Mr. Berg: An Outsider

I did not find the article to be very insightful or ground-breaking.   It follows the pattern that many other authors have published before — the non-Natives are coming in with their Western education system and are ruining the native youth.    While I  completely agree with this, and it has been shown to be true by many researchers, educators, and a whole variety of different people, the author of this article does not have any new ideas or  solutions — it is just a rehash of what has been said countless times before, usually by non-Natives.   Mr. Berg decries the “middle-class non-Natives” who come into the villages to provide all manner of help; however,  he is exactly this person  whom he is denouncing in his article.   From what I gathered through his article, he is one of these “middle-class non-Natives” who is part  of the industry of the middle class that make huge money off  of providing services in  rural Alaska.

I myself come from a different culture, and I know that it is virtually impossible to truly understand a different culture if you have not grown up in it.   My father came into the culture over 30 years ago and has spent his entire life since then completely enveloped in it; even still, there are certain aspects he does not understand.   Every time I read an article or a book or a paper about how things should be done in the Alaska Native villages, I ask myself, does this person truly understand the culture?   Are they a part of it, or have they come in from the outside and are providing suggestions based on their observations?   Almost every single time, it’s the latter.   (For example, Conflicting Landscapes by Oleksa & Bates is a wonderfully insightful book that is recognized as one of the foremost works about the Natives and their plight in education, but it is still written by non-Natives.)

While Mr. Berg does bring up an excellent point about how the natives need to take control of their own destiny and provide help for themselves from within the community, others here have pointed out that he falls short of suggesting solutions.   If truly  “a new day is dawning in Alaska,” then how do we deal with it?   How do we approach it?   Is providing grant money to train new teachers from those communities the answer, like he mentioned is being done right now?   This has been tried before, with limited success.   So, how can it all be fixed?   This is a question that many, many people have asked before, and will continue to ask for a long time.   Will the solutions come in time to save the cultures from dying out?    We can only hope so.


1 comment for “Mr. Berg: An Outsider

Comments are closed.