By Karen Carlsen Huseonica, Karts Huseonica's wife and manager
Sun City Resident Art “Karts” Huseonica, 72, added a teammate for his Yukon River expedition, Yukon 2020.
Delayed since 2020, he’s laser-focused on completing the 2,020-mile expedition. Twice delayed due to Canada’s COVID travel restrictions, Yukon Territory’s border closures and again last year due to 100-year event flooding.
Huseonica won’t be alone all the time. He’ll have international guest paddlers, some of whom are from indigenous groups in the Yukon Territory and Alaska. This includes First Nations, Metis Nation and Alaska Natives.
Going up to the Yukon with Huseonica will be Melinda Land, 52, of Kentucky.
“I’m so humbled to have Melinda and her whitewater experience and backpacking skills,” Huseonica said. “She brings to the expedition an enhanced level of expertise on the water and efficient methods of unloading the expedition canoes in dangerous situations, and setting up a safe and viable campsite.”
Camping along the Yukon River is frequently energy sapping. Dangers facing the paddlers in addition to hypothermia are black Yukon wolves, mosquitoes and brown and black bears. Huseonica noted that he’s always looking for mature decision-making skills and risk management assessment experience in his guest paddlers.
Born into an outdoors family, Land was immersed in wilderness activities, such as backpacking, Girl Scouts, paddling and adventuring off the beaten path. She’s joining the expedition with the full support of her family and friends.
“I am excited to join Karts for his Yukon expedition and very grateful for the opportunity to paddle alongside indigenous adventurers, gaining knowledge of their history and culture,” said Land. “We have let technology and social media capture our minds and forget to enjoy the outdoors. I always try to inspire the love of the land and water in others, as my parents did for me.”
Huseonica will also be joined by Ian “Bruce” Jobin, 44, a member of the Metis Nation of Canada. Also, on the expedition to paddle from Carmacks to Dawson City, a distance of 250 miles, is another international paddler that Huseonica will introduce at a later date.
During last year’s attempt, Huseonica had paddlers join him from the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. The expedition is frequently referred as the “Kindness Expedition” because of how Huseonica wants inclusivity of team members and his desire to learn more about indigenous peoples of Canada and Alaska.
In support of this, Huseonica always keeps in mind the pitfalls of cultural appropriation. He won’t take, use or wear any items that represent deep cultural significance; which is an example of cultural appropriation. Plus, he can’t use the fact that there’s indigenous participation in the expedition to help market the expedition. Huseonica readily admits that he walks a fine line with his expedition promotions with regards to indigenous participation. He believes that his expedition promotions are acceptable, but to some they might not be due to different perceptions.
“I will attempt to engage First Nations, Metis and Alaska Natives in the expedition but only to learn from them; which is one example of cultural appreciation, the opposite of cultural appropriation,” Huseonica said.
He continues to make plans to dedicate his expedition to his brother, Joe Huseonica, who died Christmas morning. The expedition’s documentary film will be dedicated to Joe.
The pre-expedition and post-expedition news was picked up Tegna’s local NBC affiliate 12News Phoenix. Reporter Krystle Henderson will develop a feature news story about Huseonica’s expedition. Filming will be at Watson Lake in Prescott with outfitter support provided by Born To Be Wild Adventures.
Because of the expedition reboot and inflation, Huseonica continues to fundraise to meet the ever-increasing costs of such an expedition to be the oldest person at 72 to open canoe the entire Yukon River. Major contributors will be honored along the route and also on YouTube videos showing highlights from key points of the expedition. They’ll also be recognized in the expedition’s documentary film.