Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Dancers, Costumes, Transmitting Culture at Celebration 2014

I am getting questions about the clans and tribes. I can’t answer your questions. I know there are the Ravens, and the Eagles, and I know they are not hostile but two halves of a whole. I know the raven legend; raven steals the sun – knowledge – and shares it with everyone. He is often shown with a long beak and/or curled around a ball. Eagles have short curved sharp beaks. But, with dispensation, an Eagle may marry a Raven. There are also subgroups, so you can be at once a Raven and a Bear, or a Killer Whale, or maybe a Wolf.

I try to understand, but it is a lot to absorb, and sort of complicated and flexible. As I look at my photos, I can see I was most interested in focusing on the costumes / textiles and less interested in the story. I wish I could tell you more, but you will have to read it for yourselves!

Here is a mural in downtown Juneau that demonstrates some of the artistic traditions of some of the various clans:

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It’s important to remember – this is about them. It’s about holding on to traditional values and core beliefs, and transmitting knowledge of the culture to children and grandchildren. It’s not about us. As I said, we are there to witness and observe and celebrate, but they are there to celebrate who they are. Meanwhile, you can share the experience with these photos:

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The front and center rows were reserved for the elders, and once the dancers started, every seat was filled. There were wet eyes, and open weeping. There were joyful moments, too, when the dancers would invite ‘all the Eagles’ or (something I didn’t understand) to rise and join them in their dance. My own heart swelled to witness their joy.

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June 24, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cultural, Exercise, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Public Art, Quality of Life Issues, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Children’s Costume Contest at Celebration 2014

One of the sweetest events at Celebration 2014 is scheduled early early in the morning, so early, we missed a part of it. The families of the clans take great pride in creating their ceremonial robes with clan markings, and get the children started in the tradition early.

These children were SO adorable, and their costumes finely and lovingly wrought. They had an enthusiastic – if fairly sparse – audience at the early hour, but it was necessary with all the many different groups dancing throughout the day.

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I THINK this might have been the winner, but I am not sure. Not everything was in English, and sometimes I couldn’t understand what was said. Winner or not – adorable 🙂

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June 24, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Generational, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Where is Lokoja, Nigeria?

Today the church celebrates the Birth of John the Baptist, whom the Moslems call Yahyah, and who has a much-visited tomb in the Ummayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria. The church also prays today for the diocese of Lokoja, Nigeria, which is just south of Abuja, from where 300 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram, people who believe girls should not be educated. Most of those girls are still missing. Three hundred girls . . . Lokoja . . . John the Baptist . . . Syria . . . so much need for prayer. . . The reading is from Forward Day by Day.

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TUESDAY, June 24 The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Isaiah 40:11. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

So much of our scripture is violent and distressing, yet there are many passages like this, full of comfort and assurance that the trouble is over. Others might look at it and say, “Your God is violent and terrible, and the reassurances are flat and silly.”

Maybe that’s true. I tend to look at them more as descriptions of how we experience our lives rather than declarations of God’s nature. Our lives are difficult and often catastrophic—earthquakes, malaria, civil wars, and dangerous militias, to name only a few issues—and our lack of control means we blame God for it. But I don’t think God acts that way. And in the face of catastrophe, we say meaningless things: “Everything happens for a reason.” That’s no comfort at all.

Isaiah speaks peace to his people, trying his hardest to take their pain seriously and to offer the truth that everything will be okay in the end. When it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end. That “okayness” might be justice here or it might be eternal life, but this present trouble is not the end of the story.

PRAY for the Diocese of Doko (Lokoja, Nigeria)

Today the Church remembers The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.

Ps 85 or 85:7-13; Isaiah 40:1-11; Acts 13:14b-26; Luke 1:57-80

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Africa, Cultural, Faith, Geography / Maps, GoogleEarth, Lectionary Readings, Nigeria, Spiritual, Survival, Women's Issues | Leave a comment