Sunday, February 1, 2015

lets talk!

It is no mystery that the language community in rural Alaska and urban Alaska differ in more ways than one, for instance many of us raise our eyebrows to signify a yes, but someone in Anchorage may not understand this emblem.
We are all comfortable in our atmosphere's, with our own cultures, beliefs and values, but when we are pulled out of our own comfort zone's and placed in an unfamiliar place it can be a bit unnerving. I myself am quite accustomed to helping the elderly, and was once in line in a gas station and the person at the register was obviously older and not as quick and agile as the people who made up the line and I was quickly disgusted at all of the complaining the other patrons were doing of her being slow, and felt compelled to step in and help her.
Both urban and rural members of each community can take simple steps to communicating more effectively with the other.
1) take it upon yourself to learn about the different cultures and subcultures that you are not knowledgeable about. Doing so will help each group to speak and understand those who speak a little different than what you are used to.
2) Be aware of the situation that is present during the conversation. Being considerate of how you converse with others will help you to to mindful of how some people speak differently than what you are used to such as. slower, faster, different accents. One such example I can recall is being at fish camp and someone dropped a spear in the river. it was drifting away and everyone was in a panic trying to rescue it. Someone not familiar with the accent of the lower Yukon people did not understand them saying "spear" because to her ears they were saying "spare" and she kept asking "spare what" until i clarified by saying "spear" dragging out the long "e" for her.
3)Respect the differences in speech and customs. No ones words are wrong, and no ones customs are to be shamed. "when in Rome do as the Romans"
4) If you unsure, paraphrase. Doing so not only is a soft way of asking if you got the message correctly, it will also give the person talking a chance to clarify any misunderstanding correct it if needed.
5) show that you are listening, that way if you are slow in responding, it does not seem as though you ignored the speaker entirely. Try not to speak until someone is done talking.
The next time you feel as though you don't understand someone at all, try following a few of these steps, I would also love to hear any steps you feel may help in bridging the gap in communication between rural and urban Alaskans or any stories of miscommunication you want to share!
Happy days!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Location isn't everything

So, I've moved thousands of miles from where I grew up and where I was abused, and vowed to never expose my son to such an environment. But, I've quickly learned that sexual abuse is EVERYWHERE. 
I've met a few people and made a few friends. One of the first few people that I met, aside from neighbors, was a young man around who was twenty-two years old. Soon after meeting him he told me about his childhood and how close he used to be to his father who was Cuban. His father sodomized him from the age of fourteen until he was nineteen, and he was just coming to terms with it. 
After that, I met another young lady who was molested by her own grandfather. And then yet again, I met another young woman who was molested by an older male cousin. And then, again, I met a young mother of three whose oldest daughter was abused by a guy she was dating. 
It feels like sexual abuse is just EVERYWHERE! Is there no escaping it? 
My son is now six months old and is absolutely beautiful. Wherever we go, people stop to tell us how cute he is and how beautiful his eyes are. Every time, I get a fear in my stomach, because he is so friendly with everyone. I think to myself, that, I hope his cuteness and friendliness doesn't make him into a target. But I know that I must just do my best as a mother and warn him of the dangers of the world and be very selective of who I allow around him. I really hope that we have great communication and hope that he will always be able to talk with me about anything. 
that's all for now

