This is the time for endings. Two cousins lost in two weeks. One died from cancer. The other died in an accident at work.
I hate to see men cry at funerals. My cousins friends from work and his union were there. Tough guys, quietly crying or joking so they wouldn't cry.
Mom's nephew loved Elvis. He even had a full size cutout. Had his picture taken with it too. My mom said who is that man with him. It made everyone laugh.
We have big dinners after our funerals. Non-Indians are always surprised. Salmon, clams, crabs, oysters, deer, elk.....tables strain under the weight. It's ceremonial. When we eat together, we become even, our energy combines. Elders who are tired or sick take what they need. Those who grieve are lifted up. Dinners are important, sacred.
I said another kind of goodbye to two good friends. They are going home. She is needed by her own people. She has given a lot of her time and energy. We talked of resurrecting the outlawed women's societies. There was so much other work that needed to be done, we didn't get to the fun stuff.
He helped me get out information about Tzewhitsen. He is more diplomatic that I am. When the Washington State Department of Transportation people stopped talking to me, they talked to him.
I asked him to put a petition on the internet. He knows more about that stuff than me. He spoke to the State. They told him my Tribal Council had signed an agreement stating that they would not sue the State of Washington over the village of Tsewhitzen. They also agreed that no Tribal member nor our descendants would ever sue the State.
My heart sank. The State said the council bartered for our Ancestors. They asked for ten million dollars, but settled for 3.4 million. I have never been so angry in my life. The State said there was nothing we could do. It's legal and binding.
I said we fight anyway. It seems that all our battles have been against all odds. Many good-hearted people from around the world signed our petition. We pulled many 20 hours days and some all-nighters getting out information about Tsewhitzen.
Many people from other Tribes asked me why we didn't have a demonstration in Olympia and at the village site.
I have no illusions about staging a demonstration under the watchful eye of big brother and homeland security. I knew the dangers.
I made the decision. We would demonstrate in Olympia first, then in Port Angeles. Racism was very ugly at the time. Our chairwoman was receiving death threats. Someone called and said they could pick us off from the top of the hill. Our reservation is in a valley.
Our chairwoman Frances Charles finally told the State they had to stop construction and leave. The racism and threats got worse.
My friend called me one day and told me the amount of money the State had put into the graving yard and the amount the city of Port Angeles thought they were losing. It was several millions. I said that the money making potential of waterfront property is probably higher. He said people have been killed for that amount. We thought about that then went back to work.
When they told me that they were leaving I reminded them of what we had done together over the years. The work we still had to do. I said we will never make the history books, but I thanked them for their work to save my ancestors.
So Ann....we may be elders by the time we get the societies going again, but we will do it. And Keith...I am so glad you got to taste huckleberries.