A glimpse into the Future? I hope not!

by
Nunam Iqua's Potlatch (annual meeting) 2009

Nunam Iqua’s Potlatch 2009.  Nick Tucker is seen in the plaid shirt.

Jul 21, 2009

My family is spending the summer in Ugashik fishing.   I was given a glimpse into the future – an eye opening experience that made me stop and think:  “I hope my people, the Yup’iks, do not end up like this!”

Since I have been in the Bristol Bay region I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of Tribal meetings.  My thoughts going into these varies from excitement at seeing another community’s culture and traditions, to wondering how local politics operate here compared to Nunam Iqua on the Lower Yukon River delta.

Unfortunately, my excitement about the prospect of learning about the culture and traditions of another village was  immediately let down.  I walked into an annual meeting expecting to see celebrations of Native culture, pride in being Native and efforts to keep their Native ways, language, and culture alive in this ever westernized world we now live in.

I donned my traditional kuspaq thinking that since this was their annual meeting, everyone would be celebrating their heritage and culture.  I was so wrong with that train of thought!   There was nothing that I saw which even hinted that this was a Tribal meeting.  There appeared to be no Native aspect involved at all.  Not once did I hear a single Native word uttered.  Not once did I see any tradition that I could remotely relate to keeping their culture intact.  The only thing I observed was a whole lot of squabbling and discussions of money.  Money here, money there, money, money (or lack there of) everywhere!

In all of the money discussion I expected to hear  about spending money on programs to help protect and sustain or even recapture their Native culture, traditions, or language.  Nothing!  My heart began to ache for these people.

This is just the meeting portion, surely at the potluck dinner there will be more culture evident…  They set up the buffet of BBQ and potluck dishes and I am happily surprised to see two things happen.  First they did offer Grace, and second they honored the elders by allowing them to serve themselves first.   I stood there and anxiously waited to see what types of Native foods will be offered and wondering what new dishes I will be introduced to.   What Native foods do they enjoy here compared to the dishes on the Yukon?  Certainly there will be fry bread?  I have never been to a Native gathering that didn’t include fry bread!

Fry bread I made in Nunam earlier this year.

Fry bread

I looked down the table at the offerings.   I took a plate and  I am handed a hamburger bun.  So here is the fare:  chicken casserole with broccoli, shredded BBQ beef and pork, shredded carrot raisin salad, potato salad, fruit salad, green salad, snack mix, corn, green beans, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mt. Dew and Coke, juice, and coffee.  For dessert there was pumpkin pie, pineapple upside down cake, ice cream and Otter pops.

Where’s the fish?  Where’s the fry bread?  Where’s the akutaq?  Even Rollie was surprised that there were no corn fritters which he fondly remembers from his childhood growing up here.   I would expect this type of buffet in any south, Midwest or western town gathering.  Everything tasted delicious, but I was sorely disappointed that I didn’t get to try any new Native foods…sigh.

I noticed something else, looking around at everyone there…why isn’t anyone dressed in any Native clothing?  I am the only one…the solitary person who has donned any type of traditional clothing.  Everyone else is in jeans or sweats and t-shirts, and a few with dressy shirts.  Surely some of the women must have beadwork on?  A pair of beaded earrings or a beaded hair pin…nope.  Just me.

I began to think to myself:  “Is this what will happen to my people 100 years from now?  Will we have completely given up our cultural customs and become westernized by only fishing to make money?  Will we have lost all semblance of our heritage?  Will our children and our children’s children never know their native language, traditions, culture?  Will my people only squabble about money and give up the fight for these Native ways?”

I have now come to treasure every detail of my life back home in Nunam Iqua.  We are definitely PROUD of our NATIVE heritage and culture!  If you were to come to Nunam Iqua when we have our annual meeting, which we call a Potlatch, there would be absolutely no doubt in your mind that we are Native and darn proud of it, too!

Not only will I ensure that my children and god-willing my grand children will know where they came from but also they will learn their language, culture and traditions!  And I will also, do everything in my power to ensure that my nieces, nephews, cousins and others know these as well!

