It wasn’t a personal need or heartache that gave life to the #Stand4theManinBlack fundraiser.
It was the survival of a community, survival of the spirit that is the Alaskan wilderness, the spirit that remains of the prospectors and frontiersmen and women who came to this beautiful land to discover and pursue their dreams.
It is the spirit of the Athabaskin people who guided, taught and traded with those who came later, these prospectors and frontiersmen, to live in this wild and unforgiving land.
Chisana, Alaska is the site of the last historic gold rush and was once the largest log cabin settlement in Alaska. In 1913, thousands of stampeders made the treacherous journey through rugged country by whatever means possible to reach the newfound mining district.
#Stand4theManinBlack is a fundraiser to replace an airplane lost to fire in September 2013. The airplane is not a luxury here in the remote Alaskan Bush. It is a vitally important survival tool.
There are many misconceptions of where Chisana is located, how to reach it and how the communications operate. Where once, long ago and for a brief period, Chisana was a thriving community of prospectors, frontiersmen and women and Alaska Natives, now only a handful of people live here as full time residents, inholders in the Wrangell St. Elias National Park.
Chisana is a fly-in area nestled in the Wrangell and Nutzotin Mountains. Long past the days of dog sleds for the most part, during the winter months it can be and is reached by snowmobiles and by adventurous (read: NUTS!) cross-country skiers. Approximately 40 miles from the Yukon Border (as a raven flies), Chisana is located in what is called the “Interior” of Alaska.
The number of people that live with Pioneer Outfitters in Chisana of course varies. At this time, there are 10 people, including my own children, who live here year-round. There have been and will be during different periods of time (high seasons) an average of 7 to 10 more people who live and work with us for 2 to 3 months at a time.
We call the area that the Community of Chisana lives at “The Other End” as 3 miles away and they all live within an acre or two of each other. The number of year-round residents that can vary too of course ranges between 5-8 with that number growing to between 10-20 during the Summer and Fall months.
In 1996 AT&T installed an Earth Station on Pioneer Outfitters property and Alaska Power & Telephone installed the phone system in the building we built for them. The Pioneer Outfitters team helped to dig the ditches to lay the phone lines across Chisana underground all the way to the Oatfield Airstrip (3 miles away), crossing Johnson Creek and to the people who live there as well as the ones who have vacation cabins here in the wilderness. There is no cellular service in the Chisana area and our internet is provided by Star Band.
#Stand4theManinBlack is vitally important to the survival of the Chisana community. Everything necessary for the continued survival of the community relies heavily on air service. At .40 cents per pound for freight and a “space available” disclaimer; it is a loosing battle without the help of the people standing with us to Stand for the Man in Black.
Everything that provides safety, health and comfort for the entire community comes into Chisana by aircraft. Groceries, supplies, medicines, fuels and animal feed all arrive via aircraft on the twice-weekly mail plane. They can’t keep up. The cost is insane; the delivery is typically late and always a nightmare.
The campaign, Stand for the Man In Black, is to raise funds to replace our airplane. We seek $250,000 to replace the plane lost to fire for the following:
· Fly in fuel and groceries for the professional wilderness guides we train and the families and Team that live here year round.
· Fly in hay and feed for the range horses and livestock we watch over and care for each winter who are also part of our Team.
· Fly in the fuel, which runs the generators that supply the power for the phone system for the Chisana community.
· Locate and rescue by air of the community’s livestock and horses to ensure they’re not lost, hurt or frozen.
· Rescue of trapped hikers and injured hunters, broken-down snowmobiles, or others stranded in the Alaska wilderness we live in.
· Medical evacuation for anyone in need of medical aid and physicians who are only accessible by air.
The survival of the entire community of Chisana depends upon this. The survival of a community, a family, team and business and the survival of the lost or injured depend upon reaching the entire world and letting them know of our need. Our need for them and you to stand with us as we #Stand4theManinBlack.
Please help me Stand for the Man in Black. Please spread the word of our need for help to your own communities. Ask that they donate a small amount and spread the word! We each are connected to one another and this matters. It matters that we help one another and know that each helping hand is irreplaceable. It matters. You matter. We matter. The good the Man in Black does for anyone needing assistance matters.
Please know us. Read our story, know us and our need for you to be that hand we reach out to.
More about Stand for the Man in Black: