A town is the scene of what people do, become and have.
Stabenow describes happy slow small towns with unusual people who are ever so slightly insane. Who might shoot people over candy bars, or murder them in quaint hotel rooms or share fried bread with a wolf.
There are towns with female elders called “Aunties” who have outlived five or six husbands each, speak English as their third or fourth language, and who have enthusiastically and indiscriminately adopted every stray idiot that crossed their path. They have walnut brown cheeks, wear gold rickrack and are poised between misdemeanors.
Some of these towns are north and some are norther. It is cold:
He wore a balaclava and a knit cap, inside hood Gortex pro shell, ski pants, Patagonia capilene, beneath down parka guaranteed to 20 degrees (below), surround caribous guaranteed to 20 below…
Some are situated where there would be gold if it could be mined. And here there are problems.
The Ninilta Native Association is run by Aunties – fierce old women who knit and protect native women and define the small life of the large territory called The Park. One of the Aunties belongs to Kate Shugak and functions, among other things, as a creditor.
We give you time, Katya. You almost get killed when you stop bad man . . . and you come home to heal. Ok we let you heal. We even give you puppy to let you heal. You fight with your Imah. She dies. We let you mourn. Your man die. We let you mourn some more. Your house burn down. We build you another. We give you life, we send you to school, and then instead of coming home like you should have you take job in Anchorage… What about us? Your people?
Kate knows well that the human geography of the Park is a map of old and odd relationships, and that these relationships are to the right and to the left and to the side of the law that comes from the State.
What wasn’t Park was wilderness and what wasn’t wilderness was wildlife refuge. Less than one percent of it was privately owned…
A fraction belongs to those who came during the goldrush in 1898 when the Park was created around them. Another fraction belongs to the native Alaskans who traded the right of way to oil for money and land. These are called Park Rats.
Among these Rats is a murderer. Find out who…