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Friday, June 5, 2020
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A devastating decision

By RALPH SAMUELS

I was born and raised in Alaska and have had a job since I was 15-years-old. I don’t recall ever crying at work. Until yesterday.

I work for Holland America Line and Princess Cruises and the Alaska tour company we operate, HAP.

HAP operates the Princess Lodges, Westmark Hotels, a large bus company and a train company. It is a large and complex operation that generally spends the entire year planning on a five-month season and serves as a transportation and hotel company for hundreds of thousands of visitors to Alaska.

Yesterday, we notified civic leaders, business leaders, local government officials, federal officials and elected State leaders that HAP would not operate on the rail belt this summer. The 3,500 seasonal workers we normally hire will not be hired. The 34 restaurants and coffee shops we operate will not open, and the bed taxes and sales taxes our guests generate for local governments have simply disappeared.

The Denali Borough has a population of only about 1,400 residents, but 80% of their budget, mostly for their schools, comes directly from bed taxes. Those bed taxes are overwhelmingly generated by visitors who came off of cruise ships.

While cruise ships are the transportation of choice by which more than half of the visitors to Alaska make their way north, the backbone of the tourism industry are the dozens of tour operators that show off our State to people who have had it on their “bucket list” and have finally made their way here. The visitors may be adventurous, sedentary, old, young, single, with a large family, American or international. But they all want to see and feel Alaska. Mountains, rivers, wildlife, glaciers and our unique culture are all shown off by the small Alaska owned tour companies.

These small companies depend on our volumes of guests, and we depend on their tours to best experience Alaska. In the long term neither of us can succeed without the other.

Not operating HAP this year was a very difficult decision, knowing the impacts on communities and the small businesses that depend on our many guests. But as the potential opening of the business got pushed further and further back, the decision simply had to be made. We are not capable of hiring and training the necessary thousands of employees for a five-week season.

When advised of this decision, most people were not surprised, but that doesn’t mean they were not troubled. As difficult as it was to make those phone calls, it was much worse to receive them. Our hundreds of year-round employees were notified in the morning, and like the employees in many industries, they are also very concerned. A month ago, our staff was busy hiring seasonal mechanics, waitstaff, cooks, drivers, tour guides, luggage handlers, housekeepers, bartenders, and myriad others.

Critics of the cruise industry often don’t like our large size, but they usually fail to recognize the many individuals who make up our diverse, unique and dedicated work force – the true fabric of our company. They don’t know the guy from Salcha who started his career washing busses, and 25 years later has earned his position of managing almost 3,000 guest rooms spread all over remote Alaska.

The critics rarely meet the woman who trains and manages specialized tour guides year-round, and on weekends runs 100 mile footraces in Alaska in February. And they certainly don’t know the born-and-raised Alaskan and UAF graduate who serves as the Board President of the Anchorage Civic Orchestra. At our company, we have hundreds of individuals with their own unique stories who are vibrant members of our community, and collectively make tourism work for Alaska.

Our employees and our tour partners are essential to tourism in Alaska.

As I said a number of times on the phone yesterday, there isn’t much of a silver lining to the news of HAP not operating on the rail belt this summer. ATIA President Sarah Leonard summed it up best in a media report when she simply said, “It’s devastating.”

Here is where Alaskans can offer to help. Go flight-seeing, hike in Denali, go river rafting or on a kayak trip. Help out the small tour companies until we can resume the higher number of visitors that are required to sustain our visitor industry for the long term.

These small companies do a great job of showing off our state’s rare beauty and providing one-of-a-kind adventures, and they are all right here, in our own back yard.

Ralph Samuels is a lifelong Alaskan that has worked in aviation, public service, tourism, and even had a stint as a bartender. He is the Vice President of Holland America Group.

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  • Thank you Ralph. HAP is a culture-creator in this state. We know you well, and with every good memory of your company, we all keep your ships and hotels as a destination. My words do not help the economy but serve for you to know we empathize…and you ARE Alaska. Thank you for being there, and you will be there in the future. ( a vendor to HAP)

    • Thank you Ralph, I am a tour company owner here in Juneau Alaska and I ditto everything you said! I am also an avid cruiser. I’ve been on 20 myself and can’t wait to go again. I think most cruise loving folks feel the same way. The industry will come back stronger than ever before. I believe that with all my heart. We must believe that! Take care and God bless!

