The last few days of our trip came to an end in the village of Point Hope, Alaska where we were fortunate to get a glimpse of the Inupiaq (northern-most Alaskan natives) way of life.
Between salmonberry picking with an elder, a camper showing us a home video of some of the villagers harpooning a whale, walking/driving around the village, and sharing stories with the kids and their parents, we were marveled by their lives.
We frequented the one restaurant in town almost twice a day, as the coolers of food that we had packed and shipped 4 days prior had spoiled due to mishandling by the airline we sent it on.
The average price of a typical meal here repeatedly gave me sticker shock, coming out to about $22 per person.
If we wanted a pizza, that would gouge us for $39 for just a standard size.
The store was no better, where a necessity like ice cream cost nearly $14.
watch TV or play video games, or head to the indoor safety of the school for any activities.
In Point Hope, there was a bit more going on with two recreation centers, three gyms inside the school, and apparently very good caribou hunting and fishing.
The same held true for Kotzebue (3,000 people), where we picked some delicious blueberries with Jade, our awesome host for a night, and had some surprisingly good pizza at Little Louie's.
From my interviews with the kids in Point Lay, it became apparent that when there wasn't anything to do, they would get up to no good (play games with the PSO, i.e. Public Service Officer).
Drugs and alcohol have historically been a problem, which led to the majority of the villages either being dry (no alcohol) or damp (you can bring it in, but it's not sold). In fact, with these types of restrictions, a 6 pack of beer will cost you a whopping $30.
A Kid's Life
Watch out folks, this is the type of player who shows up at a Division I program with an incredible childhood story (think Kamaka Hepa of Barrow or Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks).
It's amazing to see basketball light up someones day or even change someones life. It gives kids who grow up in a tough, remote part of the world, opportunities they otherwise might not have.
It could be their way into college, and their way out of teen pregnancy, substance abuse, or all the other realities that come with growing up in a small place. #thankful