This week your assignment is to write about the way you understand the Alaskan Wilderness. Discuss the ways in which you interact with it and what it means to you personally, not as a cultural or political construction.
When I was seven years old, my family moved to Bethel. It was scary and different and I didn’t understand. Nothing was the same as it was at home. The villagers didn’t like strangers and we didn’t blend in very well. The first year was hard for my family. The second summer, a family friend took us out on his boat. It was amazing. As we moved down the river the tundra disappeared and towering pines took over. It was like being home. Not long after, my parents bought a boat and we spent every other weekend camping on the riverside. If it hadn’t have been for that first boat ride, we might not have stuck it out.
Because of that experience, I associate the wilderness with family. I have spent countless hours camping and fishing with my parents and siblings. My little sister practically grew up on a riverbank, fishing off the beach with her little TweetyBird fishing pole. I learned how to shoot a moving target by floating an empty milk gallon downriver. My brother can build a shelter out of pine needles and sticks. Some of the most important skills we’ve learned have been done surrounded by nature. For me, nature means family and learning how to survive together.