Nenana Wellness Coalition
May 17, 2016
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, masticate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
We had 12 participants today: Bonnie Reed, Kat McElroy, David Poppe, Mary Alexander, Maryellen Robinson, Jim Hautla, Miles Martin, Ashleigh Miller, Virginia Young, Rosemary Allen and Jeannie Bennett.
We enjoyed chicken wings and rice, mixed green salad, Ritz crackers with sliced cheese and mixed raisins and pecans for lunch.
WELCOME and READING OF MISSION STATEMENT: By this week’s chairperson: Maryellen Robinson
SPIRITUAL MOMENT: was lead by Maryellen,, with a prayer for solutions.
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were no items added to the agenda.
MINUTES: There minutes generated last week were posted at the WIN link at http://www.railbelt.org and submitted electronically to the WIN e-list.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Ashleigh Miller introduced herself; she has lived in Nenana a long time and will be doing some work at Nenana Urban Farm.
Big Fat Lies; the ancient art of storytelling: Kat McElroy opened this activity by explaining that she conducted it this spring for the students at Phlight Club and will be repeating it at Week on the River for the Fairbanks Folk School this summer. Her intent is to teach a little about the ancient art of storytelling, how that relates to music/song and poetry, the ways it has been used both for entertainment and as a means to pass information down from one generation to the next. Storytelling is the original information highway, she said. Her goal is to get people thinking about discernment, our innate ability to recognize fact from fiction. Her concern is that due to informational overload, people are losing the knack of discernment. Her hope is that activities such as these can help foster discernment.
The basis of this activity is an old game we used to play as students called Two Truths, And A Lie. Kat told us three stories, all loosely connected, to a time she spent living in the woods at a place she knew as Pan’s Camp, on the south fork of the Yuba River, in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains, in Northern California, outside of Nevada City. Pan was a person who lived “off the grid” before that term came into common usage. The goal of the activity is for the group to decide which story do they think is the Big Fat Lie and then to discuss how do we determine for ourselves what might or might not be accurate information.
She told a story about watching Pan fish for squirrels, tying crackers or a piece of old carrot onto the line, casting it out onto the trail, and then slowly and jerkily reeling the line back in. Sometimes he would catch one squirrel for his supper, sometimes two or more. He ate the squirrels roasted over and open fire or sometimes in a stew. Pan harvested most of his food from the river and the forest around him, although he was also known to go to town to dumpster dive. He fed many people at his camp; there were usually a dozen or more camping out there aroud the cave-like hut that he had built.Pan’s Camp was a clearly marked Clothing Optional Area, on a portion of the river that rain through Southern Pacific railroad right-of-way land, surrounded by wilderness, with three trails that passed near it. Top get there one had to walk several miles through some steep terrain, and then down a less well marked path, so they didn’t have many casual visitors.
The next story she told was about Big Tit Rock, which was a huge granite boulder out in the middle of the pool of the water of the south fork of the Yuba River where Pan’s Camp was located. Over time, this rock became a No Boys Allowed space that the girls and the women used for sunbathing and frolicking. They would take turns braiding one another’s hair, rubbing oil or suntan lotion on one another, singing songs, telling stories, making exchanges of vital social information and getting sun tanned on the undersides of their bosoms by laying upside down on the long slant of the rock. Early one morning Kat was sunbathing on Big Tit Rock with her then three year old daughter pointed out to her some manner of water critter that was climbing erratically up the side of the rock, way down deep in the water. The bug’s behavior was so odd that Kat and Bryn both just watched and watched and watched it. After it finally broke the surface of the water and came up into the air, it began smashing its head upon the rock, banging, banging, banging its head hard into the granite. Bryn wanted to know what it was doing and Kat had to admit she had never seen anything like this in her life.
Suddenly, the bug’s head split open, and then the whole insect fell apart in two pieces and another, much larger critter erupted. It happened so quickly and dramatically, that both Kat and Bryn kinda jumped back. “What’s that?” Bryn wanted to know, and again Kat had to admit she didn’t know. Over the course of the next 15 or 20 minutes, this bug unfolded, growing larger, its new skin hardening in the air, and it unfurled sets of large iridescent wings. Then, a short time later, the bug took flight. OMG, a dragonfly!
“Metamorphosis, that’s what we saw,” Kat squealed, and she and Bryn both clapped their hands and marveled at what they had seen. Later that night, around the evening campfire, the story was told again and again, of the water bug that clumb up outta the river and turned into a flying creature right before our eyes. How lucky we were to be there to witness this sight.
After the fire died down to embers, Pan told us a story about the summer before when he was in Hawaii. He was bragging on the great abundance of fish there are to be had there for supper but then he told us about his real Hawaiian adventure, when a Polynesian friend of his who had lived his whole life in the islands took him Pig Fishing. It was just like squirrel fishing, Pan said, only bigger. They had a platform they had built up in a tree about ten feet above a dense jungle trail. They had a length of what Pan called anchor chain and on the end of it they had rigged a huge treble hook, like the biggest halibut hook in the world. They used three day old chicken guts for bait, just dangling down, about a foot of the ground.
