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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If ever you visit Alaska…

One Foot

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.