The commemoration of the 50th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race winded down in Alaska as the Senate Judiciary Committee, and much of
the country, focused their attention on Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court. Once more, ethnicity and identity became targets in America, as Republicans grilled Jackson about critical race theory and gender equality, while at times characterizing her as an extremist in support of both issues. The future of the country and how it manages
discrimination depends on this controversial SCOTUS nomination, a battle for fairness felt long before a mega-mushing race took off in the far north.
In this weekend's newsletter, I'm bringing you a piece about the significance of the Iditarod's extraordinary role and framing of narrative involving, even still, some of the most marginalized and misunderstood people in the state - Alaska Natives. There is romance in traversing the icy earth
by dog sleigh, an Arctic experience that hardly fits neatly with understanding encroachment on Indigenous land and life. As I write:
While dog mushing may be what has kept Indigenous Peoples of the North alive for generations, in the last half-century, Alaska Native life has been one of navigating staggering loss – of dogs lost to technology and carbon consumption; of land lost to colonization and over-extraction; of
family and friends lost to depression and violence; and of lifeways lost to rising sea levels and melting permafrost. For Native mushers, the Iditarod is at once a vital exercise in not losing; of not vanishing – of resisting erasure across a thousand frozen miles in some of the least accessible areas because of sled dogs, the irreplaceable companion that has sustained Indigenous life despite everything. They turn up at the end, still here.