Alan Boraas

When 20 or so 8, 9 and 10 year-olds came into my anthropology lab at Kenai Peninsula College to learn about sustainability, I knew I had to do something to get their attention. Brought by the Kenaitze Tribe and an Epscor/NSF Outreach science program, they gathered around me, polite and eager.

“Do you want to hear a stupid boy story?” I asked.

Of course they did. It was a scene that could have happened a thousand years ago, although then it would likely have been told quietly by an elder at night around a spruce fire. “Ki ch’qinaghełnik’en kił” the elder would begin, “Another stupid boy.”

Once there was a boy who would not learn from his elders. His parents and uncles and aunts tried to teach him but he would not learn...

Alan Boraas

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan have a bill to change Mount McKinley to Mount Denali. It has been Mount McKinley since 1896 when a miner successfully pushed for the mountain to be named after then President William McKinley of Ohio.

Renaming geographic features from their original indigenous names is an act of colonialism: it’s a topographic way of saying “we own you.” Colonial renaming began in 1648 when Simen Dezhnev became the first European to sight Alaska and Russians began referring to it as “Bolshiya Zemlia,” “the big land.” The report of Dezhnev’s sighting was buried in a drawer in Irkutsk, so it fell to Vitus Bering to get to apply the Unangan (Aleut) name Alyeska, or Alaska, also said to mean “the big land.”...

Alan Boraas

Spanish oil corporation Repsol in partnership with Armstrong Oil of Denver has announced a “significant” discovery of “good quality” crude oil on Alaska's North Slope. Testing from 16 vertical and directionally drilled wells projects a structure covering 25,000 acres. It would appear as though SB 21, rebranded as the "More Alaska Production Act," is working like the Alaska Legislature’s oil caucus said it would...

Alan Boraas

In a recent Alaska Dispatch News article (May 7) on a newly formed co-management organization , the Kuskokwim River Inter-tribal Fisheries Commission, Lisa Demer reported that some tribal members expressed discontent with state and federal management “which didn’t always understand village life and village people.”...

Alan Boraas

While the slogan of colonial expansion in America was John Soule’s “go west, young man” (later borrowed by Horace Greely), in Russia it was Peter the Great’s “go to the rising sun.” It was inevitable that east and west would meet at Alaska.

If President Vladimir Putin has his way, the geopolitical winds that swung from Moscow to Washington in 1867, will swing back toward Moscow in coming years and Alaska will once again be influenced by Russian dominance...

Alan Boraas

The current Alaska budget crisis is directly tied to the Saudi ruling families’ putting the screws to Vladimir Putin for his expansion agenda in Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. Undoubtedly this petroleum warfare was done with the blessing, perhaps instigation, of the Obama administration and is intended to flood world oil markets, lowering prices to squeeze Russia’s oil-dependent economy. To what extent it works will depend, in large measure, on Russia’s “cursed capacity for suffering,” as Boris Pasternak put it...

Alan Boraas

One of the first acts of Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan when he arrived in Washington was to sign on with a caucus of Republican climate change deniers in the U.S. Senate.

Sullivan was Gov. Sean Parnell’s pro-oil and mining development Commissioner of Natural Resources (think HB 77) and his opposition to the concept of anthropogenic climate change is not new. On Aug. 18, he made an astonishing observation when he told the Fairbanks News-Miner : “The last few years clearly show, though, that there is no concrete scientific consensus on the extent to which humans contribute to climate change.”...

Alan Boraas

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed ... And Joseph also went up to Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem ... to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child. -- Luke, Chapter 2

The context of the Christmas story is in the original Roman World System, in which resources flow to the core and power and control flow to the provinces. A version of this system operates in the United States today.

Of the many Roman provinces -- Gaul, Hispania, Macedonia and others that circled the Mediterranean Sea and into Europe -- Judea was the most problematic for Rome...

Alan Boraas

Fox News opinion commentators and other ultra-right-wing columnists are critical of Bruce Springsteen’s performance at the Concert for Valor held on the National Mall on the evening of Veterans Day. They label the songs of the Boss anti-military and anti-American.

They are wrong.

I was among the 300,000 or so people attending the show that featured Rihanna, Metallica, Carrie Underwood, Eminem, Bruce Springsteen and a bunch of people I had never heard of (although the young crowd around me obviously had). My space on the lawn was near the Washington Monument, just under a mile from the stage up near the Capitol. Three jumbo-screens back, the show was pretty good and the sound was excellent...

Alan Boraas

This election cycle further demonstrates that we are headed toward revolution -- and we should be.

We are still pretending to be a democracy, but that is no longer true. As mentioned before in this column and as political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page among others have demonstrated, the United States is a plutocracy, a dominion governed by the wealthy, and that development is tied to the evolution of electronic campaign advertising...

Alan Boraas

Pages