| Nakaar, Howard T. Amos
From the Director of NPT.
For some families who don’t go abroad to vacation, southern Nunivak Island is a paradise for vacationing. Fish camping on Nuniwar is quite different from those at the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. In those major Alaskan Rivers, fish camps are close to or within a village. It probably doesn’t take 5 gallons of gasoline to travel to and fro, versus, at least 80 gallons roundtrip for Nunivak fish campers. Also remember, this is not recreation. It is hard to imagine traveling just for the fun of it on Nuniwar.
A bit of sad news, NPT, Inc. has been so fortunate for the past
9 years receiving Administration for Native Americans language preservation
grants. However, that period ended on the 29th of September 2010.
These funds have assisted us extensively for writing our unwritten
Cup’ig language. As I’m writing this commentary, usage
of our Cup’ig dialect continues to be headed into concerns for
fading. My peers are probably the last fluent speakers of this unique
dialect. You know after some time, people have ideas to go into new
direction for their lives. At my age, I’m finding that experience.
Perhaps my wife and I have done enough to save our Cup’ig dialect.
We have written a Cup’ig dictionary and have accounted for writing
many qulirat stories, revived to a certain extent, our Kassiyur Cup’ig
dancing; without opposition from our church it would have continued
I carry scars of unknown research medicines injected into my body.
This substance ate into my skin, just like caustic acids. INH pills
supposedly to prevent tuberculosis were given to me and my peers in
high school. Recent apologies by the State Department testify Venereal
Diseases were injected into people in Central America and have one
wondering. What about we, the Native Alaskans?
With the loss of this grant, we let go five employees that have worked
tirelessly for the last 9 consecutive years. Unfortunately they are
now in the statistics for the unemployment line. Nationally, the unemployment
rate hovers at or above 10%. In my region it’s around 24-26%
Commercial halibut fishing is done and over with, but I believe some fishers made enough cash to carrying on their expenses throughout the winter. Reindeer? I’m not sure what the Nunivak Reindeer and Seafood Products will be doing this winter. Hopefully they will at least allow us to get one deer so our supply of red meat will be adequate. I heard from Fish and Game that the number of reindeer on Nuniwar is about 1800 animals. By gosh! That number is increasing.
Well, I’m sure I will continue to produce news from Nuniwar
throughout the year. Until the next time, be of good cheer, good health
and don’t forget to smile.
October 2 , 2009
March 31, 2009
December 9, 2008
November 5, 2008
2008 is supposed to be Reindeer Festival year. The latest reindeer census on Nuniwar was slightly over 800 animals. That is a drastic cut in number for some unknown reason. There is a possibility that this festival may not occur due to the reason I gave above, however, I have written letters to our past sponsors regarding this very issue. I hope that they may discuss it wisely in their organization. I know from our previous preparations, this is a very late start if we are to have the Reindeer Festival. Quyana until the next time, Nakaar, Howard T. Amos
January 22, 2008
2008 is also election year for the Great White Father (President), could be mother for all I know, or maybe a Great Black Father. Alaska is predominantly a Republican state and over the past 8 years our living seems to have become more and more of a challenge than any other years. I’m speaking this out of my heart, paying $5.36 per gallon for gasoline and very much in the same neighborhood for heating fuel is outrageous. These fuel prices will stop our Cup’ig people from going down to the southside in the summer months to participate in subsistence activities.
My people are just settling the dust of getting acquainted with the western commodities. It has been just a short period of time where we are now being bashed with these impossible odds.
December 04, 2007
NPT, Inc. staff is hard at work transcribing and translating audio-tapes, creating grades 4-12 Cup’ig curriculum. It is our hope the materials we are developing will preserve and enhance a large part of our Cup’ig language. We are beginning to see our community making a greater effort to use our dialect.
More and more church hymnals are being translated and being sung in Cup’ig at the same time. Our tribal government meetings are using Cup’ig as its primary means for communicating with its residents. Most importantly, our immersion students are taking the language into their homes. Another prominent fact is that our students are using their Cup’ig names to recognize one another. In fact, our students don’t know English names for some of us.
I periodically present to our residents through community meetings to encourage use of our Cugtun dialect. The use of the simplest Cup’ig phrases, such as, “Cangacit?” (How are you doing?), Unuakukegci “Good morning”, etc. are becoming more wide spread. I never imagined that this would become a reality, but time tells all.
A couple of new ideas we have initiated are: Posting monthly phrases and old photos to public bulletin boards, and conducting bi-monthly men’s community house and women’s meetings. Men and women meet separately at different rooms within our school. Over time we discovered that our residents, especially young parents are no longer passing on our ancient Cup’ig rule to their children. The older generation failed in their part to share this information to them.
Weather, isn’t it strange? You may now be accustomed to names of some of the Cup’ig months. November in cugtun is called Imam Umgut’i (When ocean is plugged with sea ice.) Guess what? That didn’t occur. Imarpig (Bering Sea) is still wide-open water. I recently checked the ice desk on the National Weather Service. Open water is still north of Point Barrow. Through past experience I am accustomed to seeing eider ducks flying prior to freeze up. I finally saw a flock this morning, 12/04/2007.
Enormous low-pressure weather systems are making direct hits to Nuniwar. Winds range between 50-75 miles per hour. Yes, we have had powerful winds in the past, but not at this velocity. We are definitely at the mercy of mother natures viciousness.
NRSP or Nunivak Reindeer and Seafood Products finally drove a herd of reindeer into the village, nice to have fresh red meat. This was at the time snow dumped on us, but has all melted away since then.