How did this happen?  Where did their culture and traditions go?  How can you claim to be a Tribe and not have any traditional practices other than fishing?  Where’s your language?  Why doesn’t anyone dance?  Or sing?  What caused this total loss of their Native heritage?  It’s not like there are big cities out here, this is very rural Alaska.  Don’t you have to keep your culture and traditions alive to survive?   How do we keep it from happening to my Yup’ik culture?

Although I mourn for these people and what they have lost not knowing or sharing their culture, traditions and language – I am grateful that I have been given this glimpse of what the future could hold for other Native villages across Alaska if we don’t take the time to fight for the old ways.  It was like stepping into the future and receiving a warning…

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30 Responses to “A glimpse into the Future? I hope not!”

  1. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Ann,

    We’ve all enjoyed learning about Nunam Iqua’s proud traditions and are glad you are bringing them to a broader audience. A couple of lousy fishing seasons should not be allowed to end over 10,000 year’s of your people’s presence along the rivers of Alaska!!

    And about Ugashik…

    I don’t know if you remember, but last spring Vic spoke out about the ways things happen in Ugashik. It was after we noticed a grant for a Ugashik Traditional Village greenhouse:

    anonymousbloggers Says:
    April 3, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Good News!!! Pebble Fund announces $1 million in grants The Alaska Community Foundation announced its first round of grants from the Pebble Partnership-endowed Pebble Fund. The endowment is expected to provide $5 million total in competitive grants over the next few years. The next round of awards is in the fall.

    Ugashik Traditional Village: Greenhouse Project $14,875.12

    This grant is for purchase and shipping of a greenhouse, construction costs and miscellaneous supplies required to start growing fresh produce.
    http://community.adn.com/adn/node/140038

    To which Vic replied:

    I am sure all of you were excited to hear that Ugashik Traditional Village, our local tribe, was awarded over $14,000 for a greenhouse. I can say I wish I had been also. I really had nothing to do with this, besides giving the basic idea to one of many consultants the local village tribe hires on a regular basis as a POSSIBLE future project that COULD provide employment in the village, and have had no input.

    If you start reading the comments in this thread here, you will understand how things work in Ugashik.

    http://tinyurl.com/l2ubz7

    Anonymous Bloggers did a little research in the spring and found a number of questionable grants/monies that Ugashik received.

    We sent this to the Tribe’s Anchorage headquarters:

    Hi,

    Since you are located in Anchorage, you may not know that many bloggers became interested in Ugashik last winter when food was short. We sent boxes of food and donations to a local resident who then distributed them to needy families in Ugashik and Pilot Point.

    The crisis has passed but people worldwide became interested in rural Alaska via the blogs so we are continuing to post tidbits about life in the bush. A little more understanding of life in Alaska, specifically rural Alaska, especially by people here in the lower 48, might help gain mainstream media attention to the difficulties people endure to maintain their traditional lifestyle.

    This grant (below) seems like very good news to pass along – could you please send more information so we can get the word out?

    Also, I recall reading in the spring about a Pebble Grant for a community garden. Could you send information on the scope of the grant please? An update on progress would be great.

    Thanks for your help!
    Jane

    Obama Administration Announces Additional $13,969,700 for Local Energy Efficiency Improvements in Alaska

    Block Grants to Support Jobs, Cut Energy Bills, and Increase Energy Independence

    WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced plans to invest $3.2 billion in energy efficiency and conservation projects in U.S. cities, counties, states, territories, and Native American tribes. This includes $13,969,700 for state, county and city efforts in Alaska. A detailed breakdown is below.

    AK Ugashik Village $34,300

    http://www.energy.gov/7103.htm

    And, after a second attempt, we received this reply:

    Hi Jane,
    Sorry I did not get back to you sooner. As the council was not involved or contacted about this project you mentioned therefore they do not have specific details. They also were not involved with the distribution of the donations to village residents; they would recommend that you contact the local resident that you sent your donation to for further information. On the grant from the Pebble Fund, Pebble sent out the applications to all the communities in the Bristol Bay Region and the grant actually came from The Alaska Community Foundation. We applied for a community greenhouse and not a community garden. We are very happy to get the grant from them, their web site is akcf.org they have a whole list of the grants that were given to various communities on a number of different projects. I am curious as to why you need this information, are you a reporter or news reporter and how will this information be used?

