Thunder and Lightening by Dr. Morrison - P.O.W. Report

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Thunder and Lightening by Dr. Morrison

Tlingit and Haida peoples of Alaska is a great page to follow and [encourage you to do the same.]

In the last couple of days I made contact with one of the characters in this story. I haven't seen him for decades. He is way older than me... in wisdom.

by Dr. Woodrow Ḵaawan Sangáa, BA. JD.

When I was a student at Haskell Indian Institute, (Sept. 1960 to Feb. 1963) located in Lawrence, Kansas (today it is a University), we used to experience terrific thunder storms, and from time to time, an occasional Tornado Alert. There were two boys’ dorms close together: Osceola and Keokuk Halls and a third that was on the other side of the campus.

The outer walls on those buildings were very thick. From the inside edge of the window sill to the outer edge of the window ledge was about 2 feet wide. Osceola Hall had a barbed wire fence to keep out Indians: it had been condemned because it was falling down: the building was settling and at times the doors wouldn't open. So, at least once a week Carpentery Students would enter the dorm and shave wood off of the bottoms of the doors so they would open. Thus most of us Alaska Native students were all billeted in Keokuk Hall.

One night, in 1960 there was one of those terrific storms: High winds, slashing rain, blinding flashes of Lightening and tremendous claps of thunder. The next day we were recounting the experience. If you have never experienced one of those Prairie Thunder Storms, you have truly missed and experience. The flash of the lightening made it look like the End of the World, followed with Claps of Thunder that sounded like a Cracks of Doom. So imagine, if you will what it must have been for us, Alaska Native students who had never experienced a storm that remotely resembled the Kansas Thunder Storms.

There were two Eskimo brothers who, like many of the rest of us, had never seen lightening like this, in fact, had never before seen lightening. They were both standing on the window ledge outside their room, one brother was holding onto the other who was trying to take pictures of the lightening with a flash camera.

A Tlingit student from Wrangell, Alaska reported that his experience was, at first scary then he and another guy figured out what it was that made it feel so eerie. Every time there was a flash of lightening, there was a strange looking figure in the closet. It was weirding them out.

Apparently, the Haida Roommate; his first experience with such a storm, was also from Wrangell. Dark-complected, and larger than average size. Sort of the type that would charge Hell with a bucket of water, was standing inside the closet (no doors on the closet). And, every time there was a big flash of lightening, the only part of him that was visible were his Eyes and Teeth.

Not a true story but it led to a lot of teasing. I think he laughed the hardest when the story was told. That is one of the advantages of being Tribal people: we love to tease and to be teased.

Cousin Herb Morrison lived in a different dorm: Tinker Hall. It was built under the stadium bleachers. There were no radiators in the rooms, instead, the floors were heated. In winter you didn’t dare hop out of bed onto the floor with bare feet. Like jumping into a frying pan.

However, during one of those lightening storms a couple of students were hurrying to make it to the dorm before the storm struck. They were less than 100 feet from the front doors when Lightening struck a nearby oak tree (they were less than 50 feet away from the tree), and, it exploded, knocked both of them down but didn’t hurt them. I think Herb saw it happen.

One morning there in Tinker Hall there was a notice on the chalkboard for a “Walter Dotomain” to report to the Office. No one recognized the name until he reported to the office. He was one of the Alaska Native (Eskimo) students; everyone knew him only by his Nickname – Spider.

My sister Diann was there too, taking Cooking. One day (August or September) very hot weather, she and her friend and classmate (Eskimo) Annie Baldwin, disappeared from the Kitchen. The instructor (Head Cook), Mr. Joyce, asked if anyone knew where they were... no one did. He went into the Walk-in Freezer to get something and, there were the two Alaska Native Girls, sitting in there keeping cool. Pretty cagey.

I too had my moments... many moments of hilarity.
Be safe. A sense of humor will get you through many otherwise strained situations. Good Night.

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

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