  • We are all in this together or so they say. Not many folks are traveling to Florida or New Orleans either. You are not alone. It may be comforting to know this. Misery loves company. With gas so cheap, I’m going on a lengthy road trip this summer. RV the lower 48. We lost most of our PFD, so the silver lining is…. it is cheap to travel. I bad news is, this virus is going to drag on until they get the shot. It may effect the trade for 2 years. Might be time to develop a Plan B.

    • You mention it will drag on until they get the shot. I wonder though… we have the flu shot, so why do we still have the seasonal flu?

      • one of the reasons is because it mutates…and not everyone gets the flu shots anyway, and are vulnerable to getting influenza. Also, because the ‘flu can mutate, even if you get the flu shot, you could conceivably get sick…just not as sick as you would had you NOT gotten the ‘flu shot. There’s more to it than that, but that’s an abbreviated version.

        • Is there reason to believe that Covid-19 would be different? It seems like there are lots of folks saying the shot will be the answer. But if the flu mutates, wouldn’t it make sense that Covid would probably do the same? Or am I missing something?

      • Because it mutates and the shot peeps basically try to stay one guess ahead of it. Some folks don’t get the shot. Some that get the flu don’t stay home so it spreads. It does make the symptoms less seveer if you get the shot. I haven’t had the flu in 18 years.

        • My family has NEVER had the flu, and we have never taken any vaccines. It’s a person’s own body that creates the immunity. All you need to do is provide it with proper nutrients and take care of your health.

          • Spot on!

          • Bingo!!

          • You’re proposing Lemarcianism, which is wrong. Also: COVID-19 is not “the flu”. It does so many things to bodies: decreasing lung function by 20% for the next 15-20 years; weakening/damaging the heart and liver; nerve damage; clotting that causes stroke, pulmonary embolism, or amputation of extremities…
            If just “eating right” was all it took, no one would have suffered any plagues throughout history.

    • Greg – I think the big difference between NOLA and FL and Alaska is that NOLA, FL and Las Vegas, etc. have hope of receiving visitors again in a few months. That’s not the case with this announcement. Developing Plan B sounds like a GREAT idea to anyone in the tourism industry right now. However with 22 million Americans filing for unemployment since March 14th, I think that will be pretty difficult for most. Good luck on your RV trip. Hopefully you are able to find open areas to park your rig (without trespassing).

      • The National Forests are open for business. We boondock. They have hopes of reopening but have been hit way harder than AK. Going to take time there too. There are plenty of jobs out there. It might mean selling out, moving to a new local, going to work for Amazon, or UPS.Gotta do what you gotta do to stay afloat and fed. Stop whining. Suck it up.

      • I meant to ask, what makes you think a law abiding citizen like me would trespass?

  • Time for the governor to open up business. Flu is Flu and Virus is Virus is just that. Some people don’t want a flu shot and don’t care if they are up on any shots….so we will have sick and dying because of those issues and then some. With 300 cases in the state, of 800,000 people, the virus, it is not a drastic situation. What is drastic is the loss that families are going through with no income and being unable to make ends meet, no school, etc. So, time to open the state and get on with life and business. We never hear how many cases of cancer take lives every year or the real flu that kills and makes sick. No number there because the state does not want to publish an analogy of the truth. Lets get back to work. Bullying of the medical persons is over. The virus will wear itself out.

  • I’ve been laid off many a time over the years, due to no fault of my own. Of course, I worked construction mostly. I did own some businesses which didn’t survive local turn-downs. A lot of work for sometimes nothing.
    Still, I really have little tolerance for tourists or the tourism industry, and I’m not very sympathetic with their problems.
    Seems that whenever tourism takes over somewhere, the cost of living for the locals skyrockets. So many homes bought by outsiders and turned into B&Bs. Within a couple of years, those outsiders begin claiming to be locals, wedging themselves in with the real locals.
    No, tourism isn’t a good neighbor. No, tourism doesn’t help the locals, except for the locals to sell out and move to a non-tourism spot. No, tourism problems are not locals problems. No, we were doing quite well until tourism showed up. No, tourism is not welcomed by the old timers.
    Yes, tourism displaces most of the old timers and eventually pretends to be them.