    Thank you

    Debora Harshfield
    Administrative Assistant
    Ugashik Traditional Village
    206 E Fireweed Lane Ste 204
    Anchorage, AK 99503
    (907) 338-7611

    Stay tuned!

  2. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    I guess I don’t understand – IS there a greenhouse, or they are applying for one that hasn’t been finalized yet?

  3. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Good question!

  4. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    This makes me think of my own Aleut grandmother – ripped from her family and plopped into a white man’s life at a young age. She never returned home or saw her siblings again – she resettled in the Matanuska Valley on a homestead and raised 11 children. They did not inherit any native traditions from her that I know of – but what they did inherit was her incredible toughness and humor. I have the goofiest bunch of aunts and uncles who I cherish.

    It makes me sad that I don’t know her native traditions, either – or exactly where she lived on Whale Island when she was removed. After returning to Alaska after many years, my mother and two of my aunts went to Kodiak in search of information about grammy. They found a man in his 80s at the Russian Orthodox Church who knew her as a child. They discovered and then met some relatives. It wasn’t enough.

  5. Gramiam Says:

    Ann, I have tremendous admiration and respect for your determination to maintain and share your native culture with your family and, through this blog, with the rest of the world. I loved the website for the exhibit of the artifacts and cultural heritage of the Yup’ik. That you have survived and grown as a group over thousands of years in a hostile environment is a tribute to humanity. Thank you for sharing.

    By the way, I, for one, would love to learn more about some of the recipes for traditional dishes. Where should I look for some recipes, please?

  6. MAnxMamma Says:

    Lovely, melancholy article. My own cultural traditions (Irish, Scot, English) were not apparent to me until I moved to London UK. It tickled me to realize some of the things I took for granted actually had older roots.

  7. weaver57 Says:

    Oh Ann, how sad. I really think it is extremely important to know and preserve the languages and cultures of all of our Natives. They were here first, after all. There is so much wisdom and just plain common sense to be learned and retained.

    Keep up the good work that you do.

  8. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    I’m still confused about Ugashik’s system of applications and whether there is a greenhouse? Why would this be confusing? It’s there, or not there. And will it be put to use, if so, when? Who is in charge of it? Who will construct it? Who will maintain it? Are there funds for this? Who will use it?

  9. shrinkinggranny Says:

    Tears in my eyes as I think about this post.

    You’re right. It is unthinkable that the knowledge gained over thousands of years should disappear within a generation or two – or ever, really.

    Alex Haley, the auther of “Roots,” once said that when an elder dies, it’s the same as when a small library burns down. So my first thought is get the stories of the elders on record! Taped, written, recorded, whatever, get them safe for all to refer to.

    Back in the 60s or 70s, there was a magazine called “Foxfire,” that they eventually turned into a series of books, also called “Foxfire.” The magazine was written by the students of an English teacher named Elliot Wigginton in a small mountain town in Georgia.

    Aha! here ya go: http://www.foxfire.org/ On the left of the home page is a link to get a pdf file brochure (16 pages?) that tells *all* about it. Anyway, that’s one possibility. Even if it’s only a start, at least it’s a start.

    And somewhere on Anon Bloggers is a link to a place in AK that teaches some of the old ways, whose entire purpose is to keep them alive. It’s hard work, but the students there learn so much, and they learn respect for the resourcefulness that brought these traditions about. (I get lost here so easily, I’m sorry… no clue where it is, but it’s here somewhere)

    This is something that has worked for others, and may or may not be helpful here. Just maybe there’s a nugget or two that could contribute. I hope so.

    I bet you looked terrific, too.

    Nan

    P.S.
    And what’s with the greenhouse thing? Who the heck put in for the grant, anyway? If you can figure that out, then you can figure out the next step. I guess. Wild.
    me

  10. lgardener Says:

    Hi Ann,

    I’m hoping that traditions will be able to live on as well, but believe that if the villages that have traditionally been able to sustain themselves are not able to continue to do so, then that way of life may slip away forever.

