Day Dream by Dr. Morrison - P.O.W. Report

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Day Dream by Dr. Morrison

From Tlingit and Haida people of Alaska

Life is about Memories and Memories do not mean much unless you have someone to share them with... especially if the other person shares those memories.

(Day Dream) by Dr. Woodrow Ḵaawan Sangáa, BA. JD.

Up until about my mid-20’s there were a lot of people in Hydaburg who were completely fluent in X̱aat’ Kil (Haida Language). So it was very common to hear people carrying on conversations in our language. Also, a number of people, especially men, used to come to Hydaburg from Massett, BC, to crew on the Purse Seiners (Salmon Fishing boats) and many, if not most were also fluent in our language. So the language was spoken on many of the Hydaburg boats, and, it was used for communicating on the new Radio Telephones.

By the time I was in my 30’s (1970’s) the number of fluent speakers had decreased drastically. In recognition of the coming crisis in X̱aadas Tlagaay (the Haida World), a Haida language program was started in Hydaburg in 1969, or shortly before that year. Many of us had been sent away to school, many were drafted into the US Army, some enlisted in the US Army National Guard, the US Navy, the US Marine Corps, and the US Air Force. Others were sent to the cities on Relocation. I left home in 1955 to attend High School (9th Grade) and was gone during the Fall, Winter and Spring months and, didn't return home until 1967 when I completed my 4yr. Enlistment in the US Navy. Although up until this time many of the generation ahead of me still understood and some spoke in X̱aat’ Kil (Haida Language) but the impetus to speak it seemed to be disappearing.

The ones who started the language program were totally dedicated to reviving our language but there were not many to speak to on a regular basis. And very few of the kids had parents to practice the language with. I used to hear the teachers discussing the problem and discussing concepts and history in English. Sometimes the discussions took unexpected turns.

One weekend, a group of us from Hydaburg went to Klawock, Ak. for some social event. A group of Haida elders were seated at a table in the Klawock Hall. My dad and Harris Natkong were talking (in English) about what happens when a person dies. Once in a while they would switch to in X̱aat’ Kil (Haida Language) and would translate for me.

Harris said that when a person dies, that person’s Spirit came back for one life time as an animal, or a bird or a fish. When that thing died, that Spirit went to the Village Back There. Then they came back as humans. He and dad talked about that for a while.

Klawock has always had very beautiful women. Dad asked Brick (Harris) if he sometimes wished he was younger again... as they watched a couple of Tlingit women entering the hall. Brick said, "No, Padnah. I wonder if that is true?" Dad asked what he was talking about... "You know... the Village Back There." Dad said, "I guess we won’t know until we come back."

The discussion turned to all those beautiful young women. My Mother (Virginia), Gladys Morrison, Helen Sanderson, Alice Kitkoon and Clara Natkong (Brick’s wife) were listening when either Brick or my dad said, "When I die I’m going to come right back." The other one readily agreed with that sentiment.

Helen Sanderson interjected, "Eee, you folks. All the young women are on birth control pills. You’re going to have to wait a long time before you come back." We all had a great laugh at her comment.

On the serious side, there’s nothing worse than dashing an old man’s (day)dreams.

Áaw tláan gyaahlangáay láa g̱íidang.
That is all there is to the story.

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