Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Opinions | Obituaries | Contact Us | Subscribe | e-News | RSS
Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

home : blogs_old : inspiration corner February 5, 2016

Inspiration Corner
By Barbara Steiner
bjslevac@yahoo.com
Classic stories from American history and the Bible
Monday, February 24, 2014

INSPIRATION CORNER BLOG: Chief Johns' Quest

Barbara Steiner

Chief Harry Johns'

"Harry, do not speak that language in this school. Your language is English." The teacher's voice was cold.

Harry thought, "I have one language and it is Ahtna. This teacher is not Ahtna. He's of the government and he wants to change me."

The cold voice continued, "If you are smart, learn that the Ahtna language is dead. Only ignorant natives in the Copper River Basin will use it in the future. The world is changing; it is 1918. You can't keep living like your people did 100 years ago. In the world, which you know nothing about, people speak English. They have light bulbs, cars, indoor bathrooms, and new medicines. Your people could have those things."

Harry thought, "This man cannot do many things, which my family knows how to do. Can he drive a dog sled? He eats food from cans, because he doesn't know how to get food here. We gather salmon with fish traps and nets. Cranberries are ripe and he doesn't pick them. He thinks we have deer and waits for one to appear. He could use a gun and get a caribou or moose or bear. My brothers and I shoot ducks and ptarmigan. We snare beaver. He talks."

Now the voice was stern. "I will help you to remember better that you are to speak English. Come here; hold out your arms."

The teacher took a yardstick and beat Harry until his arms were covered with long ugly marks and his back burned inside.

His face was tight with pain and embarrassment, but not filled with tears. His friends looked down, sharing his disgrace.

After school he went to his Aunt Walya's. She tenderly touched his face. "Harry, you are a good boy. You and I will go away until these bruises heal. Your father must not see them or he will kill the teacher. The teacher has disrespected us."

Harry and Aunt Walya walked twenty-five miles to a hunting area. He did not return to school.

Soon, as a nine year old, Harry was hauling water for Copper Center Lodge, and being a stock boy and wood cutter. He was a hard worker, alert, and talked little.

By age twenty he was working for the Territorial Government Railroad Commission. His world, the Copper Valley Basin of Alaska, was changing. Settlers were coming from the Lower 48, to "the last American frontier." They were not prepared to live in their new world. They asked, "How do we live where there are no roads for cars, no electricity, and no plumbing? How do we survive when winter temperatures are often 30 to 50 degrees below zero? How do we cross rivers covered with ice and no bridges?

The foreigners brought medicines, books, new music and instruments, money, and tools. They talked about radios, phones, and something strange called movies. Harry searched for answers to the questions: "How do we keep our Ahtna culture? How do we teach our children when they are forced to go to government schools and lose our language? How can we know who we are? Are there ways we should change?"

Christian missionaries came into the Copper River Basin in the 1930's. They were not like the government teachers. Harry's son Ken described one of the missionaries, Vincent Joy. "He was no icon. He was the messenger. He was brought in by God to bring good news of the true God." Harry accepted the message that he could know God through Jesus Christ. He gained victory over alcohol abuse. He shared his faith with many other people for the rest of his life.

When he became the Ahtna Region Traditional Chief and a Christian pastor, he was a strong voice for the Ahtna people. They saw that Chief Harry Johns chose wisely from the past and the present.

I am privileged to write about Chief Johns. Please check out thisweeksstory.com.



Related Links:
• This Week's Story



Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   

Advanced Search


HSE - We want to hear from you
Find more about Weather in Blythe, CA
Click for weather forecast


Find It Opinions Features Milestones Submit Extras Other Publications Local Listings
Home | Classifieds | Public Notices | Galleries | Opinions | Obituaries | Contact Us | Subscribe | e-News | RSS | Site Map
Powered by 72dpi

Copyright 2016 Western News&Info, Inc.® Palo Verde Valley Times is the information source for Blythe, California, Quartzsite, Arizona and surrounding area communities. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Palo Verde Valley Times Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, pvvt.com ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the site's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the site. Click Here to email your questions or comments to the Webmaster. Palo Verde Valley Times Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved