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Growing Up Native



I spent elementary school being sent off once a week to “Native time” when the four Native students in my school met with a counselor for what was supposed to help us succeed in mainstream education. The school had us do beading. I spent junior high hearing about how Russians would line up Aleuts, my people on my mother’s side, in front of a tree and see how many they could shoot through at once. In high school people I had thought were friends would call Alaska Natives in front of me “Muks”, “Drunk Muks”, and “Fucking Muks” and then tell me it was okay cause I might be Native but I didn’t look like them, whoever it was the Muks were supposed to be. My parents raised us to persist in the face of any of these things and that the best response was to succeed at anything we decided to do. My mother is no activist. Last week two Native women in Anchorage were asked to leave a church in downtown Anchorage by a congregant (not by the pastor who I am certain would have intervened had he known). My mom is responding by calling some of her friends, be they Native or not, and asking them to quietly attend the service in numbers at that same church this coming Sunday as a reminder that all are welcome. Please help her succeed. It is only by the grace of god that any of us, Native or not, are not these two women who were so mistreated.

Sunday, May 27, Service starts at 11, First Presbyterian Church, 616 W 10th Avenue, Anchorage, AK

*** Post-Edit

Two women have stepped forward to issue a correction on this incident. To read this new information, please view my update on it here:



  1. The current pastor of First Presbyterian Church has been spoken to. He is very concerned about what happened last week, and the treatment of the two women. He has attempted to talk with them directly, and hopes to respond to this situation in a way that makes clear the mission of the church is to welcome visitors, not to turn them away.

  2. […] The incident that upset me was news that two Native women had been asked to leave a church in Anchorage, Alaska for their being Native. It was something that had been discussed in multiple places online, and particularly in Alaska Native discussion groups online. My own family had heard about it both online and from people sharing it with them in person, until eventually I read about the incident, heard about it from others, and shared it here too. My original post on the issue appears here: http://wakawakawinereviews.com/2012/05/24/growing-up-native/ […]

  3. Elaine – this narrative sounds crazy, yet not surprising. Any greeting other than “Good morning, welcome, wonderful to see you, can I get you a cup of coffee and a bulletin” is suspect. It ought to be overtly obvious to everyone who walks through the doors of FPCA that all our welcome… yet questions arise. Frankly, hazy details of this incident aside, this is preposterous. Making it ‘clear the mission of the church is to welcome visitors’ is a grossly truncated response. I would encourage this pastor not to waist a golden opportunity to instruct his flock on the biblical history of “our” people. (Our – meaning those professing Jesus – Our – meaning all Christians) So much of the New Testament is directly concerned exactly with cultural relationships – Christians of Jewish decent and Christians of Gentile decent, All Christians and their relationship with their Roman occupiers, etc. Your mother is a hero.
    Embarrassed of by my own.

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