Publication Date

Spring 2012

Degree Name

MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations

First Advisor

Janaki Natarajan

Abstract

Across rural Alaska are over 200 Alaska Native villages so isolated, they are only accessible by airplane, boat, and snowmachine. These villages strive to keep their Native culture alive and rich, but continue to struggle against Western influences. Introduced to Alaska Natives by European and Russian explorers in the 1700s, this paper examines how alcohol addiction is affecting community members throughout villages in rural Alaska. The research was conducted in two Iñupiaq Eskimo villages, Point Hope and Selawik, both located above the Arctic Circle in rural Alaska. Drawing from three years of personal observations and a series of interviews, this study addresses makes clear connections between how the history of alcohol in Alaska continues to impact villages today. Even though it is clear alcohol addiction is rooted from Western explorers introducing alcohol to Alaska Natives, the United States government refuses to accept responsibility for this issue and does little to provide services to alleviate this problem to Alaska Natives throughout rural Alaska. This created culture of persistent binge drinking combined with the high monetary and emotional cost of drinking alcohol continues to have a negative impact on all people’s lives throughout the village, ultimately destroying a small piece of their Alaska Native way of life everyday.

Disciplines

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Rural Sociology