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Mend the Spirit

Life is a challenge for every person. Yet, many suffer unnecessarily, as those who themselves are wounded inflict wounds upon others. It becomes a cycle of violence, abuse, neglect, and self-destructive behaviors, often passed from one generation to the next. Over time, it becomes normal, a part of family or community culture. I’ve never met anyone who wants harmful experiences in their personal, family, or community life, but bringing change takes personal dedication, practice, and action on a daily basis.

As a part of the healing process, we must look into our personal and family history to understand the wounds that first led us astray, on a harmful path. For nearly every Indigenous person in North America, many wounds are rooted in assimilation practices carried out by western religious and government leaders. There were many lies told to our people as truth, coupled with physical, mental, and emotional abuse, especially of Native children. We have inherited the legacy of these wounds, as well as fresh wounds from our personal experience, so have a heavier than normal load to work on.

It is our work to mend our spirits, process the emotional build-up from current times and generations past, end harmful cycles, transition to healthy ways of being, and continue to challenge the lies that tell us our languages, songs, ceremonies, and worldview are anything but natural, balancing, and positive.

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We Grow in Stages

I offer thanks and praises to all of you who are working to improve the lives of your family and community. This path is not easy and it often takes time to realize the benefits of our actions. We grow in stages. As we heal our own wounds and seek a productive balanced lifestyle, we garner knowledge of how to help support others along the path. We can only guide people as far as we have gone. They may even pass us in their healing and growth, which is actually what we want for each new generation, for them to make it further than we were able to go. The vision is long term, so we must develop both determination and patience to continue to move forward on a daily basis, building a stronger foundation with each step. Over time, our roots grow deeper, which generate a growing emotional, mental, and spiritual stability in our life. We become better able to recognize the beauty in life experience and better able to enjoy the blessing of life we each have received. Mahsi’ cho!

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Cranes Pass Overhead

Cranes pass overhead,
Ocean ice cracks,
West wind blows,
Tundra can be relentless,
Especially for those who try to escape,
By choice or nature,
We find ourselves here,
Nestled on a beach spit,
Of large gravel stones and dry grass patches.

With wounded hearts,
Some rebel,
All are pushed to our limits,
Patience, persistence, and empathy required.
The weather beats upon our skin,
We grow strong,
Learn to gather as our ancestors did before us,
To heal,
To learn,
To survive.

By foot,
We hunt birds,
Caribou on a distant hill,
Wild eggs from nests of angry birds,
No pun intended,
Fresh water from ocean ice,
Drift wood for fire.

In the evenings,
Heroes emerge in old stories,
The pictures in our mind,
Of warriors moving swiftly across the tundra,
Arrows only able to pierce skin deep,
Muscle beneath too tightly woven when flexed,
And enemies falling,
Survivors running in dismay,
And another learning that greed is a trickster,
Can manipulate us to poor choices,
Changing us to something non-human.

We wrestle with ourselves,
Seeking peace,
Trying to understand why we are here,
Making space to rest, reflect, and recover.

We sit on our plywood floor,
In the heat of fire and steam,
When water hits rock,
The hiss notifying us it will meet our skin soon,
And we cleanse our body,
Release our tension,
Pray for good lives to come.

In time,
We become tribe,
We become family,
As it was in the past,
Every person helping,
Every person caring,
Every person having purpose.

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Short Reflection on Wellness

There is so much to share about where our people are at and what can be done to help. Many are in a state of post-traumatic stress, sometimes layered with generations of abuse, neglect, and addiction. It feels overwhelming to many people, so there is the attempt to escape, often through self-destructive behavior. The wounds are deep and so the healing must also be deep. It is more than any one of us can handle alone, so it takes everyone being involved. Each of us can begin by making the right choices in our lives, so that we are setting a healthy example, while also being proactive in trying to help and support others in their path of healing. Prevention is a healing of the wounds when implemented well. The real change can only come from within the person, from within the family, and from within the community. People have to decide when they have been through enough and begin to seek help, change their behaviors, become honest, and confront the negative influences in their lives, at the personal, family, and community levels. This is scary for many people because there are often only a few local people willing to support them. In some cases they are put down for trying to change the way things are, because many do not want to give up their own addictions or unhealthy behaviors. It takes people having the courage to confront their own issues and expose themselves by becoming proactive in the change toward wellness. I encourage those on the path to stay strong in your commitments and to care for yourself well along the way.

