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Excerpt from
Profiles in Change:
1983, Alaska Commission on the Status of Women
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Della Keats:

'we need a calm day, a happy day'

From urban hospitals to rural clinics, Alaskans know Delia Keats as one who possesses a special "power" for healing the sick.

The 74-year-old Inupiat woman discourages mystification of her work; her methods require neither the secrecy of the shaman nor the technological wizardry of modern doctors. Della's power springs from a mixture unfamiliar to most modern individuals: a wide experience, a rich heritage and a deep and tested faith.

Her prescriptions for wellness are those used by Eskimo people before contact with white ways. They involve a high level of intimacy with her patients. She works virtually non-stop, and is seeking trainees to carry on the Inupiat ways of wellness.

* * *

I love to teach the people. I don't want to keep something secret by myself. I want everybody to know. Try to show it, what I've done. I don't want to get just lost.

I'm an old lady now, but from the beginning I always ask anything that I could learn. Momma used to tell me to teach people what I've done. I tell them not to forget what they learned from their grandparents. It's been so good to me. What the mother use for healing, I always tell them to keep on using it. Not get drugs from hospital.

When I was raised, happy all the time, no accidents, no worriness. Happy to make a living outdoors. These old people in our culture, when somebody gets sick, they are helping each other. When a person have fresh animal, he eat, and he give it away to the people. But now, when you have no money, nothing.

Try to be happy all the time, try not to hurt anybody. You can hurt others. It's just like an egg. That you keep, not to crack it, not to drop it, because it's easy to break. If a person comes to you for help, make soft questions to him. That way he'll love you, and you'll love him. We will be happy like in early days. Not unhappy.

All my life I wanted to let them know. We need a calm day, a happy day all the time.

— Contributed by Libby Roderick