Higher elevations on Nuniwar are somewhat cooler than the sea levels, therefore some parts of Mekoryuk River is solidly frozen. This has allowed some of our local ice fishers to fish for dolly varden. Some did catch iqalluat or tom/saffron cod. Other than that things are pretty quiet, except for the rages of our weather system.
I will again meet with you in writing, until then have a wonderful holiday season.
October 29, 2007
NPT, Inc. staff is extremely busy listening to audio-tapes that were made with our elders, most of whom are now deceased. These recordings are copies of the originals that are archived at the Bureau of Indian Affairs ANCSA Office in Anchorage and also copied to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Archives. We are most grateful for those events that led to the recordings in 1986 under the direction of Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The intent behind our current efforts is to develop Cup’ig instructional materials for Nuniwarmiut School grades 4 –12. Most recently, we received multi-year funding from Administration for Native Americans Language grant. We are so thankful for ANA in supporting our efforts to save our language, tradition and culture. If you’re not aware, we are the only Cup’ig speakers in this universe; therefore it’s worth making this huge effort to save it from extinction.
The most recent news from this area is discussion about aboriginal languages. Some people are against immersion programs to be taught in public schools, whereas, people like us at Nuniwar are so electrified by its existence within our school. Sadly, most of our young parents are speaking “Bush English” to their children. NPT, Inc. is up against a brick wall, but we are also confident that the immersion student is taking the language home.
Our evangelical covenant church members have made a huge effort for translating or collecting songs that are already translated into Cugtun for use in the church. Our tribal government leaders are speaking mostly in Cup’ig during their meetings. Homework from our immersion students is making a direct hit to their parents for a homerun for saving our Cup’ig language. The community of Mekoryuk is ever reminded to use even the very simplest Cup’ig terms such as, Cangacit? (How are you?), canritua (I am fine). I am also currently translating the Bible. It’s a big project, but I will now start on Revelations. Nussaalar, my wife (Muriel) is doing the editing work.
I’ve been ready for winter since the last part of September, but it hasn’t arrived yet. People have an attitude that it is good that it’s warm, especially with the prices of heating fuel and gasoline so enormously high. But I have a problem with that - remember, I’m only one person and stating one man’s opinion. I am a seal hunter. Over the past three or so years, I have had tough times reaching my subsistence goals. I love seal oil and use a lot of it. When sea-ice disappears, those needs of mine will also vanish. It’s interesting that our nourishment needs are so vitally important, don’t you think? Less than a week from now we will enter the month of November, or preferably in Cugtun “Imam Umgut’i”, literally meaning; “when the sea/ocean is plugged with ice.” I’m not so sure about that either. In the mid-1950’s I would have been enjoying sliding on snow with my friends, now! This month!
Like the sea ice many of our Cup’ig cultural traditions are vanishing so rapidly, that our younger generations of people think it never existed. Like the industrial revolution of the American culture, when parents left their children on their own to provide for their families needs, I see happening to Cup’ig culture. Our elders who have gone on were totally against young women without husbands bearing children; no, it wasn’t okay. It was totally wrong, but that is now an accepted behavior within our people.
It is okay for our young men to hang around a game room when game for subsistence hunting is bountiful. It’s okay for our young women to hang around a game room when it’s time to pick berries. I can go on with the list, but you have an idea where I would have taken you, right? This is what I’m observing, and it is important for me to convey it to you. I can’t tell you in words how much I despise western cultures onslaught on our little world out here – and our acceptance of it. Don’t feel singled out if this hits your ego, it is not intended to hurt anyone. I’m just telling the facts as I see them occurring.
I will share some thoughts that our elders left us to ponder on. These thoughts have renewed my energy for making the best effort to at least save some of what is no longer heard or seen.
September 04, 2007
When Pacific cod (atgiyar) was plentiful it was also gathered as soon as sea ice disappears. So I’m estimating that in mid-May to early June, subsistence fishing for Pacific cod occurred. Herring (Iqalluarpag) usually arrive earlier than cod, but was not gathered substantially, I’m guessing that fishing gear, such as gill nets were not yet available. Those who were fortunate probably gather herring, but I believe that Pacific Cod was much more preferred by our ancestors. Capelin (cik’at), a tiny ocean fish was also gathered in large numbers. It dries quickly, so it was sustained as a wonderful supplemental diet. Halibut, (cag’it), again I’m assuming, was not a favorite fish, but was caught during the Pacific cod runs. Due to their size they were dangerous for our ancestors to catch from kayak (qayar). It was usually dried, but in this day and age, it is now stored in freezers. Dog (mac’utat) salmon is currently dried in larger numbers than any other fish species. Dog salmon is gathered after it spawns, with little fat content in its flesh. This allows for faster drying and is usually eaten with seal oil, a substitute for the absence of fish fat. Silver (ciayuryar) salmon, dolly varden (Iqalluyagar), flounders (naternar), saffron cod (tom cod) or iqalluar, sculpin (kay’ur) are some of the other fishes that are gathered by Nuniwarmiut.
Recent news from Mikuryarmiut:
Until next time, piurci cali ernekeggciluci.
May 07, 2007
My earliest memories as a child, January and February used to be the coldest months of the year. It remained cold throughout the winter when southerly and warmer winds finally came around latter part of April.
I went away from Nuniwar to attend Bureau of Indians Affairs boarding high school at Mt. Edgecumbe in the years 1966-1969. After spending 9 months out of the year in a strange environment, returning home in the May each of those years was so exciting. Spring birds and mammals having already arrived was an opportune time to provide fresh foods for the family table.
