There were seven members in our family growing up in Unalakleet. Every summer we spent up river at our cabin. This was essential because we could not afford groceries most of the time, so we had to work very hard for our food in the summer and save most for the winter.
Our sein net was black and the holes were very close together so that the fish wouldn’t get caught by the fins or gills. My dad and one brother would work in the boat while my mom and myself along with my three other siblings would work the shore. This was the hard part because we did not have the horsepower of the boat motor to help us. My dad maneuvered the boat in reverse to let out the net slowly while we on the shore held the rope that was able to let the net out just enough to stay in the middle of the river. We had two favorite sand beaches we used. They had to be long, once the net was let out we worked with the current, not against it. We kept the pace of the boat and it didn’t take very long for the net to become heavy with live fish. My dad would bring the net in downstream of us and we were tasked to pull in the net just enough so that no fish escaped. Then the fun part began, all five kids and my parents used our hands to grab only the biggest fish and beached them. We did not keep the small fish, they needed to grow more and when we catched tubs full we let all the rest of the fish loose. It was amazing to be a part of and we got a lot of fish seining. Then the work began cutting the fish so they were able to be hung by the tail. My mom cut them perfectly and my dad was very good at washing them in the river and hanging them on a makeshift drying rack. Once all the fish were tended to we transported them to our cabin to be hung under cottonwood smoke and dried properly. Each day we had to check all the fish to make sure no bugs had laid eggs on them during the night while the smoke let down. We worked very hard during the summer but when the hard work was done we got to be free and wild in nature. It was the good life. I cut and dry the fish we catch the same way my mom has so many summers over and over again. I’ve lived a fish rich diet my whole life, except while I went through my deep depressions. I am very thankful for the unique life we grew up living, it is truly a one of a kind and I enjoy sharing stories, more so in person than writing. Never loose your uniqueness that is what makes you beautiful, to me each person is beautiful in their own way. To find beauty in all you come across, is a beautiful life, to look for fault in all you come across, is a faulty life. Stay beautiful!
When my older sister was very young, we were at Egavik, which was a reindeer herding establishment in the days of old, a bumblebee landed on her leg. She did not know what to do and did not like this big bug on her so she covered it with a towel. As soon as she covered it the bumblebee stung her. I never wanted to get stung by a bee so my mom told us to be very still and wait for them to fly away. I lost a lot of berries growing up running away from bumblebees, I would run run run until I was able to be near my mom or my dad and take comfort in their cover. My brother would play a trick on me growing up, he would grab a bee shaking it in his hands and throw them at me. It was horrific and only added to my fear of bugs. There are two bugs I was never afraid of that is the butterfly and the dragonfly. I want to overcome my fear of bumblebees so I may do a starter hive this summer. To this day I have never been stung by a bumblebee. Two summers ago I was picking raspberries and I stepped on a wasp hive, I ran swatting and yelling and screaming. My second eldest son drove myself and Duke back to the cabin, I cried all the way home. My worst fear had come in the worst of ways. I counted over 20 stings and used meat tenderizer made into a paste to help reduce the swelling. I love to plant wildflowers in the spring for the bees, although I am afraid of them I understand their importance as pollinators. I don’t mind dandelions because I find them beautiful and they are the first flowers of the spring that the bees rely on. They can also be used as salves and jelly and the roots are medicinal. Who is man to say what plant is a weed, when the government puts that label on a plant and when you do research on that plant, more often than not that plant serves an important role in remedy that is natural, God given. I hope to never be stung by a bumblebee and hope to one day not be afraid and each year that fear subsides because I do not want Duke to be afraid of bugs. It’s kind of silly because one of my nicknames growing up was bug. Love bug.
God has written His very own love letter to each and every single person, it’s called the Bible. Every question that has an answer is found in this letter. Nothing is to be added or taken away. Read this love letter in its entirety. Every word is a blessing to us, if you feel you are not being blessed, read your Bible and be blessed. I’m sharing my love letters to God to honor Him and Him alone. We are all works in progress, but that progress does not start until you accept Jesus into your heart.
