Nenana Wellness Coalition
November 12, 2013
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate, and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
There were 13 in attendance today, including: Kat McElroy, Jessica Durtsche, Bonnie Reed, Kathleen Demientieff, Tim Horn, Mary Alexander, Jeannie Bennett, Evelyn and Merrily Verhagen, Jim and Dee Miles and Damitra DuPlantis. We enjoy pesto pasta with meatballs, hot buttered buns, Ritz crackers with sliced cheese and raisins & pecans for lunch.
WELCOME followed by the READING OF MISSION STATEMENT, by this week’s chair-person: Tim Horn
PRAYER was sung by Deloris Miles, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were no additions to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Posted on the WIN link at http://www.railbelt.org and submitted electronically to the WIN e-list.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: None today.
Spotlight on Nenana Author Kathleen Demientieff: Kathleen is the author of the newly published book, The Woman Bear, one of the many stories she was told as a child. The book is her first, but she is already hard at work on a second book.
Kathleen began her remarks by introducing her parents; her mother’s name is Caroline Ketzler and was raised subsistence style up on the Toklat River and her father was Athabascan/German, raised in Nenana. Her mother’s mother took her home every night, she said, fed her tea and crackers, tucked her in and told her all the old stories. Her people came from medicine people in the old days, she said. She recounted experiences she had as a child, seeing spirit dolls and spirit people. In 2003, she began remembering these stories, drawing pictures of the events to help in the remembering, and her book is the result of this process. The Woman Bear is a transformation story. Her next book will be called The Spooks of Alaska. She shared many of her drawings and told us stories of the people, places and events that each drawing depicted. One of her illustrations was used for the cover art on her first book.
Kathleen went to Alaska Pacific University and, “I always knew I could draw, real quick,” anything she wanted to draw. Her art helps her to remember the stories. “No one here remembers anything anymore,” she said, “The only way I can keep our culture is by putting the words out there, out of my head, to the people.” She initially began recalling her stories when she was teaching culture to Mr. Black’s class at Nenana City Public School. The first story she recalled was Why The Raven Is Black. Now she works at Old Minto Family Recovery Camp, where she is a counselor for people who are healing from addiction and from intergenerational trauma and grief. She said that people come there carrying a lot of baggage. The work is intense. Typing out the stories she remembers being told when she was a child and drawing these pictures helps her to de-stress after a long work day. She has most recently worked on drawings that show some of the history of Nenana, where the logs for the Old George Hall came from, stories her parents told her, events from her childhood. She remembers a time as a child when her father could not bring his wife and children into a restaurant in Fairbanks because there was a sign that said, “No Indians, No dogs.” He bought food to go, she said, but they didn’t want to eat it because of the sign. She said that her father experienced racism from natives because he was half-white and from whites because he was half-Native. As a half-breed, however, he walked in both worlds and was able to “pass.”
Kathleen’s grandmother passed away when she was 76 years old. Her parents are “getting up in age.” Kathleen wants to be able to pass her culture along to her children’s children. It seems she has enough material to fill several books and she is encouraging her brother Steve to write a book about his hunting experiences. “Sometimes he tells me stories I get to laughing so hard,” she said. She told one last story about a man who was hunting geese who fed the geese corn soaked in Everclear. The geese got drunk, they should have been easy to hunt. “But, they turned mean,” she said, “And started hissing and attacked the man and tried to bite him so much he had to run hide in his house and couldn’t come out for two days till the sobered up.”
WELLNESS THOUGHT: To find the Red Road and to live in harmony with all things, we must listen to the Elders and let them teach us. Don Coyhis
Pot latch tonight, singing and drumming, for Clifford Big Joe. Funeral tomorrow at the Tribal Hall at two PM with potlatch dinner tomorrow night.
Damita: There will be a fund-raiser for Matt O’Brien next Tuesday night, 11-19, at the Civic Center, Najaho Tacos. Ten dollars for adults, five dollars under twelve. Under two are free. There will be brownie a la mode for sale three dollars. Donations are being accepted for an auction; silent auction and a pie auction.
She is starting a women’s Bible Study group, Monday nights, 6:30 PM, starting the 25th.
Kat: Still not very many eggs coming out of the hen house.
David: Just got back from taking two bulls to slaughter. The roads are in better shape this afternoon than they were this morning.
Bonnie: The Senior van went to Fairbanks today.
Jessica: She is busy, working on her school projects.
Dee: Will be leaving the 18th, returning come Spring. She really misses Nenana when they are gone.
Tim: Today, November 12, is a Baha’i holy day; they will be celebrating directly after WIN at Bonnie’s house, with a youth group at 3 PM.
Tonight, at 6 PM, at the Civic Center, there will be an informational meeting about the borough study. November 15 and 16 is the Ice Cream Classic, no school on Friday.
Monday the 18th there will be line-dancing at the Civic Center, 7 PM.
November 22/23, there will be a regional volleyball tournament at Tri-Valley.
ADJOURNMENT: 1:50 PM