Elizabeth Kvasnikoff, Port Graham, Alaska, Born 1985

The way the oil affected our ecosystems, it pretty much demolished everything. We don’t really have a lot of what we had then. You appreciate what you get... I hear stories from the way it used to be before the oil spill, our ecosystem was abundant and animals that used to be here and sea life, and now it’s just small.

Well, I don’t know how it was before. I don’t know how the supplies—how we used to put away stuff. I know that each year just got less and less of putting away our subsistence and there would be years when some of us wouldn’t have any food to put away.

It was lost, because we know we don’t eat as much of our subsistence here ... because the way my mom and my dad grew up, they grew up depending on themselves for food, every year go out, get it, put it away. But after the oil spill and our lack of subsistence foods, we’ve become, I guess, dependent on money from wherever. A lot less people go out and subsist now, fewer and fewer.

I would say [to kids in the Gulf], try to stick to what your elders taught you, and hopefully it helps you in the future. When I was growing up, we didn’t have a lot of subsistence food to go through the winter. But I would say listen to your elders and try to respect what they tried to do for tragic things like that.

Elizabeth's Full Interview