The year was 1970; the place Fairbanks, Alaska. Nixon was president and our troops would be in Viet Nam for another five years. Construction of the Alaska Pipeline was eminent and so was secession.
I was never sure why I was invited to the party. Maybe because I worked for the University of Alaska. Or perhaps because my husband was brigade clerk for Ft. Wainwright and knew from day to day the status of combat-ready troops.
It was one of those Alaskan Postcard evenings. Snow covered the ground surrounding a large, gracious home with every room lit. The party was standing room only with Alaskan delights on the buffet – moose, gypsy mushrooms, cariboo, cranberries, salmon, wild goose pattee, blueberries and walrus ice cream. The food was delicious and reminded us that people could thrive even in Arctic environments.
The guests were diverse – Eskimos, Inuits, educators, musicians, business-owners, writers, and government employees. Most conversations analyzed the winter war-games that pitted the U.S. troops against the state militia. The U.S. had surrendered again. In fact, they had never won in thirty years of trying. The maneuverable Eskimo Scouts were the militia’s ace in the hole.
After much good will generated by home-brewed beer and wine, one by one people were introduced to the guests of honor. The first was a high-ranking state government official from Anchorage, the next a small man from Tokyo, and finally a tall stern man from Siberia. The government agent was entertaining the two Ambassadors as they judged the ability of Alaskans to endure the rigors of seceding from the Union.
I know you find this had to believe. So did I! And yet the plans were being finalized to declare Alaska a free nation that would not build a pipeline. The plans did not anticipate violent reprisal from a war-weary USA. But a boycott and blockade would happen. Alaska could stock-pile essentials and survive through the summer months on their own. Beyond that, they were dependant on outside supply.
That’s why the Ambassadors were critical to success. As soon as Alaska seceded, Russia and Japan had to recognize the new nation as an ally to be supplied and defended. The Cold War would have heated up but perhaps the Viet Nam War would have cooled down.