Now that we have been caught on camera and advertised in the local newspaper “Tulsa World”, everyone can agree that we have officially landed in Tulsa! Click here to read about the inaugural Tulsa Artist Residency 2016
I think this is the first time I have posted a writing by someone else here on my blog. A friend emailed me this to me today and I felt compelled to share it.
These words are from Clarissa Pinkola Estes (American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.)
My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.
We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.
It is my father’s birthday today; he would have been 86. Happy Birthday Dad!
I reflected back upon my childhood growing up with men who were straight out of Japan, China, the Philippines. Many came to Alaska the past 100 years, like my maternal grandfather who was Filipino/Tibetan, and directly after WWII, a flood of Filipino men came to Alaska, my father was amongst them. These men married the Native women; they rarely married women who were not indigenous.
Most of the Asian men spoke broken English, though there were a few who knew no other language but their own. A few learned the indigenous languages though everyone, including the indigenous people like my Alaskan relatives, were forced to learn English; and we were not allowed to speak our own. So English was the “common” language that we all had to learn in order to communicate and “get along.”
Like I said, it was not until a friend mentioned his experience in Korea most recently where he was not even looked at, not acknowledged once they saw that he was a foreigner — that got me to thinking and reflecting back. I wanted to “see” his viewpoint.
It is true. They don’t look at you when they see you are a foreigner.
Basically, no matter what country in Asia from which they are from, they generally do not acknowledge foreigners. Why is that?
It has been my experience, Asians tend to “stick to their own kind” — even in modern times. Why make relationships complicated with cultural differences? Relationships are already complex and we make it complicated when we inter-marry. Even in the Alaskan Filipino communities, now that their own women come to the United States in this modern day, they stay away from any other nationality, they associate only with one another.
I remember how in my childhood, those of us who were “mestizos” felt awkward being amongst the “pure-bred” Filipino kids and their families whenever there was a Filipino community event. They didn’t really “look at us.” At the time, we did not understand why we so-called “half-breeds” felt “funny” in their presence. it wasn’t until many years later as an adult that I came to understood what that was all about. While the indigenous people of our land were wide open yet cautious of the foreigners, when they gained our trust, they became a part of our communities. Yet the Asians always tended to keep themselves apart. Even though it was the Native women (who were married to the Asian men) who worked hard to raise funds to buy a building in downtown Juneau for a Filipino community to host their events, there is little to no acknowledgement from the Filipinos. Asians have a very strong sense of pride. It’s that strong pride that is a strength and it is the part that sets them apart.
Part of why they tend to “stick to their own kind” is because the Asian communities tend to be very tight. They are community-oriented. They take care of one another; they think in terms of helping one another excel, to help support one another, and to help rejoice. If one grieves, they all grieve; if one has achieved something, they celebrate as if each individual achieved the honor. They speak the same language. They have the same sense of humor, their foods tie them together, they enjoy the familiarity. They tend to steer away from the “different.” If you are different, they are shy of differences, they are cautious. They cannot relate, so why force relating?
My father was the youngest of the Filipino men who came to Alaska after the war and married an indigenous woman. Although he became friends with the indigenous men, he continued his life-long friendships with all of the Filipino men. Over the years, one by one, he buried his comrades. Pretty soon there were only the offspring of these men he could relate to if any of them spoke the Filipino language. He missed being able to speak his language daily. He felt very alone and as each year passed, he buried himself in his gardening. And although there were more Filipinos migrating to Alaska, they were young, arrogant men and women who he took no interest for whatever reasons. He could not relate to them. When my father died, an era died with him; he was the last. None of his friends were there at his memorial, though all of his friends’ children and grandchildren were in attendance. We all knew we were the offspring of a by-gone era.
Even though my nationalities are comprised mainly of Asian blood (Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian), I am not fully accepted. They will glance at me and wonder what I am and once they find out that I am indeed part Asian, they rejoice that I am part Asian blood, but only for a brief moment am I acceptable; still there is that arms-length distance because my blood, in their eyes, has been “tainted” with indigenous blood, and Jewish blood and Norwegian and Finnish blood.
And of all the Asian nationalities, I have found that the Filipino people are more accepting than any other. The Filipino are more joyful, playful and not as harshly judgmental. Though they still keep to their own and rarely “stray” to inter-marry, at least nowadays they will look upon you.
