Paradise and its people need to be preserved

Posted: Wednesday, May 17, 2000

As the sun beamed down on Juneau for almost a week, I have begun to wonder if this place is actually Alaska or really ``Paradise.'' Still being newcomers, my wife and I often take short walks or drives and hope that we will never take the beauty of this place for granted. Even during the winter months and storm-cast skies, we marvel at the serenity that this place offers for the soul.

Recently, I sat quietly during the service for a young Native. My heart was somewhat troubled because of feelings that I have for the situation for the people, that for so many years, were able to preserve Alaska's beauty in all of its splendor. I can only imagine how this part of the planet must have been 150 years ago with its rich natural wildlife and resources when people were able to live in harmony with the things around them. And as I sat in a room that was filled mostly with the true Natives of this land, I also saw a people who were once a very great and glorious people.

This morning my mind is full of questions. What can I do to help preserve this beautiful place and all of its special inhabitants? What can I do to make sure that the Natives of the north do not suffer the same fate as my wife's people, the Northern Cherokee? And finally, what can I do to help insure that the peace and serenity that Southeast Alaska has to offer can be preserved for our children and our children's children?

I saw a bumper sticker recently that said, ``A stable environment requires a stable economy.'' As I thought about those words, I wondered if they meant that the economy must have been more stable in Southeast Alaska before the era of mining, clearcutting and commercial fishing or whether they meant that we must first establish the type of economy that does not depend on the harvest of natural resources to sustain ourselves. We've got a little bit of a situation here and I'm not so sure that the Natives did not have the solutions all along.

As I left the services last evening, I was asking myself what I might do to help this ``Once Great People'' become great once again. I don't know the answer to that question yet but I feel that it will someday happen, and what a special day that will be.

Dewey P. GeorgeAuke Bay



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