Alaska Native Story

IMG_0065 (1)IMG_0081   In some ways, I am still dreaming about Alaska.  Recently, I’ve been reminded that some things are out of our control.  In Saratoga on All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween)- a tornado actually touched down in Saratoga Springs near rt. 29, and in Johnstown , New York.  Very fortunately, no one was injured.  I had some damage to my property, the details of which I rather not go into. Suffice it to say I am grateful for how everything turned out, and that I am counting my blessings.  So, now at this moment I am thinking about Alaska again.

While in Alaska, my cousin’s husband and I turned the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage. It was wonderful! There were structures built to replicate how Alaskan Natives lived so long ago.  Above is a young native woman wearing a traditional kuspuk, a native garment. I think they are quite lovely, and bought some fabric  while there to make one of my very own.  Long ago they were made of fur to keep the body warm, and had a hood attached. You can also see fireweed below, which is a beautiful plant that grows throughout Alaska.  And, you can see a totem pole, which was carved beautifully (a replica)- but long ago they were carved and dyed with native plants.  Astounding in their beauty and symbolism.

A native young woman and a native young man gave us a beautiful tour filled with accurate and fascinating details.  Some of the structures were built underground,  so that the natives could be safe from polar bears, and escape the temperatures that could get as frigid as 90 degrees below zero. (that’s right because I asked her to repeat it) BBrr!  Wow!  Another structure had sort of a caste system so that the chiefs and their families could be on top where it was warmer, and the slaves that were captured could be on the bottom. The slaves apparently were captured because they had invaded their terriority. But from my understanding, they were let go if they earned their keep after a period of time.

As we continued on the tour, the young woman mentioned that she was from St. Lawrence Island, an island west of the mainland Alaska in the Bering Sea, just south of the Bering Strait. The village of Gembell, located on the northwest cape of the island is 36 miles from the Chukchi Peninsula in the Russian Far East.  She also mentioned that both her Mom and her Aunty both had breast cancer, and radioactive particles had been found in the land on her native island. She also mentioned that she had aspirations to be a surgeon. “Wow, I said, “good for you!”.

The statement she made about her Mom and Aunty has stayed with me, along with the memories of the beautiful landscape, appreciation of the native culture and wonderful family time. I hope that she doesn’t have to face the disease that her Mom and Aunty have endured. And, I think that she will be the most wonderful surgeon.

 

Note:  dates are wrong on photos- .I took the trip this September (2019).IMG_0015 (3)

 

 

 

 

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