“There’s two hardest parts of pig fishing,” he said. The first hard part is the wait. The smell of the chicken guts will waft out and attract the pigs. When a pig takes the bait, he explained, you have to yank really hard to set the hook. They had an old come-along they used to winch the pig up off its feet but then came the really hard hardest part, ya gotta grab that thrashing wild pig and someone has got to slash the throat, so you can bleed it out good before you butcher it. Because of the heat, cutting the pig up and cooking it and sharing it all out had to happen really fast. They cooked it in a hole in the ground. “Best eating I’ve ever had,” Pan swore.
So, there you have three stories, squirrel fishing to feed the multitudes in Northern California, metamorphosis right in front of your face out on Big Tit Rock or pig fishing In Hawaii. Now which one of these stories is a big fat lie? There was much discussion about the various elements of the different stories. We talked about memory and imagination and the part that each play in storytelling. It was mentioned that one way to discern truth from fictions is based on the known reputation of the speaker. We also discussed how different people witnessing the same events can believe they experienced very different things. People joined in, sharing some stories of their own. The group couldn’t come to any agreement which story they felt was the Big Fat Lie. Kat revealed that the initial story about squirrel fishing was the fiction, to her knowledge this never happened, though Pan often talked about wanting to try it after his pig fishing adventure in Hawaii. Kat saw photographs of the Hawaiian endeavor which she believes to have been genuine.
Nenana Saturday Market: The first day of the market is schedule for May 28th. There are signs up all around town and there are ads in The Fairbanks daily Newsminer. There was some discussion how we might go about encouraging tour busses to make a stop at the Civic Center. Perhaps we could catch overflow from the Cultural Center. Initially we will mostly have garden starts for sale.
WELLNESS THOUGHT: The Elders tell us change occurs in two directions. They say, “That which is built is constantly being destroyed; that which is loose is being used to build the new.” In other words, change is constantly going on. Many times we hear people say, “I hate change.” Does it make sense that the Great Spirit would design people to hate it? The Great Spirit designed people with change abilities such as visioning, imagery and imagination. Maybe we need to learn to use these tools and then we’ll look forward to change. White Bison Elder’s Meditation 5-17-16
Mary: They have more starts ready to go out into the school garden.
Jeannie: Passed out flyers for the big multi-family yard sale they will be having June 4th. She is also getting ready for the Gospel Fest which is scheduled to happen the weekend of 4th of July. Se has yellow bags for clean up, as does Coghill’s Store, NNC, and the city office.
Bonnie: Nenana Native Council has their meeting tonight at 6:30.
May 19th, 6-8 PM, the Nenana Basin Gas and Oil development update will be given at the tribal hall.
May 20th is Clean-Up Day, starting with the Fun Run to raise money for cancer research, 10 AM, BBQ at 11 AM.
High School graduation is May 22, 2 PM. Kindergarten graduation will be the 25th, 1:30 PM. Both in the gym. The 8th grade graduation is the 28th, 7PM.
May 24th, the Ice Classic annual meeting and elections will take place at the Civic Center, starting at 6 PM. Dinner buffet afterwards.
May 25th, anyone who signed up for a food box needs to pick it up at the Senior Center.
Memorial Day will be celebrated as always May 30th, 2PM, with a BBQ up on the hill. People will gather to eat and to tend the grave sites.
Miles: All good. The green house is getting crowded. If the banana tree doesn’t start making bananas, he is going to have a firm talking to it. He’s got chickweed like crazy.
David: In a couple of days Bessie will calf. He has five more to calve this summer. He is selling weaner pigs. Five went away Sunday. He’s got 20 more to go. He’s got 11 pigs ready for market to go to the butcher. Says he is feeling a little overwhelmed. He wants to plant barley. He’s working on the grain drill.
Kat: Taking her grandkids to Anchorage this weekend, a quick trip. They have a Takia Con event they want to attend. She will get to see Leon while she is down there.
Rose: All good. Just waiting to hear about funding and grants.
Jim: Saw a proud red fox with a big red hen in its mouth out at MP 315. The greenhouse is full and ready to put plants out into the garden.
Ashleigh: Noticed a sign up at Coghill’s about a Folk festival.
Virginia: The peonies are sticking their heads up. Roland mowed out there and she and James got the teepee erected for the summer. She’s putting plants out in the yarde to harden them off.
Maryellen: Monday PINK will be having a Lip Synch Battle. She is encouraging all the kids to give it a try,
I ACT Free will meet June 3rd, at Noon, fourth floor of the TCC building in Fairbanks.
She is working on the Summer Prevention carnival which is scheduled for June 25, Noon-4PM at the ball [park. She is hoping to have live music this year.