November 16, 2019:

I am a “candidate” to earn my Master’s of Business Administration sooner than later. I recently saw my classmates define themselves as “candidate” instead of “student”.

I connect everything I’m learning with conundrums I’ve struggled with regarding the juxtaposition of the world I grew up in.

Specifically, I think about the paradigm shift our community members are experiencing. For decades there was the “stability” of government grant-funded Native entities, if the funding or programs were cut, it was easy to blame the government.

Now our for-profit private Native Corporations are finding success and shareholders want a lot of benefits, but also criticize spending “their” money to develop business.

For me, it’s this:

There are ways of knowing how to behave and how to act, based on the traditions and cultural norms.

As or me, our parents raised my siblings and me on a trapping cabin, various gold mines, and dog mushing; I never knew anything different.

When I say different, I’ll also get to that later.

All the families I was raised around had their choice of activities throughout the year. They were fishermen, artists, teachers, businessmen, loggers, and a lot of pilots, among other things.

It never crossed my mind that I would ever contemplate, consider; much less imagine, that there was anything besides this way of life among Native people in Alaska.

My parents had a daily structure. They were diligent in making sure all things necessary were taken care of each day. This included our education, within a school district curriculum, and beyond to show us that however remote we were, our voice could connect to and be answered back from this “world” we could not touch, see or experience otherwise.

At one point, when I must have been 11 and my younger brother Sonny was about 8, he sent in an entry for a contest to Captain Crunch cereal (while we were living on the trapping cabin).

A few months later, either my dad or mom drove the snow machine to McGrath to sell fur, buy groceries, and check the mail – or one of my Uncle’s flew over our semi-frozen lake and dropped the mail from their plane and flew away.

At any rate, Sonny had an envelope addressed to him in his name.

None of us kids received mail.

Inside that envelope was a check to Sonny because Sonny won the Captain Crunch contest.

I remember because the check had the Captain Crunch logo on it.

We didn’t care if there was “a” Captain Crunch (like kids think of Santa).

Having this childlike figure that we could comprehend, Captain Crunch, send an envelope to my brother was mind-blowing!

McGrath, as a community, had a lot of freedom, and we knew nothing else. There were a lot of small businesses, a subsistence way of life, and minimal government presence or government jobs.

It’s taken me decades to recognize the difference between how I grew up in McGrath compared to what I encountered later when we moved to Nome.

Published by Trudy Sobocienski

My blog, "Beyond Leadership" is a creative place to share my personal feelings and thoughts while working in leadership roles for a variety of Alaska Native organizations, both for and not-for profit entities. An incredible leader and mentor of mine once asked while we were in Washington, DC, "What happened to you between the ages of 7-10 that motivated you to serve in a native leadership capacity". I was struck by that poignant thought and as such, include actual entries from my mother and my diaries beginning in the early 1970's. I enjoy sharing these excerpts because it captures the parallels she and I were experiencing throughout life, from two separate worldviews. Hers as a young mother of four and mine as her eldest child. I have never came across a book on leadership that lays bare a leaders personal feelings, thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams they were experiencing. So for me, my goal is two-fold: 1. Share the incredible life my parents created for my siblings and I growing up in remote Alaska; and, 2) Sharing my humanity, through my personal diaries and journals, while serving as the youngest-ever President/CEO for the Alaska Native Health Board. There are passages that will include significant policy issues I was working on throughout my career and travels. There are many more passages that do not. I cannot speak for my mom's passages, because I am reading them as I share them here, with you; with her permission of course.

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