Alaska As a Formative Influence on Character

[fourth of MIC blogs]

alaska map overlayI once wrote that when you put four Alaskans in a room, you have five marriages, six divorces, and seven political parties. Just because I was making a joke doesn’t mean I wasn’t telling the truth, too. Alaska embraces contradiction as a way of life.

For example. We pride ourselves on our independence. We hate the federal government only slightly less than we hate the state government. This is interesting, since Alaskans receive more federal dollars per capita than any other state. About 34 percent of Alaskans are employed by the federal government.

USCG ProtectingAlaskaThere is a reason for this. Over 60 percent of Alaska is federally owned. Before statehood in 1959, before ANCSA in 1972, before ANILCA in 1979, it was over 90 percent federally owned. More specifically? If you are an American citizen, YOU own it. Your tax dollars go toward supporting the national parks, forests and wildlife refuges here. The federal government is our biggest employer, especially after you add in the army bases, the two air force bases, Elmendorf and Eielson, and the large Coast Guard presence.

Whisper to the Blood coverWe live here, so of course we look at that ownership a little differently. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, after all. We got attitude. You talking to us? We’re the only ones actually living here, so you must be talking to us. Of course, the election just past notwithstanding, almost no one ever is, which leads to a feeling of inferiority, which engenders even more ‘tude.

And that ‘tude is at the heart of Kate Shugak’s character. You, Dear Reader, forget that at your peril.

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