Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day across America. Martin, who had a dream, changed the lives of millions of people, simply by speaking up. I hope that today, his dream is fulfilled in the eyes of his followers.
Della Keats was from Kotzebue, a relative of mine, on of my aana's uumaa's (female-female friends). She was a traditional healer, I guess they're called now. We still call her a Tribal Doctor. Today is her day. She also had a dream. A dream to heal her people.
"All my life I wanted to let them know. We need a calm day, a happy day all the time."
With no formal education, Della had a love for learning at a very young age. She became interested in helping people, learning about their bodies and internal organs. But, rather than keeping all that information to herself, Della yearned to teach and share everything she learned to everyone around her.
"I love to teach the people. I don't want to keep something secret by myself. I want everybody to know. Try to show it, what I've done. I don't want to get just lost."
As an Eskimo Doctor, Della was soft spoken, loved everyone who came in and freely gave instruction to anyone who wanted to learn. Eskimo Tribal Doctors consider their knowledge a gift and will share it with the entire community and more, so that everyone has the knowledge to take care of themselves.
She encouraged everyone to stay happy, focus on the good in life. Our lives in Northwest Alaska can sometimes be very hard. There are many, many bad instances that happen in a child's life here, and I'm no exception. But if you continually focus on the bad things that happened to you as a child, or the bad things happening right now around you, then eventually your body listens to your mind and shuts down.
"When I was raised, happy all the time, no accidents, no worriness. Happy to make a living outdoors. Try to be happy all the time, try not to hurt anybody."
So, thank you Della Puyuk Keats for your words of wisdom, and your knowledge of the human body. Thank you for teaching everyone who called, teaching my grandmother. Allowing your happiness to flow through you into your healing hands. And for helping us as a people to be stronger, happier, healthier and better.
Quyaana Puyuk. Quyaana.