Thanksgiving a Challenge in Remote Karluk

Gathering ingredients for a Thanksgiving feast may seem simple to folks living along Kodiak’s road system – simply go to the grocery store. But things are not quite as easy if you’re living in Karluk, a village on the west side of Kodiak with less than 50 people.

Karluk has no local store, and all of the residents’ groceries have to be ordered from shops in Kodiak, and then flown in by small planes. This way of getting groceries proves to be more complicated, and a little more expensive around the holidays.

“The dried goods we have mailed out, so it’s just postal rates, but anything that’s cold or frozen we have to get shipped out at 90, I think it’s 92 cents a pound,” said Russ Scotter, a teacher at the Karluk School. He has been living in Karluk for seven years. Scotter celebrates Thanksgiving, and his traditional dinner includes a turkey, albeit an expensive one.

“We have to put in order in, to Safeway, and then they have to fly it out, and because it’s a frozen turkey, usually, it comes on the plane, and then we pay 90 some cents a pound, just to get it out here,” he said.

Ronnie Lind, a long time Karluk resident, also celebrates Thanksgiving with his family.

“The cost of the turkey is probably the price that everybody pays for it in Kodiak,” Lind said. “It’s no less than a total freight cost, it’s probably more than $100.”

Other villages on Kodiak also get turkeys sent out for Thanksgiving. April Carlough, the assistant manager at Island Air, said there are more flights for people going to visit their families for the holiday, and she sees a rise in grocery orders around this time of year. Carlough also said because the turkeys are frozen, the shipping prices would be a little higher than regular prices.

“It just depends you know. If it was just one turkey, then it would be, like $24, to any one of the villages.”

Kodiak Area Native Association, or KANA, used to run a program to send turkeys out to the village elders during Thanksgiving, and Island Air brought them out. The program is not running this year, but a KANA spokesperson said that they hope to bring it back in the future.

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My name is Marina Cummiskey and I have lived on Kodiak all of my life. I am 12 years old and in 7th grade. I am mostly homeschooling and enjoy doing volunteer work at the Baranov Museum, the Animal Shelter, and our long-term Care Center. I am a competitive swimmer and I like babysitting and making iMovies in my spare time.

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