Healing Our Spirit Worldwide – 2018 Sydney – Interview with Gene Tagaban
Gene Tagaban, a Tlingit, Cherokee, and Pilipino man of the Raven Freshwater Sockeye Clan from Hoonah Alaska, begins with a wonderful introduction in his ancestral language, describing his name and where he is from.
Gene is noted for carrying a small red dress with him as a part of the work he does to stop the violence and sexual assault against women. He explains that he carries the small dress for a few different reasons, but with the collective purpose of remembering the spirits of all who have been stolen, lost, or gone missing and that his red dress represents that they will not be forgotten. Further, as Gene explains his belief, the dress he carries also acknowledges the spirits of those who are lost or missing and, by doing so, he is bringing them closer to the fires of their ancestors. He also continues to explain the similarities to the beautiful red jingle dress carried by some women of ONWA (Ontario Native Women’s Association) and the spiritual meaning that it carries, whereas it is for those who are missing so they have their regalia.
As a man, Gene stands up and speaks to men, for men, calling on them to be a part of the spiritual awakening that is happening. To affect shift and change, he teaches other men to become mentors in their own communities and to share messages of awareness, growth and healing. Tagaban’s powerful words project a deep, traditional respect for women. This remains especially true as he invites others to see that every person that goes missing is your relative and family, so we all need to be involved in the healing and to put a stop to violence against women.