    • Maybe you should have started your own country there, old timer… You could have kept everyone else out and had it all to yourself. I think it would be something cool like N Korea… Not many visitors going there…

      • We had our own country until Europeans showed up and killed almost all of us off for it.
        Even now there’s a push to do away with Indian country in Alaska, so you can’t say “That was then, this is now.” with a straight face.

        • Do you believe that your DNA makes you special and deserving of special laws, regulations, and opportunities that aren’t afforded to those with different DNA, Joey?

          Exactly how much would you say the “Europeans” or their descendants owe you and those with your DNA and for how long should they be on the hook to pay you off? And please try to say it with a straight face…

          • Yes, it does. (with a straight face.) They took our culture away and mostly the language. Gotta pay for that now-a- days when you are the best country on earth.

          • “Joey?” How condescending of you.
            American Natives couldn’t vote for the longest time. We weren’t citizens for the longest time. We were deemed unfit parents and our children were taken away to foster homes and boarding schools; of which I have first hand knowledge. It’s called genocide Auntie. GENOCIDE!
            Only reason it stopped, sort of, is that America was being criticized by other nations for how Natives (and other minorities) were being abused.
            With a straight face Auntie, We want noting from you, except what we were murdered for.
            Just last year I took a friend to a party for his co-workers. I had a really nice and new car, and I was dressed well. When my friend’s co-workers found out that he was friends with a Native, he lost his job.
            All the “No Dogs or Indians” signs may be in storage now, but their shadow is still on your doors.
            Don’t you dare play indignantly righteous for your words here show the world what you really are.

        • Is this a joke? Europeans didn’t show up and slaughter Alaska natives. You shouldn’t be able to say that with a straight face.

          And there isn’t even an “Indian country” unless you’re referring to Metlakatla and I highly doubt that’s what you meant. The AK native population gladly accepted corporate status during the native claims settlement act and in that process went from eating carrion off the beach to a culture elevated by new found prosperity. That prosperity ushered in a title wave of new snow machines, rifles, big screens, blue tarps and special status. It also taught village women that they didn’t necessarily have to accept a life of having their dignity assaulted by village men.

          Spare us your tripe and focus on improving yourself and your family rather than blaming others for your brush with prosperity. Your disdain for “Europeans” is misplaced and shameful. Buy a book.

          • Damn son. You have it all wrong. The Russians took it, sold it and basically stole everything from them.The white eyes LOL gave us illness. the NCSA was better than the nothing they were getting before it. Your racist tendency is evident when you say eating carrion off the beach. You mean to discredit a population that thrived for over 20,000 years. ]]

          • Alaska Natives didn’t “gladly” accept the settlement. We realized that it was the best the political climate had to offer us. The only leverage we had was the pipeline access through our Indian Lands. We were wise enough to not over-play our hand.
            We agreed to what was the best the Europeans were willing to give up.
            The near one billion dollars couldn’t buy even a tenth of one aircraft carrier, and the 44 million acres is a pittance compared to what you occupy.
            We were saddled with a corporate structure of which we had practically zero knowledge of. It took decades for us to “get it”, after we almost lost all of it. Some legislators didn’t like how we were set up, and allowed us to sell our NOL’s (net operating losses) to corporations which needed a tax write-off.
            The fishermen and hunters who first ran our corporations wised up and sent our children to college. When our children graduated, they came back to help their elders manage things a lot better.
            You need to read up because you’re rather ignorant of history.

  • Thanks Ralph, very well said – I cried too. It is absolutely heartbreaking and devastating on so many levels, for so many people and businesses. Not to mention the dashed Alaska vacation dreams for hundreds of thousands of visitors. But the Alaskan spirit and resilience is second to none and we will be back! #AlaskaWillWait

    • Did you weep for Disney peeps, or the French Quarter? How about the national park peeps? Weep for one, weep for all I say.

  • Lost your Constitutional freedoms, your Bill of Rights, all you can do is cry?
    .
    Holland America’s $60K per year lobbyist cry too?
    .
    Get over it.