We are now in that time period when different animals are migrating through Nunivak Island . I have seen several sparrows, swan, ptarmigan, king eiders, murres, and red-legged murrelets. I haven't seen sandhill crane, white fronted/cackling Canadian, and Emperor geese. I also haven't seen other small birds that are usually early in arriving.
I was fortunate to have traveled to Washington , DC on the last part of April. My reason for that visit was to observe with three high school seniors from Nuniwarmiut School a collection from Nuniwar. I tell you, our ancestors were genuinely gifted craftsman. What we visited was not for general public exhibition, but where Nunivak collection is stored in Smithsonian auxiliary some 30 minutes away from the Natural History Museum . Our students were in awe every time a drawer was pulled out revealing what they have never seen in their life time. This is my second visit to the Smithsonian. The first was in 1995 when I chaperoned three Nunivak elders two of which are now deceased. Their visit was to identify many of the objects collected, but had no cataloged name. What I believe was the most astonishing art work was a walrus tusk carved in three dimensional view. Imagine our ancestors carving without today's modern tools.
I encourage you to travel to Washington , D.C. not only to view our Nunivak ancestral artwork, but also to see our nation's capitol. There is much to see for visitors.
I leave you from here, and will make my commentary sooner. Piurci tawa allnganqigtellerkamnun
August 28, 2006
Three new Association of Village Council Presidents Housing Program houses are currently under construction. Their foundations are near completion, with the outer shell yet to rise. A fishery support center under Coastal Villages Region Fund will begin its construction in September. Fishers to work on their fishing gear and vessels will use this structure. It may double up as a small engine repair shop as well. Alaska Village Electric Cooperative or AVEC made plans to renew the existing electric power plant. I assume it will be located in the same vicinity as the existing one. There are a few construction jobs available for our residents. That is good news, primarily because we do not have a fiscal base to support an economic infrastructure. Seasonal jobs are extremely important for our residents for their cash basis to support their families and pay bills.
NPT, Inc. staff is preparing for the upcoming Reindeer Festival or Qusngim Kevga . The tentative schedule is; December 7, 8 & 9, 2006. We encourage you, close by and abroad to attend these festivities. It brings families, neighboring villages, and friends together. It also creates excitement, happiness and foremost our knowledge that we are carrying Nunivak Island ancestral rites into the present generation. We plan to invite cultural dancers from our neighboring villages from Nelson Island , and perhaps from farther distances. Our Nuniwarmiut School students are now the primary cultural dance group at Mekoryuk. They are exciting to watch and are very enthusiastic about learning their cultural tradition. We hope to add a couple more songs to our collection for the event. See you at Mikuryarmiut.
Until the next time, log on to our website periodically so that you may be abreast of the current events at our home Island of Nuniwar .
June - July 2006
I have never seen so much dog salmon in my life, particularly at Kuigglugarmiut where just a few dogs usually spawn. Kuiggluarmiut is located a couple miles up stream from Nunarrlugarmiut . The story is true for all other subsistence fishers, that their drainages are full of salmon. This is alarming, most would say that something is about to happen. Nevertheless, we're stocked up again for the upcoming winter with our wonderful food supplement.
We are on the beginning stages of planning for our 2006 Reindeer Festival. Our festival is tentatively scheduled for December 7-9, 2006 . Hope you will be here.
Until the next time, have a very wonderful summer.
May 20, 2006
For countless centuries, our ancestors treated the sea mammal with awesome respect. The parts of the animal to be discarded were done so accordingly and in designated places. I have seen early photographs of our ancestral methods of caring for the maklag bones, etc. I am embarrassed to even mention how we are treating these bones in our present day. I will be direct with you though, as it applies to all my native friends all along the Alaska coast.
We are so accustomed to Western ways that we are not doing enough to educate our children about our cultural and traditional ties with nature. I still depend on gifts from nature to nourish my body. I am reluctant to use grocery stores as my food cache, as I know how costly each food item is on the shelves. The western world brought with it how to make waste disposal sites, etc. Unfortunately, our natives use these dump sites to discard everything, including land and sea mammal meat products.
Our ancestor's cries are heard for people like me to respect nature's foods, or else, " Ellam Cua " will see and punish you if you don't show respect! I always wondered who " Ellam Cua " was, it is literally translated, "Person of the Environment", meaning GOD. Has " Ellam Cua " finally seen our lack of respect for nature's foods? Is he making a reprimand for our disrespect?
April 10, 2006
Now for news from Mikuryarmiut. Residents of Mekoryuk have been digging out of snow for at least a couple months. Once in March, our airport closed down due to broken snow removal heavy equipment. A small plane dropped a part to fix the broken machine. Our three-mile road is closed. Snowmobiles are now a mode of transportation between the two sites, but it is fun, fun, fun.
Department of Fish and Game authorized extension of spring musk-ox hunting season to March 31, 2006 to make-up for the closure of our airport. In any case, families possess much meat in their freezers. Others will dry some of their meat.
This brings us to the seal-hunting season. Several men are busy preparing their skiffs for the hunt, including myself. Sea ice conditions are normal for this coming event, however, low-pressure weather systems need to blow the ice away from northern Nunivak Island . The prevailing southeasterly gales associated with low-pressures usually break the shore fast ice.