One of my favorite things to do as a kid and as an adult is to build forts. My older sister and I spent a summer secretly working on a fort in the woods behind our cabin 11 miles up the Unalakleet river. We did our chores each day and when we got play time we continued building our secret fort. It was tall enough to stand up in. We used willows for the frame and intertwined smaller branches for the walls, then filled those in with moss and grass. It was our masterpiece that summer. Then my dad found it. He said we did such a good job that it had to be torn down. Otherwise animals would use it for their very own home and it was too close to our cabin where we spent our summers gathering food for winter. After that we didn’t build such good structures near where we dwelled. On the beach in Unalakleet I taught my older sons when they were young to build awesome forts. Sturdy and beautiful, something so cool the kids in town did not want to destroy it but enjoy it rather. Duke and I build winter forts with snow and soon we will build our forts in summer as well. This is a good skill to have, maybe when you get stuck out in the woods, at least you are capable of building a temporary shelter to stay warm. Even during play life long lessons are learned. A lesson does not need to be a strict lesson looked on in dread, a lesson of love can be a lesson durning play.
I was leading a sinful life, drinking to subside a inner pain of not having my sons with me. My sister and her boyfriend and my cousin and her boyfriend and myself went up the Unalakleet river. We were drinking and I jumped into the cold river. My cousin jumped in as well and we both warmed up and got ready to go back to Unalakleet. We were all drunk but I was very inebriated. We made it back to the slough and I tasked myself to carry my cousins boyfriends gun, he was also my classmate growing up. Everyone started walking back to the old house that my mom grew up in. We lived there after my cousin kicked us out of his mother’s house after my mom drunkenly balled out my Gram about her son who hurt children. Anyway I turned around back to the river and saw my cousin Jack who we call bumpy and Eddie Man who is my good friends dad. They were going bird hunting so I said I would go with them. I didn’t tell anyone I just hopped in their boat and followed them, we call that maliq- to follow. We were half way in between Unalakleet and the village south of us of St. Michael when I started to sober up. I snapped out of my drunkenness and then they told me we were going to canal. I had never been there so I was happy and excited. It was only going to be a day trip so I wasn’t worried about having no diguaq or what we call snacks for hunting or gathering. The boat ride was beautiful and it was years since I had traveled in the ocean. We traveled the ocean a lot growing up to gather eggs of birds and fish, herring eggs laid on kelp. We were approaching the village of St. Micheal and the closer we got to the shore the closer an armed State Trooper with an AK-47 came to us. We landed at the beach and he said we were in the line of sight of a shooter who was holding himself hostage in a home. We went to buy some smoke for our trip. It had been years and years since I was in St. Micheal. My fathers family had lived there but moved to Unalakleet after my Grandpa got kicked out of the village for misconduct. A disease and sickness passed on from father to son and the only way to heal is through Jesus. So we took off for the bird hunting grounds and Eddie man was driving his ocean boat and being sure to stay in the channel. Then when we almost made it passed all the dangers of the big rocks in the ocean it happened, we hit a rock. The lower unit on his engine went out. Only reverse worked so we had to go in reverse to the nearest land which was on the St. Micheal side of the canal. We were stuck, no way could we drive in reverse in the ocean. So we got ready to go hunt some birds. My brother Axel took me bird hunting once when we were very young and I caught three ducks. The gun I “borrowed” from my classmate was a bear gun so I couldn’t use it. They had an extra shot gun I was able to use. The first bird caught was a crane Eddie Man dropped, I watched it fall and knew the area where it was hiding. I showed him where to go find it. The crane was still alive and had some fight in it. It was amazing the stance and fierceness of the crane. The mighty hunter Eddie Man was not afraid, I was. He drop kicked the crane missed the first kick then the crane extended its wings and tried to