VILLAGE LEADERS TRY TO KEEP VILLAGES SAFE — THEIR OWN WAY
When Michael Pitka came back to be with family in the Tlingit village of Angoon on Admiralty Island, the city published a press release to let the community know he had violated its local travel restriction and wasn’t welcome.
“This traveler does NOT qualify as a resident as they have not physically lived in Angoon for 10 of the last 12 months. Also, this traveler has passed through at least two Alaskan ‘Hot Zones’ on their way to Angoon,” the city wrote and posted on its Facebook page. Pitka had been in Russian Mission, 70 air miles north of Bethel.
Pitka, according to the City of Angoon EOC, was informed that he wasn’t welcome since he is not an Angoon resident, but came to Angoon anyway by plane. He would have had to pass through Anchorage and Juneau.
“Please do everything you can do to avoid any contact whatsoever with this individual. A code violation citation will be issued for the violation of our local travel mandate, punishable by a fine of $500,” the city wrote.
In addition, Pitka would have to be quarantined somewhere for 14 days and any violations will mean a year in jail and up to a $25,000 fine, according to the City of Angoon.
The city asked for the community’s help in reporting Pitka to Alaska State Troopers if he was seen violating any mandates.
The story is more complicated by the fact that Pitka has a list of prior criminal offenses dating back years, and the village of Angoon might not have wanted him around for other reasons.
Angoon has issued earlier community messages via Facebook about whether people belong in the village during its COVID-19 shutdown. A couple had been anchored in a nearby bay over the winter and had brought their sailboat to the dock at the ferry terminal. After investigation, the city determined the couple was practicing self-quarantining. In another case, a college student was returning home, and the city provided an explanation that the student would be allowed back into the village.
In a third case, an on-and-off resident of Angoon was granted permission to return to the village to take up permanent residency.
“As this person has sold their Juneau residence, they have no place to go except for their permanent residence in Angoon. As such, this person has been issued a travel waiver by the Angoon EOC and will be coming to their new permanent residence on tomorrows ferry,” the Angoon EOC wrote on Facebook.
Angoon, it appears, it taking it on a case by case basis, but adopting a fairly aggressive stance to whether people are permitted in the village.
ANAKTUVUK PASS MAYOR REMINDS PEOPLE TO DO WHAT THEY ALREADY DO — STAY AT HOME
Mayor Charles Hugo of Anaktuvuk Pass, had a gentler message for his far-north Inupiat village, reminding members that since they all stay home anyway, they should “keep doing that.”
His letter to the village is one for the ages:
“Morning Anaktuvuk Pass:
It is time to stay home in our mountains but we can go out hunting or fishing; and we need facilities to be open. Try not to panic though, life still functions and we just need to stay home, we’ve been staying home from each other for years anyhow. Since we never visit each other we should be safe, but all our kids need to be home too for the time being, we love seeing them but sometime in life we have to teach them to obey parents. We recommend no outside travel unless you really have to go such as medical travel, loss of loved one travel, medevac and also family emergency. We ask returning residents from traveling outside to go home and stay home like we always do anyways. Just count 14 days so those that are iksi will not be affected … young folks be safe, you’re not superman or wonder woman yeah ok, but you need alone time for the moment … a long moment, go hunting fishing … just do it for the elders from the old ways … your young and most likely to fend this virus off, but you may affect little baby infant bro or sis or your dear old grandparents, and common sense in you should be practiced. Everything else has been said a million times and it is very stressful also we get tired of hearing it, so just do those above things we ask, that’s all and I have no other words but stay home like you always do anyways … you’re doing good already.”
Anaktuvuk Pass, population 282, is in the North Slope Borough and is remote, while Angoon, population 452, can only be accessed by boat or seaplane.