One update in 2022
She is not listed on https://www.justicefornativewomen.com/
Although it seemed obvious, at the time, that it was a suicide, there is a slight chance it was something else. Generally it is not possible to research the involvement of law enforcers in deaths like that though, so a person has to wait for facts.
One thing that has changed a bit since a year or so ago involves the narrative around her drinking and the narrative around authorities involvement in the case.
One of the comments I made on the 'Websleuths' website which was removed by moderators on that site involved my opinion, when I briefly met her, that she was being used by police. I detailed one reason why I believed that, and some time later I noticed a blog by somebody mentioning some very different types of connections, e.g. individual, or romantic, to an 'authority' type or types.
These two very different things, to articulate better, are 1) The common use melting pot authorities make of young people, first through coercion then through inducements, to serve the colonizers, my observation, and 2) a local involvement of two individuals in a romantic situation, the observation of the person who wrote that blog.
Although this is a complicated scenario which would require another long page, here is an outline.
One largely unreported historical fact involves the owner, decades ago, of the Board of Trade saloon in that town. He had killed a Native guy, but was very well connected to broader informal interests involved in 'finishing' colonization. He was a decent fellow, I met him and he was different than most folks in his caution about a lot of things.
He died some time in the last 25 years, not at all sure when, but his son was the person in charge of Florence Okpealuk's search.
At first glance the disappearance has all the marks of a suicide, but the way the story is slowly evolving, along with psychological factors in various people and groups involved, has to make a person at least wonder about other possibilities.
An employee at the courthouse https://www.nomenugget.net/news/joseph-balderas%E2%80%99-death-remains-mystery
An unidentified body at the courthouse https://theunidentified.createaforum.com/alaska-93/nome-county-jane-doe-(1)-nf-13-17-found-in-nome-ak-court-house-27-may-2003/ Notice the complete lack of details. Somebody probably tried to hide the fact that a body was found, then had to backtrack a bit but was covered by others.
At that time there were missing posters frequently at the AK commercial company, Hansens and other places that had message boards.
Some missing people are suicides. I remember one guy who stopped by to talk while I was working. He said his girlfriend had died of cancer some time previously and he was going to walk out on the tundra until he died. A very nice guy.
Several other similar conversations over the years in that area but there are also a lot of murders committed by a certain type of 'authority mentality' type person in that area.
This kind of murder used to be very common, but is never discussed.
Very likely many Natives who ran afoul of 'ideological' police types, e.g. 'drug task force' types, ended this way. This does not happen any more on any significant scale, but there are still a lot of old cops and federal agents who could 'solve' a lot of old 'missing person' cases/ by confessing.
There were several times in the 1990s when there would be a flurry of outside cops in Nome trying to be surreptitious, but easily identifiable as a group of outside law enforcement employees.
They sometimes had flimsy cover, like 'drug task force', for whatever they were doing, but other times more mysterious.
This page will look at most of the possible scenarios involving the disappearance of a young Native woman in Alaska, in the United States.
All of the scenarios involve, to some extent, manipulation by melting pot authorities of the worldview of the Native population in that region, and for that reason this page is in the Weltanschauungskrieg section.
1) Wales Alaska is a Native village some miles west of the furthest west major white settlement town on the south side of the Seward peninsula in Alaska. Most people get there probably by snow machine in the winter and 4 wheeler 'atv' in the summer.
2) Around 2017 a boat from Wales capsized with two young men. One of the disappeared was a relative of Florence Okpealuk. http://www.nomenugget.com/news/coast-guard-suspends-search-boaters-missing-near-wales
3) Another young woman disappeared in Nome some years ago and was found near where Florence disappeared. She had been raped and killed by a police officer. When that happened there was severe hesitation by the police to arrest the officer, despite the young Native woman having last been seen being 'arrested' by a police officer who never brought her to the police station. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/ex-police-officer-on-trial-in-alaska-killing/
4) In the 1990s, when Florence was a child, a kayaker from the former East Germany landed in Wales on an adventure trip around the world. Florence remembered being told various things about him. Several people talked to that East German as he was passing through Nome waters, including me.
5) A number of comments about the case were made by me on a 'web sleuth' website. All comments which were critical of the FBI handling of the case, along with most other comments giving background on the disappearance and related cases, were removed from the website by moderators. One deleted comment, relative to this page, pointed out simply that the motive of the FBI in being involved in the search was entirely public relations. The significance of this will be explained further down this page. https://www.websleuths.com/forums/threads/ak-florence-okpealuk-33-nome-31-aug-2020.541633/
6) There are a lot of suicides and semi suicides among indigenous people anywhere they are being crushed by a conquering society, and that region is no exception. 'Semi suicides' refers to deaths that are not counted as suicides, but are the direct result of a suicidal impulse.