    How is the fishing so far this season – not only in Ugashik, but back home in the Yukon Delta area?

    I believe the $6 per gallon that is being charged for fuel makes basic survival much more difficult than it needs to be, so everything degenerates into squabbling over money. It’s especially outrageous because Alaska surely has enough oil to support lower fuel prices.

    Has the state government been able to get itself together to make sure that the disaster that happened last year does not repeat itself this year? Is there at least one, (just one is all it takes) state government official that can get their head out of their @#%$ to make sure that there is adequate food and fuel for rural communities this upcoming Winter? Now that Marie Antoinette has left the building, perhaps her replacement will at least have the good sense not to offer up cookies and suggestions that everyone leave their homes to go work on the North Slope.

  11. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    A large part of the reason I am interested in helping rural Alaska is that I believe it worthwhile to preserve the old ways & the subsistence lifestyle in this harsh climate,even though it is not my culture and Alaska is not my home.(I feel this way about my own culture, people and homeland too.)
    It is challenging to find a way to maintain an identity, culture,and land throughout the centuries with some flexibility towards change.In my brief studies of the yu’pik culture (secret talkers page) I learned about the caring aspects within the community and the fine values of a culture that existed before legal tender…currently I am trying to learn a bit more about the native corporations and how they interface with the state and federal government. It seems like a mess with little intelligent oversight or appropriate recommendations for useful,beneficial funding.
    Ann, I share your wish for tribal continuity and pride along with your disapointment about the tribal meeting.I think that you found The Lost Tribe.So sorry….

  12. alaskapi Says:

    Dearest Ann-

    People can become refugees in their own villages, in their own skins.
    Unstrung from that which brought them here and unclear about what they must do, they are stuck in limbo. I am afraid your new neighbors are in that place.

    Affirmation of tradition, homage to our beginnings inform our feet of the ground we stand on now…
    And lends direction to our travels through life.

    Four little girls, left at home for a short while one autumn morning while their mother walked to town for supplies, decided to play instead of bringing wood into the cabin.
    It was a nice day. It had been a bad year . Their father had died. There was a lot of worry about what would happen through the winter without their father and all their brothers gone to war. They just wanted to play!

    As can happen, an early blizzard moved in. Without warning, in a matter of minutes it was a whiteout. Near enough to the cabin to take shelter, the two eldest , 10 and 12, hustled the two younger, 8 and 3, indoors.

    The two eldest took stock of their situation. They had but kindling indoors and only the wood cookstove for heat and making food. The ropes between the cabin and the woodshed had yet to be strung for the season. The ropes to the root cellar were yet to be strung…
    They gathered every blanket and coat in the cabin and all piled into one bed together to stay warm.
    For three days they huddled together as wind and white shook and buried the cabin . The two eldest got up twice a day to fire up the stove and make melted snow and flour pancakes- flour being the only foodstuff indoors. The last day they nearly despaired as the kindling was gone after breakfast…

    They were fearful about what to do next when they gathered together again in the bed. They fell asleep making a plan about what to do next.

    They awoke to a great whoop of joy.
    The weather had changed,The wind had died.
    Neighbors who had not let their mother try to return in the whiteout had come to the cabin to see what they could see. Fully sure the girls would have expired in the cold, folks were patting and hugging the girls awake in great excitement.
    Their mother was allowed in and in tears and laughter she chided them for not bringing in the firewood and boy, they better get those honeybuckets emptied PDQ!

    Those four little girls all grew up to be mothers and grandmothers and now great-grandmothers. They became teachers and businesswomen and an attorney.
    Every step they have made outward, into life, grew from a strong sense of connection to the world they live in, the lessons they learned from the elders around them and a strong memory of having to test everything they knew in order to survive a time of trouble.

    Their end of days are coming. Their strength flows outward to those of us who will be left .

    A future with dignity, for rural Alaska , must carry the dignity of the past, the courage of the past into the work and the challenges of today.
    It is my hope all the children will feel the strength of those four little girls …
    And mine.
    And yours .

