by Vicki Turner Malone
Cama-i is a time of healing; when people of the region come together to celebrate their culture and rejoice in the traditions of others. It is a time when so many souls return to the mother Kuskokwim and embrace each other to share the year’s victories and losses, a time when Bridget and Aggie, those two wonderful Beans girls, sit side by side with their array of Qaspeqs – each sewn with care.
They greet old friends with a smile that makes each person feel richer than a Wall Street baron. Bethel people clatter up the steps to the kitchen in the admin building with offerings of food and Carol Ann Willard and all the unglorified army of kitchen volunteers heft pots and pans to prepare dinner for elders, guests, and the hundreds of others who have gathered for Cama-i.
They do this because it is tradition here in the Delta to share, to make a feast, and to celebrate together.
This year Alyse Galvin, who is running against Don Young for Alaska’s one Congressional seat, came to Cama-i at the invitation of several Democratic women in Bethel. I watched Alyse as she moved among us, as she sat eyes glued to the dancers, as she engaged with high school students who disclosed their concerns. She returned to Drew’s room, noting more people had posted names on the board and had a thoughtful discussion with Paul O’Brien and his daughter, Haley about suicide prevention.
I listened to her values around education, health care, her common sense ideas around school safety without taking our guns away. I came to realize she stepped up to the plate, not to make herself great, but because she believes in the need to change the rhetoric and policies of the party of Don Young. Perhaps it is time to come together as she says, to bond to a person who will represent our values.