Thursday, June 13, 2013

NEWSFLASH: Old dogs may be able to learn new tricks

I was talking to an older gentleman this morning who has pretty much an opposite view of every political stance I take. He believes Obama is the Great Satan, congressional republicans are doing the best they can, Dubya was a pretty good president who made a few minor mistakes, Pebble Mine should be developed without any more discussion... and on. When it came to Native issues, it just got kind of painful to try and discuss. As in - we should be grateful the government gave us as much as it did in land claims, there are no good Natives left in the villages, etc.

It was actually an interesting debate at time, but there was exactly one thing he and I agreed upon - that there should be a book or textbook with a comprehensive history of Native people in Alaska written by Native people.

This was a cause I took up some years back and it got changed into something I never intended. But coming from that conversation, I saw this article come across Facebook:

What if people told European history like they told Native American history?

It's got a great little example of what I grew up with in school. Namely, any Native history was relegated to a few paragraphs and an entirely skewed view.

The gentleman I spoke to had exactly those views, which may be why it was so surprising that he was in such agreement. But in a moment of unexpected openness, he said - maybe "admitted" would be a better word - that after so long living in Alaska, he never really got close to any Native people. He didn't know much but that statistics and bad examples that get attention in the news. He suggested that people like his granddaughter might not have his views if they grew up with a viewpoint other than what "his people" set out there. And he said he would be interested in reading such a perspective.

Just a nice little bit of hope for the day.

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