tla çid | inspire

A Message From First Alaskans Magazine and First Alaskans Institute

Dear Healthcare Workers,

To the Native health system employees who are working night and day specifically with COVID to test and vaccinate both Native and non-Native community members in entirely new systems, locations, and guidances that didn’t even exist yet a year ago — chin’an.

You are saving our lives.

To all the Native health system medical staff who have been working long shifts to keep our population healthy in a ever-changing, stressful conditions — gunalchéesh.

Your work deserves every praise and all the support we can muster.

To the Native health system non-medical staff who have been working equally long shifts to reach as many members of the community as possible, Native and non-Native, and to make sure our health system is working as efficiently possible during a worldwide pandemic — qaĝaasakung.

Your dedication is seen, and valued.

To the Native health system leadership, who have been making impossible decisions on an hourly basis in the most high-pressure environment the world could conjure, and are upholding our rights as sovereign peoples — mahsi’.

Your life-saving choices and tough, but swift, calls are not going unnoticed.

To the supporting agencies and organizations and people who do not have a legal mandate to protect our state’s Native population, but do anyway — doykshin.

To the Native community members who have worn masks, and made masks, and assisted Elders, and kept apart from loved ones, and followed the constantly updated health guidances — quyanakpak.

Your responsibility toward the larger community is precious to behold.

To the Native Elders who have been through great sickness before, and taught us, and spoke words of guidance and comfort while you yourselves have been at the greatest risk of all — Mahsi’. Háw’aa. Igamsiqanaghhalek. ‘Awa’ahdah.

You are precious to us. Your are valuable to us. You are loved by us.

We live in larger community that has tried to devalue the work of our own people in regards to the health of our own people, when the history of this state almost exclusively had a policy of harm and negligence to the health of our people. Our success as Native people, despite the exclusionary walls being thrown in our path, is constantly questioned and attacked, and at every turn we must defend our right to health and wellness.

But we see your work, and are proud of you. We see your creativity, and we are proud of you. We see your excellence, commitment, and bravery, and we are so very proud of you.

So tsin’aen. Quyanaasinaq. Dogedinh. Tsen’ii. You deserve our thanks and our respect, and we send it to you with our love, and our prayers for your safety.