For those of you unfamiliar with seal hunting, it is laborious work. In a brief note, I will attempt to convey preparing for a hunt and actually being out there. Metal motorized boats replaced skin hulled qay'at or kayak's. Weight differences are astronomical. Similarly, with qay'at (kayak), a flat sled transports a boat to open water. We are not accustomed to meager supplies and equipment our ancestors used during a hunt, however, weaponry technology of our ancestors are still used, specifically a harpoon and knowledge of natures elements.
First, possible supplies and equipment needed for a hunt are; Outboard motor in very good condition, spare outboard, firearm, compass, GPS if available, harpoon with its flesh piercing tip, camp stove for making hot water which is gradually being replaced with hot water bottle, vhf radio, knives with whetstone, oars, axe, raingear, tarps, and food. Most importantly, one needs to know the elements out there. What direction is the ocean current flowing? What is the condition of the free flowing iceberg? Will the weather allow an entire day of hunting? Will the point of water entry on shore fast ice continue to be ice-free when you return? Where are the other hunters? How is the weather holding at the village? What will I do in the event sea ice jams my route? Preparedness, knowledge and safety works hand in hand for survivability in the dangerous conditions.
Mother Nature works wonders for a hunter to be out in the ocean wilderness. Ocean currents and weather is constantly moving and shifting the sea ice. Swells from a distant storm usually break up the sea ice to smaller pieces. This allows a boat to swerve and maneuver inside pack ice.
Our ancestors made accurate weather predictions of a dawning day. We have all heard of global warming, and I am at a loss for weather forecasts with sudden onslaught of these low-pressure conditions. We will attempt to document a seal hunt, in which I hope will be included in our website. Until then, look forward to seeing you in my next bits of news from Mikuryarmiut.
February 14, 2006
Blizzard conditions are dangerous for people who have not been exposed to them. With the musk-ox hunting season at its full swing, there are visitors who are fortunate to have drawn a permit to hunt on Nunivak Island . Unfortunately, some of these visitors know it all and roam on their own, not knowing the elements that could cause serious problems for them.
This was the very case; a couple from Bethel departed Mekoryuk, and were not heard from for several days. A search and rescue team was organized to look for the hunters. If I were the king of the day, I would never allow an outsider to make attempts to travel Nunivak Island on their own. This couple was found in a cabin on the south coast. Their snow-mobile was broken leaving them stranded. Let's imagine for those who may not have been as fortunate to reach a cabin. Elements on Nunivak Island include rivers that do not freeze over even in the coldest of temperatures, cliffs on the west and southwestern coasts, craters with drops of hundreds of feet, the Bering Sea , and other unforeseen natural phenomenon that may cause health problems. Travelers need to know the terrain and exercise caution.
Our ancestors probably relocated to their seal hunting camps by now, especially at the southern coast of Nuniwar , where the sea-ice is usually just a few miles off shore with our predominant northerly winds. Even today, we look forward to securing the first bearded seals from the southern coasts. We haul our skiffs over the snow using our snow-mobiles for at least 45 miles, the approximate width of Nuniwar . These ventures are not like taking a vehicle to Sam Club, Fred Meyers, etc. Risks, challenges, determination, hope, eagerness are all combined emotions that drive us to our hunting grounds.
In any case, I want to wish good luck to those who will be hunting our prized seal, maklag , and that this animal may present itself for the sustenance of you and your families. The respect for this animal species provided unequaled nourishment for our ancestors in this very harsh environment. Respecting maklag means that its inedible parts were discarded in a proper fashion.
In these modern times, it is very simple to discard these parts into a solid waste disposal. Our elders disrespect that, knowing that this is not a proper respect for the animal. They would rather have us discard them in the sea-ice, where the Bering Sea will engulf them. The elders taught us to respect each other and the gifts that we have been given.
January 16, 2006
This month and the majority of December 2005 have been unusually cold. It is very hard on many of our homes especially with the prices of heating fuel so much higher than I can ever remember. You are very well aware that when a community the size of Mekoryuk lacks an economic infrastructure a good amount of people are unemployed. Yes, governmental give-aways are available. However, new legislation in Welfare Reform has made it a requirement for individuals who take advantage of these programs to balance this out through part-time employment.
I want to share my observation of the past few years of how the western society has affected my people. This is one mans opinion and in no way meant to offend any person. I mentioned above the lack of infrastructure at Mekoryuk. Therefore, some families move to other communities outside of Nunivak Island to make their living. In some cases, families move back to Mekoryuk shortly thereafter. Their children, having involved themselves in gang oriented friendships in other towns bring back their learned trait. In the last two years, I have observed a new crime that was never seen throughout my life here on Nunivak Island . Vandalism is a well known terminology in larger Alaskan communities. The word vandalism in Webster English language literally means, damage to or destruction of property. It is fine with our young people now to destroy other people's property without paying any consequences for it. This saddens me to a point of giving up my work as a cultural advocate for the Cup'ig people.
Other unfortunate events involve our young and adolescent residents. Our young men have no desire to take up hunting and fishing seriously anymore. These outdoor activities that I participated in as a young man are replaced by modern home/game room electronic games. The diet for these young people has also changed to westernized fast foods. I take that as perhaps a means for ridding us of our cultural foods. What about young women? When berries on the tundra are ripe, do our young women contribute picking this fruit for the winter? No! They are seen outside our local game room standing around when their parents are gathering this resource. All the fruit is now being bought from stores, so why bother with this cultural hard working affair.
All these ill-fated events are and should be blamed on the young parents who have lost ties with our Cup'ig cultural traditions. Our elders are forever gone, and those who are here to carry-on their secrets for surviving these harsh environments are we/us who have heard them telling us their methods and sayings for survival strategies.
