A Night in Klukwan

I offered to drive a friend to the annual fund-raising dinner in Klukwan Saturday night, and then another friend heard, and asked if he could come, and then another, and well, what with the kids' car seat, my Subaru Forester  gets a little small for a 25 mile drive. (There's that and it smells like Pearl.) Plus, I can't remember the last time I drove that far. (My car is three years old and has 7,000 miles on it.)  Anyway, we five ended up piling in Sue's big SUV, which also hasn't seen a lot of wear and tear-- it seemed brand new, but she said it was a 2005.  Tom said the dashboard was so bright he felt like he was in the cockpit of a 747. Sue's car had more lights inside than his old rig has on the outside. In Klukwan, we got to see the newest raven's tail weave dance robe, the Wise Man Robe, woven by a group from the village and designed by Lani Hotch. The patterns are based on ones she saw on old baskets from Klukwan in the University of Pennsylvania collection that were given to them a long time ago by a local Tlingit anthropologist, and thus preserved.  We enjoyed a meal prepared by a village crew lead by Juneau attorney and chef Tony Strong, Lani's brother, beginning with smoked salmon bellies, hooligan spread, and dates with goat cheese and pecans as an appetizer, followed by a spicy squash soup, and baked halibut or  moose. I had the moose. Lani asked me if it was okay to say where it came from. Since my husband wasn't there, he's deer hunting, and I don't think he'd mind anyway-- it's been long enough that he can smile, a little, about his mistake--  I said sure.  So she told the story of how the village had a permit, but had not gotten a moose, and she was worried that they may not have meat for special occasions like this one, or to share with the elders.  So she went to church and prayed for someone to turn in an illegal moose, since the village was first on the donation list, and while she had God's ear,  she figured she might as well ask for a really big one. That night she received  what she said was the largest moose the villagers had ever gotten-- thanks to my husband. She praised him and his partners for taking good care of the meat-- she said it  was so clean-  It tasted great, too. On the way out, loaded with jam and smoked salmon from the auction, which benefited the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage and Cultural Center,  Lani's sister Kim said that Chip had joked about telling the judge that it wasn't his fault the moose didn't measure up-- it was an act of God.  I think God has bigger worries, but no matter how it happened, it is nice to know that what goes around, really does come around. As my Tlingit neighbors know better than I do, we don't really own anything anyway. As we left the village where people have lived and danced and created art and served big meals, since, as they say  "time immemorial", in Sue's big rig, I knew for sure that we are all just traveling through this world, and hopefully, doing our best to remember the past, learn from it, and do to do no harm, maybe even some good, during our brief tenure.

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