There is no way around it; I find that Asians are hard-core when it comes to identity. It’s just in their blood. And I understand them. That hard-core identity is also in my blood.
I have no judgement about the way things are or were; it just was and it just is. In my mind, combined with the awareness of simultaneous lives and if we go back far enough, the fact that we are a mixture of bloods, I figure we are all mutts, so when it comes right down to it, there is one human race, THEN there are nationalities of cultures.
Because of my name change, many people think I re-married. No, when I divorced I dropped Hudson so I dropped my married name of Hudson and was left with my middle name as my last: Rizal. Yes, I am a direct relative of Jose’ Rizal, the Filipino martyr who inadvertently led the Phillipines to independence of Spanish rule. Jose’ was uncle to my grandmother Patricia Rizal.
Patricia (Rizal) Lampe arrived in Seattle in August 1945. By the U.S. Army, she was guaranteed her husband, Fred Lampe’s West Seattle home when she arrived with their remaining five children. To their surprise Fred’s siblings sold the house as soon as they discovered the news that their brother had died in the Japanese concentration camp in the Phillipines; they did not want the house to be left to the “mucks” or dark-skinned. My grandfather’s family was left homeless.
Eventually destiny would have it that a house in the Capital Hill district was up for sale. Taking pity upon the family, a benefactor friend bought the house for them under contract which the Rizal family eventually paid off.
Though I only visited my grandmother, all my uncles and aunts and cousins and 2nd cousins and other relatives of the Filipino Jewish side on the average once a year since I was 14, I have had many memories in this home. And most recently I spent my last two nights with my 69-year-old cousin and her husband amongst the boxes and boxes of memories.
I witnessed the aged walls cracked as if desiring to speak of all the secrets held within about to be completely demolished and refurbished by the new tenant. The floors creaked at the light weight of my footsteps slipping past the bedrooms of my cousins and my cousins and my cousins. We talked until the wee hours of the morning reminiscing of our parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins over food; always over food we discussed politics. (My father’s side of the family is very political and quite outspoken.)
Letting go of a home due to the inability to keep up with the rising taxes is a real shame. I noticed that many of the older couples who once lived next doors and across the street are no longer; a new generation of kids have shared the block. They are the ones who can afford to pay the mortgage AND the taxes. It is a shame the western culture does not provide a tax break with the consideration to the elderly because many would like to remain in their homes until their death.
My cousin was born and raised in this home 69 years ago, just a year after my Grandmother bought it. Last weekend, with her brother, husband and son, she moved into a 2-bedroom condo on Seattle’s south side. As usual with the Rizal/Lampe/Villaflor/Edwards’ traditional hospitality, she extends an invite for me to come stay whenever I come through Seattle. That hospitality is part of the way things were way before the legacy of the 17th avenue home, and no matter what town or country we live, no matter what house, and no matter what age, or what time in history, it’s the way that hospitality will remain.
Under the recent influence of Haiku poets Alan and Donna (Beaver) Pizzarelli, I woke up to my first Haiku poem I have written in over 45 years!
A Time of Reciprocity: Memorial Potlatch
We hold out an empty plate
There have been a few times I have collaborated with an artist; they design something and I make it, or I design something and they make it. In this case, I am preparing to transfer a design onto wool melton cloth to begin making a buttonrobe designed by Israel Shotridge for his daughter, Autumn.
While working on the pouncing (the wheel has many sharp, tiny spokes that punch tiny holes into the paper), Israel asked me if I come to other people’s homes and hang out with them. I laughed. Like what? Do you think I go to someone’s home and help them get a button robe made? No…
Going to the Shotridges’ house is a special treat. Why? Because Israel and Sue are quite the team and they are a kick in the pants to hang out with. And Israel’s wife, Sue is one of my best friends. Bottom line. We talk business, art, Native politics, spiritual stuff and of course, men. What else?
7 years and 2 days ago, Hank was given as a birthday gift from a boyfriend to a girlfriend. A sensitive young pup who never outgrew his loving kindness, he passed today in his master’s arms. She said it was the first time she had experienced the spirit pass from its body; as it was leaving, just for a few seconds Hank looked like a bear. Not surprised as his master’s name is Ursala.
We’re missing you Hankyboy!
