My Turn: Hoonah tourist attraction should be open to everyone

Posted: Friday, August 06, 2004

Imagine our excitement at obtaining ($354 at auction), a chance to see Hoonah and the new development! We were told before we came to come on a Tuesday or Wednesday when the tour boat was in, so that we could participate in the activities, as otherwise the development was closed.

Our delightful hosts, Floyd and Margie Peterson, (fishing/sightseeing charters), deposited us there after we landed from a very smooth flight (Wings of Alaska), during which we viewed beautiful Alaska scenery and deer. We were s-o-o-o excited to find availability for a remote bear tour. ($89 each.) However, we were told we couldn't pay (even cash), or go on the tour! Now, readers, imagine our disappointment and wonderment that Point Sophia Development Co. did not want our money or our presence!

Management at Point Sophia Development told us that only people from the boat could attend anything; in fact it was probably illegal for us to even be there! My friend and I slunk away to the shopping area, expecting to be manacled and dragged off to jail.

Fortunately, enough people had heard of two senior citizen Alaskans being turned away that the compassion of the locals enabled us to buy tickets ($36 each) to the Native theater (best show we've ever seen on Native culture), have a free dinner, (many thanks to Johan Dybdahl, president, Point Sophia Development Co., at Icy Strait Lodge,) free Hoonah tour (Floyd and Margie Peterson), a special taxi trip (eagle tree), and a whale-watch trip just for the price of gas.

The compassion and concern of these local people kept our once-in-a-lifetime experience from being our "horrible Hoonah trip" to our "enjoyable Hoonah trip."

The reason for this letter is to point out a big problem to Point Sophia Development that needs to be addressed.

1) Are Alaskans to be prohibited from participating in a wonderful Hoonah experience, saved only for Outside tourists?

2) Is it illegal for seniors, Alaskans, to be in the development on tour days and spend our money there?

3) Why isn't it possible for Alaskans, if tours are not filled up, to participate?

4) Why is there just one Juneau Day, which if you miss for some reason you can't enjoy until the next year? Any why just for Juneau?

5) Why don't Alaskans know before they come that Point Sophia doesn't want their money?

6) Is any of this discrimination?

Another good thing besides the great people we met is we're going back home with the cash we expected to spend in Hoonah, to spend elsewhere!

Addendum: One Hoonah resident who heard me say this made it a point to take me downtown to spend some money!

• Sue E. Miller is a Juneau resident.

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