Sunday, September 29, 2013


I've recently moved from Anchorage, Alaska to Hollywood, Florida and I absolutely love it. It has, however, given me a new-found, greater appreciation for many of the benefits we as Alaska Natives often take for granted, medical care in particular.
As you may or may not know I am expecting a child any day now, and with my history, am considered extremely high risk.
It was definitely a challenge to get medical care here. To qualify for medicaid I had to show proof of pregnancy. No big deal I thought as I had brought my medical records from Alaska. WRONG!! They would not accept it from an out of state doctor. So I began searching for places to get it from. There is a community health center up the road that offers free pregnancy testing, so we made our journey there and sat in line for a couple of hours, just to be told that they would not see me as I was not a Florida resident. But I was given a list of places where I could go and get a free test. OK, cool I thought. I made an appointment with one of the places on the list, and they were very happy to give me the test and a pregnancy verification. BUT, it was not by a doctor so again, it was not accepted. I was given another list, and each one I called had a different reason why they could not see me. Finally after a couple of weeks, we found a place in the next county over and got the necessary form. But submitting it was a problem, as you have to either upload it, fax it, or drive to the office and have it scanned. We did all of the above, and there is no caseworker or person you can just hand it to, and each time was told it was never received. So I did some digging, found the name of the person in charge, did more digging and found her direct number, she was not pleased that I was able to call her, but within a couple of days, viola! I had medicaid. Now I had to find a doctor who not only accepted Medicaid, but also one who would see me so late in my pregnancy. Oh boy. After calling around to a few places I finally found one who would see me and was ecstatic to finally see a doctor. The whole visit was a nightmare. The waiting room was jam packed. The doctor wasn't even in his office either. Finally he shows up and I am ushered into a little tiny room and told to put on the gown, which was made of something similar to the toilet paper you get in public restrooms. The bathroom didn't have any soap or paper towels to use. So there I sat in my paper gown waiting for the doctor. Every time I moved a little, it ripped even more. By the time he came into the room about 45 minutes later it was basically non-existent. He didn't introduce himself and neither did the nurse. He walked in and said OK legs in the stirrups, checked my cervix and then told me that I am dilated five cm and would be having the baby any day then walked out of the room. The nurse came back in and told me to meet him in his office. So I went into his office to talk with him. He was questioning me about my previous pregnancies, and I had to tell him that my son died of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. He asked me a couple more questions, and then reverted back to my son. He asked me which child died of small lungs, I said none. Then he asked which one had lung problems and I said none. I had to explain to him again what HLHS was. strange I thought. Well a couple days goes by and I had to see him again. And this time was even worse. I was not examined and asked to sign a form so they could bill medicaid for an exam, they wrote my information in the wrong chart and the doctor asked the nurse why she didn't listen to the babies heart, and she said because you pulled her from the room. So I was brought to another room, for her to listen then he tells me everything is fine. I asked him to refill my prescriptions, and he googled the names of my medication right there in front of me, all this going on while he is trying to watch TV. He has my medical records so IDK why he didn't know what meds I am on or what they are for. So upon leaving I ask for my records back, and am handed some papers that were not what I gave them to copy. I said uh, no these aren't them. So she shows me my chart and asked if this was it, I said yes. She said give me a minute I have to copy them. She then shuts, the window and completely ignored me. I still don't have them back, but I do have an appointment coming up on Tuesday with a different doctor and am keeping my fingers crossed that this one will be better.
In the end I just wanted to say that I often see and hear complaining about how bad the Alaska Native Medical Center is and want to say, that it is a palace compared to what you get down here, if you don't have private insurance. I miss it. I miss the caring doctors and the spotless facility and the care they take to ensure that you receive the best that they can possibly give you!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Random thoughts years later

As I am about to have a child, I sometimes feel sad that my son will never know his culture. But, it is a choice I am making and will stick to. I will never, ever bring him to the village that I grew up in. It hurts to know that he will never really know his heritage, but until things change its not something I am comfortable subjecting him to.
I am now 31 years old, and I often have dreams of getting raped at my grandmothers house. It's always in the porch, but not always by the same person. I wonder if I will have these nightmares for the rest of my life?
I also wonder if my uncle who is now free is abusing other little children? What's going to stop him? I know from speaking with family who is still back home that he hasn't changed and even seems more aggressive in his perverted ways, even openly making suggestions of having relations with his own relatives. Which makes me recall a time when he called drunk and told my mom (his own sister) that she really pisses him off because shes his own sister and "won't let him do it to her". What the hell goes on these peoples minds?
I also was reading the articles about the priests abusing people in St. Michael, and one of the priests named was a priest in my village, which makes me wonder if my uncle was abused? (
I recently had a strange dream about my grandfather who I've never met coming and speaking to me, about how heartbroken he was to see his grandchildren this way. He told me that someone needs to be protecting the younger ones. Is that my conscience feeling guilty for not returning?
But I know in my heart, that there is NO possible way of me ever returning to that place. What in the heck would happen when I came face to face with the man who did those things to me? I don't think anything pretty would come of it. I've had over twenty years to be thinking of this, and I know the bastard doesn't feel any remorse. And I when I think of him calling me from jail and telling me that if I didn't forgive that I would go to hell, I feel pure rage. Which also makes me wonder about people who are stuck in the village and have to face there abusers on a daily basis for ever? How in the heck do they deal?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Its a different world

