Friday, November 13, 2009

Seth Kantner Speaks at UAA

We got to the Arts building a bit early and Room 150 filled up pretty well.  He came on stage after a brief introduction and started to read.  Then he moved from the podium and talked until someone shouted out that he couldn't hear.  So to be accommodating, Kanter, clearly feeling confined, chained himself behind the podium where it was harder to see him, but he was louder.  (I hadn't had any problem hearing him before.)

(I agree the picture is kind of weird.  One day these experiments might pay off, but until then, you'll just have to bear with me.  And be assured, most of these don't escape the delete button.)

He read, he talked, he answered questions, he showed slides.  I think he's a very unique person - having grown up in a white family, but living very remotely in a traditional Native lifestyle, at least in terms of housing, food, and transportation.  In Ordinary Wolves, a novel based on his own life experiences, he writes about being white in a Native environment, but living 'more Native' than most of the Natives.  I'm sure the idea of a white kid who maintained a dog sled when most Native kids were on snow machines was hard to deal with.  Why was he 'playing Native' I'm sure went through some people's minds.  And I'm sure his reverence for the land while many Native kids had lost theirs, must have spurred in others a sense of guilty resentment.  His very existence messes with out stereotypes.

We're just lucky he also likes to write and gives us insights into a world few people on earth will ever experience.  And makes us confront our own, mostly artificial, images of  rural Alaska.  So, I say, go read the books.   Here are some pictures of the event. 

And finally, here's a short clip of him speaking.

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