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OPINION: Unity Then, Unity Now

March 1st, 2013 | Lillian Gordon Print this article   Email this article  

When I look in the mirror I see a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a cousin, a granddaughter, a niece, an aunt, a teacher. I see a person. A passionate person. A role model for my children. A student of my elders. I appreciate the history of Anaktuvuk Pass, where my family grew its roots. I live a Nunamiut life. When I look in the mirror I see someone sticking up for my community.

I am not a politician. I am not highly paid. I am just doing the best I can, but we face daunting challenges. I care what happens to our village because my family and my friends live here, but forces outside are shaping what goes on here. We live in two worlds where we all do not hunt or trap, but we all depend on that way of life even as we live in framed houses and fill up our gas tanks. We are constantly balancing our identities in these two worlds, and it is a delicate balance in the face of dangerous changes.

Outsiders look at the land around Anaktuvuk Pass and instead of seeing security, subsistence, and connection, they see something else. They see dollar signs. The potential for energy development can be quantified in dollar signs, but not for my community. We pay for development also with a loss of our traditional ways, loss of our language, and more social problems. I have witnessed great changes in our village due to oil development, some good and some bad.

With each dividend from oil revenue we also see the hurt in our people. With money comes insurmountable pain. Money has created a greed our people have never had before. But what will always bring us joy: is the Nunamiut history and subsistence that unity brings. We all need to come together around our traditional beliefs so we can stay strong against still further changes we face.

What do we want for our people? What have our ancestors fought for? Unity comes when a people decides what is best for all, not just best for NOW. We need to prepare for our FUTURE generations. Only we can determine for ourselves what we truly want and what we are willing to sacrifice for it.

I am a Nunamiut. I care about my young boys, and I want them to have THIS identity too. This is what drives me. I live in a community that loves and supports me, but I cannot do this alone. We need to work together in a good way. Our communities need to UNITE.


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