Frank Hopper: Memories of Alaska Native Sisterhood meetings

Frank Hopper shares memories of being taken to Alaska Native Sisterhood meetings in Seattle, Washington, as a boy:
The Alaska Native Sisterhood and the Alaska Native Brotherhood were once powerful civil rights organizations that fought for Alaska Natives. Back in the 60s they mainly fought for settlement of the Alaska Native Land Claims. My mom served for several years as the president of the Seattle Camp and was an active member for as long as I can recall.

The meetings were held in working-class homes. My mom and I would arrive and give our potluck dish to the hostess. Then I’d look around for other children and I’d run off and play with them. I only remember male children at these meetings. I’m sure there were daughters within the families of the members, but they never came to the meetings. Only little boys like me were dragged to them.

The children were mostly the grandchildren of the ANS sisters. I never once saw any young parents with their kids. Not one young mother. Not one young father. Just older people and kids. A whole generation was missing. I thought that the children at the ANS meetings were somehow bad and had been abandoned and left with their grandparents to be raised.

Somewhere out there lived the missing young parents, out there in the world the TV showed us, the world dominated by Caucasian models who showed us what to buy to be happy. Somewhere out there was the real world we saw in the commercials, filled with beauty and youth, where money bought status, fun, and excitement. The missing parents had somehow been sucked away by this vacuum cleaner of consumerism.

And “us boys” were left behind to work out our frustrations. My father was Caucasian and old. He was 47 when I was born. He worked nights as a janitor and I rarely saw him. So I fit right in with the abandoned boys. I did not want to be one of them. I’d remind myself that I had a father. They didn’t. I wasn’t like them!

But I was just like them, no different. That’s why I hated them so much.

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