Unconventional.

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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.

Ukuqanaadan: The Visions of Gert Svarny

Ukuqanaadan (2)

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.

Galley (2)

 

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!

Labor of Love

Laresa's used drum by Gert

While I have been working on taking photographs of all the artwork that will be going into a show this coming fall, I have been surprised by the sheer volume of work that my mother and her family of artist’s have at their fingertips.  This piece, an Unangan drum, made by my mother for my daughter,  shows Gert’s brilliant workmanship; each component of this musical instrument is a work of art in and of itself.  The drum consists of a piece of bent wood to form the drum head.  The drum handle, ingeniously attached, was crafted from wood and ivory.  The drum, itself, is a piece of worked goat hide, placed on the drumhead in such a way that the skin can be adjusted to accomodate humidity, thus keeping the tone that you want.  The drum stick was made from a searched out piece of driftwood, covered by a piece of soft leather.  The paint for the drum is red ochre, made by grinding the stone and mixing it with a medium.  Brachiopods, collected from our beaches, decorate the handle and add their own sound.  The design on the skin is a traditional Unangan design.  The smudges on the skin were made by my daughter as this is a drum that is used for singing in Unangam tunuu and dancing our history.