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Caribou Head Soup

It was approaching ten in the evening, the sun still high in a distant lightly clouded arctic sky, hanging over a late spring tundra. The youth were playing norwegian, a form of baseball with two sides as opposed to four bases, on our gravel spit campsite. The ocean was frozen, but melted a little each day, just enough for us to leap the saltwater gaps to find fresh water in the middle of icebergs for cooking, washing, and quenching our thirst. One of the Inupiaq youth, Joe, decided to look inland towards a small hill, squinting his eyes a bit, while in the outfield. I was standing nearby with one of the other camp leaders, a knowledgeable Yupik woman named Aucha. She asked, “what you see Joe?” He replied, “over there, it’s something.” It was something. We pulled out my rifle with scope to take a closer look. Several caribou proceeded to follow the first over the hill, heading further inland.

Another camp leader named Bryan, Joe, and myself quickly geared up to take a walk inland. The tundra surrounding our camp was part swamp, part mud, and part dry toward the hills. We cut through some mud to get downwind and in front of the direction the caribou were headed. We relied on Joe’ good eyes and Bryans drive to keep us moving in the right direction, despite miles of sweat inducing pursuit. We crawled up on a hill with the caribou nearly five hundred yards in the distance. The land was too open for us to approach any more, so we decided that I should take a shot from there. We got lucky that evening.

We skinned and quartered the caribou, wrapped half in the hide and tied it to one meat pack. We tied the other half to the other pack we brought. We kept every part of the animal we could use, including the head. The three-mile hike back to camp took some time, even though we only took two short breaks. Being on the land like that, we realize how tough our ancestors were, and how much more we need to use our bodies to keep strong and fit.

Others set-up a wood rack and began cutting the meat to make nilii ghaii / paniqtuk (Native style jerky). After cutting some hindquarter for meat and gravy, I began to work on skinning the caribou head to begin cutting meat from it for caribou head soup, which is a delicacy among my people. Despite having watched my mom and other Gwich’in women prepare the soup plenty, this was my first time to be responsible for the entire process. I think that only two people had ever tried caribou head soup in the camp, one of who was our elder Inupiaq cook. She was so happy to have some, as were all the other camp leaders and youth. I had my fill as well.

The land and animals provided for us this week and the knowledge of our peoples emerged, not only securing our physical survival, but in guiding us to address each physical, emotional, and spiritual challenge that arose. We learn through experience, we grow with practice, and we give thanks for all that we are blessed to receive.

 

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The Land is a Teacher

I’m on a plane, just woke up from a take-off catnap, decided I would seize the moment to write a note about re-connecting with the land. I suppose it is a bit ironic to write about this topic now, being at thirty thousand feet in a sealed flying pressurized tube with wings. Yet, in some ways it reflects the degree of separation many of us live with in relationship to the natural world in these times.

In the days of my great grandparents, our people spent around eighty percent of their time on the land, among the elements and animals, and the remainder in tents and semi-subterranean sod homes. Today, we spend around eighty percent of our time or more in well-insulated homes, shielded from the elements and lucky to see an animal, aside from a neighbor’ pet or an urban dwelling critter, on most days.

A late respected elder Chief, who spent his first eighteen years of life on the land, once asked me, “can our generations understand the world in a similar way with this difference of time spent on the land?” He went on to share, “our people received much of our cultural teaching from being on the land and with the animals, there is much to learn out there, even our language.”

There is a natural way of being, as a human. When we are living it, we may feel in moments as if we are one with the universe, in love with everyone and everything around us, spiritually attuned. A major part of this is our relationship with the land. Our elders often speak of it as respect for the land and animals.

When we spend time on the land, planting, gathering, hunting, fishing, and exploring, we shift our consciousness and deepen our awareness. The more we do it, the more in alignment we become with natures’ time, with the seasons. There is less stress and confusion in this environment, because it operates at a pace that is natural to us.

The plane has landed, I am in my hotel room and it is time for me to rest. Tomorrow, I leave for a remote piece of land on the Northwest Arctic coast of Alaska with three thousand pounds of gear and food. We are preparing to bring out twenty-four youth and together will live on the land, build a maqii (Native style sauna) and inusuk (meat drying rack), hunt, fish, gather eggs, share knowledge, and build relationships. This is one of the solutions; to prioritize a reconnection with the land and share cultural knowledge with younger generations.

