Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Gold Medal

This week is Gold Medal, a regional basketball tournament that fills Juneau with players and their families from the outlying communities. At left is a picture of the team from Kake. There are games for every age group from school through elders. Basketball is very big among Native Americans, commanding the loyalty from entire communities that we used to see when our grandparents were young. Everyone who can play, plays.

And the fourth week of March, everyone from Yakutat to Ketchikan comes to Juneau to play. People get to see family and friends from the villages. They go shopping. Almost all of them come on the ferry, many with large vehicles that they fill up at Costco and Fred Meyer with items that are hard to get in smaller communities. The citizens of Juneau are used to it. We know that the stores will be fuller than usual and to take care driving. We need to take care driving because many of the villages have so few cars that when our visitors cross the street, they don't know that they need to look first. Any direction they look, they see more parked cars than there are vehicles in their home town and so they seem to go on the assumption that all the cars are parked and none are on the road.

The Native Alaskans in this region are mostly Tlingit, Haida, or Shimsian. All three have Raven stories. Raven created the world, brought the sun and stars, and brought the water, among many other things. Every year during Gold Medal I see a station wagon from one of the villages with a bumper sticker that reads, After Raven created the world, he created basketball

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