by Peter Twitchell
Some values shared by Natives including my tribe, the Yupiat/Yup’ik people of southwest Alaska is “The Earth is our mother, care for her.”
Too often in life we have taken her for granted, be it our mom or the land we were born into. After walking on her for a while, we will return to her be it in Bethel, Ohogamiut, Old Village, or Native Country, East, West, North, and South.
While we are here we are authorized by our Elders to respect her, honor her and to make her time here as pleasant as possible. We could all do our part, by practicing what our Ancestors did, and that is to take only from her what we absolutely need and be satisfied.
When we hunt, fish and gather – just like the deep sea fishermen wiped out our Alaska King Crab – it was overkill, and cannot be allowed to continue with our salmon, snow crabs, and pollock fish.
The other value should be honored, “treating all living fish, birds, mammals, and our land’s resources with respect.”
The third value, “Do what needs to be done for the good of all.”
First, respect yourself, take care of yourself. Our people did very well, they pitched in and worked together side by side in lean times when resources of food were hard to come by, and that is the reason why you and I are still here.
Talk to an Elder today, recognize them for their diligence and patience and recognize each one of them for their contribution to our tribe. I can think of one such person – Joe Vanderpool. Also, give the names of our Elders to AFN, Alaska Federation of Natives for the 2018 AFN Convention, thank you.