I believe that if we completely undermine our 2000 plus year's existence for western and easy living conveniences we will be at our last breath. It is okay to institute our cultural methods and intermingle them with western ways for a better outcome.
I value these cultural activities so much. I watch the universal news and worry that the availability of these western commodities will come to a screeching halt. The prices for petroleum products at Mekoryuk are; gasoline $4.02 per gallon, and heating fuel $3.65. You see what I'm trying to pass on? Foods flown in from the south 48's will be price prohibitive very soon. Young parents at Mekoryuk do not foresee these indicators of hardships to come.
During this period, our ancestors would be very busy preparing for the spring hunt. Men may be repairing or constructing new kayaks (qay'at), while women are sewing outer garments for their husbands. I have this desire to have lived in that world.
December 12, 2005
Commercial reindeer butchering usually happens prior to Thanksgiving (Quyaner), but the reindeer herders couldn't do that due to lack of snow. Today, December 12, 2005 , local butchering is happening, as a herd was brought near the village yesterday. This is our source of red meat, and perhaps you may say that it is our Safeway, Carrs and whatever grocery stores are available in different parts of the United States . Our neighboring villages from Nelson Island and beyond are beginning to take advantage of reindeer as well.
Nuniwarmiut Schools sponsors a cultural week every month for its students during the course of the school year. Girls are given the opportunity to gather beach grass for making different cultural projects and during the last week of November, the girls made Ikaralzitet or grass kayak seat mats. Elders are invited to provide guidance to our students in this process. The boys were very busy making Nunivak cultural drums. These drums are actually smaller than the original design.
The problem we faced during our past trips outside of Mekoryuk with the enormous drums is that it required much airplane space. Twin otters and Navajos are commuter airplanes that provide services for the villages surrounding our hub town of Bethel . There is not much baggage space on these airplanes. This being December, reminds us of our time to travel for completing the Year 2005.
Our local school is scheduled to present a Christmas Program, tomorrow - December 13, for our small community. We have been very busy attempting to complete these smaller sized cultural drums for that purpose. This afternoon, we will be testing our new drums (cauyar) for the first time, and hopefully they will function just as well as our enormous ones. The entire student population will perform two songs with the Junior and High School boys all beating the drums and pre-school to high school girls dancing. This is so exciting, I can't wait! I will tell you all about it on my next commentary.
Until the next time, Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalkuti, wishes you the best of the Christmas (Agayunerpag) holidays and a hopeful New Year 2006 (Allrakuukeggtaar).
October 28 , 2005
We should be aware that something is very wrong in this modern era. As recent disaster relief efforts have been criticized we, as Alaskans, should be thinking about the effects of warming air, land and sea will have on weather, ice, animals and vegetations. How will these changes effect our children and future generations; will we be prepared?
In the local news, residents of Mikuryarmiut, nevertheless, have reaped mother nature's vegetation and animal food supplements that we have gathered for centuries. Atsat (salmon berries) , paunrat (crow berries) , ciayuryat (silver salmon) , tutangayit (cackling geese) and other fish and animal species were collected this fall.
I was fortunate to have participated in that endeavor going to the south coast of Nunivak Island to hunt geese. I never thought fall camping was so enjoyable. Although the weather system was not so favorable, I enjoyed that special trip. Some of the young men from the village continue to make their way into the wilderness seeking what will be gone for the season, continuing our age-old traditions.
On economic activities within Mekoryuk, a house is currently being constructed for one of our elderly residents. Other small projects are also being managed for providing job opportunities. Major projects, such as a new generator plant and bulk fuel tank farm are presently waiting funding from governmental sources. The new electric plant is supposed to include a wind generator, which will be powered by our unending wind sources. The end result of the wind generator will provide some financial benefits for its users.
Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalkuti, Inc., our cultural programs, relocated to a new office environment. It is located at the old BIA school storage facility. We would like to thank the Lower Kuskokwim School District for that in-kind contribution. The office houses the project director for Immersion program at Nuniwarmiut Schools, Language Assistant and the Executive Director.
It is extraordinary to see our young elementary students taking our Cup'ig language to our homes. That was one concern of the village scholars, that without a program such as the immersion program, our language would vanish. Many language experts state that an aboriginal language begins at home. It is our wish and hope that our young parents start using the Cup'ig language now.
August 07, 2005
It is now August. We are awaiting atsat or salmon berries and paunrat crow berries to ripen. Some lady folks have already gone berry picking, I assume some are ready to be picked. Migrating birds will again fly their passage through Nunivak Island to their wintering homes somewhere in the south.
Commercial halibut fishery is also winding down for the season. Weather conditions, noticeably are reminding us that worse is yet to come. This week, the first week of August, marks the foul weather conditions we experience in the fall, it has been windy creating a huge ocean swell from the southwest. Overall, the halibut fishery has done very well, as the fishers doubled their catch over the past two years. Congratulations to the Area 4E halibut fishers.
A reindeer herd was herded into the Mekoryuk corral by use of a helicopter. Oriental individual harvested velvet reindeer antlers, as a Canadian harvested reindeer meat. This activity is always fun, because it attracts visitors to the reindeer facility as young men wrestle reindeer. In the past, when the Bureau of Indian Affairs managed the reindeer company August marked employment opportunities for villagers.
I leave this note hoping that you also had a wonderful summer. For those of you who are reading from the south, your summer is probably just beginning.
