Friday, August 22, 2008

A Day in Portland

Last week, a fellow "KI" (King Islander; "KI" used to be used by non-KIers as a kind of derogatory term, nowadays, KI's have appropriated it and state it kind of proudly), Joan Kane, emailed me to say that she, her mother, and her six-month-old baby boy were going to be in Portland. Joan (maybe in late 20s or early 30s) had to be in Portland for some training for her new job at the Denali Commission in Anchorage. She wondered if we'd be able to go up and visit them for awhile. I wasn't sure - depended on appointments and my energy level.

She called on Wednesday, when I felt really tired, so I tried to make sure that I got a good night's sleep on that night, because I wanted to bring my mom up to Portland. Joan's mom, Johanna, helped us with the King Island placenames project in 2005. We enjoyed getting to know her that summer. She played with my son, got my brother out of the cabin and helping out, and she and Mary Dillard found a bunch of white rocks and made a large flower made of these white rocks on the "patio" of Marie Saclamana's (Johanna's sister) cabin. When I called my folks on Thursday morning to tell them when I was bringing my son over, dad volunteered to help drive us to Portland and back. I felt okay, so we did.

We (mom, dad, Eddie, and I) left after lunch. That was before Joan was done with her training, so we took Eddie to Oaks Amusement Park in Portland and he was able to ride a few rides and play some games. Then, we went to the hotel, figured out where we wanted to eat, and then, because my car was too small for all passengers, shuttled people to the restaurant.

We also picked up Marie Tattayuna, who lives on the opposite end of downtown Portland from where Johanna and Joan were staying. Marie and my mom are first cousins, but they were raised as sisters. They only recently (in the past 18 months) were able to get back in touch with each other. (Too many moves on both of their parts.) The shuttling took a bit longer than expected as we had to go through downtown Portland in rush hour traffic! Sigh.

But it all worked out in the end. We got everyone to the restaurant. We all listened as Johanna, Mom, and Marie conversed in our King Island dialect. Johanna and Marie last saw each other over 40 years ago, I think at the boarding school they attended as teenagers. It was really nice and heartwarming to hear them converse and giggle at the dinner table. I got to know Joan more and I got to hold baby John (whose one Eskimo name keeps escaping me - until I see it written down, it just won't stick; his other one is Kukuluk, after Johanna's father, which makes baby John avasaq to my brother Scott - "avasat" (sp?) are people with the same Eskimo name and they share a special kind of relationship).

I found out that Johanna and Joan look through the photos from the King Island project at least weekly (see my post "King Island Photo Gallery"). That's gratifying to know that there are KI's who are using the information/photos we post on the web from the project. I thought that might be the case, but knowing the hard work my students (Cat, Kai, Emily, my brother Scott, and especially Alex last spring) have done to make at least some of the King Island placenames material accessible to the community is worth the effort. It redoubles my commitment to making more of it available by next summer, if not sooner.

This is when I love my work.

And, it was really really nice and wonderful to see some fellow KI's. Haven't been up to Alaska since last October, so it's been awhile. Even though I can't understand too much of the dialect, it is nice to hear it spoken.

I'm glad we went to Portland. We didn't get home until about 9:45/10pm, so we were all tired. But I wasn't fatigued. It was a good trip and worth the effort. Thanks, dad, for helping me drive! And, thanks to everyone for being there!

1 comment:

Carver said...

That sounds like a great, if tiring day, Dee. Glad you were able to do it.