Hope. We all have it.

Hope gives us the capacity to find a methodology or strategy for making it to a point where we want to end up. Having hopes and dreams gives us an optimistic outlook on how our lives can change or evolve to what we want. Sometimes, in life, things are out of our control. This past year and a half, we found ourselves at the mercy of an invisible protein. It is times like the ones we have been embroiled in that hope seems to abandon us. It leaves us in the dark and at a brink that we are not at all familiar with; what is this dank and fearsome darkness that is invading our minds and souls?

Seeing the beginnings of light at the end of the tunnel blew a bit of air on the flames allowing a few sputtering sparks. Western science found a way to give us that hope and in Alaska, the First Peoples chose to follow the science that they know walks hand in hand with their Traditional Knowledge ways. The values of the First Peoples do not recognize self as a competitor of community. The community of people is more important than the one. From that standpoint, out of the darkness came a gift. An act of sharing their good fortune and offering vaccines to those “unchosen” people not listed in the protocol lists. Certainly, the Elders received the vaccines first. As did our Native Clinic health providers, both Native and non-Native. But then the break in protocol took over and vaccines designated to the First Peoples through their status as sovereign entities were offered to health and public safety providers not attached to the Native community since the allotment for them had not yet been received. As more vaccines became available, the teachers and staff of the schools were provided the option of choosing the vaccine. And then, with the incoming vaccines to both Native and non-Native entities, there suddenly were no lists, just the knowledge that the vaccine was available to anyone entering the community, including all workers, citizens or not. That is when hope had a chance to take hold and stay.

Hope, along with words taught for millennia in the Aleutians that are called ‘the right way to live as a human being’ fill out the whole picture.  Ugigdada.  Share.  Agitaasiin sismida.  Be kind to other people.  Agitaasiin sismida.  Help others.


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Ukuganaadan has had a great run at the Anchorage Museum. The show was extended from the original ending date in mid-January to April 14 at the request of the museum staff and the public. If you are in Anchorage by the 14th, go see the show. It is a beautiful show by Unangan artist Gert Svarny.



Happy Thanksgiving was the shouted greeting all last week.  Have a great holiday came in second.  I know that some folks were wondering if they should wish me anything at all considering the brouhaha all over the news about what the real Thanksgiving was actually like.  I could see it in their eyes:  What do you say to an indigenous citizen during this holiday?

I say let it evolve.  We, and by we, I mean those brought up in indigenous tribal cultures, have long known the real story.  We have always known about the hellacious genocide during the expansion of America.  We have always known about and managed our assimilation.   As my grandmother used to say “It’s too late for sorry now,”  meaning that it was too late to change what  is, or what was to happen.  I don’t mean don’t go there.  I mean learn it, embrace it, and add it to your true facts about America.  Stand up when you see injustice.  Speak for indigenous cultures when you see something unfair or hateful.  By doing that you may understand why I can say I am thankful and greatful for my ancestors surviving the genocide and assimilation.  I am thankful for my Slovakian father.  I am greatful for the father of my children.  I am thankful for having been given the gift of indigenousness and being able to pass that on to my children.

We have the best of both worlds and we have the choice of expanding our horizons in so many different directions.  Our table is laden with the choices of all cultures.  Literally.  So we raise our glasses filled with wine, or coffee, or water, or beer, and our shot glasses full of whiskey or tequilla, and the Hungarian who cooked the duck starts with being thankful for all of us coming together and we all chime in with cheers, salute, cin cin, et cetera and clink glasses all around.  And eat too much pie.