As I was in line at the supermarket yesterday purchasing some seafood for dinner, an older gentleman sparked up a conversation with me. We began talking about the various seafoods that Alaska has to offer. I began talking about how store bought fish and crab just isn't the same as when you just catch it and eat it. He then asked me where I'm from and I told him that I was from Kotlik, AK. At that point he told me that he was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska and asked me if he could be frank with me. I told him to go right ahead. He then told me a story of how during his entire life in Anchorage he was probably one of the most racist people in Alaska against natives. He told me he always thought of them as rude, stupid, dirty, gross, and as drunks. Until last year his company sent him to a village on the upper Kuskokwim river. He told me that he was dreading the trip and told his company that he would not go, but was told that he had to go, so he went. During his visit there he had an awakening as to the differences of being in the village and being in Anchorage. He felt that he had gone to a whole new country. He told me that he felt incredible guilt for all of the things that he said during his lifetime. He said that the people there were the kindest and most welcoming people he had ever met. He said that he didn't meet a single person who didn't invite him over for something to eat and that all of the villagers would ask him if he had eaten yet. He also had a new understanding of why some natives dress the way they do once he saw that there really was no place to shop and that water was very scarce. He said that every home that he went into for dinner although modest and often made of just plywood, they were impeccable. He was also amazed at how hard working the children were and at the amount of respect people showed for their elders and for one another. He also had a new understanding of why natives do not waste food when eating out. He was very amazed and wanted to apologize to me as a native it would make any difference.
Just wanted to share.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

24 years later (Shared by a Reader)

Where should I begin? I’m a 30 y/o mother and my 1st abuse happened when I was 6 y/o. We were living in Bethel at the time and my friend and I were playing out in our neighborhood. We came to a house where I’ve been before with my parents and as we played outside this house a man I knew called us in to play with his puppy. We were having fun with the puppy and he offered oranges so we went in with him. He then said we should play hide and seek. So we hid and as he found us he would feel us up. When he did that to me I knew it was wrong. I grabbed my friend and told her what he was doing and she said that he’s doing that to her too. So I said let’s go in the bathroom and go out the window. But as we were closing the door he maybe heard our plan and just as we were going to close and lock the door he pushed it open and entered and locked the door behind him. We were crying & scared but he proceeded to unzip his pants stating don’t be scared I’m just using the bathroom. We screamed & tried to push eachother and hid behind eachother but I guess my friend was more scared because I could not get her to move from behind me. We begged for him to open the door and he finally did & we ran as far as we could, grabbed our little shoes & didn’t say a word to eachother just ran straight home and told our parents. The guy needless to say was socked by my dad and I remember going to the P.D. with my Mom but because I could not draw or describe his house they didn’t give him much time or jail time if any. I remember drawing a square house with a window as a small child would imagine one to look. I was very confused as to why I was there being so young. I can describe it in detail today as an adult though and remember everything!
2nd abuse happened when I was around the same age. My parents drank a lot and had parties at my house. One night a “friend” of my Dad’s was babysitting us while my parents were out dancing. He told us a bedtime story and we drifted off to sleep. My sister woke up after he tried to feel her up and then since I was still sound asleep, he moved to me. I was a hard sleeper so I didn’t wake up even she said she was calling my name, trying desperately to wake me up as he pulled off my underwear. I woke up the next morning and my panties were off. I asked my sister where they are, and she was 8 yrs old and told me where they were and explained what happened. He did something so horrible and sickening I can’t even tell it out loud. I was only 6! We were scared to tell my parents thinking we would get in trouble or something. It was a secret until we finally told my Mom as adults. She tells me to do something about it-and see if anything can be done but I never have tried. I see his name now and then and memories flood in & I get disgusted. I wonder if he has any kids himself, and I have no idea how he looks to this day. I wonder if I bumped into him anywhere without knowing and if he sees me as an adult and recognizes me and remembers what he did or if he still does it to other girls today. I don’t know what is keeping me from finding out if there’s anything I can do about it maybe thinking of the fact of does he have his own family today? Will I ruin his whole life if I report him? It’s weird and I know I shouldn’t feel that way but I do. Because of that abuse I feel insecure about my body some days. I used to think all men are gross and can’t really have conversations with men without thinking bad of them even though I know all men are not like that.  My fiancĂ© & my relationship is affected & when I described how some things affect me to my sister, she tells me I should get counseling (24 years later!). There’s one more but 2 is enough to talk about right now. I need some closure but unsure about how to do that-and is it too late?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Victim Impact Statement (names of villages omitted to protect the victim's identity) Asked to please share

