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Seems

Seems

In Shakespeare's play "Hamlet" there is a scene in his room where his mother and his uncle (who married his sister-in-law to become king instead of it passing to Hamlet, the rightful heir) and his mom has her new husband leave so she can talk privately with him. Putting it into an Indigenous Alaskan perspective, imagine his mom saying to him "American Indians have been oppressed for hundreds of years. Their parents and their parents before them, this is our way. Why does it seem so particular to thee?" And imagine my response being "Seems? I know not seems! There are things within me that I could show... Seems? Nah, Madam, it is!"

For hundreds of years the Indigenous Americans have lived with oppression of their peoples. Westerners do not like to hear such things because the stark reality is so harsh and so brutal that it hurts to even think about it. Now imagine being forced to live this day in and day out. It is brutal and harsh and that is kind of why we would like it to change. There is so much talk of things being different now and how that would never happen again. Such a beautiful thought, no? Too bad it is not true since history repeated itself in Alaska. We are not talking about ancestors hundreds of years ago but my own mother and her generation. So, pretty words aside, what, exactly, has changed for the American Indian /Alaskan Native populations?

Seems

In that scene where Hamlet meets the ghost of his father, instead picture me meeting the ghost of my mother. Her saying how terribly wronged they were, how they evacuated the white woman and children and left the natives to fend for themselves as only one example. And me saying "The villains! What should I do, mother?" Her talking of treatment most foul and her parting words being "Adieu, adieu, remember me."

Westerners always say how you can catch more flies with honey or how using a gentle cooing tone of voice will attract them better. Well, know that the Indigenous Americans have been doing this for hundreds of years to no avail. A couple of hundred years is a mighty long time by any standards, right? And are we any closer to getting Justice by our own gentleness and patience? No.

Seems

Gather around, my friends, and I shall tell of the most foul deeds committed and our new course of action. Obviously this idea of using honey is meant to keep the westerners from facing the harsh realities that are imposed on us. So, now my friends, swear, swear upon my pen, that you will give no indication that you are aware of this truth and no matter how rude or weird I may seem, you will not tell the truth of the matter. That I am about to embark upon a course to make westerners confront the truth and my actions may seem rude or odd but do not doubt that I know which way the wind blows and am only rude when it blows south by southwesterly...

Progress

What is truly inspiring is the way the stereotypes about Indigenous Americans are being seen for what they are and a real system of equality is taking it's place. By highlighting the beauty of our indigenous cultures, our wisdom, our natural way of life and our belief systems that we can bring understanding to the rest of America and show that the time for real action has come. By honest discussions of these matters we can begin to bring about the real changes we want. I may seem to be very anti-American but that is not true, I actually love my country very much. But I am not blind to it's many, many faults. And I hope to highlight these so others can see them since I believe that recognition of what needs to change and how it needs to change will be the first important step to equality and Justice for the Indigenous Americans.

Adieu, adieu, remember me...

Maria

word count: 573
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.

Comments

jadefrank's picture

a voice for the indigenous peoples

Hi Maria,

I enjoyed reading this piece. Your voice is strong and your style is creative, and most of all - you continue to be a voice for the indigenous people of this country. I hope that you can continue to share with us the beauty of your own culture, as an Aleut, as well as continue to report about and highlight the past and current injustices that Indigenous Americans face. It's great to hear your voice again Maria!

Cheers,
Jade

Maria de Chirikof's picture

thanks Jade!

I enjoyed writing this one and thought it was a fun way to combine my love of Shakespeare with my concerns about America's Indigenous peoples. thank you for your support!

Maria

Nusrat Ara's picture

Dear Maria, Keep up the voice

Dear Maria,

Keep up the voice as well as the cause of your people.

Love

Nusrat

sunita.basnet's picture

Unheard voice

Dear Maria,

it's nice to hear from you after a long time. I am also little busy with my study but whenever I have time, I spend it blogging pulse wire. Now I am addicted to it. I know, you too so you are back?

Thank you so much for bringing unheard voices infront of us. I love the way to write. Never stop writing . We all are with you.
Big hugs sister,

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

Maria de Chirikof's picture

ooops

Oh funny, I sent the links to the Aleut_L since I wondered if what I thought and felt was similar to what other Aleuts feel and one pointed out I was not specific in the ways I felt repressed.

One of those *bring palm and slap forehead Duh moments!

In Anchorage there was a lot of prejudice against natives and I could not walk from my house to my cousins house without hearing names being called at me like 'Salmon Cruncher'. Those kinds of things are easily ignored but they do leave a mark on you. A sort of dirty feeling that you can not wash off since it is a tiny stain on your heart. So, I guess experiencing that type of prejudice at a young age made me feel as if there was a thin but deep chasm between "us". (which one of my western friends on here is helping me get over, explaining that feeling is a type of prejudice no matter how much you feel it was earned)

The way it felt at school to be just as smart as any other student but never getting that recognized and solely because of being a native. But that was not an overt thing but subtle, just enough that you could feel it but never enough to be able to put your finger on it and say "ha, here, this!" I remember my mother always saying how we need to just try harder and work for it more and to not let the things that happen to you become who you are. But this is the same sort of thing that girls experience in school as well so it is often hard to know for sure if it is being native or just what being a girl experiences.

It is kind of hard to try to express what I felt as a child since I am such a different person as well as an adult and parent so it is kind of vague and undefined since I would rather leave it a bit vague then put my adult words into what I felt as a child growing up.

In job searches it was frustrating and I can remember one week that stands out clearly to me that symbolizes this feeling. I put in 150 resumes for jobs that I was qualified for and received only 2 calls for interviews. One place really stands out where the 2 white receptionists actually tried to get me to not apply for the position but I said I was interested and they went and got their supervisor and actually smirked as the lady made it clear I would not be welcome to apply there due to being native. Thankfully this type of thing will not happen to this younger generation since much effort was made into changing this type of thing. So it is a good sign of the progress being made to change things for the better but it also leaves you with a tiny dirty-feeling stain on your heart.

It really felt like they wanted natives to feel 'defeated' or powerless in town here. But how do you explain such a vague notion as that in such a way that it can explain the way it made me feel. I mean there was enough decent people around that you knew it was just a small part but how to explain that this small part seemed to be both everywhere and nowhere at once...

I need to leave for work but will try to write something and post it...

Maria

jadefrank's picture

prejudice

Hi Maria,

Thank you for opening deeper and sharing these experiences of prejudice against indigenous Alaskans in Anchorage. I have seen this type of thing happen on occasion with my Athabascan friends in Fairbanks and it always pained me as a young girl to realize that this type of discrimination, ignorance and just-plain rudeness exists. By sharing these experiences on PulseWire, you help our community understand the types of prejudices that exist for indigenous peoples in North America - something that isn't being talked about or reported about in current media sources. Your voice is so powerful!

Regards,
Jade

misscarly's picture

hello again!

Dear Maria,

It's wonderful to see your posts again! Your writing is always intriguing and engaging. I enjoyed your approach to take the well-known story of Hamlet to shed light on the experiences of native Alaskans. What are your plans for the final article?

Thank you again for sharing your perspective of American Indigenous populations!

with kindness,
Carly

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