This article is an example of why life here is not like anywhere else I’ve ever lived. The issue at hand is whether officials are *really* going to demonstrate sensitivity to a multicultural perspective, even if it’s not politically correct. Whether the bush elder practice of culling wolf pups at times of low moose availability is “barbaric” or, rather, part of a whole “ethos” of living skills born of truly living closely to the regional land your ancestors have, for hundreds or thousands of years. I think the fact that the paper is even asking the question is really phenomenal. Alaskan natives have never been on reservations, have never been marched anywhere, and retain quite a long-lived uninterrupted communal sense of identity, oral history, and formal organization. The partnership and conversation I see going on between the government and the native councils is not something you read about as a habit in the Florida papers.
Lots of of lower 48 people might give lip service to “multicultural tolerance”, but it never impacts their life in a tangible daily fashion. In lots of Alaskan villages, where traditional subsistence lifestyles are followed, there are no corporations or malls to work at, no Wal-mart to sell you a lot of stuff you sometimes don’t need, no car dealerships, no Starbucks, no convenience stores and gas stations for block after block. Most people have personally grown, hunted and butchered or fished and preserved the food they eat everyday, with very expensive groceries flown in with their mail. The fact that there are less moose this year than usual means less to eat in the winter. If you think you know the whole truth, and are going to pass judgement on these people and their practices, you should spend one year building up *your* larder in a place off the electrical grid, off telephone circuits, away from grocery stores, and find out how hard it is to stay warm and fed. Yes, the puppies are cute; in a perfect world, trading off wolves against moose wouldn’t have to be done. But, that’s nature; in most places in the U.S., you don’t really have to *think* about nature. It’s a tourist event you choose to partake of on your weekend. In most of Alaska, it’s real life for a lot of people.
A perennial topic here seems to be when there are too many moose vs. wolves, and vice versa. It’s a lot of people to make happy at one time; wilderness guides, wildlife watchers, hunters, fishers, native subsistence families, and wildlife officials that are responsible for managing it all. To complicate things, natives have different access to certain areas, as well as the okay to fish and hunt places most hunters can’t, except by special lot. I don’t pretend to understand everything yet, but the editorial in the NM seems well-balanced. It’s good to encourage people (even people who consider themselves tolerant) to “open our minds to uncomfortable thoughts.” If you’ve already made your judgement, on the basis of information you consider unassailable, there can be no compromise, and therefore no solution that works for most everyone.