    • Snowflakes I think. Some of us has had to endure much worse than this. Maybe that is what prepared us.

      • Much much worse is coming up in the very near future if We The People don’t stand up for our God-given rights. The power grabbers are taking full advantage of the fear mongers.

  • The current approach of isolating and shutting everything down is only furthering infections and our ability to fight the infection in the long run.

    This statement came from a known immunologist:

    Our current everyone-stay-home approach is anything but enlightened by immunological theory. Quite the opposite: As billions of people worldwide are currently in their homes, in close confinement, in situations of extreme fear and psychological distress, being told by their governments to go to the grocery store as rarely as possible, we are creating an environment which is more and more conducive for facilitating a virus with enhanced virulence in the future. How are we doing this?
    1) Lowering everyone’s resistance to viruses by scaring, stressing, and discouraging them from normal activities including buying food and drink.
    2) Keeping everyone at home in effect creates just the immunosuppressive scenario that fosters flu during the winter time — cold, close quarters and stress.
    3) Discouraging direct human contact including hugging and kissing, and directly loving one another suppresses immunity. With social distancing, our species never would have made it this far.
    4) Preventing young people from being exposed to COVID 19 short circuits “herd immunity.”
    In stark contrast to the quixotic fantasies driving our stay-at-home American approach, which sees all new viruses as equally terrifying, British health authorities are taking the more sober approach, one which is solidly based on contemporary virological, immunological and evolutionary biological theory: letting children go to school, to acquire COVID 19 and become naturally immune is absolutely the best way to assure that this new virus learns to peacefully coexist with we human beings. Viruses have always been with us, and are part of our very genomes.
    I have met few modern immunologists who believe, as Dr. Fauci does, that washing one’s hands 50 times a day is the best way to stay healthy. At the Ghost lab at the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Immunology in the 2000s, we often discussed how over-cleanliness and over-protection from viruses and bacteria was a very poor public health approach: too much hand washing actually prevents normal development of the immune system, and leads to autoimmune and other immune-regulatory disturbances later in life. That “hygiene hypothesis” is well known and well accepted by most immunologists.

    • The difference is British authorities haven’t been obsessed for the last three years with deposing a sitting American president and driving America into a twenty-first century Great Depression to do it.

      • well said

      • Calling it like it is!

    • So wrong in almost every way possible. If we had done nothing, you may be dead by now. Recliner quarterbacks never cease to amaze me. Your article, is long. Less is more.

    • As of March 23rd the BBC reports that the vast majority of UK schools are closed and are expected to remain closed possibly through September. I’m not sure where you got your information, but it appears to be incorrect.

      Getting the covid-19 virus has not been shown to confer immunity. South Korea has demonstrated that an increasing number of patients have tested positive with a re-infection of covid-19. Herd immunity appears to be questionable and an unreliable strategy to deal with this virus.

      The “hygiene hypothesis” refers to exposing children to microorganisms to prevent allergies or asthma. Covid-19 produces a viral infection, not an allergy. Your argument does not apply to this situation.

    • How, pray tell, does “herd immunity” work on a novel virus? There is no immunity… that’s kind of the point. And that’s just one of the many troubling problems with your post.

  • The damage that is being done with these lockdowns is not only infringing on our freedom but is also insuring that the virus will continue to spread and not be brought under control by nature.

    The damage that this is doing to all of us is scary and the fact that many have just accepted the lockdown protocols is even more frightening. Look for the truth folks.

    Read the following, this is statement is from a certified immunologist:

