Paul tells me he’s learning the Tlingit language so he can believe the stories of his people, not just know the plots. When he was young, missionaries and the government prohibited Alaskan Natives from speaking their language and living traditionally. They often took Tlingit children from their homes and families, placing them in boarding schools as far away as Washington and Oregon. Now Paul is a grandfather and is committed to relearning a way of living that he says is not lost but rather hiding, just below the skin. He is proud of Duane and watches for a moment as his son helps his wife. “When I sing the old songs,” Paul says, “it’s like my chest is opened up and my heart is showing.” Paul’s words are poetry. I know because there is nothing I can say afterward. I just watch him resume his carving and try not to look too closely at the eye sockets of those dried fish.
–If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende
Today is National Sorry Day in Australia – it seeks to repair events that also occured here in the United States