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A Body Cared for is a Spirit Honored

The body is the temple of our spirit,
It is sacred,
The one we were gifted,
Absolutely unique,
Beautiful,
Only one like it there will ever be.

We must care for our body,
The quality of our life,
How we feel,
How we think,
Our energy level,
Depends greatly on how we treat our body.

The body has purpose,
To make clothing,
Make shelter,
Grow and harvest food,
Explore the land,
To be creative,
To be in communion with others.

A body cared for is a spirit honored.

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Rising Spirit

The days permeate
I breathe
This land is my home
Let it be known
Prophets stood before us
Stories been told
Through the flame of fire
Under moonlit skies
The Wise have spoken

This is existence
An embrace of the unknown
Alone on the tundra
A breeze across my cheek
The raven guide
Caribou roam

A vision shown
Through starlit night
An ice-cold frostbite
I breathe
Alive in the moment
What we have
A dream in a dream
I believe

This land bears my roots
Tears of great–grandfathers
Absorbed in the earth
I stand where they stand
Embraced by ancestral spirit
Prepared for the battle

With chosen words spoken
I pray on the land
My tears reaching earth
Therein lies the birth
Of change

And our Spirits rise
Where earth meets sky
To greet the day

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All My Relations

All my relations, all my relations, all my relations
Listen in
Let me begin the...ritual again
Build faith in my revelations
Though the ice may seem too thin
See the grin on my child’ face
And know that we have to fight to win
Know that we have to fight to win
Remember what it means to be human


Shine our lights in the darkest places
Fear not the sight of truth on human faces
See, love always leaves its traces
And our job is to track it down in all
Get up after each and every fall
Not be too ashamed sometimes if we have to crawl
See, the worlds problems belong to us all


All my relations, all my relations, all my relations
Please listen in
I may not have the chance to say this to you again
So I pray that it may have a positive impact in the way, we're livin’
Our world is much in need
For those who plant the sacred seed
That will break through the concrete of fear, hate, and greed
So that mother earth and her children
Can once again breath


And my grandfather always told me
Only take what you need
Seek balance in all your relations
Have patience as you engage situations
Grandson, we are of the Gwich’in
But there are many other nations
Always remember many prayers have been placed with the seventh generation


All my relations, all my relations, all my relations
Listen in
In this generation of hope
We are building a clear vision
A metamorphosis to butterflies
And this is only the beginnin’
The light breeze that your feeling
Is about to become a wind
And if we would only spread our wings
We might catch our liberation
On this path I offer much peace, love and respect to you all
My relations

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Pursue a Good Life

“Life was not meant to be easy.
You have to work at it to live a good life.”
My grandmother shared with me.
More importantly,
She set the example.

Our people believe in living a quality life.
Acquire good tools that last a long time,
Build skill sets that will provide for you,
Develop a solid work ethic,
Be honest and dependable.

Envision the life you want,
Embrace it within your heart,
Speak life into it,
Take the steps to pursue it.

Remember there are no shortcuts,
When you hit a wall,
Chisel away at it,
Transform it to something that helps you,
Makes you stronger,
Wiser,
Then take the next step,
Building your foundation,
Deepening your roots.

Understand how your choices help or hinder,
Seek not to be perfect,
But recognize where you are at,
Be on a trajectory of growth,
A path of healing and development,
Learn to enjoy each stage,
Each day,
Each moment.

Pursue a Good Life.

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Zen & the Art of Billiards

I was fifteen years old. Our mother announced to us that we would be leaving our low-income apartment in South Cushman and head south to Oklahoma. She bought an old brown cargo van, with no side windows and three V’s, each sitting inside the next, getting progressively smaller, spray-painted down the length of the van on both sides. The previous owner had converted it to have a folding bench bed in the far back, so it could double as a hotel on our pilgrimage south. She was accepted to the University of Oklahoma in Norman where she would work to finish a bachelor’s degree in history of Native Americans. I had a driving permit, so drove hundreds of miles on that trip, which was an epic journey, but I have to write about that another time, as the focus of this story is actually billiards. I just had to let you know how I ended up in Oklahoma.

Flashback. I was ten years old in Arctic Village, the electric poles were going up in the summer, so all the men in the village had work. There was a burger shack that opened up to serve lunch and dinner. It had a bar size, seven foot long, pool table. I would watch the teenagers play and for some reason was called to give it a try. They finally let me to the table and it was like magic. I ran every ball on the table, didn’t miss a single one, all in a row. At least that’s the way my romanticized childhood memories tell it to me. In any case, I won the game and discovered a natural talent.

