Alberta & LaRita Laktonen, Larsen Bay, Kodiak, & Anchorage, Alaska, Born 1975 & 1977

LaRita: All I thought was, “How is this garbage bag going to actually make a difference?” Because you could pick up rocks on a beach all day and there would still be oily rocks. And people were like literally wiping big rocky boulders down. And cleaning them off, and you’re thinking, “Is that going to make a difference when it’s so vast?” I mean, it was so huge and you could work all day and you can like pick up and take all the sand off of every beach and there would still be some there.

Alberta: I guess it was sad in a lot of ways, seeing the people who fished for so many years not being able to do the thing that they were used to. I was really sad to see so many dead animals; that was one of the really sad things for me. And, just not knowing what would happen to the economy as well. Because the economy in the villages is so hard as it is.

LaRita: After that summer, we only went back a couple more summers. Things were really different. And then, you know the price was so low. The price had dropped down to like thirteen cents a pound, twelve cents a pound, for pinks and with the price being so low and we’d work and work and work, and not make any money... with that we stopped going back. So yeah, kind of sad. I definitely miss a lot of things about fishing. It wasn’t for the fishing part it was just being out there on the water and seeing some of the amazing things.

Alberta: I don’t miss the fishing part. I kind of miss the idea of the growing up in the village. And, you know, I wish we’d have a chance to all go back there together and see it and bring our families back now that we’re grown. And it’s also different now, all the people, so many of the people that we grew up with aren’t there any more ... I don’t see any of us ever moving back there, but it would be nice to be able to share a part of that with our spouses and the next generation and show them how we grew up and how we lived and where we went to school and things like that, because it is so different from how we live now.

LaRita: I think people are pretty resilient and, you know, you dealt with it just like you dealt with things on a daily basis. Out fishing things would come up that were very stressful with the weather and everything else, and people just kind of got through every day, day-to-day and worked hard. A lot of people worked very hard, cleaning up beaches and seeing how much coastline had changed one year to the next. But, people, you know, dealt with it. They used their positive humor and worked hard.

Alberta: I think the environment does more for itself than we ever can with all the absorbent pads and
dispersants and booms and things like that.

Alberta & LaRita's Full Interview