Aug 11, 2009
As many of you know, Nick Tucker is one of Western Alaska’s respected Yup’ik Elders.
Recently he included me as a recipient of an email he sent to a Tribal Administrator. It was a very heartfelt and honest letter about lessons that we should all learn and respect. With his permission, we would like to share his letter with you.
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Look who’s writing! You have just touched a heart that is in pain. Thank you! I recall you as an infant being fed by your Mom.
I do not want you to have to go through what my generation, the many generations before us and your Mom and Dad had to endure us to stay alive from one year to the next. I do not want your cousins in here having to go through the same. How many more generations are we going to cry out. Will the generations of those who rule and make laws continue to be the generations of those for the last too hundred yearss, and for our State, the last 50 years?
Look at your dad. He is over 70 years old and is still struggling to feed his grandchildren, great grandchildren and your mother who is the same age as I am, failing some in health. At his age, your dad is resorting to work working many hours a day plus commercial fishing. He and your mom should be enjoying their senior years. But, the preventable, ever-existing high fuel prices, groceries and you name it prevent just have us keep going so that everyone else around us wouldn’t go hungry and cold. Yoiu know too well it got so bad this winter for many villages that great number of us had to choose between heating fuel or food on the table, and saddest of all, some without one or the other or both and, in case of food, some just one meal a day and some without days.
(Friend), remember us. In our pain and struggles, we raised your generation. We had the best of hopes for you all while we had our own social problems that had been seeded and spawned from generations ago when the first non-Native stepped on our land. It could have been a beautiful, caring country – us having been accepted, trusted, respected, and honored – with our backyard resources generously shared with us. We did, but the recipients want more and more, and eventually all.
Your dad and I, as was with many generations well ahead of us, never held grudges, revolted, nor revenged no matter the treatment, but always wish well of our oppressors with kindness, care, and generosity – like our elders say, even if you only have a cup of tea, and, continue to treat them with open arms that we did two hundred years ago. I want you, your children and grandchildren get education. We’ve always been strong, intelligent, and wise, particularly our culture precious with values and teachings. Take that for us for our next generations. But, keep your heads up, your whole generation. We will have been a forced to be reckoned with, because I think, many of us are beginning to turn to God, and we might just rule with justice, goodness, fairness, and generosity again, but educated.
Remember, Israelites were under oppression 400 years. The Pharaoh was given opportunity to work with God. He refused. Then from the lowliest of Israelites came Moses.
You are all from strong men and women. Know that. Your Dad, even barely able to see and having to use a magnifying glass to read, having been hospitalized number of times, and enduring much like rest of us, is telling you all who you really are. Young men and women of great strength. Tell your generation. My family is a family of veterans – we’re doing our part so those we leave behind will be free to treat each other as they feel. But, for your generation, look to ours. It is precious.
I’ve never talked this way to you. But, it is time to pass on some things. We’ve always shared and protected our resources. Now, they have been allowed to be squandered elsewhere, dishonored, and even in one case, literally thrown overboard while we cry for it.
Thank you so much for rising up.Please look back at your ancestors and your elders today. Be patience, kind, generous, compassionate, caring, and sacrificing, but with one formidable tool: education. Use it with wisdom. Make sure our future administration knows who you are. You equal to the rest of the esteemed citizens and do not have the right to be denied our country’s promised benefits and privileges. The generations ahead of you sat quietly in a cage, in a corner. Someone from the outside has opened the door. It is up to you all to walk out, men and women to be reckoned with -without revenge, without violence, and without ill-feelings, but with confidence that you can contribute in making our state better, even for former oppressors. Some didn’t know. Forgive them. Together, you will get the Alaska you want.