Flying into Bethel

   “Did ERA Airline have another name; like before?” I asked some half-frozen official.


   “Yer, Hageland.” ‘My god; the ones whose crash wiped out a family of Inupiat friends.’


   The propellers spun faster and faster and we lifted off. Trapped in this narrow pencil of a made in Canada plane I waited for the lights to come on. They did not. The plane’s interior remained dark, and the chilling cool began filtering through my inadequate city clothes. I envied the shapes about me, some already slumped in sleep; all were heavy in parkas.


   For a small eternity we flew over a vast, frozen emptiness, the still landscape below lay unchanged, just the grey light of Alaskan winter. The flight had the feel of journeying to another world.


   It was not until well into the second hour before a few blackened specks under the starboard turbo appeared. The propellers pitch changed into a blasting hum. Soon my American exile would begin.


   Eskimo-land hit me like a punch in the face. I wondered if my teeth were going to shatter. “Thirty degrees negative” explained some bulbous character. Native kids, hooded-up were at the reception window, grinning. My red rucksack, a tattered friend of many years of misadventure, was hurled through a gap in the wall. ‘Welcome to Bethel,’ said the sign.


   I was met. My trashy gear was further tossed into the back of a pick-up, and soon we were sliding and skidding over the ice. My new boss was driving and giving a sort of commentary? {It was “the guided tour” a Company policy.} “… Well, there’s the bone-yard over there, and that about does it.” Three minutes and Bethel had been about covered.




Hope from the Land

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Democracy Reaches

the Kids


Documentary Film