drastic effect on this process but only for a short time. The memory of such things only lasts so long in the nation’s consciousness. In the last few years the remapping of Alaska has been influenced by images of legislative corruption, the Bridge-to-Nowhere, Sarah Palin, ANWR, Pebble Mine, and off-shore drilling in the Beaufort and Bering Seas. Most recently the attempt to create a wilderness area in New York’s Central park by Alaskan legislators has added to the nation’s discourse on oil drilling in protected areas like ANWR. The Simpson’s Movie, and an abundance of reality T.V. shows focused on the risks and dangers of resource extraction paint a picture of a wild and dangerous place where people can make tons of money and even get paid to live. These images change the way outsiders view Alaska and its residents. The value of the resources are platforms for politicians. Drill, Baby, Drill! A rallying cry for the environmental movement to stop their agenda of keeping America from becoming fossil fuel independent has been spun to increase the corporate power to profit on unbridled resource extraction. As the views of Alaska change in the minds of the nation public opinion shapes the future of the state.

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