    Our current everyone-stay-home approach is anything but enlightened by immunological theory. Quite the opposite: As billions of people worldwide are currently in their homes, in close confinement, in situations of extreme fear and psychological distress, being told by their governments to go to the grocery store as rarely as possible, we are creating an environment which is more and more conducive for facilitating a virus with enhanced virulence in the future. How are we doing this?
    1) Lowering everyone’s resistance to viruses by scaring, stressing, and discouraging them from normal activities including buying food and drink.
    2) Keeping everyone at home in effect creates just the immunosuppressive scenario that fosters flu during the winter time — cold, close quarters and stress.
    3) Discouraging direct human contact including hugging and kissing, and directly loving one another suppresses immunity. With social distancing, our species never would have made it this far.
    4) Preventing young people from being exposed to COVID 19 short circuits “herd immunity.”
    In stark contrast to the quixotic fantasies driving our stay-at-home American approach, which sees all new viruses as equally terrifying, British health authorities are taking the more sober approach, one which is solidly based on contemporary virological, immunological and evolutionary biological theory: letting children go to school, to acquire COVID 19 and become naturally immune is absolutely the best way to assure that this new virus learns to peacefully coexist with we human beings. Viruses have always been with us, and are part of our very genomes.
    I have met few modern immunologists who believe, as Dr. Fauci does, that washing one’s hands 50 times a day is the best way to stay healthy. At the Ghost lab at the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Immunology in the 2000s, we often discussed how over-cleanliness and over-protection from viruses and bacteria was a very poor public health approach: too much hand washing actually prevents normal development of the immune system, and leads to autoimmune and other immune-regulatory disturbances later in life. That “hygiene hypothesis” is well known and well accepted by most immunologists.

    • Take a freaking chill pill. I’m not freaking out in my home. Most aren’t Only the ones like you that occupy an agenda of the media are being reported. They are preparing you for the big one.

    • Hugging and kissing is a bad thing? You don’t get out much.

    • Well stated. And, accurate. More and more medical professionals are questioning the efficacy of the current protocols, including treatment–ventilators damage the lungs.
      Over 80% of those who have the virus are asympotmatic or have mild symptoms and never present to a doctor for treatment.
      Further, it is estimated that there are 6M-7M infected, which is probably more like 8M-9M, given that Bhattachrya and Bendavid’s study was made in early March. This would put the mortality rate at .6% if 6M infected and 40K killed to .4% if 40K killed.
      The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed 675,000 Americans. This flu might kill 60K, making it no worse than the 2017-2018 flu season.
      Further, any accurate numbers are almost impossible at this time, because every death is now attributed to the COVID-19. $12K-$300K is being paid by the feds for every diagnosis of COVID-19 made in a hospital.
      The virus is on a fixed pattern, it peaks at about 6 weeks and diminishes by the 8th week. Further, it does not matter whether there is a quarantine or not, that’s what it does.
      There is no direct evidence that the mass quarantines are working.
      We are destroying the economy of the state and the nation for nothing.
      All about fear, no substance.
      Even Fauci stated in a 26 March New England Medical Journal article that this will probably turn out no worse than a bad flu season. 2017-2018 flu season killed 61K, 50K were 65 and older.
      This virus kills the older people with pre-existing conditions, and the infirm, not the fit and young.
      We need to go back to work, those who need to quarantine, because of pre-existing conditions need to continue to do so, but the rest of us need to go back to work.
      Mr. Forkern’s fears without standing, the CDC’s recommended protocols for self-defense are the same as for the flu–wash your hands, etc.
      Oil is $10/bbl, WTI. Alaska’s economy is toast, the state needs to lay off a lot of dead wood and the governor needs to put Alaskans back to work . . . NOW.

  • I just hope and pray that Denali Park is open for the locals to hike and enjoy, at least to Savage River wayside. We will gladly stay with Social Distancing. It is the shops and eateries that cause people to gather. We can survive without that for a season.

  • After reading through these comments I’ve concluded that there are a lot of folks that don’t really understand the economics and domino affect of our tourism industry. It is sad and unfortunately going to be even more sad come mid summer when the effects will be real.

    • And I’d bet many of them will be the first to hold their hand out looking to be “saved” by the government. Open the state for business and let people make up their own mind as to whether or not they want to hunker down. Uncle sugar doesn’t have the money to continue to mail checks to everyone, and the lenders cannot possibly suspend payments indefinitely. At some point we need to come back to our senses.
      I sure hope its sooner rather than later.

      • You are WRONG about Am Natives accepting Corporate “status”. This was NOT welcomed by all…it was genocide, once again.

    • No, we get it. That’s the point.

