February 07, 2005

26. Juneau Trip, Part II.

Both Representative Kapsner and Senator Hoffman were extremely warm and welcoming to our kids. Each invited them into their office and each, respectively spent more than an hour engaging them in conversation. I felt they spoke to our students in a way that showed an intimate understanding of their culture and an appreciation for the hard work they did in order to be there. Representative Kapsner told stories of when she lived in Tunt and even knew that one of our students had shot a moose a few months back. While we were in Senator Hoffman’s office, he pointed out the 1888 map of Alaska he had on his wall.
As you can see from the map, at that time Tuntutuliak was at the center of the most populated region of Alaska. The map shows the way things were just prior to the Great Death- the time when new diseases brought in by explorers and settlers from far away places swept through native Alaskan communities in epidemics that killed the majority of native people. This is something I've heard before, but looking at this map- and knowing that there are only a fraction of those villages still around today- brings it very close to home.


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