When it comes to the human experience, the troublesome human quandary, it is times like these that really bind the past and future together, somehow painting a nice picture, making today not just attractive, but truly exciting. Perhaps when all is said and done at the end of the day, or specifically, at the end of an election, there is a certain sigh of relief and anticipation, whether it follows victory or disappointment.
We all had an opportunity to say what we cared to say, even the candid comedians of our country who bravely plowed the way for smiles, laughter and other things. Whether we used our minds or our hearts as a springboard, it is in the act of being heard that helps us feel connected to the whole, a part of the sense of sweeping change felt across the nation and the world. Without an outlet to air our predicaments or without promised opportunity to view a brighter reality, we are to some extent devoid of hope and direction.
The man with a dream, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., once said, "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."
Perhaps he was speaking to a specific audience who shared his dilemma at the time, but today in a period with a lot to show for in the way of equality, maybe his statement can be interpreted to the rest of us who feel that somehow we are at the short end of the stick, no matter the race or class. More specifically, King's words may be applied directly to Alaska's cash-poor Bush communities, perhaps in more ways than one, even if taken out of the context in which he uttered those powerful words. For example, with the nation's highest rates of devastating social ills, rural Alaska has struggled. No doubt. To instigate a change in the current direction these awesome, history-rich communities are going, people really do need to look in the mirror, stand tall, and claim their ground by standing up to dark forces that exist. Too many are allowing themselves to be held hostage to poverty, addiction and envy.
Here in Alaska, the Native people were traditionally an independent, steadfast and organized network of survivors. Aesthetics have changed a great degree, but today, the Native Spirit is still the same, even during a time when a noticeable number of folks are joining in the more hurried way of life in Alaska's hub or urban communities. Rural Alaskans are migrating, as it is phrased, from rural villages. Whether shocking or perplexing, believe it or not, Natives have traditionally been an opportunistic, mobile culture of strategic diligence and purposeful aim. There are, however, some key factors stealing this culture of proud, yet broken people of their feelings of hope, security and strangely, belonging. Natives are at a point in time where history needs to be reviewed carefully to find balance between both worlds, creating a vision of health and happiness on the grassroots level.
This strategy for achieving a sense of positive change may be an over-simplification of a timely process, but the fundamental truth of being able to stand up and claim freedom is timeless. The only barrier to success such as wealth, status and unity is self-doubt, hatred and the unfortunate ability to expect greatness only from others. Look up, respect life and utilize the gifts within with all your might.
Maricia Skinna is a Sitka resident. She is originally from Mountain Village, where she is a tribal member. She also is a shareholder of Calista Corp., a regional Native corporation.
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