    • I for one do understand the domino effect. IMO if this crisis destroys the tourism industry in Alaska, it won’t hurt us very much because we were doing fine before the first tourist ever arrived.
      Everyone who latched onto the tourism industry , even indirectly, made a very bad choice because they chose to depend on someone else’s business plan and not their own. They will get hurt badly, so sad……..maybe lesson learned for some?
      Now, if only this crisis will clean out much of the “Carpetbagger” politicians and state workers, whom are sucking the life-blood out of Alaska…….we can hope!

    • Yes, I agree totally. Once an industry becomes a large supporter for an area its loss will eventually impact everyone.

    • Since you are in Juneau, do you think the Joy will be there end of August? Getting ready to make my final payment. I know you can’t predict, just looking for a gut feeling with fingers crossed.

  • I cannot say I am sorry about the cruise lines. I will say that as a new Alaskan, I will happily do my best to employ the small tour companies and ride on the Alaska Railroad when they open up for the year. I have never been a very good “tourist” preferring instead to visit places where I can volunteer and do some good. But I am prepared to go full blown tourist in Alaska. Recommendations for specific companies that will be open are greatly appreciated.

    • When I travel, I prefer to stay away from other tourists. Try to not be packed into that cattle car. Prefer the open range.

  • This is very well written and is accurate to the impact this will have on Alaska, but if we were to let everyone in it could have a devastating impact on Alaska with regard to illness and death. I personally choose a financial loss over a human loss. I know this will devastate our state in many ways, but I also know that the loss of loved ones can be even more devastating. We ALaskan’s can help others by buying local and vacationing local. I personally do not want to get on an airplane anytime soon and be trapped in a tin can with people who may well be spreading a virus that is deadly to many.

    • I’m leaving AK at 600+ mph and will stay in touch with some fine friends I have made. The rest can continue the fight against the house majority. In the old days, we would have called the leeches out to a duel.

  • The cruise lines are vertically integrated to a great degree and that point is made in the article wherein Holland America operates 34 hotels and restaurants, etc. They’re well known for paying poverty level wages and siphoning from Alaska rather than being a provider to Alaska.

    If they skip a year or five; who cares, aside from someone that HAP has made dependent?

    • Good comment. Spot on.

  • So sad to see this. We had the best family vacation ever here in 2017…the people we met were awesome…hope we can book 2021. More of the lower 48 need to see the Great Land.

    • Unless you get out in the bush, off the road, you aren’t seeing Alaska. Just the tourist trap to steal your money.

    • A couple years ago a new arrival from the S-48 moved in next door to me. He had a few days before his new job started and he said that he wanted to get a feel for Alaska.
      I drove him from Anchorage, to mile 104 on the Steese North of Fairbanks, and back to Anchorage the long way, through Delta and Glenallen. It was a whirlwind tour, over 1000 miles in less than 24 hours. It was winter so we couldn’t drive real fast. 10 minute quick naps were all I needed.
      He said that he now understands just how big Alaska really is, and that an airplane couldn’t give him the same feel for it, because they reach their destinations too quickly.

  • Ralph,
    I’m commenting from afar in the second largest state. Knowing you, and when you put the pen to the paper it was heartfelt and thoughtful for Alaska and its residents. One takes a risk when writing and sharing their thoughts and feelings, however once again you call it like it is. Continue to be a responsible citizen, business person and member of the Alaskan community.

  • You either empower your self or pick-up victimhood (poor me, poor us)
    Would not the very 1st people ever to Alaska be tourists?
    Everyone is better off now that people were 100yrs ago, it is advancement.
    Tourists do bring $ to Ak. and it is a renewable resource. I would have loved to come work in Ak. during summers of my school years for whatever they paid but would not plan to stay at that entry level income. Workers would not come here if the pay was not enough and they tend to come back again. Anti-advancement thinkers should be glad that most tourists travel in the same small area. They travel in comfort not cattle cars. If you dis-like tourists why would you live near them? It is a very big state, are you to lazy to move or do you like access to elec, gas, Dr., Dentist, groc…..? Yes tourism and oil make those available thru advancements of a growing thriving state.
    DNA shows we are all part of many past peoples, I think Genghis Khan ties almost all of us together.
    I do agree that if we were all treated the same many of our problems would go away. Equal subsistence for all? Same land rights for all? No special health care for some? No free or discounted education for some? No special discounted loan rates for some? No special land for some? Life is not fair, all things are not equal for all people. History shows again and again if you give certain people free stuff you will hold them back. If you promise all people free stuff you will not be able to deliver.
    Our way forward would be better with huge turnout at the voting poles and keep true information coming. Tone down the emotion and facts begin to become more clear. This is an awesome article by Ralph Samuels. How awesome to see some one who loves Ak. and the company they work for, refreshing. I’m glad for all the comments. It shows you are reading “Must Read Ak.”. There is some advancement.