    And that of our grandmothers,
    And their mothers before them…

    A’Anana Pi

  13. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Forgot to note… the four girls from AlaskaPi’s story are our mother and her youngest sisters. These four are the ones still around out of eleven children – what a bunch of characters they all were / are!

  14. anonymousbloggers Says:

    AlaskaPi and Martha UYS,

    I’m so glad your mother and her sisters survived and that she produced you two – what a body of work!!

    Thanks for all you both bring to this site!!

    Jane

  15. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    The picture of Nunam’s meeting with residents in traditional dress is outstanding.

    I’d love to see a picture of your own bead work. We should consider whether your villagers are interested in joining other groups who create their goods for sale via a website. Down the road a bit, when the fishing is done.

  16. AKin OK Says:

    Ann

    My late grandmother always told her children and grandchildren to never, ever forget where they came from and who they are! She always said it in Yup’ik, but I have not been able to remember how it’s spelled or pronounced, I’d have to ask my aunt who’s a linquistic translator for Calista Elders Council.

    I think amoung the Yupik, the different villages have all lost some traditions or are in the process of loosing. Different areas have kept traditions whereas others have not. For example, the Bristol Bay & Kuskokwim had both quit Yuraking (dancing), but have revived it. Also most of the Bristol Bay and almost all the Yukon areas are loosing the language, only those over 40 IMO speak it now, but it is being taught in the schools. Although it isn’t enough because it is not being spoken outside of school. Also most of the schools have cultural heritage weeks where elders come into the schools and teach whatever they know, basket making, skin sewing, etc.

    Your picture of the fry bread made my mouth water! And I miss sitting around with my sisters making ugulik (fry bread; my spelling might be off on that one), akutaq, and other native foods. We’d all help out and take some home when we were done. BTW Ann, you might know my late grandmothers 2nd husband, he has remarried and now lives in Nunam, Martin Shelton. I believe the last time I saw him was in 2001 when I moved away, then he moved and remarried shortly after that. When you go home to Nunam please tell him Eva, Qakaq (pronounced gukawk), Nathan & Dylan said hi. :)

  17. alaskapi Says:

    http://www.deltadiscovery.com/Once%20Upon%20a%20Time/Stories.html

    “Ak’a tamaani

    (a long time ago)…

    1/15/03

    by Aloysius Beezley

    (Freeze up time is also taluyaq (fish trap) time. This is another story told by the late Iftikum of Lower Kalskag. It explains how taluyaqs were first invented. The story takes place in the Kalskag area where the Yukon and Kuskokwim are close together. Other villages may have their own versions of how the taluyaq was invented , so please don’t get offended.)

    People would run out of food sometimes. Bad weather and low population cycles of fish and game wouldn’t allow people to gather enough food to get them through the year. Late winter and early spring was the most critical time. Occasionally, starvation would creep along the River, taking a harsh toll upon the people.

    In one small village (might have been a spring camp), somewhere in the Kalskag area, starvation had taken every one except for one young woman. She found herself all alone in the world but she knew that she had relatives over on the Yukon side somewhere, if she could get to them. Why she lived when the rest didn’t was hard for her to understand. At the same time, it gave her a determination to try to live – for her family, her people. Even though she was near death herself, she made the decision to go in search of her relatives somewhere to the north along the Kwikpak. She left that place of death with nothing but the dimmest glimmer of strength. Would it be enough or would she take her last breath out in the tundra somewhere to become food for the foxes and ravens?….”
    —————————–

    This story speaks to something terribly important in the human realm…

    It is not only the history of a people one can find in traditions of language ,stories, and dress .
    History is all too often dismissable as quaint and/or archaic…
    One also finds the spirit of humanity- the will and reasons to survive as a group…
    The knowledge of the group carried forward…
    the understanding one must keep the best of the past and move forward into the future…
    it is the best of what we are.
    ———————————————————
    The four little girls survived partly because the storm ended and partly because they understood at a tender age that there were reasons for the habit/tradition of not venturing out into a whiteout without the seasonal ropes to guide them…
    they understood the necessity of staying warm and fed…
    Most importantly, they understood they were at the end of what they knew and would have to come up with new ideas if the storm went on …
    to build on what they knew.

