Here in the U.S. capitol, four thousand miles from Aki’s house, we discover reminders of Alaska in the Native American museum. I found little to remind me of home on the way to the museum. We walked down broad, straight streets lined with hardwood trees in fall color. Cars and buses tried to filled the air with smog but were defeated by a cleansing wind. Only the light, as clarifying as yesterday’s shared something in common with Alaska.
Back home, in Juneau, Aki might be walking by the state museum if someone has shoveled away the foot of snow that has fallen since we left. If allowed inside, she might pass in front of the Tlingit longhouse or the collection of Yupik masks collected near our old home in Bethel.
Brothers of those masks wait behind glass inside the Capitol’s Native American museum. The masks are locked rigidly in place. They will never dance again. But they do watch, over and over again, video loops of Yupik dancers remembering with their bodies, the old songs.