Back to Norman, Oklahoma. It is a small town south of Oklahoma City. There is a downtown main street with shops on it. One of them was called the Quarter House, an old time arcade, which likely went out of business with the boom of home gaming systems shortly thereafter. They had a few pool tables and I returned to the game after a several year hiatus. After a couple months of developing my game, I crossed the street to a pool hall, that was also a bar, which allowed underage people until ten in the evening each night. A retired dentist asked me to play for a dollar a game. That was big money to me back then, but I took a chance. Within a half hour I was up nine games, was feeling great, and then he opened up that he was just checking out my game. He proceeded to beat me nine games straight. At which point he says, “you have natural talent, why don’t you come in here and play with me, I’ll teach you a few things. Then we can go play scotch doubles against some other folks and give them a challenge.”

I grew to love the game. There is a unique beauty, a necessary precision of execution, limitless possibilities, and a time stopping solitude when you approach a table to shoot. It comes down to you and the table, at which point your opponent and spectators don’t matter. The mental focus is exhilarating and calming at the same time. There is a pinnacle of knowing that happens when you are ‘in-stroke’, a term developed to express the feeling and moment of being on fire, on top of your game.

At twenty-one years old, near the completion of my bachelor’s degree, I chose not to pursue a professional career in Billiards, despite becoming a top-level amateur. I chose instead to move back to the villages and work for my people. I set my cue in the closet.

Fifteen years later, my friend Marc convinced me to play for his team in Fairbanks. We won a local tournament, securing airfare, hotel, and entry fees to the National Pool Championships in Las Vegas this past week. Without any real practice and years from the game, I shot the best pool in my life at the Nationals. My teammates held their own weight as well. We made it five matches into the Nationals and won a second round tournament against thirty-two teams from across the country.

In each of my games, I remained completely calm, sitting upright in my chair, grounding both feet to the floor in front of me, taking slow deep methodical breaths. I essentially meditated through each game, allowing nature and the skill set I had developed years ago take its course. It was a wonderful feeling, all around. Of course, all the winning helped a lot. Just as importantly, we were being rooted-on by many supporters, via facebook, from across Alaska and the states. We felt the support. Thank you!

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The Drum Song

It was nearly two in the morning, my head fell repeatedly towards the keyboard and then jerked backward as I fought the lure of sleep on my body. The term paper was due in seven hours and I still had to study for the final exam that would follow. I wasn't sure if I had it in me to complete the semester. There was a hard cold Alaskan rain falling in the parking lot outside my apartment on University avenue. For some reason, I was called to walk out onto the pavement, surounded by three two-story apartment buildings, shirtless, wearing only my basketball shorts. I looked up, invigorating drops slapped my face and ran down my cheeks. Then came the drum song, from my village. It emerged unbeckoned but with perfect timing from within my abdomen. My knees bent, bare feet stomped the pavement, arms raised to my side, and the song came. Each round filled me with greater strength, as my body shed raindrops. I'm not sure how much time past, probably enough for any cognizant neighbors to want my song to end. I returned to my basement apartment, to the table and my keyboard. Any resemblence of tiredness had lost its grip. The words flowed from thought to fingertip to screen with ease. It was in this way that I learned how powerful our songs can be for us.

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To Breathe

The hurt inflicted upon us and the hurt we have inflicted upon others,
The love we did not receive and the love we did not give,
The injustices against us and our injustices against others,
These are the wounds we must heal to attain inner peace.

The ignorance of others and our own ignorance,
The assumptions about us and our assumptions about others,
These are the veils we must lift to truly see.

Embracing the love that binds us all,
So it may set us free

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Feeling Grateful

Feeling grateful for the mystery and the magic in life. The people, the words, the signs, the revelations that come when we need them to appear. For the ability to refine our approach, understandings, and plans, so that we can sustain balance and effectiveness. The joy in being able to feel what is real in ourselves and in our connections with others and the land. It is an adventure :)

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Lift Each Other Up

When we are navigating a deep sandy ravine together, the last thing we want to do is pull one another down as we each work to reach solid ground. For each person who makes it to solid ground, we increase the strength and capacity of us all to make it out. In our lives this ravine can take many forms - emotional, spiritual, mental, economic, physical, political, or variations of all the above. When a community member with an alcohol problem returns home from going to treatment, do you offer them a drink? When a person who suffered childhood trauma is learning to feel good about who they are in a healthy way and succeeding in pursuing their dream, do you start rumors to crush their progress? No, of course not. We congratulate and encourage them for each step they take in a positive direction. We are all on a journey together, even though we do not always see or feel it to be this way. Rather than pull one another down, we have a responsibility to lift each other up, and in doing so we are actually helping to sustain our own footing as well. It is not a blind support, one that could enable unhealthy cycles. It is a conscious and intentional lifting of the spirit and capacity, towards a balanced healthy future.

