Thursday, May 27, 2010
The Indigenous People of Alaska
What were they like,
those first people of snow,
who learned to make homes
from the frozen cold?
How did they learn
to carve out a life
among the eagles, bears and polar ice?
One thing for certain they learned to share
in an environment so severe.
Children took care of their elders,
because their own survival
was at risk without them
but the old ones also knew when to die
in one of nature’s harshest habitats,
death came quickly for any mistake.
All that is left
of these cold weather clans
are what we see on their totem poles,
faded mysteries and ancestral pride.
Today, dressed in blankets patterned
from long ago, they present their memories
for tourists to enjoy and perform
at sideshows off the main highway.
The crippled elders chant,
while the other adults dance
to the beat of the drum
sustaining traditions for their children
who would rather listen to ipods
or be with their play stations
in front of the television.
The drums remember the clans of long ago
who ruled the world deep in the North
Beaver, Bear, Eagle, and Crow.