Herring, or iqalluarpit have been quite different in the past couple years. For the first time, this year it never spawned down the Mekoryuk airport coast. There were several small spawns along the coast, but nothing big enough for us to gather roe-on-kelp or elquat. I am also astounded that reports from Tununak on Nelson Island stating that herring spawns there but nothing like in the past. One elder there said that herring do spawn, but in such low quantities that no one has gathered roe in the past couple years.
There is something going in the lifecycle for this fish that arrives in such enormous quantities each year.
Commercial herring fishery does not exist on Nunivak Island anymore, but the Nelson Island fishery occurred in the latter days of last month, May. The fishers at Nelson Island , in which I also participated, did not quite harvest their quota, but were successful although short within a few metric tons.
Commercial halibut fishery opened on June 1 to our area 4E fishers. Guys are still gearing up, but more boats are now seen in Mikuryarmiut bay. Some have caught halibut, but not in abundance yet. South Nunivak Island halibut tender, King Eider, is late in its arrival, therefore, no activities there so far.
Those of us who still travel to south shores of Nuniwar to fish for our subsistence needs are gearing up for the summer. A couple boats have traveled there to set up their camps. The weather looks good enough today, so I believe that will be my goal. If you have not been on south shores of Nuniwar, I tell you it is gorgeous. I keep luxury vacations out of my mind during this time of the year. You can walk alone on miles of sand beaches without ever seeing a bikini.
What has been so intimidating in the past few years is increase in fuel prices. For those of you who live in the lower 48's, Anchorage and other urban settings complain about high gasoline rates, but beware, it is $3.78 per gallon at the pump station in Mikuryarmiut. Boaters and motorist alike are cautious where and why their next excursion is important.
Reindeer herding is happening as I write this commentary. A helicopter is herding reindeer, that means more activities at Mikuryarmiut as well as fresh red meat.
Until the next time, have a very wonderful summer. Go out and enjoy the fresh new world of vegetation, wildlife and mostly nature.
Irregardless of the so-called weather pattern changes, (or is it global warming? I forget), every able bodied young and middle aged men goes out hunting. Prohibitive costs for gasoline; $3.78 per gallon and $5.78 per quart for oil hampers some, but our ancestral rites are to share to elders and those not so fortunate. In these present days, one must be fully equipped with modern means for traveling quickly from point A to B.
Having access to the equipment means one must have a steady good paying job. No offense, the urban native take advantage of we who are in villages and randomly ask for native foods. I am honest and am telling you the truth about the work and costs associated with providing one piece of seal blubber and dried maklag meat. When I mentioned sharing earlier, it is pretty much self explanatory when applied to our times.
The sea-ice has long disappeared, except for what remains in the small bays surrounding Nunivak Island. Some men made attempts to go out sealhunting in open water, but have been unsuccessful. It is not our custom to openly boast about our successes which is quite the opposite of kuss'at, but I am fortunate to have had secured my sea mammal subsistence needs.
Herring <Iqalluarpit> is here. I noticed three herring skiffs making preparations to travel to Toksook Bay at our neighboring Nelson Island to commercially harvest the resource. This fish specie was one of the ecomonic mainstays for many of our Mekoryuk residents when the price was right. Commercially fishing for halibut <cag'it> is now preferred due to higher pay for the fisher. Herring is also our subsistence resource. We are able to dry and smoke the fish, but most importantly harvest its roe.
All winter long, we get up early and go to work. Nothing but sounds of mechanical engines. When I go outside on my porch, hearing chirping songbirds singing and sounds of spring birds makes me relax knowing that warmer times are here. Enjoy your spring months, don't let work get in the way to miss these special times of the year. Nakaar
Both the major land mammals on Nuniwar; Omingmat (musk-ox) and qusngit (reindeer) give birth to their young. Yes! foxes give birth to their pups as well.
Fishes; (atgiyat) Pacific Cod, (iqalluarpit) herring, (cag'it) halibut and other fish species are abounding as well. Pacific Cod was fished as a supplemental diet by our ancestors. Old photos taken back in the early 1940's is evidence that pacific cod was gathered in abundance by our ancestors. We beg for any information in person or through writing that you have participated in fishing for cod in the past. We are very fortunate to have achieved a federal Fish and Wildlife grant to study this particular fish specie.
This study may be able to tell us why (atgiyat) has dwindled in the recent past. Prior to the passing of my wonderful parents; Mr. and Mrs. Walter T. Amos, I was fortunate to have harvested cod for my personal use. They taught us the methods for preparing and drying that particular fish specie. The entirety of the fish was preserved for our winter dietary supplement. Many elements, including factory trawlers, may have contributed to dwindling numbers of cod.
I have not mentioned seal hunting. (maklit) bearded seal are prized sea mammals harvested by Nuniwarmiut. One (1) bearded seal may weigh up to: 500-800 pounds. You can imagine the amount of blubber for seal oil and meat to dry and freeze are brought to one single family. Spring is the season for gathering, preserving and celebrating life. I'm so astoundingly happy!
We take advantage of these machines thinking that they will endure for the remainder of our lives. Not so, I now learn from an unfortunate mistake. My friends tell me, "back-up your work." As anybody else; I listen, nod my head, and forget about their advice.
My goodness, we are completely enveloped by snow out here at Mekoryuk. Remember a few months ago I was complaining about not enough snow out here yet? I remain silent for judging mother nature. Our three mile road to the airport is like a tunnel. I remember to my younger days when the only method of traveling to and fro was by a snow-mobile. Maybe that is yet to happen.