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Being a Young Leader

When I ran into a creek to escape some bullies as a seven year old boy and secretly cried once I made it back to our one room, wood heated, no electricity, no running water cabin, in soaked tennis shoes and patched jeans, the furthest thing from my mind was that one day I would be asked to serve as a leader. Some say that we each have a destiny, others that our choices define our path, I say that both are true. There is an intended path for us to walk, but we have to choose whether or not to embrace it. We know when we are on the path, because the world feels right to us, not a eutopia, but in balance.
As a ten year old, my single mother brought me out of Arctic Village to live in Anchorage for a while. We lived in a ghetto low-income housing unit that was multiple stories high with two long hallways per floor. As Christmas came around, I realized that most of the kids in the building were too poor to expect much for the holidays, so I decided to do something for them. I sold some stained glass I had made at a weekend workshop and searched the neighborhood, door-by-door, for a Santa suit to borrow. I made signs that Santa would be on the second floor on Christmas Eve to hear kids' wish list and to give out ice cream, which I purchased with my stained glass sales. I failed to realize I was as poor as they were, I just wanted them to be happy. Most of the kids slid off Santas' knee to the floor, as I was barely bigger than they were and the suit was made for an adult to wear. In my late twenties I reflected on this as the first time I acted in service to those around me, regardless of family, tribal, or other connection.
Over the years, it has not been my intention to pursue formal positions of leadership. I simply follow my heart, care for those around me, respond to invitations to serve, and challenge myself and others to grow when it is the right thing to do.
I believe that every person is a leader, a role model, they just have to choose to develop the innate gifts and capacities within them. We need this to be the case if we are to overcome the current and emerging challenges we face. We all have a unique role to fill within our family, community, and world. Similar to an intact ecosystem, if someone does not fulfill their role, things begin to fall out of balance. For this reason, every role is honored, honorable, and a part of the whole.

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Naturally Dreamers

In my early teens, as I experienced the human metamorphosis from child to young adult, I began an era in my journey of awakening, riddled with revelations about the nature of life, and questioning my place within it. I began to see the universe around me through new lenses of observation and understanding. It was a vibrant time, full of dreams, powerful emotions, first love, and contemplation. The possibilities were alive in me and each day was an adventure. I began to see the world a bit more for what it truly is, as I peeled back the layers of reality, moving deeper into an understanding of how and why things happen the way they do. It is a journey we all embark upon and the freshness of this exploration can last an entire lifetime if we let it. There are not enough days in the course of a human life to discover all that this universe has to offer us. This is both limiting and liberating at the same time. No one has to worry about trying to know it all and we have a million possibilities at our fingertips to deepen knowledge, build skill sets, and learn new things. Throughout life we also get to know ourselves better, understanding a bit more about what we enjoy, our passions, the way of life that brings us balance and happiness. We are naturally dreamers.

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Honor the Woman

There is no reason to fear a strong, confident, self-actualized woman. An old Gwich'in story encourages young men to seek out just that kind of woman for a wife. She will be an equal partner, fulfill her role, and bring you happiness. I have found this story to be true. There is little more beautiful and powerful than a woman who is internally balanced, aware of her innate gifts, and pursuing her capacity to shine. Just as important, our world is in dire need of the feminine to re-balance the masculine, which has been dominating our systems of governance, economics, and education at home and beyond for too long. This is not just a matter of more women climbing the ladder in a mens world, it is about women helping to re-shape our world altogether, so that it reflects a balance that enables sustainable, peaceful, co-creation. It is much like that of a healthy family and home life, wherein each partner is valued equally for their unique contributions to ensure the whole family prospers. When there is an imbalance, things do not tend to work out too well, and it often results in someone feeling unheard, misunderstood, and unsupported. At the scale of community, state, national, and global politics the results are magnified and far reaching. As men, we are allies and partners to the woman. Our role is to fully honor and respect each woman, as we would our own mother and grandmother. More than that, we must work to understand our male privileges in the world and pro-actively contribute to help nurture a feminine / masculine balance. In my immediate partnership, this means encouraging and supporting my wife to fulfill her dreams, passions, and path, as she supports mine. In relationships we are there to uplift, not to hold back, one another in our growth and aspirations. We are always learning and developing on a path of personal and spiritual growth. I give thanks to all the women who have helped shape my life.

