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For many years, white teachers, social workers, and others interested in the Arctic lifestyle have settled in small native villages like Kiana, Alaska. Many of these settlers take in $100,000+ salaries as teachers, but remain adamant that the poor, local customs of the natives are not to be destroyed.

Any effort to bring life from the “Lower 48” to the villages is considered a contagion and rejected out of hand. With the help of their white masters, the natives’ natural isolation has become even more severe.

When my editor, Frank, visited the Arctic a few years back, it was made clear to him by his white hosts that the local customs and lifestyles were not to be tainted in any way, and that indeed any discussion of such changes would be out of order. This, of course, came from teachers in Kiana who earned more than $200,000 annually and had a private retreat of their own in Maine where they could escape the Arctic hardships, at least for a few months.

Additionally, by adopting Native babies, they received lucrative social service and oil payments from the Alaskan government. They did quite well being “purists” while the Natives remained mired in poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, and domestic violence.

Now that the local economy — always teetering on the edge of collapse — has finally collapsed and Natives are starving, going cold, and “suffering in silence,” they can thank their white helpers who set up barriers, both physical and psychological, to the outside world.

As has often been true in Alaska’s long history, the real pain and hardships there are not natural but man-made by the do-gooders who went there to help the locals.

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