Dionne Brady-Howard is a teacher and activist. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

Opinions expressed in commentary on KCAW are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by the station’s board, staff, or volunteers.

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When it comes to an event like the Reconciliation Ceremony that is being organized for Alaska Day, as an alternative to the Transfer Ceremony, it is about more than just the event itself.

It is about a very real need in our little town, our state, our nation, and our world.

In more recent years, it has become apparent that we, as a nation, have not been grasping the concept that we do not have to agree on everything, but we also do not have to disagree at the top of our lungs.

In more recent years, there has been a severe backlash against anything that might be “politically correct,” and when people feel that something might be “PC,” there seems to be an immediate knee-jerk reaction to simply stomp both feet, fold their arms, and dig in their heels in defiance, immovable.

One need only take a look at issues brought up on Sitka Chatters as an indicator of where we are as far as our ability to have meaningful discourse or dialogue. People either post things for the sake of trolling and stirring the pot, or other times the comments that are made on issues serve as a disturbing reminder that race problems are still among us, even in our cozy, little town.

We don’t have to agree on everything, but we do have to find a way to disagree that is more civil than what we have been doing.

After the parade on Thursday, everyone doesn’t have to come to the Reconciliation Ceremony at the bottom of what has been called “Noow Tlein” for centuries; they can continue to attend the Transfer Ceremony at the top of what folks now call “Castle Hill.” However, it would truly be a step in the right direction if, rather than simply dismissing the Reconciliation as “bowing to political correctness,” if people could instead recognize the right of those of us who do not celebrate Alaska Day. It would be a big step in the right direction if people could listen to WHY we have feelings of loss that Alaska Day brings to the surface.

To those of us who DON’T celebrate Alaska Day, it is about mourning the loss of “haa aani” – our land – and the loss of so much else that followed that sale. We mourn the loss of language (“haa yoo x’atangi”) and the loss of traditions. We mourn at the bottom of the hill to raise awareness, and to grieve the effects of generational trauma. Those who don’t feel that same sense of loss do not have to feel it, but they can at least learn to empathize. That is what is missing in our nation, our state, and even our little town.

We can pull together more than just in times of tragedy or hardship. We can pull together, even when we disagree. We can work toward a time when we can disagree and still live with one another, without shouting, and without angst — a time when we can bring an even deeper, more genuine, and more positive meaning to that phrase “Sitka being Sitka.” Gunalcheesh.