Teacon Simeonoff

Teacon Simeonoff, Akhiok, Alaska, Born 1974

That summer instead of fishing we ended up working for VECO, mostly tying pompoms and getting booms ready for the local high fish areas, to run across the streams and the rivers and sometimes the whole bay, just try to stop the oil from getting into there, not only the fishing areas but also the subsistence shellfish and uutuk [sea urchin] areas . . .It was the most boring, most tedious.  I remember a bunch of us kids sitting around in one area cleaning rocks and all of us talking about being mad at people for not being awake or being at their jobs they are supposed to so that they could prevent this from happening.


A lot of the Elders were really depressed a lot.  There was pretty big spike in drinking in the villages that year.  It really ruined a lot of lives in the villages from a lot of people started drinking here.  I can remember a lot of lives being taken because of drinking and that time being the start of it. The vast amount of money that VECO paid out for clean-up was basically just fueling the fire that it started. Here in Akhiok there has been, you know, a lot of anger towards the oil spill and the aftermath of people being lost to drinking as a result of the pay they did.  I guess probably about ten to twelve years after the oil spill we tried to have a, what’s it called, intervention, or tried to have a Native talking circle about what happened then and the aftermath and tried to heal from it.  Even now people are pretty reluctant to heal from that effect.  

I would say to [people in the Gulf Coast], try not to hold the anger in.  To really talk about it and keep the communication going between others in their community and in other communities.  And to have patience that they would eventually see the lifestyle come back .. .  and keep talking about it in a healthy manner.  And just have hope in the future that everything will eventually come back to the way it used to be.

Teacon's Full Interview

Photos courtesy Teacon Simeonoff