Yes, that is a life-size statue of a polar bear on the DMV building.
A little background about the Sitnasuak Native Corporation (another cultural/political lesson for me!): The native corporations here in Alaska are unique and really quite amazing. In 1972, Alaska passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) that basically gave back the native Alaskans millions of acres of their land. This was done, because initially when Alaska became a state in 1959, the State Government included a clause that said it was entitled to undeveloped/vacant land (that incidentally was rich in gold, oil and other natural resources), but the natives fought back saying that the “vacant” land belonged to their tribes and was vital to their hunting, fishing and existence. In addition to settling these claims and returning ownership of the land, the Act also created twelve Native regional economic development corporations that gave the indigenous people the power to grow successful businesses, to reap the benefits of the land, create jobs for natives, and to directly return dividends from the businesses to the natives. Interestingly, this act introduced them into capitalism–a culture very different from their own–but that the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) wisely recognized they would have to become a part of, in order to maintain a true, significant existence. Now the native corporations not only own businesses in Alaska, but have international investments as well. For example, I will be working at the Norton Sound Health Corporation, which is a tribally owned, independent hospital that was created in 1970 as a demonstration project, to give Alaska natives more power and economic freedom to do what they deem fit for their tribes, and equity (both in the financial and the justice meanings of the word). I feel honored to be able to work in this kind of a setting, that seems more just and empowering!
That allows the DMV building to have decorations like this inside! ( …I would not want to run into a walking one of these.)
So, anyway, I went to the DMV to *try* to get my license. First I needed an address to put on the license, so I went back to the Post Office, and told them this (and that I’ll be working here for at least 2 years at the hospital), and voila! they found me a PO Box!
My new address is: PO Box 1875, Nome AK 99762.
Then when I returned to the DMV, the lady was on the phone, saying “Oh no, so this is bad…?” Turns out the whole license producing system is broken. So no license today….or probably any time soon! I guess the DMV here is not much different than other DMVs. Except that they have pens and forms…and polar bears. 🙂
So I walked around town more, and I keep seeing more fun details of Nome:
by Shana Rae