7) Historically there have also been a lot of murders of indigenous people in any colonialized area, and again that region is no exception. One high profile killing involved the white father of the person in charge of the search for Florence Okpealuk. He had beaten a Native elder to death with a walrus bone, and gone on to have tremendous financial success in that area buying things from Natives and selling them alcohol. Both he and his son, the person in charge of the search, are decent people, same as anybody else, but the net effect of such 'Lawrence of Arabia' antics is the destruction of indigenous sovereignty. Something that is easily visible and widely promoted by the United States.
8) Although the FBI has historically been heavily involved in the forced assimilation of Natives in the United States, today it is Homeland Security which primarily handles that. There have been, and still are, aggressive U.S. projects intended to push forced assimilation of Natives. Most of these projects are highly secretive, like the Statewide 'drug task forces' which would operate in indigenous frontier areas, but their footprints are often very visible. The 'drug task forces' had little or no connection to anti drug projects but were involved in other things, including projects which protected specific assimilation efforts.
9) Colonialization and conquest happen in broad stages. a) Initially there is usually some sort of military defeat. b) Then a subjugation phase where the conquered tribes are 'shown who is boss', often through widespread abuse. This occurs around the world and is not unique to any country. c) Then a reconciliation phase where the conquered are given positive reinforcement, such as gifts, political power, etc, in exchange for further surrender. The FBI's showy public display of interest in the Florence Okpealuk disappearance was a stage 'c' way for the U.S. government to pretend it had Native interests among its concerns. Her disappearance was widely viewed as an obvious suicide, but the FBI sent several agents to pretend they were interested in an investigation.
10) Florence was camped on West Beach, a mining area where generally most, or all, of the people who camp are male white or whiteish miners. That town had recently prohibited camping on certain beaches after a tv show drew a lot of campers to the town to mine. The tv show crew has a reputation in the town for bedding Native young women and drawing young Natives into working with the tv people.
11) Historically Natives are not supportive of gold mining and most Natives in that town have avoided mining even when they had the opportunity to make a lot of money. I was camped for several years a mile or so from where a Native friend lived, was aware of significant gold near him, offered to help him learn to mine, which would have increased his income substantially, and he always politely declined. He died of a semi suicide, a drunken accident on his atv/4 wheeler.
12) A big part of coerced assimilation of indigenous people in the United States involves drawing them into a corporate framework, a western European design. A healthy indigenous society has very little stratification, and by luring Natives into accepting stratification amongst themselves, a corporate framework, they are more easily led into accepting their stratification as a group relative to another group. In a healthy, consolidated tribal society, any individual is capable of instantly filling almost any function in that society, with the exception of specialized functions which have not yet been fully consolidated. This is mentioned elsewhere on this site as it relates to work boats. On a purely indigenous fishing vessel there is a vague hierarchy by age or experience, but any individual will be able to fulfill any function on the boat if needed. Corporate or 'melting pot' boats are quite different, and rely on coercion and stratification to be productive.
13) Offshore where Florence 'disappeared' there had been a massive offshore mining vessel called the Bema some decades previously. The Bema was known for having extracted a vast amount of gold, but most of the stories told about the Bema involved the various clever ways people working on the boat would steal gold from the corporate operators. If you try to discuss the Bema with ten former employees in the town, within 5 minutes nine will start telling funny stories about 'other people' stealing gold.
14) After the military has conquered a region, and after priests and others have softened up, or terrorized, the indigenous population, local police are left with the job of coercing the Natives into the final steps of joining the conquering society as 'deficient' or 'lesser' members. They organize the social habits of the conquered people, using explicit and implicit threats, so that fear of the police involves a transference of the fear any specific individual may have experienced from somebody within their clan. Much like a hostage taker or kidnapper who tries to gain the sympathy and support of his or her victim, the police are trying to get the Natives to identify in a role as children, relative to the authorities pretending to fill the role of parent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome The next step in the progression is transferring that 'parent function' onto melting pot politicians.
15) An interesting blog post at https://trudysobocienski.com/2021/05/06/chronology-but-my-interpretation-is-only-my-opinion/
"Florence Okpealuk was in a romantic relationship with a close relative of one of the Nome Nugget Newspaper’s long-time employees – who also:"
"Works in administration at the Nome State Troopers Office.'
"Is the Chief of the local Tribe,"
"and, 1st Vice Chair of Sitnasuak Native Corporation."
Obviously a genuine chief of any local tribe would not be employed by a U.S. agency or a U.S. 'tribal corporation', but 'occupation chiefs' are a feature of colonized societies, a step in their path to assimilation or sovereignty.
Anyway, this would explain why some people were suspicious of her disappearance, but it leaves unanswered why she was living on west beach. Was she trying to leave a relationship? Why was she unable to find a place to stay in town?
A Native woman going to camp on West beach is such an unusual thing that the obvious first appearance is of suicide.
16) When I was in Nome about two years before she disappeared I met a young lady that I believe was her, and it appeared she was being used informally by some group, probably law enforcement.
A lot of young Natives are maneuvered into a desperate situation then pushed into a 'social' group which serves some more powerful interest, usually law enforcement. My best guess at the time was that was her situation.