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.

Justifications.

Rommel Stake Float 10I love a parade.  Small town parades are the best.  They are full of heart and soul.

Military parades in Washington DC are not unprecedented.  But, in my humble opinion, they really are not a very good idea.  This, coming from an Army brat.  First and foremost, previous military parades have been held to celebrate military victories or when danger was imminent.   The parades were not just an exercise in stroking egos.

According to sources like the Washington Post, the NY Times, and the federal budget, the last military parade in Washington DC was in June of 1991 and celebrated the liberation of Kuwait and the defeat of Hussein’s army in Desert Storm when George HW was President.  It deployed 8,800 enlisted soldiers watched by nearly a million Americans who showed up for the spectacle.  There were tanks, fighting vehicles, missile launchers, fighter jets, and fireworks.  The pavement on Constitution Avenue was deeply rutted by the 67-ton tanks.  The parade generated over a million pounds of garbage, cost over $12 million and left an egregious impact on public and private assets.  Like the Mar a Lago trips, we can’t afford a parade if we can’t solve the problem of our homeless veterans.

Women’s 2018 Power to the Polls March in Unalaska

03072013 020 (2)

Despite hail, snow, and North winds buffeting us in the face, we had a successful 2nd Women’s March in Unalaska with a focus on “Power to the Polls”.  We changed our route this year to be more inclusive of various types of marchers.  Our route was on more level ground with only one small hill, and we ended our march indoors where marchers could warm up immediately.  There was nothing fancy about our event.  We marched, we ate deliciously shared dishes, and we were so damn happy to have two wonderful women who registered people to vote and/or updated voter information.

I have no pictures of my own to share.  I left my camera in the car.  My worry about my 88 year old mother getting cold and wearing herself out was for naught.  She pretty much led the march, marching along with her great-grandson and his teenage friends.  We even had to slow her down so that parents with toddlers had a chance to catch up.

I think the best part of the march for me was the fact that in our group of about 55 hardy souls braving winter Aleutian winds, between 10-15 were teenagers; our up and coming voters.  It actually humbled me a bit to bear witness to the fact that they got up on a Sunday morning and participated to the fullest.  I am in awe.

Blink

Goosevia Daily Prompt: Blink

I was sitting with my mother this past summer during an early evening in June.  My husband was discussing some of the finer points of the agenda for the 75-year Commemoration of the bombing of Dutch Harbor and the evacuation of the Unangan people.  Events were to include a memorial ceremony, historical presentations, personal stories, many luncheons and dinners, and flyovers by historical aircraft.  The commemoration of a little-recognized part of history is significant and educational not only for those connected to World War II in the Aleutians, but for a much broader international public.  My mother, who was 87 1/2 in June, had been 12 years old when the events of WWII enveloped the islands that she called home and changed her life forever.

On the morning of June 3, 1942 and continuing June 4, Japanese planes rained bombs on her home town of Unalaska and the Navy and Army infrastructure that had been constructed for the protection of Alaska and the lower 48 states.  Within a month, her family was split apart as older siblings joined the military or, in the case of her two older sisters who had married servicemen, were evacuated to their husbands’ families in the lower 48.  She, three of her siblings and her mother were forcibly evacuated to an abandoned fish cannery in Southeast Alaska.  Her father, not being native, was not allowed to accompany them.  They were not allowed to return to their home until late in 1945.  Although the war ended, and things were supposed to return to normal, nothing was ever normal again.  Families were smaller, having suffered the loss of 10 percent of their population in the detention camp.  Economies were changed as industries that had been in place prior to the war had disappeared.  Many Unangan homes had been ransacked by the military personnel and were unfit for habitation.  The trust that they had in their government was badly damaged.  My mother’s family was never, ever all together again after July of 1942.

So, a 75th year commemoration was a pretty important event in the life of my mother.  It would mark a time when she knew that it most likely would be the last time she would see any of her friends who might come back for the commemoration.  Only a handful of original evacuees remain living in Unalaska, so she was looking forward to seeing her now distant friends.

As she sat in the living room of the home in which she grew up, a drone of engines, starting out faintly, grew louder and louder, soon passing directly over the house.  She turned toward us and in a surprised voice said, “The Japanese.”  In the blink of an eye, with the sound of the plane engines, she was transported back to what was, most certainly, a hellish part of her life.

 

Women’s March 2017

mom-plus-3We are privileged to live in an extremely diverse town.  If you can think of a nationality, we most likely are fortunate to have one or two or a small community living here.  We just all live and work together.  Our community is a blue town living in a red state.  We believe in equality and justice for all.

In our disbelief, the results of the recent election finally crept up on us.  I kept thinking that something would happen between November and January to save us all from the fact that life as we have known it was going to go through some dark and drastic changes.  So I was ready to support my fellow women who were marching on Washington in peaceful protest.

We all marched for many different reasons. Because we can. My 87 year old mother marched to remind US citizens not to step on people’s civil liberties like happened to the Unangan/Unangas people during World War II.  She was 12 years old when her civil liberties were taken from her by the US government.

Ours was not as formal as some of the larger city marches. We didn’t have speakers. We did have signs. Great signs. One said Ataqan Akun.  We are one.  One of them said March 4 love. One said March against Hate. Another said equality and justice. One said feminist AF, carried by a man. One said Tuman tanax^ agliisaax*txin. Take care of the land. Another said Tuman alag^ux^ agliisaax^txin. Take care of the sea/ocean. And one said Ig^ayuux^txin, ang^im atxag^ingin agachan madada. Do the things you know are right.

And this is not right. Unfortunately, things are being taken away from us all, but some are suffering sooner than the rest of us. We, the marchers, just knew it would happen before others realized the impact.   We all need to practice the values handed down by the indigenous people of this great land   Our people. Our values….the right way to live as human beings.

Dedication and Procrastination

~

~

I am a master at dedication.  Over the  years I have dedicated myself to performing major feats.  Raising three children on my own.  Coordinating a summer culture camp.  Planning a secret anniversary party for my parents with my sisters, where practically the whole town was invited, and it remained a secret.  Many, many feats.  So this morning, when I still have over 100 chocolates to dip, why am I sitting here procrastinating?  I will be mad at myself later when I am running around trying to get them packaged up.  I will really be pissed when I’m trying to squeeze in time to make that homemade ginger ale.  Why is it that I am a master at dedication and procrastination?  And look at that fingerprint on the peppermint…guess I’ll just have to eat that one.