Great Land of Alaska
About the Author
Douglas James Gates was born in Loveland, Colorado on December 19, 1969, the first and only son of schoolteachers Gerald and Michelle Gates. He and his parents moved to Yoder, Colorado, then Bushnell, Nebraska. In 1977, Mr. and Mrs. Gates applied for and got jobs as school teachers in the small Yup'ik bush Alaskan village of Mountain Village (Asaacarsaq). Mrs. Gates had always had an interest in visiting Alaska and the chance to move there was a dream come true. Doug, being a mere 6 years old, really didn't know what to think.
At first, life for Doug was tough being one of the only white kids in a mostly Yup'ik village, but as time went on he made friends and came to feel at home in the village.
After 10 years of living in Mountain Village, he graduated high school and left his family and friends to move to the interior city of Fairbanks to attend college. At first he was excited about moving to the city, but after spending most of his life in small classes found it hard to make any progress in the large impersonal college classes. Also, the claustrophobic and trapped feeling brought on by the persistent presence of ice fog during the Fairbanks winter prompted him to flee Fairbanks during the winter of 1989 and move to the clearer skies of Anchorage.
Once in Anchorage, he began a short-lived career as a fast-food employee, eventually getting promoted to assistant manager of one of the restaurants. Seeing no future as a fast-food worker and with the assistance of his parents, he returned to school at an Anchorage vocational school and studied computerized accounting. More fascinated with the computers than the accounting, he spent most of his available time studying the various applications of office computers. Upon his graduation in 1992, he was hired at the school as a Computer Lab Assistant, eventually becoming promoted to Instructor and Computer Lab Coordinator.
After a few years of teaching, he begain to feel burnt out and wanted to take a break. Once he had saved up enough money so that he could manage without work for several months, he resigned from the teaching job and began to look for opportunities outside of Anchorage, and even considered leaving Alaska (he soon came to his senses and decided to stay). With computer technician/instructor jobs scarce in Alaska, he had a tough time finding another job. However, the school he worked at called him up one day and asked him to spend a couple days covering for one of the instructors. This couple days ended up being several months. During that time, he got a part-time job at a TV station (conveniently located in the same building as the school).
The school closed down in 1997, but fortunately Doug had the part-time job at the station. He got an additional part-time job working for Computer City, which ended when Computer City was bought by a competitor and the store was shut down. At that time, he begain full-time employement at the TV station where he works to this day.
In 1999, one of Doug's friends bought a complete fishing set (pole, reel, line, bait, lures, etc.) for about $20. Doug, always wanting to go fishing but for some reason thinking that fishing equipment was much more expensive never really thought about pursuing it as a hobby. Once he found out how inexpensive fishing equipment can be, he quickly embraced the pastime. About this time his interest in travelling and sightseeing around Alaska also increased and he started to spend much of his free time fishing and taking short road trips (and some long ones) to see some of the Alaskan scenery.
In the winter of 2001, Doug decided that he'd like to live out in the country so he rented an apartment in the small town of Chugiak. He happily left the city behind and only went there for work, to visit with his parents and grandfather who live in south Anchorage, and to occasionally shop for items not available in the Eagle River/Chugiak area.
After nearly 15 years of working on computers for a living, burnout began to set it. That, plus the fact that working in Anchorage meant that Doug still had to endure the traffic and crowds of the city five days a week. In autumn of 2006, he learned of an open Tribal Advocate position with the Kenaitze Indian Tribe located in Kenai on the Kenai Peninsula. Having experience in working with youths from his days as a fast food manager and having experience in the Native Youth Olympics as a former athlete, plus the fact that he knew HTML, he was hired by the Tribe to work on the Tribe's web site and to perform a variety of tasks for the Tribe's Culture & Education department. In early November, he crammed all his belongings into a U-Haul van and moved to the Peninsula. After nearly 20 years of dreaming of moving to the Kenai Peninsula, he finally got his wish.