Friends for life

by Peter Twitchell

Our friends are irreplaceable! As an Elder I feel this more and more as people move on to the spirit world. Most of my friends and I shared common interests like music, subsistence hunting, being in the outdoors, enjoying our tundra waters, lakes, and the many tributaries of a river.

In my years of making friends the people I came to know were all special in their own way. The stories we shared about our life in southwestern Alaska was all good.

As more and more people moved into Alaska from the lower 48 states and other parts of the world, life became challenging. Other parts of Alaska experienced this also, we share these common challenges. I called them bad habits other cultures had acquired and brought into our region of southwest Alaska.

As a tribe of Yupiaq people of our beloved homeland, our Elders were strong and healthy in mind spirit and body! They possessed a healthy and strong set of values practiced by our ancestors since time immemorial. These healthy values were passed down from generation to generation and practiced faithfully.

In my CD which I released in 2001, entitled Peter Twitchell’s “Eskimo Jam” featuring Bobby Gregory and my producer Michael Faubion, I wrote a song, “Today’s a gift – It’s a present.” It was about some of the bad habits that we acquired from the world outside of our own through nobody’s fault but our own. We are in the state of mind we are in today forgetting our Elders’ teachings of our old ways, which made us strong as a tribe and healthy as a people of southwestern Alaska!

As a Yupiaq Tribe of southwestern Alaska we took care of our land, kept it clean, never trashing it but respecting it as our Elders of generations ago did.

I’d like to reiterate my initial thoughts in writing this and that is our friends and families are irreplaceable. In my younger days it never was always smooth calm sailing for me, but my friends we’re always there encouraging, supportive, understanding and loving.

We took care of our land, our fish, our natural resources, water, and kept our tundra pristine. I am forever grateful for all my people, my friends for life!