These poems are my contribution to the discussion in Aleut Art: Unangam aguqaadangin by Lydia T. Black. In part, these poems are my reflection of what Professor Black teaches in her book; in part, they are my additions and reactions.
My mother was superstitious, but to say that her fear of ghosts governed her life would be ridiculous. Similarly, I admit to the ritual and spiritual significance of Aleut artifacts; but I want us to consider the many reasons other than spiritual or superstitious considerations that these artifacts came to exist as they were found.
The anthropologist is concerned about differences and the relative age of artifacts. The culture on the Rat Islands is different from the culture at Unalaska. Cultures were radically changed by the intrusions of Asians and Europeans. As a poet, I am more concerned about similarities and identity, about the qualities that have survived to this day.
Ancient Aleuts were modern humans. There’s nothing primitive about their connection to nature, their connection to their ancient past, to the generations of resourceful and creative ancestors that taught them how to live and thrive on this unforgiving volcanic archipelago.
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Tom Sharp is a Native American of Aleut heritage, a member of Seldovia Village Tribe. He is the author of numerous books, including Spectacles: A Sampler of Poems and Prose, Taurean Horn Press (ISBN 0-931552-10-9), a novel, Hans and the Clock (ISBN 979-8580172484), The book of science, SciFi (ISBN 979-8694935210), Things People Do (ISBN 979-8687425568), The book of beliefs (ISBN 979-8683553593), The I Ching (ISBN 979-8573510620), Images (ISBN 979-8577560515), Aleut Words (ISBN 979-8582103394), and First Nations (ISBN 979-8682924769).