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Cicely is a small town in the Burough of Arrowhead, situated several hundred miles from the state capital Anchorage. It had a population varying between 600 and 800 during the early-to-mid 1990s. Cicely's motto is "North to the future."

History

The exact date of Cicely, Alaksa's founding is disputed. According to Alaskan land baron and astronaut, Maurice Minnifield, Cicely, Alaska, was founded by Cicely and Roslyn in or around 1893[1]. However, this date is contradicted by Cicely's oldest surviving resident, Ned Svenbourg, who says the town's sapphic founders didn't arrive at the pre-existing unnamed settlement until 1908[2].

The earliest history of the town is not known, though it is held in low esteem by Svenbourg, who is on record as claiming the frontier settlement was a den of infamy and depravity so low it did not have a name. According to Svenborg's recollection, a lesbian couple named Roslyn and Cicely arrived at the pre-Cicilian settlement in the Alaskan Riviera's first automobile, on a quest to improve the infirm Cicely's health and to found a thriving, bohemian, artist's commune on the frontier, away from society's conservative eyes. The couple founded a Parisian style salon, began education and artisan programs, and gave opportunities to the alcoholic and unemployed youth and indentured sex workers. The area thrived to the extent that it was known as 'The Paris of the North' and offered artistic residency to famed Bohemian author Franz Kafka. Following the murder of Cicely at the hands of one of Mace Mowbry's gunmen, the town was named for Cicely. Roslyn's ultimate fate is unknown, though it is rumoured she died fighting the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. [2] Other popular foundation myths include that Cicely and Roslyn were just 'good friends'[1], that the couple's car broke down and they became stranded, and that the pair stopped to purchase a new pair of socks[3].

Cicely, Alaska's growth over the next few generations was apparently small, given that it had a population around 830 people by 1990. After former Mercury 7 astronaut Maurice Minnifield invested significant money and infrastructure in the town and region from his arrival in or around 1970, Cicely has developed into a small but growing economy, and by the mid 1990s is home to a modestly successful tourist industry, a small film festival, artist residencies, itinerant culinary celebrations, several Native American arts practices and a burgeoning media industry.

Geography

Cicely's is located several hours by bus from Anchorage, two to three hours drive from Sleetmute and three hundred miles as the crow flies from Ninilchik[1]. Cicely's main water supply is a tributary of the Elkhorn, and the tiny village of Nipnuk is located within running distance[4]. It is located in the Borough of Arrowhead, which is occasionally referred to as Arrowhead County by ironic locals, aware that Alaska, of course, does not have counties.

Cicely, like much of Alaska, experiences extremes of seasonal variation of daylight. The unique weather in the region sees the town experience up to 23 days a year with 90 minutes or less of direct sunlight. [5] The town experiences periods of no total darkness in summer and no total daylight in winter.[6]

The town also experiences unusual weather, which has social and cultural significance, and is home to several unique geographical, meteorological and biological phenomena - the eastern winds known as 'the chohos' in the onset of winter are known to produce hyperarousal, aggression and unexpected sexual couplings. [7] The melting of the ice sheets are known to create enormous sexual frustration, temporary insanity and kleptomania in Caucasians [8], while a unique form of non-specificed illness known variously as Glacier dropsy, Tundra fever or Yukon ague, which causes high fever, hallucinations, groin pains, nasal tenderness and an aversion to seafood strikes most long-term residents of the region sooner or later, which finally lifts after the patient experiences a vision of a glacier or ice sheet, and is occasionally fatal [9]. The aurora borealis effects electronics, and at least once caused the residents of Cicely to have one another's dreams, and is a growing tourist destination for the Japanese practice of ritual impregnation during the northern lights shows [10].

Demographics

While the exact demographic breakdown of Cicely is not known, the town has a high Native American population, a similarly high Caucasian-American population, an itinerant population of African-Americans, a small number of Asian-Americans and one Jewish-American. The businesses of highest visibility in Cicely - the media outlets, general store, bar and grill, airlines, bed and breakfast, medical practice - along with most public offices - including mayor, town clerk, electoral commissioner, chair of the election committee - are held, filled or owned by Caucasian-Americans.

Similarly, the exact gender balance is unknown, though there is a greater balance along gender lines than racial lines in the distribution of public office positions - town clerk, chair of the election committee, the office of mayor, half the available pilots, and head of volunteer fire brigade, are or have been, women.

Cicely appears to have an aging population. The graduating class of the high school each year is a handful of students [11], which has lead to at least one attempt to encourage large, young families to move to the region [12].

Economy

Cicely and he surrounding region has a disproportionate distribution of wealth in comparison to other rural areas of Alaska. The state's richest man, former marine and industrial entrepreneur Maurice J, Minnifield, has a net worth of $17 million [13], while area resident Lester Haynes is the fifth richest man in Alaska. Minnifield is the town's largest landowner, with a local property of 15,000 acres, while his neighbour and one-time mayor Edna Hancock holds 12,000 acres [14]. Despite this high concentration of wealth, Ruth-Anne's store is the only one within a 100mi radius [15], and the town's doctor, Joel Fleischman, claims to be the only licensed medical practitioner within 500 square miles [16],

Arts

Cicely's resident disc-jockey, Chris Stevens, is perhaps the Borough of Arrowhead's only kinetic sculptor, and his shows and displays draw sizable crowds. Local man Ira Wingfeather is one of the last wooden flute makers in the world, and his craft draws considerable interest from across the United States [17]. Cicely is home to Ed Chigliak, a young Native American filmmaker and curator of the Cicely Film Festival. Many folk art practices of the Tlingit are practised in the area, though they are rarely for commercial gain. The town was at one point home to a fugitive violinist who slept in a bear cave and played concertos for residents at night.


Sport and recreation

The region is a boon for hunters, fishers and wildlife photographers, with bears and moose being commonly seen animals, and many species of both North American, Artic and Siberian birdlife present in the migratory seasons.

Cicely is home to an amateur basketball team, the Quarks, who have never beaten the rival Sleetmute team in their ongoing annual contest. The local, tiny high school fields a highly successful fly-fishing team, the Cicely Marmots.

Government and politics

Cicely's mayor from around 1967 to 1991 was Holling Vincoer. Vincoer had the dubious distinction of losing his first contested election when he was defeated by Edna Hancock 255 votes to 247, in the 1991mayoral race, an election that garnered a huge 87% voter turnout (S03E17). The election was contested by Hancock due to incumbent mayor Vincoer's failure to provide extra stop signs to reduce logging truck noise. After Hancock's decision to not contest the following election, airline tycoon and real estate investor Maggie O'Connell became mayor.

Media

The two media outlets of Cicely, Alaska are both owned by local entrepreneur, Maurice Minnifield, the Cicely News and World Telegram and KBHR 57am radio station.

Transport

Cicley is served by road, bus services from Anchorage, and by an airport services by two airlines, one run by local businesswoman and Maggie O'Connell and the other by Charles 'Red' Murphy.


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 S01E01
  2. 2.0 2.1 S03E23
  3. S06E20
  4. S05E24
  5. S05E17
  6. S04E02
  7. 04e16
  8. S02E05
  9. S05E01
  10. S05E12
  11. S05E05
  12. S06E21
  13. http://www.moosechick.com/67.html
  14. S03E15
  15. S05E18
  16. S05E19 - Though Fleischman is probably best considered an unreliable source due to his frequent and extensive use of hyperbole.
  17. S03E13

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