Part of our History: Life in Nome, Alaska

In front of our houseIn front of our house

In twenty-five years much has changed about our life here in Nome. We are three here for the moment: myself and Damiene are both retired and receive Social Security. We do informal volunteer work in the community: I at our local museum and Damiene as a visitor to the sick and bedridden people either in the hospital or at their homes. Nirmala works full time at the Youth Facility. This is where underage boys and girls are held when they have broken some law, usually involving use of alcohol.

In the past we were heavily involved in the subsistence life style with our King Island Eskimo friends. With the years, however, the King Islanders slowly became more integrated into the money economy of Nome. Almost all the boat captains, (men who led walrus hunting crews) have passed away. There is not a younger generation to replace them. Very quickly, the subsistence life style is fading here in Nome. In the small villages, such as Diomede, it still goes on. 

Wooley lagoon, where we had camped and fished (with nets) in the summer time with all our friends is almost deserted now. In fact, this past summer we did not fish at all. We used to harvest up to two or three hundred salmon a year. We froze some, smoked some of them and just dried others. We used our salmon not only for our own table but to "thank" people with a bundle of smoked salmon when they shared their moose, or caribou or musk ox with us. 

Thanks to global warming we had one of the best summers anyone can remember. The berries were abundant and we were able to pick blueberries and cranberries to fill up our freezer. At least that has not changed. 

Our contacts with King Islanders are in an entirely different context now.

Nome 2010 Alice and DamieneNome 2010 Alice and Damiene

Damiene took a gardening class in which one of the King Islanders was also enrolled. So they often went back and forth to the class together and exchanged recipes for making dirt (that is a very serious business where the "ground" is nothing but gravel). 

Alice has contact at the museum with Native people from all over coming to look up pictures of their grandparents and "old" times in their villages. The museum works with the King Island Native Corporation to mount and show some of their artifacts in the museum. From living with people of another culture we have gone to helping them exhibit and conserve artifacts from their culture. 

Nirmala's contacts are with her co-workers and people she meets at her Water Aerobics class. She is often driving around town picking up mail, going to the bank, picking up people at the airport -all for her job. So, she has gotten acquainted with many people.


Winter snowWinter snow