Boys on North Bliss

The little house at the end of North Bliss Street is full of memories.

Growing up there, still in grade school, Tulukqaaqsiuq Hank played basketball in the driveway with the hoop his dad built, back before his dad went to prison. Sometimes, when the cupboards in the house were empty and his mother was nowhere to be found, he pocketed packets of ramen noodles and candy bars from Red Apple to feed his young brothers. 

He rode his bike all over the neighborhood, smoked stolen cigarettes at Lions Park and learned to take care of himself. One day, when a stray dog chased his cousin, he fought it off with a metal rod. When things got tense with a boy at school, he broke into a neighbor’s house and stole a handgun for protection.

Hank spent the next 17 years moving in and out of the justice system on charges ranging from assault to burglary. He fought addiction. He felt angry. He was locked up when his brother died, and he learned about the death of his girlfriend while brushing his teeth and watching the evening news at Goose Creek Correctional Center a few years later. Behind bars, he said, he became part of the Native Brotherhood: Police call it a prison gang, Hank calls it a positive movement. It helped him understand some things.

”I kind of understand why I am who I am today,” he said. “It had to take a lot of tragedy for me to change my life.”

At 31, after another stint behind bars, he moved back to Point Hope to be with his family. He found a measure of calm on the Arctic Ocean ice, thinking about his future and making peace with his past. 

“Mountain View taught me to survive,” Hank said.

Categories: Blog

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