Our ancestors say that when there is this much snow, vegetation will abound in the summer. Atsat (salmon berries) are always the subject of enormous amounts of snow. Before we know it, sealhunting will don on us. I am looking forward to the hunts. Bering sea ice is abundant as well. Our neighboring Nelson Island's hunters have been reported to have caught maklag (bearded seal).
Nunivak Reindeer and Seafood Products is processing inspected reindeer meat at this time. Inspected meat from Mekoryuk is sold outside of Alaska. I'm assuming that the market is from Alberta, Canada. Musk-ox hunting season is scheduled to close on March 15th. We have seen many visitors to Mekoryuk, and I have no grudges against that. They bring economics to our village.
If you have any
ideas as to what you want to hear and would like to have posted
to this website, please be courteous and write to us. Until the next
time, piurci cali allngarciq'ua (bye, I will write again).
February 1, 2005
Tanqiluryag Ciuqlir <January> was rather fast, don't you agree? Here we are into February already, and 28 days in February usually is very fast-paced. A couple months ago I was complaining about lack of sea-ice out in the Bering Sea, I take that back. The northern coast of Nunivak Island is now plugged with, yes, sea-ice.
I've been very fortunate traveling across Nunivak Island to the south and southwest coasts of this beautiful land. If you don't know it, driftwood washes up on our coasts and beaches from the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. It's a wonder for some people who travel to our Island as to why some of us do have woodstoves, and of course maqiwig <steambath>. I've been doing exactly that, hauling driftwood for my home heat and steambath. Yesterday, the last day of January, I hauled some driftwood to my fishcamp, Nunarrlugarmiut.
If you don't know it already, our wonderful Cultural consultant, Taalegalria <Robert Drozda> applied for and was awarded a U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant on behalf of Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalkuti. The funds will be used to survey Pacific (Gray) cod or Atgiyat in traditional fishing grounds surrounding Nunivak Island . Traditionally, our fathers and ancestors collected the abundant fish species as a supplemental diet. Every part of the fish was dried, including the head. We who fish for cod know that its decline was during allowances of foreign fishing fleet in our back yards.
My interesting experience in the spring of 1985 was at Cingigglag < Cape Mendenhall >. Some individual from Mekoryuk traveled southwards with a skiff, and radioed to the village that he was catching an abundance of cod. At that time, my late parents used to tell me that atgiyat were caught in large quantities during the time of qay'at <kayaks>. This experience was after a commercial herring fishery, so in my wooden boat, I went out fishing for cod. If you have fished for tomcod or iqalluat you may know when that fish specie is abundant, every time you submerged your hook, you're bound to catch a fish. Well, this is what happened back in 1985. Muriel, Bradley, Vincent and myself caught in excess of 80 gray cod in one tide period. The difference is that this fish was at least 15 pounds, sometimes heavier. Muriel quit her jigging and tended to her young boys who were having a tremendous time catching cod one after the other.
If you have any memories of cod fishing, please share them with us by email. The more information we gather, the better. Fish and Wildlife Service has given us an opportunity to study our own resources, and hopefully to have a say in how they may be managed in the future; so please share.
Musk-ox hunting season opens today, Kuiget Aanit <February>. The duration of the season will be until March 15, 2005 . My daughter, Pantungan <Sara> has acquired a cow musk-ox permit, and I'm eager to take her out. We have had tremendous weather out here. Clear blue skies, temperatures not so warm, but fun to be out doing winter activities. Hopefully, it will hold out so that we may take advantage of the weather to catch Pantungan's musk-ox.
Until the next time, piurci <so long>.
Special quyana to our grant writer, Mr. Robert M. Drozda, and his wife Lenore too, who without much recognition does a lot of editing work. Thanks Lenore, you're wonderful! One other quyana , Raymund Hawley for his work on our website, Thanks Raymund!
If you're not familiar with the logic behind these grants, they are designed to document our Cup'ig language, develop instructional material for our immersion/bilingual classrooms and train future teachers for our Cup'ig teaching environment. Train? Yes; you know there are only a handful of Mekoryuk Cup'ig scholars who are now well versed in writing, reading and documenting our native Cup'ig language. We won't live forever; there needs to be someone in the future to carry out this work that is so important to preserve our cultural identity. The latest ANA grant is specifically intended for that purpose. We are just a minute part of this nunarpag /world, but in spite of our small population we cannot sit idle and hope to have another ethnic group write our history or preserve our language for us.
One more topic - I want to repeat this from my previous commentary, "The world weather has changed!" Or is my focus on weather alone too narrow? Should I say, "The world in its entirety has changed!" The enormity of these changes for the world is troublesome. Here, I am worried about my seal-hunting season. Why? Sea ice has not formed yet, and now is supposed to be the coldest time of the year! Today, January 5, 2005 , it is raining. Taqukat, maklit neqkanka <Seals, bearded seal is my food.>
This is a weird thought. Our elders who were most dependent
on foods from the sea are almost all deceased, and their supermarket
( imarpig/ sea) is on the verge of becoming bankrupt. My
mind is struggling to be on a positive note, but these passages and
events of our current world also need recognition. As my
friend, Taalegalria /Robert stated; "worse is yet to come!" I
believe him. Educating ourselves for the unknown future
is just as good as bracing us for a terrific storm in the sea.
November 3, 2004
2004 Presidential campaign reflections; excitement, sadness, bickering, billions of dollars, gladness, poll votes, the list goes on. Aren't you glad that it is finally over with? I am. Months of campaigning had the country divided so much that it was beginning to look like a dictatorial scene.