    • Would you be proud if I were to marry your grandmother? I don’t think so because your rant is one of the most racist I’ve read for a while.
      You don’t see it do you? That’s what makes you so racist, your not seeing it. “The heart is deceitful above all things.” You sound like your own heart has deceived you into believing that you’re a really nice person. You’re not, you’re not at all. Your words tell on you.

  • Oh, dear me. It’s probably poor form to not reply immediately underneath the comments of others but we seem to have run into a limit with how many nested replies the site’s software can support and the preposterous statements above from Greg and Joey regarding their imagined status as eternal victims who’re owed anything at all by the rest of us just beg for further commentary.

    Gentlemen, you no doubt take some warped pleasure in wallowing in whatever miseries and grievances you’ve saddled yourselves with but your laughable, demanding mewlings mark you as what youngsters might term “butt-hurt” nut cases.

    In no way whatsoever are you or anyone who shares your DNA owed anything at all by “Europeans” or “white eyes” and you should consider yourselves lucky enough that White folks came along in the first place to rescue your forebears from the stone age. You’re nothing less than the much-enriched, warmer, and healthier beneficiaries of White civilization whether you want to look at it that way or not.

    Y’know, I won’t personally claim credit for introducing the wheel, literacy, modern medicine with attendant enhanced lifespans and qualities of life, spectacles, the rifle, fiberglass and aluminum boats with outboard motors, snow machines, fire, airplanes, permanent abodes, Pilot Bread, Carhartts, computers, corporations, photography, nor any of the rest of the niceties enjoyed by so many Natives today and nor will I accept the bogus notion that there’s a perpetual, unquantifiable debt owed by White people to you and your extended families.

    You can angrily stumble along through life with your hand out believing whatever you want but you fellows and your goofy, entitled, Oh, dear me. It’s probably poor form to not reply immediately underneath the comments of others but we seem to have run into a limit with how many nested replies the site’s software can support and the preposterous statements above from Greg and Joey regarding their imagined status as eternal victims who’re owed anything at all by the rest of us just begs for further commentary.

    Gentlemen, you no doubt take some warped pleasure in wallowing in whatever miseries and grievances you’ve saddled yourselves with but your laughable, demanding mewlings mark you as what youngsters might term “butt-hurt” nut cases.

    In no way whatsoever are you or anyone who shares your DNA owed anything at all by “Europeans” or “white eyes” and you should consider yourselves lucky enough that White folks came along in the first place to rescue your forebears from the stone age. You’re nothing less than the much-enriched, warmer, and healthier beneficiaries of White civilization whether you want to look at it that way or not.

    Y’know, I won’t personally claim credit for introducing the wheel, literacy, modern medicine with attendant enhanced lifespans and qualities of life, spectacles, the rifle, fiberglass and aluminum boats with outboard motors, snow machines, fire, airplanes, permanent abodes, Pilot Bread, Carhartts, computers, corporations, photography, nor any of the rest of the niceties enjoyed by so many Natives today and nor will I accept the bogus notion that there’s a perpetual, unquantifiable debt owed by White people to you and your extended families.

    You can stumble along through life believing whatever you want but you fellows and your goofy, entitled, self-important, and delusionally leftist ideas reek of much that’s so very wrong with Alaska and America these days.

    Just sayin’.

    Highly informative article by the way, Ralph!