    ————-
    AK in OH-
    the saving of language is so important… so much knowledge resides in the way a people grow to explain their lives and surroundings in language…
    Knowledge is lost or must be re-found in other ways if folks don’t look carefully at what they have turned their backs on. I so hope the work to keep language alive continues and spreads while there are still elders who can flesh out the stories which live in it…

  18. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    http://www.lksd.org/Tuntutuliak/htmlpages/longnailstranslation.html
    Here is a traditional story that was translated from yupik to english by students at the Lewis Angapak Memorial School as part of a cultural exchange program with young First Americans in the southwestern USA.Stories are one way that a culture transmits values to the next generation.Programs like this are invaluable.

  19. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    http://litsite.alaska.edu/aktraditions/truth.html Here is a brief essay by Susie Silkook.She explains with dignity and subtle diplomacy cultural changes and contrasts. Then too, she mentions the issue of hunger. Hunger is an ongoing theme. I hope we address it successfully here. I look forward to new yupik stories about our battles today and our traditional heroes- Ann and Nick Tucker. (Awww I don’t mean to make anyone blush!)

  20. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ AKin OK

    Welcome! I enjoyed your post tremendously.

  21. Jim Says:

    Ann:

    We just returned from catching our year’s supply of sockeyes, dipnetting on the lower Kenai River. Last Sunday the water was just boiling with fish and we pulled out 20 sockeyes in 40 minutes. We stood on the shore with our nets. No boats, no 6-dollar-a-gallon gas. We ended up catching a total of 30. (I wish we could move the Kenai River closer to the Yukon so people who need fish could have them).

    My family throws the guts in the garbage; we boil the heads for fish stock, we can and smoke the leftover meat and bones from after filleting, and we freeze the filets.

    Most people just cut off the filets at the beach and leave the carcasses on the sand to rot or clog up other folks’ nets. (Retention of native culture would probably benefit all people, not just natives– for example natives could teach others how to use the fish that they catch).

    The “potlatch” you describe sounds like something that might work better at the Costco parking lot here in Anchorage– seems awkward for them to have to move everything out to Ugashik– why don’t they just have it here near their headquarters?

    I’ve been using the resources of Anonymous Bloggers to learn more about “Ugashik” and their organized group– I’m a bald headed white guy, and just like their bureaucracy, I live here in Anchorage, not Ugashik (credit where credit is due–at least they don’t live in Seattle, the largest “Alaska native” town in the world).

    Next time you’re in Anchorage, drop by here by for a bald-headed-white-guy’s potlatch. My wife says I’m a good cook, and apparently I may be less pretentious than the seasonal “Ugashik” -“indigenous” -“entrepreneurs”. You might be more comfortable here– we are who we are.

  22. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    When I talked to sis about this post, it seemed to me that it did not make her sad, but very determined. I mean like, really determined to make a difference in honor of our grandmother and rural friends. And then she goes off and researches stuff! Very cool.

    There are some thoughtful and smart people hanging around here, thank you for joining Ann and Vic in rural Alaska!

  23. AKin OK Says:

    alaskapi
    Thanks for the story, I miss seeing the paper that the story was printed in, although I read it online they do not have all the articles online. Yes language is very important, it defines who we are as a people. I hope in the future all the school districts will have an immersion school like Bethel’s. I wish they had that when I was growing up, maybe I would be able to speak Yupik instead of just understanding the language and spelling it. If I’m not mistaken, although I need to ask my aunt, but I believe her work involves taking down stories and translating them for the Elders Council. I don’t know what they are doing with those stories though.
    Martha
    Thanks for your warm welcome. I have enjoyed reading all the posts too, and am so happy I found this blog. When I read Ann’s blog it actually made me sad too, teary eyed, at how fast this has happened.
    Ann
    Yes please provide more pictures of the yuralaks (potlatch) from Nunam, also from Alakanuk, Emmonak, and Scammon Bay if you happen to attend theirs. I miss seeing the dances and also dancing too.

  24. Jim Says:

    AKin OK:

    My kid is in an immersion program in Anchorage. The school district doesn’t have an indigenous Alaska language immersion program– I guess that would encompass several languages. This is unfortunate.

