Monday, November 20, 2006

Kotzebue, Alaska Connection!

My father, Robert Taylor Thach, Jr., was born to Robert Taylor Thach, Sr. and Angeline Davidovics in Kotzebue, AK. in 1945. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning in 1979, before I ever got a chance to meet him, so unfortunately. He knew of me and wanted me to stick around, though, arguing to keep me from being given up for adoption in 1968. He lost that arguement but also wanted to be supportive of my mom, Mary. I've seen pictures of him and met most of the rest of my family, but I had never seen so much as seen a picture of his mother, Angeline.

I don't have much time left in my work day, so I'll write more about how this happened tomorrow or Wednesday, but for now, here finally is a picture from the 1930s featuring Angeline (she is on your far right):


From what I understand, Angeline's mom was or Inupiaq and her dad was part or Inupiaq. My own heritage as far as I know (and I'm working on finding out more about my father):

Inupiaq and French on my father's side
Norwegian and German on my mother's side

I don't yet know how the other people in the photo are related to Angeline, but the guy second from left reminds Joy and I of Marty Feldman, and think he would have made a great cartoon character. :)

A few days ago on a lark, I went to the City of Kotzebue website and signed the guestbook, telling about my father and his mother. Yesterday, I got an email from this VERY nice man by the name of Dean Westlake in Kotzebue, who's mom knew Angeline. We ended up having quite a cool and lively exchange, including his sending me the above photo and putting me in touch with my cousin Teddy and his family. We talked about visiting sometime; my mom loved Alaska when she and my brother, and sisters and dad went to live there (my dad was working on the pipeline) and would love to go back. I'd just love to go in the first place, and take Tony there, too.

When I was growing up, I loved learning about Washington State history and felt connected with the Coast Salish - and still do. I love their arts, spirit and history and have always felt proud of it - proud to be from Seattle whose heritage this is. I felt, it's my heritage too. I identified in some key ways with Native American spirituality. It did not surprise me in the least - in fact, certain things seemed to click right into place - when I learned I am Native Alaskan.

I am so happy to have (cyber) met Dean Westlake, who is ushering me into this part of my family! My father's surviving siblings will help a bit too, I'm sure, although it's understandably more old hat to them. I'm not sure how much or how little they know anyway, and I'm not too sure they know Dean - I think that's my own connection!

Pretty cool huh? I'll be writing to my cousin Teddy's family sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend, and I'm sure I'll have a bit more to report later.

No comments: