Keep speaking the tongue of our People

by Peter Twitchell

For the last 100 years the YK Delta has suffered from alcohol and drug abuse. Now we are growing aware of reasons why we’ve been hurt and damaged by someone who was drinking in our family.
We understand that we are not alone in our pain, our tribes have suffered the effects of colonization and problems this created.
We were shamed to speak our Yup’ik/Cup’ik language because our grandparents and our parents were told the English language was the only language worth speaking and our native language was irrelevant and meaningless in modern society. That our cultural and native ways were inferior.
We now know and understand our ways of life and our languages makes us who we are and our source of strength and unity for our tribe.
Now they tell us all native languages will be extinct in 200 years. We cannot let this happen. Be proud of who you are, where you come from. Keep speaking the tongue of our people. This is our means of survival with our tribes and culture because it connects us all together.
We know that we cannot continue to drink and drug. Be mindful of who we are. Alcohol and drugs are killing us mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Our Native ways since “time in memoriam” will make us strong and healthy warriors again. The western way of drinking and drugging is and has always failed us. It has put us into total darkness from the light from where we came.
It’s time (pinariuq) to practice our traditional values of love for ourselves and love for others. Respect for ourselves and others. Love our bodies, stop abusing and putting poisons like alcohol and drugs into them. Respect our bodies and others’ bodies.
We cannot disrespect women and men alike anymore. Hold your body and bodies of others sacred.
Nicotine is addicting and it is gateway to smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol to oblivion, of violence and self-destruction. We must change now, not later. Blaming others for our destructive behaviors is denial and excuse to behave negatively.
Our destructive behaviors are infecting our children and unborn. It’s that vampire syndrome. When we are not living a healthy life, we infect our healthy children and (7) seven generations to come. Help to light their way.

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