A woman as you were not born of man’s legendary rib
Nor from any salt of this earth
A cosmic slipstream bore your name and called you forth way before
The first sun melted mist from the birth of a new island
You walked barefoot amongst the thorns in the wounded wood
Even honoring all those who fell
You and innocence were one with the pines and the willow
And mountains and rooftops could hear you whisper
Even so you planted seeds in protected soil sprouting rainbows
That arched their backs to reflect all divine light rooted in love
Even so child-like laughter blossomed forever in the sound of your name
Above yellow above green above blue above purple
Curtains could keep us separated from a woman like you
Though you moved between the lines with grace, respect and honor
Curtains gathered aside you made pillars of them flexible in the wind
Defining the space of what is and what isn’t
Where are we to come now where are we to go as you have flown higher
Leaving hearts broken but not broken worn but not worn
Where you come from to where you go we will follow in our due time
Upon that cosmic slipstream bearing your name our names forever named
—Clarissa R. in honor of Danielle C.
What is the purpose of a small group of large egos coming together in a cozy space for two full days have to do with creating art?
The Sealaska Heritage Institute sponsored it’s first Northwest Coast Artist Gathering to seek advice from approximately 26 Sealaska shareholder (or descendants of shareholder) artists for their Native Artist Program. Some of the programs include: the SHI Retail Shop, the Native Artist Market held during the bi-ennial Celebration, the Apprentice/Mentorship Program, and the most recent proposal of the Dugout Canoe Project.
I think that I can speak for most if not all of us, that it was an honor for all of us to be in the presence of one another while we touched upon a number of subjects having to do with the creation of art, the passing on of the knowledge, and the marketing of our work while still maintaining a sense of balance in our lives within the basis of our Native spirituality. I think all of us had a good time getting to know one another since we come from many different backgrounds and communities along the Northwest Coast of this continent. I know that all of us felt that natural high of being in the same room with one another and having the opportunity to share ideas and inspire one another during our breakfasts and lunches together. Thank you to Sealaska Heritage Institute for putting together a fine Gathering.
Back in 1981, I was hired (as the 5th employee) of Sealaska Heritage Institute as their Scholarship Coordinator. There was Executive Director David Katzeek, Secretary Lisa Sarabia, Scholarship Coordinator Mary McNeil who was training me to take her position, and my Aunt Katherine Mills who was recording our language and many of the Native stories and songs that eventually Dick and Nora Dauenhauer transcribed and translated into written books published by SHI. The Bi-ennial “Celebration” had not even been created yet, though in 1981 there was a gathering of the elders who at that time felt there needed to be an event which provided an opportunity for the sharing of the oratory, the stories, history and legends, and the song and dance. Hence, Celebration began in 1982.
Rosita Worl has been at the helm of Sealaska Heritage Institute for the past 17 years. I have watched SHI grow into the institute that it has become. As I said in my introduction at the gathering, although I don’t agree with some of Rosita’s business tactics, I commend her on the dedication she has towards making things happen at SHI, not to mention her dream of creating the beautiful Walter Soboleff Building that now houses the inner workings of SHI with all of its language, art and culture programs, publications, retail shop, exhibit hall, simulated clan house and archives.
1981 was nearly 35 years ago. I was a kid, really. I was going through the motions of being a responsible young parent, a young artist, a young mind full of ideas, hopes and dreams. I’m still kind of like that, but now I am facing another type of dream which includes more responsibility than I thought I had 35 years ago. I feel a responsibility towards our younger generations. There are many of us who are not going to be around much longer; many of us in our 50s and 60+ are beginning to feel like we have to pass on our knowledge before our time is up! And it’s not just the technique we teach, it is our Native values and our process of being in how we pass on our knowledge. No Westerner is going to be able to teach what we know spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. It is next to impossible because they don’t “have the connection” – that DNA that innately is passed from one generation of a people to the next. For example, it would be impossible for me to teach the African weavers how to weave their style with their ways because I was not born to that bloodline or landscape or culture; nor would I want to take away from their livelihood.
So when SHI talks about their “Formline Curriculum” (which was just published at the disappointment of many of our artists), and their idea of partnering with the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau to create the Northwest Coast Art Academy, to inspire and teach our younger generation of artists and scholars, then judging by this most recent past and the fact that the formline curriculum was drafted (by non-Natives with the token Native advisers), printed and distributed, and SHI puts our Non-Native scholars up on a pedestal and is not in the habit of employing our own Native scholars, advisers, teachers and artists, then what makes us believe and think that our own Native teachers will truly be at the helm of the Native Art classes offered at UAS to give the “stamp of approval and credit” that now we have taught and created true “Northwest Coast Native artists?”
