Being born in early 1967 put me in the Generation X era. Started with hippies and evolved into punk rock. Rebels.
Where did all the rebels go?
'67 was known for the Summer of Love, but underlying that was the turmoil of the civil rights and the anti-war movements. I really looked up to the artistry of Jimi Hendrix when I heard his albums being played by my uncles, but later when I learned about his anti-war stance with Band Of Gypsies his influence grew
even bigger. The fact that he was born isn Seattle and also part Native(Cherokee) really had me hooked.
Mostly we hear a lot about hippies of the late 60s and early 70s but, this was also the time of AIM(American Indian Movement) in the lower 48, and in Alaska, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. While the Natives down south were rebelling against policies designed to separate the People from traditional ways and values the tribes of Alaska were working with the government to divide the state into 12 regions, each with a corporate entity to manage the land and resources for the tribes within them. Our corporation in the South Eastern part of the state is called Sealaska. Using a broken system to fix the system is backwards thinking in my book.
During this time period, I remember talk of blood quantum and some relatives not eligible to be shareholders in a corporation because they were less than 1/4 native. It was much later that I understood how only natives, dogs, and horses are judged by blood quantum and the Bureau of Land Management being in control of indigenous lives. Did You know that reservations were/are prisoner of war camps? And that our enrollment numbers are our POW numbers? Gives a whole new meaning going to a Pow Wow, doesn't it?
The heritage of great grandpa Manuel Vera didn't count as he was from Santa Rosalia, Mexico, and the Tsimshian side was from Canadia so my Mom is listed as one half and my sister and I, one quarter. So we identified as Tlingit, the american tribe. Grandpa Jack was from Klawock, a Tlingit village about 70 miles northwest of Ketchikan, on Prince of Wales Island. And Grandma Erlinda from the Tsimshian reservation on Annette Island about 20 miles southwest.
At Sealaska, a board of directors was voted in to manage the resources of what Alaskans call the panhandle.
Timber, fishing and mining started bringing in revenue to share with its members. The 50 years since has left many 'shareholders' feeling like these folks learned all too well the colonizer ways. Nepotism and cronyism have made a few families very rich in both cash and opportunity.
In Ketchikan, we were not part of the big club even more so as the natives that lived there were deemed 'landless,' and no village corporation was put in control of the local resources and no support for the People. 4 other communities were also landless; Tenakee, Haines, Wrangell and Petersburg. Funny thing about this was that originally the Natives were removed from conversations about the resources because it was feared that they would be against harvesting the timber so abundant on the Island. And then during ANCSA the environmentalists denied the natives of these areas the right to manage their resources as they were afraid they would harvest the timber.
Mom was for the most part a single Mother that did the best she could raising my sister, Karie, and I. There were father figures that came and went. She was married a few times and widowed a few as well. We met Lew in Ketchikan and he moved us to Anchorage in '73. Where he was manager of the Kit Kat Club, a strip club in South Anchorage. The owners had called him in Ketchikan asking him to comeback and run the club again as the local biker club was getting outta hand. They were known as The Brothers and had respect for him enough that they would not wear their colors when he was there. Which of course reduced the number bar brawls.
Mom and Lew got married at the Lutheran church on Lk Otis and he later adopted my Sister and I as his own children. Years later Lew's funeral service was at the same church. I remember the Brothers all came to pay their respects. They stayed back in the foyer and signed the guest book. I didn't see them until we were leaving. There were quite a few bikes parked out front. They all got on and started their engines together and in a stream left heading south onto Lake Otis. An honorable moment for an 11 year old to experience.
As a child growing up in Anchorage, I got to learn about hippies in alternative schools singing mommas and poppas songs and the coming age of Aquarius. We lived in Spenard, an old neighborhood known for bikers and massage parlors. I remember an older boy from across the street showing me and a friend acid for the first time. I didn't understand as a kid in grade school. He said, 'don't touch it, it'll burn You.' LOL, anyhow, Mom didn't appreciate that story and we weren't allowed to hang out with him anymore.
I learned about parliament funkadelic from the disco movie saturday night fever and bought one of my first vinyl albums, funkentelechy vs the placebo syndrome. George Clinton taught me to pay attention!, and put on my sunglasses so I could see what they ain't lookin at. About this time I got my first skateboard as a christmas present from the Sears Big Book. A pink banana board that I used to jump our dinner chair on the front walkway.
In the early 80s at East Anchorage High I added punk rock to the mix when I bought the Dead Kennedys In God We Trust and Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks from Budget tapes and records at 36th and Spenard.
I know these had come out a few years earlier but Alaska and Anchorage were always a couple years behind and they were new to me. The music connected me with a great bunch of friends seeing local bands playing at the Carpenter's Hall, the EPWR, and house parties. The Warning fanzine was our source for all that was rebellious in Anchorage and around the globe. Skate Death, the Clyngoz, Psychedelic Skeletons were big fun.
Of course we were a small part of the population, different, and a big target for bullies and those prejudice prone folks of our world. The punks before us took most of the beatings in Anchorage but returning to Ketchikan before and during my junior year at Ketchikan High school I got my share as well.
By this time I had more of A GQ/New Wave style wearing nice slacks and polo shirts but my hair was bleached and permed with about and 8 in rat tail, so I was different. The local bullies were pretty proud of themselves when they were able to wave it around at the Clark Cochrane Christmas basketball tournament that East Anchorage had dominated. They had wanted to burn it off but after taking a few body blows I told them get me a knife, I will cut it off for you.
I really have been a pacifist for most of my days. A few days after the tournament my girlfriend and I ran into some of the same group as we were walking through the west end of town. We tried to ignore them as they hollered from across a parking lot, but they jumped into their car and pulled in front of us at the next driveway. The big guy, named was Brad I think, got up into my face as I stood there with my arm around the girlfriend's shoulder. 'I heard You are afraid of me' he said. And before I could say anything his fist was in the middle of my face. It didn't hurt. I turned us around and walked across the street away from them and could feel blood streaming from both nostrils.
Family didn't appreciate me Being a pacifist, as Tlingits were known to be warriors, and wanted these kids beaten in return. They grudgingly accepted my decision to let it end there. Brad was over 18 and I was 16 so my Mom did send the police to talk with him. One of my uncles bleached his hair in hopes that they would try to start something.
I was as punk as it got for Ketchikan in '83 and '84 but back in Anchorage I never felt punk enough. Not rebellious enough as those Exhumed and Skate Death guys. Is that early imposter syndrome opening its eyes? 40 years later, still working through it on so many levels.
I was an anarchist then without knowing its depth and even moreso today with forty more years of experience to draw on. Seems like so many I wasn't as good as back then have fully embraced the state by joining its global police force and using their platform to make the People shush and obey.
Maybe I have just been naïve and oblivious but so much of my life was in close proximity to trauma and yet I remember the good parts of those times. Mr Magoo, I guess, just rolling on my skateboard for miles around Anchorage, Ketchikan, and Seattle while the world fell apart.
More to come... <3