Cheechako is a term used in Alaska that frequently refers to people who are newcomers to Alaska, usually from the contiguous US. Newcomers shouldn’t be afraid if somebody calls them a Cheechako when they are visiting Alaska because the term isn’t meant as an insult. They will be welcome even if they don’t know the many different uses of duct tape or what bunny boots are. Cheechako isn't the only unique term used in Alaska. Others include:
Most people in Alaska consider the conversion of a Cheechako into a Sourdough a process that is made up of living through the first wintering experience in Alaska. This isn’t as easy as it first may seem as it is necessary to obtain and utilize the proper survival gear. Survival gear is anything that would allow somebody to survive all of the aspects of the environment in a harsh winter. Examples of survival gear include a warm parka, bunny boots, a beaver hat, water, food, and shelter.
It is necessary for all people who live in Alaska, both sourdough and cheechakos, to make it through the long winters in Alaska. Developing friendships, trying out some new experiences in Alaska, attending activities, and making connections all help to make it through the winter.
The alternative is becoming a stir crazy, bored and lonely cheechako who quickly develops cabin fever. That is no way to become a real sourdough.