Fred John Jr: Lessons from my mother, Katie John, on sharing

Fred John Jr., the son of the late Katie John, who fought for Alaska Native subsistence rights, passes on some of her wisdom:
My parents, and other parents in surrounding villages, lived off the land. As a child growing up in a remote village of Mentasta, the land was good to us, the sky was good to us, and the creeks, lakes and rivers. It supplied us with all our needs. We respected the land and because of that the land gave back. We were not a lawless people. We had our Indian laws we followed. We knew when to hunt, when to fish. We knew to leave enough beaver for next year when trapping. We knew not to go after a mother when they have little duckling, and others that have small ones. We lived in our land and we shared it with each other.

My mother, Katie John, was a silent witness to the first wave of gold rush. And the deadly epidemics that swept through Alaska. Then, new laws on moose hunting, trapping, and fishing were put on us by the government, making my parents outlaws in their own land. Yet my parents still welcomed complete strangers into our home, Those that come up from the Lower 48 to try and make a living, in what they call the new land. My mother would make them feel like they were welcome by giving them moose skin gloves and mukluks. That was how we lived. That was part of our Indian law. We shared.

Get the Story:
Fred John Jr.: Katie John taught us to give, not just take (The Anchorage Daily News 11/9)

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