The teaching of Northwest Coast Native Art taught in an academic setting by non-Native art instructors is a big concern to some of us Native artists. Big concern, though many of us do not voice our opinions about it for a number of reasons. Why? Fear. There is a possibility we get ousted out by SHI and UAS and ousted by other fellow artists who are “part of the academic circle” — we are accused of being racists, we fear to be ousted out by grant organizations, other art institutions, galleries, cultural centers, etc. etc.
None of us want to be accused of racism, or not have the opportunities that other Native artists have in the art world, or not be able to provide for our families because we fear that eventually there is no support for us, and we find ourselves alone because even our fellow Native artists may shun us. It’s a horrible feeling to THINK about these things. So what do we tend to do? We keep our mouths shut. There are many of us who will not speak up about our disappointments in how the non-Native artists, academics and cultural centers such as SHI have not hired our own people for prominent jobs. Why not? Some of the reasons may be because they feel that the non-Native have more experience at teaching in the academic arena, or are “better” teachers, or that the non-Native is more knowledgeable about the topic(?). Of course, that is how it is going to be. We are not of the western mind-set and do not necessarily teach in the same way that is for sure, however, this is no excuse, because as studies have shown, Native people learn in an entirely different manner than non-Native so therefore, it is only sensible that a Native person teach our own Native students, right?
Sure we have the Artist Gathering to provide advice and guidance to assist SHI (and other institutions for that matter). And we touched upon all kinds of topics to assist them in assisting us. But truly, how many of us Native artists will directly benefit from donating four days of our precious time to SHI (two days of prep/travel and two days of actual gathering time)? We each gave SHI and our communities 4 days of our time; in a culture where reciprocity is important, how will those four days be reciprocated? And how many of our younger generation of artists will benefit from the advice we gave to influence the actions and decisions of SHI, and eventually UAS and other institutions that say that they are here to help us preserve and perpetuate Native art, language and culture? How much of the advice we provided will these institutions actually use? The answers will remain to be seen.
How come the topic of Native indigenous hire as opposed to non-Native hire was not ever brought up during the gathering?
Because all of us know this is a topic of “hot” discussion and no one wanted to rock the boat; this was not the purpose of this gathering, yet the topic is something that many of us are passionate about. No one brought it up because many of us have the same fears and we don’t speak up for reasons named above. And the topic was not discussed because both SHI (and UAS) know that they will not be able to live up to the idea, let alone the promise or written agreement, that no matter what, they will always hire the Native over the non-Native. Bottom line.
If we do not bring these “hot” subjects up at artists’ gatherings, and many of us feel that we are not being “heard” elsewhere, then how do we go about presenting the issue so that those who need to hear it are actually listening without being defensive? How do we propose the concepts of Native hire, and the buying of Native art and product over the overseas-made “art” and “product”? How many times, how many ways, how many places, and how many people need to hear these are really big issues for the Northwest Coast Artists before they BELIEVE us, BELIEVE IN US?
So with all that I have said here, then you may ask: what was the true purpose of this SHI Artists Gathering? As I mentioned earlier: we came together invited by SHI’s Native Artists Committee to provide advice to SHI for their various projects to help them work out the bugs to advance their offerings to help advance the careers of their Shareholders who are artists. We are all in this together; there is no “us” and “them.” What affects one, affects us all.
This was the sail of my lifetime. Just a one-day sail. I grew up seeing this classic wooden boat and had always admired the lines and grace by which it sailed. 50 years later, and with an overnight notice, I had the opportunity to drop all else and jump the sail. I had also made a decision that when I board this beauty, I would begin my journey into learning how to speak the native tongue of my mother’s: Tlingit. Little did I know that almost every adult on board either spoke the language fluently or they were learners and teachers of the language!
It was obvious to me that I am to learn my language as the syncronicity of me being aboard the ship of language instructors cannot be denied. The women above are keepers and sharers of the language.
Kathy Ruddy is the owner of this wonderful ship; she invited every person on board for this one-day sail. She provided a brief history of the making of this boat built in Sitka by a crew of woodworkers under the guidance of Andrew Hope I in 1942 commissioned by the Presbyterian Church as their missionary travel took them to every small community in Southeast Alaska for 20 years (until the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system came into being).