    • Doubled down, didn’t you.
      You only think you’re superior, but you’re not. No, you’re not.
      West Africa had civilization while Europe was in the dark ages.
      China had civilization while Europe was populated with Vandals and Goths.
      Rome had civilization while Europe was a wilderness.
      The Americas had several highly civilized nations, Long before Europe stumbled into the world scene.
      Europe rose due to a favorable climate happening, and then was populated by a blending of not quite yet Caucasian races. Hitler had a problem with that concept.
      “…the term “Caucasian” has often been used in the United States in a different, social context to describe a group commonly called “white people”. “White” also appears as a self-reporting entry in the U.S. Census. Naturalization as a United States citizen was restricted to “free white persons” by the Naturalization Act of 1790, and later extended to other resident populations by the Naturalization Act of 1870, Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 and Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.” Wikipedia

      • C’mon, Joey. Pull yourself together. I’m really trying not to smirk in your general direction.

        So… setting aside your confabulations, your victim’s complex, and your failed stab at delivering a history lesson, can you just come right out and say how much you think you’re owed and for how long this imagined debt should be shouldered by White Americans and White Alaskans?

        • Shouldn’t you be burning a cross somewhere?

  • Great article; I would love to do all that; however, it takes money. And, like the staff in Denali, I find myself without a lot of it due to COVID-19 layoffs :/

  • Shame on me for hitting “post comment” a couple times in a row… 🙂

    Here’s the corrected version of my post:

    Oh, dear me. It’s probably poor form to not reply immediately underneath the comments of others but we seem to have run into a limit with how many nested replies the site’s software can support and the preposterous statements above from Greg and Joey regarding their imagined status as eternal victims who’re owed anything at all by the rest of us just begs for further commentary.

    Gentlemen, you no doubt take some warped pleasure in wallowing in whatever miseries and grievances you’ve saddled yourselves with but your laughable, demanding mewlings mark you as what youngsters might term “butt-hurt” nut cases.

    In no way whatsoever are you or anyone who shares your DNA owed anything at all by “Europeans” or “white eyes” and you should consider yourselves lucky enough that White folks came along in the first place to rescue your forebears from the stone age. You’re nothing less than the much-enriched, warmer, and healthier beneficiaries of White civilization whether you want to look at it that way or not.

    Y’know, I won’t personally claim credit for introducing the wheel, literacy, modern medicine with attendant enhanced lifespans and qualities of life, spectacles, the rifle, fiberglass and aluminum boats with outboard motors, snow machines, fire, airplanes, permanent abodes, Pilot Bread, Carhartts, computers, corporations, photography, nor any of the rest of the niceties enjoyed by so many Natives today and nor will I accept the bogus notion that there’s a perpetual, unquantifiable debt owed by White people to you and your extended families.

    You can stumble along through life believing whatever you want but you fellows and your goofy, entitled, self-important, and delusionally leftist ideas reek of much that’s so very wrong with Alaska and America these days.

    Just sayin’.

    Highly informative article by the way, Ralph!

  • Mr. Forkner and Mr. DJ -The hate is strong with you, gentlemen. Sadly, the issue you ascribe to Europeans appears to be misdirected. More accurately it’s Russians you probably dislike, a small percentage of whom might be considered European but by and large the term you’re using is misapplied as is your disdain for “white eyes”.

    Blatant racism is disappointing of course but I have lived here long enough not to be surprised. You profess a longing for a time when things were primitive yet you spatter MustReadAlaska with comments that would not be possible were it not for an invention made by the culture you openly hate.

    If your culture’s waning legacy is to be remembered well, become known for something you’ve done well both for yourself and for others as no one will ‘fix’ the white eyes matter you complain about. Further, consider the greater good rather than selfish interest alone when pondering what’s to come of the PFD .

    Ask yourself what reasonable options might make Alaska a better place rather than how much money you might acquire that you have not earned.

    In a similar way Holland America’s attempt to posture itself as benevolent guardian of underserved Alaskans is also disingenuous and self serving. Future Alaska history won’t miss Holland America and it won’t miss you either if your greatest contribution is that of a hateful social and economic parasite.

    Embrace truth and stay safe gentlemen; you have much to accomplish.

    • “The South shall rise again.” NOT!

  • A true disaster for many Alaskans and many friends and acquaintances in the Alaska tourism industry. A decision to not operate this year had to be one of the hardest made at HAP. It is as devastating to the communities in SE.

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