beak him. He was wearing bunny boots which are heavy winter boots and the second kick was a drop kick to the head of the crane. It was out cold and would make a good meal for his mom. Then they were going to go sneak some birds and my cousin Bumpy, who was the first and only wrestler out of Unalakleet to win a State Wrestling Championship, he caught a goose. I caught nothing and I was hunting wrong. The 12-gauge rifle I was using wouldn’t work for the long shots I was shooting for. I didn’t want to sneak any birds so I picked some berries and ate them. We came back to the boat and the twin volcanoes were amazing to me, beautiful country I was so thankful to be a tag along. The first night we were stranded and hungry, we ate the goose my cousin caught. There was only one Monster energy drink and one vitamin water that they took along and the water all around us was salty so we picked berries to quench our thirst and shared the drinks equally. That night by the fire we slept on burlap and had just enough burlap to cover us. I got to stay in the middle and we were all near the fire. There were two white owls spooking me out and Eddie Man said to not be afraid they were just hunting mice. So I wasn’t afraid. The next day we waved down a small river boat. They were on their way hunting and we wished them luck and said we would get help eventually. The villages located on this small island have a reindeer herd, which are domesticated caribou, and we got to watch them run, I was impressed. We didn’t catch anything that day but we were in the wrong hunting area. We had to spend another night by the fire. We were getting dehydrated and I knew we had to go home somehow. I prayed for God to let us go home and that third day we were able to get a tow to St. Michael and catch a ride home from a group of hunters from our village. Now, I make a diguaq for even the shortest of trips. I made it home just before my mom was going to file a missing persons report. I was missing for two days and no one had a clue where I was. I was on the hunting trip of a lifetime with two awesome hunters. My mom said I looked like a wild woods woman and I believed her. I drank water which is something I haven’t ever liked drinking until that day, I was so thankful for water. I still am. The man holding himself hostage turned himself in and that ended peacefully, something I prayed about while we were bird hunting. You just can’t beat some hunting stories and we would have survived another week if we had to because we have the know how. That know how needs to be passed down and that is what I pass down to my children. God is good.
Recently my aunt Jean prayed for the spirit of poverty and the spirit of authority to leave me. I love to pray with my aunt. She is a warrior. She had made tacos and it was the first time Duke and I were around people besides on Thanksgiving for three long months. I got the cabin fever really bad. She asked me to pray and I stood up straight and I was going to pray really good in my mind so I took a deep breath in and exhaled and started “Dear heavenly Fadder” the words slipped up at father and we both started laughing and giggling I had only been around my two year old and was fumbling my words for a serious prayer and of course my Aunt finished the prayer and we ate the most delicious tacos. Her daughter was one of the classmates our class lost and I know she is in a far better place. Her very own daughter led her to Jesus and my Aunt was my first youth pastor who’s ministry led me to fully accept Jesus. Jesus is awesome!
I had to beg my mom not to sue the Covenant Church. The summer of my junior year I met the woodcutters son while at Vision Camp. This was when I was a babysitter and I was smitten. His dad took his son to keep him out of trouble but trouble will follow the troubled. He said it wouldn’t count and I told him I was saving my virginity for marriage. He said I could still save it and that he wouldn’t go in. I believed him. That happened twice at Bible Camp and I knew I failed in my vows so it happened a third time at the old house I grew up in and we used a condom. I gave him my virginity and I became pregnant.
This woodcutters son had already knocked up a girl in Minnesota where he was from and she had an abortion. He asked me to do the same. That is against what I believe in so I would never be able to do that. I fell in love with my son a couple years back up at our cabin when I picked out his name with my brothers and sisters. I started praying for my future children and future husband in the ninth grade.
