May 12, 2010

'Dry' villages and male power

During my interview for this class I asked the 21 year old female Mekoryuk Alaskan Native her view on keeping her village ‘dry’. She responded by being very stern in her view of keeping the village dry. Her past experiences completely constructed her perception, and because she has personally experienced the negative effects of alcohol she never wants to see the village become wet/damp. She provided me with a stack of papers she had written on the topic and due to what she has experienced in the village – she could not even picture what would come of the village if alcohol was legal.
Even though people still import hard liquor such as R & R into the village, she believes the impact would be devastating if it was legalized. With the ban of alcohol on the village it creates black markets. My interviewee described this market as being one controlled by the middle aged bachelor men, who often provided to the younger females. This can create conflict with the elders in the village, because they do not want the middle aged men distributing alcohol to the young girls in the village. It also often results in rape and abuse to these young women who usually do not report the events. They are taught at a young age to ‘just go with it’ because they do not have a voice within the village. Also getting a trooper into the village takes days and often does not resolve the issue that occurred.
Looking at the stories she shared with me I noticed a trend of conflict theory on many different levels. These groups in the village are in continual conflict, although it is hidden. The girls who “just go with it” and get raped are often stuck in the village raising their child. The male powers over the females within the village created dominate groups that organize this black market to help keep their control. Their power over the young females oppresses them into not reporting problems, and continues the male dominance. Even though this seems harsh, I believe it is in result to the other layer of conflict theory I saw in her stories.
The Western ideologies that were enforced by organizations such as ANCSA have created this multilayered society that lives in the village. Congress insisted on economic development and growth of their land to improve social and economic conditions. ANCSA was written in Western-adopted ways, and has a business nature view land as collateral. This new ideology on the land and life trickled down to the people of the village. The impact of the Western views changed these villages. Patriarchy was present in the past, although now it has a black market to live in.
My question is would legalizing cause more harm than good on the village? Many sociologist believe the legalization of drugs in America would be beneficial because they would be able to monitor the drugs better, and slowly get rid of the black markets. However rural life is different than city life, so I can not help but want to listen to the girl who came from the village.

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