Ca tamalkuan umyuarcirluku… put thoughtful consideration to everything

by Elena Aluskak

My mother, I remember her words constantly; everyday, all day. She spoke to me (us) consistently on the good and bad of actions and thoughts and words, and now I understand her persistence; to put careful consideration to everything and anything.

She’d often say, “Do not make irrational and quick decisions just because you are being told the ‘present’ good and worth of it and do not be quick to purchase foods that are newly put out … later on you may hear what the negative effects it may have to your body or character.” (Hmm … such knowledge for someone who did not grow up with grocery stores or listening to news on ‘recalls’ and effects.)

In other words, she wanted me (us) to be extremely aware, to strive to make sound judgments to prevent panic, regret and shame among many others but to make every effort to live a ‘good’ and well-to-do life.

Our children and grandchildren continuously need our guidance and they do not need sugar-coated words; our elders did not sweeten guidance that need to be learned, they told it as it is and the use of words was simple and clear. And there were no ‘aams’ or pauses to think it up, the guidance came out of their mouths smoothly and with deep care. Why? Because as they’d say, “Ciunerpeni caningqauq,” it is inevitable in your future, whatever that ‘it’ may be.

Our children and grandchildren need to be positively strong; physically, mentally/emotionally and Spiritually.

The physical strength as we may all know comes from healthy intake especially of our native foods, the foods that are abundant to us in our land and water (and sky). The natural nurturing ingredients our foods contain are those that are good for us here in our land (and I don’t need to point out the ABC’s or science of them).

They aide in giving us inward and outward health to survive and live – to a ripe old age, just as our ancestors did; my mother often spoke of what sounded like a good population of healthy thriving elders that were still physically fit and able to care for themselves and their families and participating in subsistence activities and those other very old elders that were still spry enough to be very aware and still providing instruction.

And to have in abundance the healthy native food, we get up and work for it; a form of great exercise I’d say. The activities surrounding subsistence can be strenuous and tiring but it is part of who we are – as placed by Him.

The ‘strenuous’ activities gives us yet another form of strength that is a part of being healthy – physically; walking and moving around during our seasonal activities are meant for us and we know each season has its blessings. And to receive them, we have to move around – help each other, do our part even if it is simple as fetching a tool or a bucket of water or serving a cup of water, etc.

When our children and grandchildren are brought up and taught in this way, the cycle of healthy living will flourish and thrive and flow to the next generations.

The mental/emotional strength ties directly with physical strength, the healthy intake aides in positive mental health – the native foods have ingredients that help in this, the body works in wonders when fed correctly … And when we go out and gather/hunt or work on our harvests – for many of us, the emotions come out freely where we feel comfortable to let go and no one is judging or labeling us nor telling us what to do or how to take care of them; a very healthy way to strengthen our mentality and the ability to let go of our very natural and given emotions.

We talk. We cry. We laugh. We get angry. And then we feel the … calm. Our breathing becomes easier and stable. Our body relaxes and we feel better. We are able to sort out our feelings and ponder on our teachings and admonishments with a clear conscious and we are able to function in a more appropriate manner.

This form of mental health has to be taught to our children and grandchildren as soon as they begin to understand and with this the values of our cultures that are deep rooted will move forward in a positive and ‘normal’ way.

The physical and emotional/mental health of our being is made whole through Spirituality, the deep and ongoing knowledge of our Creator; growing in Him, living in Him, and abiding and depending on Him.

Our elders and caregivers instilled the importance of this acknowledgment through their deep faith in Him. Their teachings and admonishments were made clearer by this faith because they relayed in a humble and non-threatening manner.

Once a child has understood this, the foundational platform has been placed – and even though there will be times of estrangement, it will be brought back because it has been instilled. Instilled through consistent, unswerving, unfailing and humble instruction.

Our children and grandchildren need to be positively strong; physically, mentally/emotionally and Spiritually.

Elena Aluskak is the Outreach Coordinator/Child Forensic Interviewer for Irniamta Ikayurviat in Bethel, Alaska.

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