What is the spirit of Alaska in terms of values people live?
- Alaska, again, is a part of this whole idea, that it is being an its own country, its own place. Alaskans are much different from the people in the Lower 48 states, like California. Alaskans, I would say, as a Northern people, in my experience, not only 48 years in Alaska but of my 25-year experience on and off to Russia, Alaskans and Russians… There are many differences but in many ways they are very similar people. First of all, we hate arrogance. I gave a knife to a friend in Pelican, a beautiful $150 knife and I asked him: 'What is your opinion of this knife?' He used it to kill a deer. His name is Jay Erikson. He said: it was dull. He told me the truth! Normally, if it would have been somebody else, I might have been offended but this is a brother, a fellow Alaskan, who said the truth. If you ask a true Alaskan for his opinion, he usually gives you his opinion, whether you like it or not. Now in many other states that I've traveled in the United States, there is a smile on their faces, there is politeness. Just emptiness, no soul. And that is one thing I felt in Russia as well as Alaska: people of the North have, what I call, 'deep soul. Maybe it is because we have such long cold winters… Friendship is very important, too, in Alaska. Chris Howard probably saved my life or tried to… (laughing). And in Russia there is, probably, nothing more important than friendship. A great thing you can tell somebody in Russia: you are my brother. When we're out fishing, we call each other 'brother'. I've always thought: one Russian friend, or an Alaskan friend, especially meaning a Tlingkit friend, is worth 10 American friends in the 'Lower 48'. Many American friends that I've had, they can smile at you, ask you how are you doing but as soon as you pass them they forget about you. Friendship in Alaska to me is one of the defining aspects of this state that makes it great.