You Really Can See Russia From Here with Josie Stiles - TAS #24

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This week on The Alaska Show Podcast Emily and Alex sit down with Josie Stiles. Josie spent her childhood in Anchorage and Unalakleet, and moved to Nome as a young adult where she has contributed to the area VPSO program, the Nome and State Arts Councils, and tourism in Nome. 

Interview Notes

Josie works for the State of Alaska and tracks legislation for a local legislator.

Josie has worked for the Village Public Safety Officer Program. She worked for the Alaska State Troopers that covered 15 villages up here.

The standards changed to get VPSOs - people couldn’t have a misdemeanor or a felony. You’re doing cop work, search and rescue, fire, dog catcher, everything. It’s a tough job.

VPSOs are entering a complicated situation. The city government has to support these people - provide them with an office and housing if they’re not local. It’s easier to have local people.

Josie grew up in Anchorage for the first 10 years then moved to Unalakleet for 10 years. She went to Covenant Christian High School there and moved to Nome after that.

When Josie moved from Anchorage to Unalakleet she went from McDonald’s and TV to none of that. That took some adjusting. That year they got sewer and water so she didn’t have to live with a honey bucket or anything. The kids played outside a lot.

They owned a mini-bike and a Honda 70. In high school she had a Harley 250. They walked a lot and played a lot of outside games.

Josie worked for Kawerak after the radio station. They do public safety programs, subsistence, adult basic education, other things. She worked for the VPSO program and traveled to different villages around here.

Worked with 15 major villages around here - the Director of the Village Public Safety Officer program.

Different villages have different customs and accents. Couple hundred people in the smallest villages. After Molly Hootch every village has schooling for high school-age kids.

Josie’s great-grandfather was the last chief of Unalakleet. In 1867 he allowed a missionary with the Covenant Church. People were so against it Josie’s grandfather had to hide him.

As the chief he had to make sure everyone was ok and deal with outsiders.

What are the big seasons for subsistence? Mostly silver, chum and king salmon in Unalakleet. People hunted moose, seal, birds, everything. Fresh seal is good.

There used to be more tourism in Nome. People taking tours through the Nome Nugget and birding. Tourism might’ve dropped off because of the cost.

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