Obama's Visit to Alaska

President Obama makes a historic visit to Alaska, visiting places featured in new and upcoming Mountaineers Books titles.
Lace Thornberg Lace Thornberg
September 02, 2015

Obama's historic three-day trip to the state of Alaska really kicked off before he arrived, when he restored the name Denali for Alaska's highest mountain. On the ground, he has met world leaders at a  climate change conference in Anchorage, and dropped in on a reality survival show.

Today, the president is visiting Kotzebue and Dillingham, two places featured in Mountaineers Books titles.

A Glimpse of Village Life

Kotzebue is the largest city in the Northwest Arctic Borough, large being a relative term, with their population of 3,201. This village has experienced problems attributed to climate change firsthand – and it's also seen industrial opportunities presented by melting ice. It is a place where subsistence and development compete on a daily basis.

In his regular Alaska Dispatch News column, Kotzebue's most notable local voice, Seth Kantner, explained how rumors of the president's arrival had swirled through the town, alongside other important town news–the price of salmon and beluga whale sightings.

Kantner is the author of Shopping for Porcupine and the bestselling novel Ordinary Wolves. Mountaineers Books has just published Swallowed by the Great Land, Kantner's newest book, a set of slice-of-life essays that reveal the duality of life on the tundra today, in his own life, and in the village and community that he inhabits. Kantner gives readers a taste of Arctic village life, presenting unique characters, the wild landscape, a warming Arctic, hunting and other aspects of subsistence living.

Salmon-stronghold Bristol Bay

Dillingham sits at the confluence of the Nushagak River, on an inlet of Bristol Bay. Each year, sockeye salmon return in the millions to spawn in Bristol Bay’s tapestry of lakes, rivers and streams. The beauty and richness of this wild salmon stronghold—and the thriving international fishing and recreation industries that support the local population—have faced unprecedented threats from large-scale mining projects, including the proposed Pebble Mine.

In 2016, Mountaineers Books will publish Where Water is Gold, a comprehensive photographic document of this remarkably productive region by photographer Carl Johnson. His images, together will essays from several leading Alaskan voices, eloquently argue that sustaining human communities is only possible in a healthy landscape.

As The Wall Street Journal reported this morning, Obama's visit to Alaska gave him a rare chance to escape the constraints of a position which keeps him mainly indoors.

“He’s going to have the opportunity to spend an extended period of time outside in one of the most beautiful parts, not just of the country, but of the world,” said Press Secretary Josh Earnest, “He’s really looking forward to that.”

 After hiking in Kenai Fjords National Park yesterday, the president shared an opinion any Mountaineer can relate to:

 “Beats being in the office.”

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