Pictured above from top left are my eldest daughter, sister, mother, sister-in-law, late grandmother, wife, niece, and middle daughter.

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Sing Your Song

I was told, as a teenager, that if I wanted to have a successful future I would have to conform to what western society expected of me, that my perspectives and thinking were too bold, too honest, and that I was too up front about sharing them. Yet, in my heart, I felt that the opposite was true. That we can no longer afford to conform to a dominant culture that was denying us, on a collective cultural and on an individual level, the true freedom to be who we are. Historically, it involved conscious concerted efforts to eradicate our languages, songs, dances, spirituality, ceremony, and philosophy, as well as the taking of most North American lands. To this day, we are challenged to liberate our spirit, as well as our social, economic, educational, and political systems from practices of western domination and control. The saddest part to me though, is what it does to our people on an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual level. Many of us have to fight, within ourselves, to be able to feel good about who we are, while simultaneously fighting for the right to be in control of our destiny. There are too many of our people, young and old, silently suffering on the inside. Some are not aware of how generations of psychological, emotional, and spiritual abuse, coupled with the introduction of alcohol and drugs, work to keep our spirit down.
I consciously decided at the age of seventeen, as a high school drop-out, that I would follow the path that I was meant to walk in life. I did not know where it would take me, although I understood that I would have to face many challenges along the way. It has been nearly two decades since that time. I have come to understand that the major battles occur within ourselves, as we work to liberate our mind and spirit from ideas that limit our belief that something different is possible in our life and in that of our peoples. If I could climb the twenty thousand foot summit of mount Denali, the High One, and send a call across the world, that "the time has come for us to be free" and "it is okay to be who you are", I would do so. The truth is that vast numbers of people around the world are silently suffering as the dominant global culture entices or forces us to compromise fundamental values we believe in and change who we were meant to be; a unique beautiful person. So, my message is to sing your song, let it be heard, let no one suppress that which is uniquely you. If we live an authentic life, true to ourself, true to others, it will once again become both acceptable and a benefit to our communities and society. It just takes a few to demonstrate that it is possible. As an elder chief once mentored me, "never let anyone call us a poor people, while we are not rich with money, we are rich in the knowledge of who we are."

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Being a Native Father

Becoming a parent is life changing. When my first child was born, I remember feeling comfortable, for the first time, holding a baby in my arms, and thinking, "now I truly understand what love is." Yet, it took me years to transform that understanding of love into solid changes in my behaviors, so that I could be there fully for my son and his mother. Not unlike many other young Native men of my generation, my own upbringing was rough and along the way I built an invisible wall around me that emotion could scarcely penetrate, in either direction. I was sensitive to what was happening around me, but had a hard time to express my feelings and an even harder time receiving positive attention and love from people. In this situation it is easy to constantly come up with excuses to not be fully present as a father and partner with those we love. It is even more challenging when it becomes apparent that we have personal and emotional issues that need to be addressed. It is really tough for us men to acknowledge our shortcomings and work to change our behaviors. In reality, this is just a part of growing up and maturing for both partners in a long term relationship. There are many escapes, some more intense and potentially harmful than others, when we are running from maturing as people and fulfilling family responsibilities. Some like to keep themselves so busy, that there is no time to focus on personal growth and family. Others turn to alcohol or drugs to escape feelings or dynamics that they do not want to face. In general, we are very priviledged as men in todays society, so we have to be careful not to take advantage of it in a
way that gives us an escape from growing up. Over the years, I had three more children and had to face myself, remind myself, time and again that I am trying my best to demonstrate through practice a commitment to family. There is a lot of forgiveness, humility, and patience that is needed along this path. We all make mistakes and all need some space from time to time, but lets learn from the mistakes and utilize the space to reflect, heal, and grow. Many of the solutions to our societies challenges rest in our ability to bring unhealthy ways of being to an end on the personal and family levels. Blessings to you and yours.

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