Great words from XH’UNEI at the Juneau Empire
FOR THE JUNEAU EMPIRE
Our region and people are in the middle of an incredible storm. Our ancestors used to soak themselves in the winter waters for times like this. As Clarence Jackson said last year in his opening remarks for Celebration, they used to go in when the water was steaming from how cold it was. They strengthened themselves for moments just like this. They suffered tremendously, and they did it for us. Maybe this is the result of a hundred years of solid oppression. Maybe this is what it feels like when one generation turns over to another, and no one has prepared like we used to for cultural change.
There are things within our culture and language that allow us to pull each other together for emotional turmoil. It is embedded within our grammar, as we see from page 238 of the Naish-Story Tlingit Verb Dictionary: sh toonxh yee kkhwalyéixh – I am going to make myself united with you all. It is embedded within our oratory, in songs, stories, and speeches. There were times we held each other so close that we achieved the highest levels of human compassion and possibility.