The community of Hoonah was blessed with eggs - of all sorts - on Easter Sunday, April 12, courtesy of Sitka and the F/V Julia Kae and its crew. Families and churches held Easter egg hunts despite the knee-deep snow, but the Julia Kae and its Seattle crew brought the eggs the community longed for most.
The herring spawn, haaw in Tlingit, was rich and thick this year, and the Julia Kay's aft deck was loaded. Townsfolk waited patiently on the transient dock, then worked cooperatively to load the heavily laden hemlock branches into boxes, bags and plastic totes. Within an hour, the last eggs had been divided up and taken home to fill freezers for the coming year.
As all Southeasterners know Sitka supports the largest herring spawn. Other Southeastern communities rely on vessels like the Julia Kae to carry eggs to our docks. Local residents are always willing to pitch in to help pay for the fuel and crew time needed to travel between Sitka and outlying villages, but this year, the Julia Kay's captain and crew refused payment.
Steve Demmert and his crew told the residents who offered donations that they were honored to be part of a long tradition of sharing the ocean's bounty. In true village style, we offered Easter bread, jarred deer meat, and plenty of smiles as thanks. The Julia Kae traveled from Sitka to Hoonah on Sunday, arriving just after noon. They headed out to Angoon that evening with plans to transit on to Kake the next day, distributing eggs along the way.
For Hoonah, in particular, the Julia Kae's visit was particularly poignant as it was formerly owned and fished by our beloved grandfather and Chookaneidi clan leader, John Hinchman, Sr. who passed away this spring.
The community wants to extend a heartfelt gunalcheesh to Sitka Kwaan for sharing their eggs and to Steve Demmert and the crew of the Julia Kae for helping us to welcome in spring.
Frank Wright Jr.
President, Hoonah Indian Association