"Oh, some years ago after it closed down I went there. I cried and cried and cried. Here’s the home that we used to keep spic and span. Not a dust, floors shining and walls shining everything clean, clean! Here it is all wrecked up, everything broken."
What is a favorite memory you have of the Children’s Home?
They were strict. Strict Very Strict and nobody gets into trouble as long as we follow the rules. There’s really good um, It’s a place of learning. That place.
They taught us a lot of things, how to survive when we go on our own. They taught a lot of things that we should not waste. Any useful thing we’ve got to turn into something and use it. If we have no tissue we could turn the old clothing into little squares and we could use those for tissue, in outhouses. And we could use these just because one button is off does not mean we have to throw it off. But I missed my Mother because I had never been away from her.
But along the way we never go hungry. Um we ate fish, fish, fish, fish. Everyday. Fish, beans and in the morning we have cereal like cream of wheat and on Sunday mornings we have oatmeal with raisins. And we never eat no crackers. We make bread every other day in a great big pan. There would be two or three of us kneading the dough around and around and around. Sometimes running, running, running. The pans so big. And we make so much bread and then on Sundays we have wheat bread.
And then in certain days, certain day of the week we have mending day. Which means loads and loads of tubs filled with socks. We mend them. And then on certain day we have button day. We look at all the clothes if there’s missing button we put button. We call it a button day.
We worked together, We worked together, we worked together. Nobody is left out. Everybody worked equally. There was no such thing as slave. There was no such thing as favoritism when I was there.
Are you glad that you lived at the children’s home?
Yes I am glad, and now I know how it is to be displaced. I think a lot about the foster kids. How they feel. Do they feel like me when I was put up there? Where my mom often wondered, after I got home. I wonder how your brother is doing. We never hear, we never get no letters. We never hear from nobody. Not by letters nothing. They just take him and owned him. And they could do whatever they want to do with him. He graduated, we didn’t know. And one time I asked somebody, whatever happened to my brother, I never hear him or nobody tells me anything. He’s in Mount Edgecumbe. Oh! Instead of sending him he went out to Mount Edgecumbe for high school. If you interview him you’ll hear his story.
What was difficult about the time you spent at the children’s home?
Sometimes kids get to visit their parents. That’s good. Whereas in that kind of situation, no visiting. One time my mom visited, me, my mom they put us in a separate, away from anybody. Isolated us. That was the only one time I remember. The only one time I remember is that. I don’t know what the details were talked about. I wanted to go home so bad. I had a lump all over me. When they left I wanted to go with them. Maybe because I felt that way so bad I don’t remember. I probably blocked because I was hurting in some way. You know. Being away from my mom whom I was always with. When I was growing up we did things together. When I got separated from my mom it was tough. But I had to live according to however they want me to live. Never talk about my feelings.
I don’t really know. I don’t really know but then my mom had no control over what the government was doing so she just let them take over. No matter how much she wants my brother to be there. What will those people do? Because way, way back they had a threat from government, if your kids don’t go to school you are going to jail. Maybe with that in mind she just left them alone. I’m just saying maybe.
We only have to speak English. It was hard because I was always thinking Yup’ik, Yup’ik, Yup’ik. And then all the sudden I had to change my way of thinking to the Western side. You know, it is tough, but like I said, I had to, I had to. Because they were controlling me. Controlling me. What language I should speak, what foods I should eat, how long I should stay. You know. All that.
Like I said we have to live there way. Forget about our way. But then I can’t say that’s bad. Once you have it up here already you won’t lose it. Once you grow up with it, its up here. You won’t lose it. For me right now when I think about it I’m glad I experienced this way of living when I know mine already. When I got out of there I used mine.
What I like about this part, I pick it up and I use it. What I don’t like, I leave it alone. That’s how I live my life. But I’m grateful for me having lived there, experiencing it. What it’s like to be displaced.
So I cannot say their way is bad, no. It’s just another way of life. I can’t say my way is the best. It’s just a way of life. That’s how they grow and bloom. Both sides. No good or bad.
Have you ever been back?
Oh some years ago after it closed down I went. I cried and cried and cried. Here’s the home that we used to keep spick and span. Not a dust, floors shining and walls shining everything clean, clean. Here it is all wrecked up, everything broken. That broke my heart. I was sobbing away the whole time there. I was so broken hearted, and mad too at the same time. How could this happen? Where are the keepers? Who is watching the place? Why is it this way? And I went to cottage where Mr. and Mrs. Trodahl used to live. I went in there. It was bare and messy. Used to be clean. No furniture. I went into the kitchen area, it does not look like a kitchen. No furniture, nothing, no oven, nothing, no pots and pans, no cupboards. Everything trashed. That place is trashed. Shame on the missionaries who put it up in the first place and let it go like this.
Can you describe your time at the Children’s Home in one word or phrase?
It’s uh, it’s a one of a kind home. It’s a one of a kind home where I learned so much. Despite of negative things. I don’t want to stay on that. Negative things won’t help me. I have to be positive all the time and think of all the staff people that I’ve grown to love.