Sitka Day 27: Southeast Alaskans

I’ve been keeping a little list as I explore and delight in Sitka and Southeast Alaskan culture these past few weeks. As with any outsider looking in, it’s easy to misjudge a few observations but it’s also easy to pick up on things that others simply take for granted. Here’s my humble stab at a few particularly Southeast Alaskan things of note…
You know you’re in Southeast Alaska when:

  • You fill out a library card application and there is a line for the name of your Captain or boat.
  • Forest Service publications include bear safety practices that state: “Whenever a Tlingit person was to enter the woods where he knew bears were present, he announced out loud saying in Tlingit, ‘GRANDFATHER, (read bear) I am here to get my food, just like you, I am not here to bother you.'”
  • Nobody thinks it’s creepy to invite you onto their boat. In fact, it’s standard and hospitable. (To landlubbers, an invitation onto a stranger’s boat feels–at least at first–not unlike an invitation to get into a stranger’s car.)
  • You go to a dance party and most people are wearing XtraTufs as they boogy to “Ice, Ice, Baby.”
  • At that same dance party, those who aren’t wearing XtraTufs are dressed as pirates.
  • It is unwritten law that you don’t ask hunters where they get their deer, nor those in the fisheries industry where they score their halibut/sea cucumbers/king salmon, etc. In this part of the country, that’s sort of like asking a Wyoming cattle rancher how many head of cattle he has, which is sort of like asking a NY stock exchange broker how much he’s worth on any given day.

Finally, for those Sitkans who have been following The Writing Life this month (thank you!), please consider coming to my final public event: 

Sunday, January 29 @ 7pm at Yaw Chapel
(on the Fine Arts Camp / Sheldon Jackson Campus) 
 $10 at door (includes dessert)
I will read a few reflections on my stay here on Baranof Island, as well as the concluding story to my manuscript Flashes of War titled “Into Pure Bronze.”
Showing 4 comments
  • Paul

    Dang, I didn't know you weren't supposed to ask cattlemen how many cows they have. Thanks for the tips!

  • Bonnie E

    Katey, I'm going to miss your posts in The Writing Life. We are away from Sitka this winter and being able to see your photos and read your commentaries has been like touching home. Thank you!

  • Bill

    And never ask a farmer or rancher how many acres of land they own.

  • Reply

    Meanwhile the marine team has also managed to fit in at least one survey a day.

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