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.
If, by chance, you are in Anchorage anytime between now and January 20, 2019, take some time to visit the Anchorage Museum at the Rasmuson Center to view this exquisite exhibition.
If you are there on October 11th, we will all be there, too. Stop by to meet the one and only Gert Svarny and her family of artists. Special reception, open to the public, begins at 6:30 pm and ends at 8:00 pm. Hope to see some of you there. You won’t regret it!
If, by chance you ever visit Alaska in April, and you are in Anchorage, take the time to attend the statewide Native Youth Olympics competition. It will be a sporting event unlike any you have ever attended and one that you will never forget.
This is a sport that inspires an entire arena to quiet in hushed suspense and awe as they watch an athlete attempt what may seem to be an impossible task. Records are consistently broken by these super athletes who really do the impossible from hopping across a hardwood floor on their knuckles, and then back again, hanging by only their wrist from a pole suspended between two running stick holders, kicking a ball suspended at least eight feet in the air with one foot and then landing only on that same foot. These feats are only a few of the games that Alaska’s youth play that are based on games played for millennia by indigenous hunters and gatherers as a way to hone their hunting and survival skills and at the same time increasing their strength, endurance, agility, and most importantly, the cohesion of mind and body.
The camradery and sportsmanship are unlike anything you may have witnessed. The goal is for each athlete to best themselves, so rival athletes will cheer for their competitors and coaches will coach any and all athletes. These are games of friendship and growth. Make sure you see the phenomenon that is Alaska’s youth.