December 22, 2017
Even Santa needs help getting to remote Alaskan Villages
It’s not easy to get to Saint Michael, Alaska. Not even if you’re Santa Claus.
Luckily, jolly old St. Nick could hitch a ride on a military transport plane to the tiny island community that’s closer to Russia than Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage.
Santa and Mrs. Claus brought goodies that most Americans take for granted but come at a high cost in remote parts of the nation’s largest state: toys, books, personal hygiene supplies, fresh fruit and even ice cream.
For some children, the toy they received during the visit last week will be the only one they get this year. Others hadn’t had real ice cream in years and have never seen Santa Claus in person.
The visit marked the 61st year of the Alaska National Guard’s Operation Santa Claus, a community outreach program that tries to bring Kriss Kringle to two villages every year if the weather cooperates.
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"I just wish there was a bigger voice," D'Anna Osceola said. "It's just unfortunate because Native Americans are the minority of minorities."
As a kid, Osceola would go to festivals for the public with relatives.
"I grew up in a family of teachers," Osceola said. Her grandmother always traveled the state going to festivals, serving traditional samples like fry bread and showcasing crafts like dolls.
Every word of outreach counts.
Though the focus of its mission is to serve and give voice to Indian youth, the council also helps educate the public on Native American communities. Sometimes that's through speaking at schools or handing out fact sheets and answers to frequently asked questions.
Yosemite's native american village returns
Bill Tucker brushes pine needles from a flat, granite boulder to reveal bowl-shaped holes once used by his mother and grandmother to grind acorn and native plants for cooking.
“This is home!” the 78-year-old Miwuk and Paiute man says at the site of the last Native American village in Yosemite Valley, destroyed by the National Park Service by 1969.
Nearly half a century later, the village is being rebuilt.
The project is personal for native elders like Tucker who once lived there and have remained near Yosemite.
“It’s our job as the National Park Service to preserve and protect the park and the resources,” Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman says, “but telling the cultural history and telling the story about the Native Americans is equally as important to our mission, not just for us as the National Park Service to tell the story, but to have the tribes and the tribal members tell the story. It’s unique and it’s exciting and it’s great for everybody.”
Tourists will be able to visit the village, although some spiritual ceremonies may only be open to tribal members.
The aim of the village, native elder Les James says: “To continue our culture and educate our youth, that’s really the bottom line. Educate our youth.”