it’s all perspective

Last night I started reading “Goodbye My Island” to my youngest (a welcome respite from Harry Potter).  The book was written by a friend of my mother’s from our years in Nome.  It is a story about the population of Native Alaskans who, for generations, spent their winters hunting and gathering on a small rocky island in the Bering Sea called King Island.  The entire community would relocate to Nome (for them a veritable metropolis of 3000 people) in the summer months, where they fished and sold their ivory carvings to tourists.
By the late 70’s early 80’s, Nome with it’s greater amenities, available public schooling, and unfortunate collection of drinking establishments, became such a draw or a trap for King Islanders that they collectively ceased their age old migration pattern.  King Island’s hunting village was abandoned as was a way of life few of us can even vaguely relate to.
I grew up with these King Island children.  They were in my girls scout troop. They were my next door neighbors. I played their games in the vacant lot on 3rd street, and watched them fist fight kids from Shishmaref after school.
It was not until I began reading “Goodbye My Island”  last night that it ever occured to me what a bizarre collision of worlds went on in my childhood home.  I, like most of the white kids I grew up with, moved to this isolated frozen landscape from a big warm city in the lower 48.  Cooie, Love, Bubba and the many other King Islanders I knew were saying goodbye to their roadless, windswept, tight knit community, to live in the bustling, dirty, crowded, city of Nome.