    Any language immersion program can be beneficial and good, but what a fantastic opportunity it would have been if I could have enrolled my child in an Alaska native language/ culture program. She’s not native but this would have been my first choice.

    I don’t know if native Alaska immersion programs could be deployed in smaller rural Alaska schools, but Canada may make a good study– In the new territory of Nunavut, Inuktitut is a primary language (along with french and english). It appears on signage; it is taught in schools, and I heard it spoken often. Numerous inuit only read, write, and speak inuktitut.

  25. alaskapi Says:

    AK in OK-
    The Delta Discovery is a nice small town paper and I enjoy looking through the archives for stories and info… it’s sort of like visiting a favorite auntie for tea, if you listen you learn a lot. :-)

    I hope you can find where your aunt’s story work is being saved.

    There are practical reasons for saving the stories-
    I’ve been hunting for an article I read a number of years ago about a study of turtles in Mexico… scientists on the project realized local indigenous people knew an enormous amount about the turtle population in relation to climate but no one had ever asked them before…the information was contained in stories.

    One of my sisters was a student intern for a geologist who was studying earth movement at and near the triple junction in far northern California… she said he talked often about his wife, a cultural anthroplogist, and her pushing him to talk to local native language speakers and hear their stories. While it may have been the drilled cores and other data that firmed up his work it was the history available from local natives which fleshed out work which is now the base work for understanding the seismic history and current potential for quakes in that region.
    We lose knowledge when we lose languages…

    I am glad you have come here.

  26. alaskapi Says:

    AKin OK-

    oh I forgot…

    My son ( and me) didn’t know the proper welcome for him to make to my mother at his wedding. He and his then fiance, now wonderful wife contacted these folks …
    My mother is Alutiq and the language was lost in the family…

    http://alutiiqmuseum.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=654&Itemid=91

    These folks were wonderfully helpful and my mother was so honored she cried.. and ma hardly ever cries…:-D

  27. AKin OK Says:

    Jim
    There is a small immersion school in Bethel for elementary only, but only services Bethel students. If I’m not mistaken there is an immersion program in Hooper Bay school for younger students only, hopefully in the future that will include all the schools throught the YK Delta.

    alaskapi
    I really love that paper and always have. I think they are more localized than the Drums. Plus they are not as biased as the Drums. When my parents send me Native food, they use newspapers so I can read them. I am so happy that your son has taken an interest in learning Alutiq. That is so true that you lose knowledge when you lose language! This site has a lot of great links for Native cultures, this one in particular is for Yupik/Cupik http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/ANCR/Yupik.html

  28. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    The Lewis Angapak Memorial School is in Bethel…I believe it is the immersion school refered to here.

  29. Noelle Says:

    Ann, that is a very sad story! As an aside, I agree w/one of the above posters about a possible website for handmade goods. I (until a year ago when my chronic pain from my spine got way too bad) designed and sold custom clothing and jewelry on the web. Maybe for you and other people in your tribe it might be another means of income? While the recession is still on people hold tight to their $, but hopefully soon they’d be willing to spend $ on things like beadwork. I’d be happy to help with that, website kinda stuff. I don’t know how much postage is from AK to the rest of the US for a small package? Maybe you could take orders during the winter and ship when it thaws? Just a thought. And then, I was a little freaked/confused about the “one person who accepted the donations last winter.” When we called directly in it was to a company/grocery store, and I thought it was for the whole village?

    Anyway, I applaud your convictions! I don’t know how you have so much energy to do so much and be so many things to so many people and feel so strongly!

  30. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Noelle, we did talk last winter about the possibility of selling crafts, and your ideas are excellent! We were unable to put more time into it at the time because of other pressing issues but we definitely want to revisit this!

    Shipping small items from AK is very easy and inexpensive using the one rate boxes through USPS, a small box flat rate is $4.50. The big hurdle is relying on Ann and Vic to develop the idea within their villages and invite participation. There are many logistical things to figure out, but we non villagers can all help with that once we know the idea is viable. Your offer to help with a website is stupendous! Stay in touch!

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