CGC SPAR buoys waterways, tribal partnership near Bethel, Alaska

Lt. Cmdr. Doug Jannusch, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, speaks with Johnny Evan, president of the village of Tuntutuliak, and his grandon near Bethel, Alaska, May 30, 2015. The SPAR crew hosted the Evans during their visit to the Kuskokwim River. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Lt. Cmdr. Doug Jannusch, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, speaks with Johnny Evan, president of the village of Tuntutuliak, and his grandon near Bethel, Alaska, May 30, 2015. The SPAR crew hosted the Evans during their visit to the Kuskokwim River. U.S. Coast Guard photo

With ongoing missions throughout Alaska, it is important for Coast Guard members to understand the native cultures in Alaskan villages. With that in mind, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR took the opportunity to bring aboard Johnny Evan, president of the native village of Tuntutuliak and his grandson, Jaden Evan, during their recent trip to the Kuskokwim River. The village of Tuntutuliak is a small Yup’ik village, with a population of approximately 400, located southwest of Bethel.
“This visit with Mr. Evan really brought home how important of a resource the Kuskokwim River and its tributaries are to the wellbeing and livelihoods of those who live there,” said Lt. Cmdr. Doug Jannusch, the commanding officer of the SPAR.

Lt. Cmdr. Doug Jannusch, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, presents a plaque to Johnny Evan, president of the village of Tuntutuliak, near Bethel, Alaska, May 30, 2015.  Evan and his grandson visited the SPAR while it was visiting the Kuskokwim River. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Lt. Cmdr. Doug Jannusch, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, presents a plaque to Johnny Evan, president of the village of Tuntutuliak, near Bethel, Alaska, May 30, 2015. Evan and his grandson visited the SPAR while it was visiting the Kuskokwim River. U.S. Coast Guard photo

The SPAR crew commissioned 45 buoys to mark the navigable channel leading to Bethel. Marking the channel will reduce marine casualties which helps protect the resources that Tuntutuliak depend on for food and transportation.
“During our visit Mr. Evan taught us much about his tribe’s subsistence culture including their dependence on the king salmon run in May and June, the availability of walrus and seal, how they harvest their greens from native plants and the importance of berry season,” said Jannusch.
While Johnny and Jaden ate lunch with the cutter’s command, they shared what life is like in the remote native village. Johnny, a retired major of the Alaska National Guard, spoke extensively about his vision of making the village more self-sufficient and the difficulties of leading in the Alaska wilderness.
“Mr. Evan also conveyed some of the challenges associated with trying to help his people by building a stronger tribal government and corporation,” said Jannusch. “He said he has been able to apply many of the organization skills he learned from his service in the Alaska National Guard.”

Johnny Evan, president of the village of Tuntutuliak, and his grandson tour the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR near Bethel, Alaska, May 30, 2015. The Tuntutuliak village is a small Yup’ik village, with a population of approximately 400, located southwest of Bethel. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Johnny Evan, president of the village of Tuntutuliak, and his grandson tour the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR near Bethel, Alaska, May 30, 2015. The Tuntutuliak village is a small Yup’ik village, with a population of approximately 400, located southwest of Bethel. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Jannusch discussed with Evan the Coast Guard’s area contingency plan for environmental disaster response and the importance of boating safety, including the Coast Guard’s offer to provide life jackets and training.
“This visit was an important step in building key relationships with the people the Coast Guard serve and understanding their way of life,” said Jannusch. “We hope to continue to pursue a positive relationship with the village of Tuntutuliak.”

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