Monday, July 9, 2012

Hannah's Story

Uvana Atiiga Allaitchaq. Sigaurak named me after Hannah Gallahorn of Kotzebue. My name is Hannah Atkinson. My parernts are Tom Atkinson, the former manager of AC and Valerie Atkinson recently working for Selawik Fish and Wildlife Refuge. I go to college in Portland, OR at Lewis and Clark College studying Anthropology and I come back every summer to do archaeology in my home state.

 I moved here when I was 14, the age at which you first begin to figure yourself out. Now, I think I’ve always been an anthropologist, observing other as to figure out my own values. In this community I struggled to understand what it was to be a woman. I saw very traditional women and women stepping into careers and positions of power. More than anything I saw a whole lot of caring.

In January I attended the Conference of Young Alaskans to discuss the issues facing the state. I was put on a committee to discuss social ills. We came to focus on issues of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape culture in the communities we had grown up in. These ills have deeply inflicted the western coast of Alaska becoming an epidemic. I used my insights gained at college to contribute to a statewide discussion. What we came away with is that while our communities are suffering from domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape culture, what we need to focus on is our identity and culture in order to overcome.

I was eating pancakes when Jacqui proposed to me that we do something to change the way women are viewed and view them selves in our home. Every time we come home we enjoy discussing the ways in which our community has changed, stayed the same, and the ways in which we have changed and see it differently. This time we delved into womanhood, discussing how being a woman, growing up in Kotzebue, and our cultures had played into the formation of our identity. We began to think: what if we got the rest of Kotzebue talking? Talking about what it means to be a woman. A young woman, an old woman, an Inupiaq woman, a woman in Alaska? How can awareness of identity and involvement in culture empower the women of the NANA region to stand against the social ills of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape culture?

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