You have helped raise just over 100,000 dollars for the Chilkat Valley Community Foundation Emergency Relief Fund. The grants will begin in about a week.

I appreciate the donations in my name as a so-called Living Treasure, but honestly, you are solid gold. I would write each of you a note, but addresses of donors and some names are (rightly) confidential. It’s kind of overwhelming to feel all the love from within Haines and outside of our little town during this hard time, especially when there are so many people and places suffering right now. Gunalchéesh is the proper response to this kindness and generosity. Gunalchéesh, too to Cara Murray for her Haines Stay Strong painting.

Gunalchéesh is an exclamation of gratitude and is often repeated back and forth between the speaker and the listener, sometimes there is a “ho ho” added for emphasis. When it is shared, you can feel the appreciative connection. Friendship. Joy. Community. Thanksgiving for the gift and the giver.

Gunalchéesh.

This week during the thaw, a friend went to scoop up round washed gravel for her yard along Portage Cove where she has always found it before, and discovered the beach littered with trees that had become logs in the landslide. “There was no bark on them. No branches,” she said. They were smooth. I caught my breath. I was suddenly so sad. This morning I saw her again, walking in a glorious sunrise, so bright and golden and a different kind of breath catcher.

Gunalchéesh.

The CVCF fund won’t turn back time, but it will help us to pick up some of the pieces, and take care of those people, places, and organizations needing  assistance. David Katzeek, a great Tlingit orator, once told a gathering I was at in Klukwan that the greatest speech you can make is sometimes the shortest. Say thank you, he said, and say it properly: Gunalchéesh. You can voice it cheerfully or reverently, depending on the reason, but the main thing, he said, is to say it.

Gunalchéesh.