I had the honor of having tea in my home with Pat Alexander, Sheila Finkenbinder and Rachel Roy. Below is one of the monumental things I have seen Pat Alexander do. Here she is speaking to the Senate on behalf of missing Indigenous women.
Pat is a very powerful woman and knowledgeable Elder in Sitka. But she would not consider herself an Elder. That is why I omitted it from the calendar title. When Pat came over I had scheduled to speak to her about this. She stated that Lisa Murkowski had reached out for Pat to accompany her and speak of this issue. Pat informed me she spoke with many attorneys before getting to present on what she can and cannot say. I thought that was so interesting! If a citizen is being shaped on what she can or cannot say, what is the President attorneys telling him?
Here is the article where you can find more information on this travel Pat did.
I look up to Pat a lot as she was one of the first Alaska Native Sisterhood sisters I met. She shaped me so much. And as she reminded me I shaped her. We both worked really hard on herring subsistence rights. We did a lot of nonprofit work together.
While I had questions shaped up, this interview took a different turn. Pat is going through a really rough time financially and broke down talking to me about it. As a widow, she turned to her stepchildren and they refused to help her. Because Sitka is getting so expensive to live in and she can't afford to keep doing nonprofit work for free, she informed me she will be working for Alaska Native Voices throughout the summer in Juneau. Her biggest concern with this new job is that she won't represent her ancestors in the correct manner that they'd want to be represented. I had to remind her that all of her work and all of her experiences are meaningful. She matters so much to the community and I let her know we will miss her this summer. She sacrifices so much of her time helping and representing the Indigenous community in Sitka. I am glad this was our homework and I invited her over so Pat and I could catch up. Ill never forget her holding my hand tight and weeping "let's always remain friends and keep in touch". This touched my heart in a spiritual manner.
The picture below is Pat in my home for tea and breakfast.
The next powerful woman I had over for tea was Sheila Finkenbinder. Sheila is an Elder. Though she's not Native, she is very knowledgable about politics and business. I enjoyed having her over for tea because as she is a Republican, we do not see eye to eye in politics, but we can have civil discussions about it.
She informed me the different dynamics by state. She said in Texas she is a mineral rights owner and that is only given to a few people. Here in Alaska she informed me that everybody is somewhat of an owner to oil rights since all get paid thanks to it. I thought that was interesting.
Something I learned from tea with Sheila is that parenting comes with difficulties and I am not alone in that. I have been having difficult times with my colicky newborn and she was so sympathetic. It was the most empathy I have ever seen from her. I really appreciated that moment.
The next powerful woman I had over for tea and a playdate was Rachel Roy. Rachel is the director for the Sitka Chamber of Commerce. She has done so much for the community. While I had planned on talking more business things with her, we ended up talking about life. Something interesting she spoke of was how her father was a Tlingit code talker. I had heard of them through Raven Radio, but hadn't had a personal connection to such an important part of history.
That is something I learned about this activity. We can't go into an 'interview' with expectations. Conversations flow and we have to be flexible enough to enjoy the moment and listen.
Below is Rachel and her daughter in my kitchen.