My life has changed since I was sexually abused. My attitude got worse. It never used to be this bad. I get grumpy so easily and I don’t know why. Little things make me upset and I never used to be that sensitive. My grades dropped. I used to get mostly A’s and now I have a lot of difficulty in school. I don’t always get good grades anymore and I was barely passing any of my classes. I feel like I have to be careful with people. I don’t trust people well anymore. Guys are often scary to be around and it’s hard to trust them because I never know what may happen.
I think about it a lot. It makes me have low self-esteem because of what happened. I feel like everyone knows what happened to me, especially when I go out. Sometimes I feel guilty about what happened, even though I know it wasn’t my fault. I feel angry, mad, and disgusted when I think about it. I trusted him and he took that all away. It hurts me to think about what he did to me.
It has made things hard on my family. I know that it hurts my mom, grandma, and sisters to see me go through this. Sometimes I get anxiety about it. I have trouble breathing sometimes and my mom thinks that they are anxiety attacks. These started happening after the abuse occurred. My family had to move from
xxxxx to Bethel because of what happened. After the abuse started happening I felt depressed. I just didn’t feel like myself anymore.
I started staying home after the abuse began. I used to always go out with friends before that. I was scared. I didn’t like when he was around. I was scared to be alone at home and with him. I would call a friend to talk or I would read so that I wouldn’t feel unsafe or isolated. I always think I’m ugly now. I remember when I was younger I used to think I was pretty. I find so many things that are wrong with me. I think these self-hating feelings started after I was abused.
  • Saturday
  • Friday, April 26, 2013

    Walk a mile in my shoes, would you have made it?

    One of the hardest things for me growing up, up until the day I spoke up about my uncle, was going to my Grandmother's house, which was a daily thing. I truly LIVED NEXT DOOR TO MY ATTACKER. I can speak about this from experience. Every day of my life I had to face him and act as though nothing was wrong, but believe me, every time I laid eyes on him, I had thoughts of doing things no person should ever think. I literally would have to converse with the person on a regular basis as though nothing was ever wrong. The hatred that it created was much too great to explain in writing. I was always on edge, and always felt like he was about to do something to me. Some nights, I would fantasize about the ways that I could kill him. About how easy it would be to do one of the nights he drank himself into a drunken stupor. Thankfully, I never acted on it.
    We as a community can prevent so much tragedy and heartache by simply speaking up. We can stop these people from victimizing others, we can empower other people to speak up. There is NO  reason to try and silence the victims or to defend their attackers, family or not! What they are doing is wrong and creates a lifetime of heartache, which will go on to create even more problems in the future. Telling a victim to be hush about what happened or saying they are making it up, is doing nothing but further victimizing that person.
    I myself had many serious issues that I know aren't all directly related to what happened, but I'm sure some of my actions were my way of acting out because I was so full of hatred and had no where to direct it.
    We should all place ourselves in the victims shoes, think about how hard it must be to live your life day to day going face to face with someone who did such things to you, and how it must feel to know that if you say anything, that you may rid yourself of your attacker, but you must still face those who turned on you for doing what was right, knowing that there is no way around it. Think about it.