It is our Duty to Survive

by Peter Twitchell

I thought I retired from working a job, but today I miss working with people and I really have this desire in my heart to go back to the work force!

I come from a working family where work has always been an integral part of our lives. I’m talking about Natives who toiled and struggled to survive just to live in this world. It was our duty to survive and take care of each other for life.

I remember our Elders when I was just 16 who were pushing a sled in winter to gather wood in the 1960s, also go get ice and water for their tea and clean the dirty dishes and bathe in the steamhouse.

They didn’t sit around waiting for the fuel truck to deliver fuel to heat their dwelling or the city water truck. They foraged for wood and packed water daily since time immemorial.

I remember Elders like Adam Kawagley and Matthew Frye, well into Elderhood gathering wood in the dead of winter to keep their homes warm and plant their gardens in the summer to add fresh vegetables to their fish, bird, moose, caribou, reindeer, and seal stews.

They never came home with store-bought commodities if they could plant it or go out and get it. It was the same way for Elderly grandmas to slab their salmon fish and fill their wooden barrels with fresh tundra berries.

Our Native people across the globe were self-sufficient and worked hard to raise healthy children and that’s why us young’uns can thank them we are here today.

Thank you Mom & Dad and Grandma’s & Grandpa’s for keeping our subsistence way of living alive.

In this day and age, Year 2021, it is so easy so convenient to pay for commodities locally in stores and mail and barge orders. Also welfare provides many of our needs in way of welfare government services.

One notable thing I’ve noticed, especially in small villages in Alaska, is families and their relatives got most of the jobs tied up so it isn’t always easy or convenient for people in the villages to get a job unless they’re brought into that family circle.

When I used to travel to villages outside of Bethel I heart a lot of grumbling and unhappy people in villages who could not get a job. Now I see hope for our People to get jobs. For instance, when the Donlin Gold Mine begins their mining operations. Just that alone will boost our rural economy.