Eskimo Troops Brace for Iraq
Alaskan Guard units are called up for the first time in decades. Villages worry about losing men.
By Sam Howe Verhovek, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

June 5, 2006

….In this village of 386 people, six men have been notified to report for duty next month. ..The call-up in the marshy delta country to the west reaches villages so remote that there are only two ways to get here most of the year — by airplane or snowmobile — and a third from May to September, or perhaps October in a warm year with a late freeze-up: the river.

So in places with Eskimo names such as Kongiganak, Kwigillingok and Manokotak, elder leaders and wives find themselves planning how to carry on without strong young men who serve as vital providers of food….

I did some calculations to see what numerical impact (and ultimately biocultural impact) the call-up will have.

  • What will the effect be on the best leadership available, long-term and short-term?
  • What about on subsequent “leaders” because there will be fewer strong men as the adolescent males grow into their leadership?
  • What is the economic impact, e.g., will families have to move to Bethel or other villages because their breadwinner is gone? What social effects might there be as a consequence?
  • How will preparedness and rescue occur during the autumn storm flooding and erosion season?
  • Which other people will be able to assume the troops’ role or to share the load, e.g., are women allowed? males under 18? are there sufficient elders?
  • How do we integrate our veterans back into our time, space, culture?
  • What questions should we ask so we can be ready?

2005 Population by Gender and Age:

Male: 196
Female: 163
total 359

Median Age: 21.8

Pop. Age 18 and over: 204
Pop. Age 21 and over: 184
Pop. Age 62 and over: 15
6% of all men between 21 and 65 years of 386 pop. This assumes that all 98 men have a high school degree (see the R. BRETT STIRLING article most-recent-adn-article.html and none have domestic violence or felony/alcohol convictions. I would guess the call-up affects over 10% of those in economic/leadership roles.

[R. Brett Stirling writes well and thoughtfully about living in rural Alaska, and for the Anchorage Daily News,]