"Once upon a time many years ago, when I was occasionally motivated to socialize with other human beings after 6 p.m., I found myself at a party with a mixed group of Alaska Natives and non-Natives. Some of the Natives were of mixed ancestry. As the evening wore on and more and more liquor was imbibed, voices started to be raised about past abuses to the Native community. Somehow this devolved into a discussion of people's ancestors.
And at some point, one of the full-blooded Natives made a comment about the grandmother of one of the people of mixed heritage. It was followed by a deathly silence as everyone waited for what seemed to be the inevitable fight.
Into the silence came these words, "You weren't there. You can't judge my grandmother for what she did to survive." No fight followed, only a sad silence.
I remembered those words when I read the recent article in the Daily News about Native survivors of abuse. One of the survivors spoke of telling her mother about the sexual abuse she was enduring only to have her mother slap her and tell her never to speak of it again. I've heard those same words before coming out of the mouths of clients I've dealt with as a Guardian Ad Litem.
The easiest response to that story is horror at the mother's failure to protect her child. That was my initial reaction every time I heard one of my clients repeat some variation of it to explain why they endured the abuse until they were old enough to leave home."
Get the Story:
Elise Patkotak: To help break cycle of abuse, try removing judgment
(The Anchorage Daily News 6/10)
Related Stories:Opinion: Tribal college
changes lives in Alaska
(5/13)Opinion: A classic dilemma
for Alaska Native villages