After I found out I was pregnant I left the village to go babysit for my cousin who was going to nursing school. I didn’t want to be the topic of gossip in the town. I went to a retreat that fall in Talkeetna and my old basketball coach and his wife took me for a walk. They wanted to know if it was true, did I get knocked up at Bible camp? Yes, and without hearing anything other than that my youth pastor and teacher gave me a look of disgust that shattered my spirit. I felt that I was no longer good enough to serve my God. He walked away in anger and his wife followed him. This same pastor told me this past November that I cannot rely on faith alone. I replied that it is only by faith that has got me this far in life. Because although I wasn’t good enough for man in man’s eyes, I’ve been serving the Lord my whole life, through every day acts of kindness and love. I’ve been a Children’s Minister my whole life and I didn’t know it, by spreading hope to those who felt hopeless and showing love where no one was shown love. I may have led a sinful life because I was following my way but I was making differences in the lives of the people I partied with and got to know. The lows of the lows who in my eyes have the heart and have the faith. Maybe they were just made to beleive that in the eyes of man they were not good enough. We are all good enough and the devil will use to weak to destroy the spirit of a child. Jesus is the one who heals and forgives. He laid out my life before the time of creation, He chose me to be His child of God and no man will ever tell me otherwise, for by faith and faith alone I have been carried by Jesus through my struggles and hardships and to cast judgment on others is a sin. But how dare anyone make me doubt my faith because my faith is what keeps me alive and it’s what keeps me breathing. Without Jesus in my life I would drop dead and cease to exist. Jesus doesn’t need me I need Jesus and it has always been that way. But there is so much darkness in the world that He is calling his warriors to stand up and rise and to spread hope and love. Consuming light. Be a candle, then be a lamppost, then be a lighthouse and soon darkness will cease to exist. Walk in faith and remain steadfast. Love and be Love. only look to Jesus for the way of man is weakness and when your weakness isn’t given to God or you do not use Jesus for strength than that is not Jesus for Mans way is not Jesus way. The rules to be followed in life are the rules of Jesus and He wants us to Love Him and God above all. Do that and all else will follow. Amen.
Last month I had a dream of my Grandma Pat and her sister Mae. They were so young and playing and laughing and it was pure love the way they giggled with each other.
When my Gram found out her husband cheated on her she told him “you can have anyone you want just leave my sister Mae alone or I will kill you” as soon as my Gram said that he went marching over to Mae’s. My Grandma followed him with a shot gun. He was going to rape his wife’s little sister and she shot him. It was thought to have been out of jealousy but it was protecting her little sister she did love.
Last month my great auntie Mae was on her death bed. I had to go share with her the dream I had. She was at the Native hospital and I was able to go say my goodbyes. I sang to her not caring that my voice wasn’t the best I sang from the heart. I told her my dream and I prayed for reconciliation between two sisters who I know loved each other still. The family was having a hard time finding people to stay at her bedside. I volunteered but her granddaughter had ill feelings toward me and said not to let me be with her. That is her decision she made for her dying grandmother and she will have to answer to God. Just like we all will have to answer to God when we die.
I left and made it back to isolation in the form of our cabin. My Aunt who was there and my mom who was with my Grandma in Unalakleet were texting each other through their daughters. My Gram asked for forgiveness from her sister for what happened years and years, a lifetime ago. She forgave her. They never spoke to each other their whole lives based on an act that was misunderstood. My Gram payed for her actions and did 10 years, all the while her children were abused by her own mother. To the point of the use of a bullwhip slashed and scarred the backs of my mom and her younger brothers. My great uncle Duke found out what was happening at Egavik and he built the biggest bonfire my mom had ever seen. He told his mom if she ever abused her grandchildren again that he would kill her and he made her burn the bullwhip she used to beat her grandkids in the bonfire. She was to stay at the bonfire till it went out. My Great grandmother had a hard life of her own and the further you go back the harder life was. She found Jesus and lived a good elderly life. My sister led my Grandma Pat to Jesus and she has Him in her heart. You see the love for my family extends to their family and so on and so on. Because that is what we are asked to do, above all Love God and all else will follow. It is never too late to accept Jesus as the Lord and personal Savior of your life. He loves you! Of course He wants you and He wants to forgive you. A hard life is made beautiful through Jesus and the more people who find Jesus the more beautiful the world becomes. Love and be love.