So much for Decision 2004.
Locally, as you read into the webpage, our consultant has posted that NPT has been awarded ANA training grant. The duration of this new ANA grant will be til the year 2007. We hope to develop much more Cup'ig material through this grant than with the previous one.
I want to personally thank "Taalegalria", Robert Drozda for his commitment to the community of Mekoryuk. He has written several grants for NPT, not so much for his personal benefits, but acknowledging that any organization is capable of achieving funds available out there through dedication and hard work. Robert has just done that. It is difficult to express into words how grateful the community of Mekoryuk is for him. Thanks Robert!
It is my desire to announce that a Reindeer Festival may occur, but we are banking on the Youth Council of Mekoryuk under the auspices of Coastal Villages Region Fund for this event to happen. We don't have a definite approval yet, though I have spoken to the leader of the Youth group. He acknowledged that prizes, etc. have been ordered. That is a hopeful sign. We will definitely post something soon on the webpage as we receive new information.
Until the next time, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holidays eat lots of "Aqesgit" Ptarmigan.
October 7 , 2004
September 13 ,
August 15, 2004
July 21, 2004
I'm trying to find my bearings as to where the month of July slipped by? My fishcamping trip was just horrendous, so much sunshine I get sunburned on my arms. Imagine getting sunburned in the middle of the Bering Sea ? That is just unheard of. Anyhow, it was a wonderful short fishcamping trip. Several families from Mekoryuk traveled by boat to the southern coast of Nunivak Island to their annual fish camps. Most dried their "macutat" (chum/dog salmon) in a very short period of time.
A science camp has also been on going at Nash Harbor (Ellikarrmiut) under the auspices of NIMA Corporation, Inc. I have not been there personally, I should be, but all the non-stop activities of summer perhaps will allow that to slip-by as well. Wonderful people are running the camp though. A kayak maker from the state of Washington has been building traditional Nunivak Island watercrafts with apprentices from Mekoryuk. NPT or Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalkuti (Nunivak Cultural Programs) contributed to the science camp by loaning tools to the boat construction project there. A number of small cruise ships have stopped to Ellikarrmiut or Nash Harbor as port of call for touring.
One shortfall for the distant boat trips to Nash Harbor is the rising cost of gasoline. A gallon of gasoline at the NIMA Store in Mekoryuk is $3.78 per gallon. Ouch! Hardship is evident within these parts of the world. Just as our Cup'ig elders always have predicted, we will encounter hardship sometimes within our lifetime. That time is now. Getting accustomed to the easy commodoties of the western world is not the best choice, but man do I cherish them. That is just an indivudual opinion, and mine. Our elders say that we will return to the tools of the past, it is appearing faster than we think it is possible.
Til the next time, think Cup'ig. Quyana naqluki allnganka - thank you for reading what I wrote.
June 1, 2004
Here we are into June 2004. This spring season is slipping by so fast and is true of what you enjoy so much. Herring has hit its peak and is slowly dwindling away, being replaced by other species of fish. Several commercial herring fishers traveled from Mekoryuk to our neighboring village of Toksook Bay to participate in that fishery. The market prices for sac-roe are not as good as they used to be back 10 years ago, but is a source of income for some.
Some residents of Mekoryuk are beginning to prepare themselves to spent their summer in their subsistence fishcamps at south shores of Nunivak Island. Others are also gearing up for commercial halibut fishery. For the first time in its history, a halibut tender will be stationed at Cingigglag or Cape Mendenhall to purchase halibut from commercial fishers. The event will begin on June 5-15 or may be extended to a further date. Since the southside of Nunivak has not been commercially fished for halibut, anticipation is building for a successful harvest.
Another event that is of interest is arrival of a cruise ship to Ellikarrmiut or Nash Harbor this summer. Several residents have been taking classes to accomodate the needs of tourists once they set foot on Nunivak. Kayak building will take place and many other cultural activities. A large camp is being set-up at Ellikarrmiut now, therefore, most of Mekoryuk's small population may be at Ellikarrmiut. It was once inhabited, before they moved to Mekoryuk.
If your income thrives out of arts and crafts, we encourage Nunivak Island art. This is an opportunity for you to come out to Mekoryuk to sell your product.
I'm all excited about going to fishcamp. Nunarrlugarmiut (Old Village) has been my summer home since I was a baby. I'm now a grandfather, I am passing this special cultural activity on to my grandchildren. We may have modern means for traveling, but we are also aware of weather pattern changes. Traveling fast gets us there in a hurry, also out of reach of unforgiving southerly storms. See you the next time.
May 08, 2004
April 26, 2004
April 2, 2004
Nuniwarmiut Kassiyurtait traveled to Kotlik (Qerrullik in Yup'ik) on March 19-21, 2004. Nine dancers were chartered via Navajo twin engine airplane directly to Kotlik. Three dancers including our youngest, Rueben Richards, had to be routed through Bethel. Nevertheless, we all got together at Kotlik.
Kotlik is located in the northernmost mouth of
Yukon river which drains into the Bering Sea. It is a
community of about 600 residents, most are Yup'ik
Our ancestors have made statements that the
Yup'ik Eskimos from the Yukon River were enemies for
Nunivak and Nelson Island, and Hooper Bay. Therefore
warriors from the Yukon River were frequently seen in
and around Nunivak Island in the past when qay'at were
used as means for transportation.
But it was a different experience and atmosphere
during our Kotlik trip. They were the nicest people
on the face of the earth. We were treated so well,
that most of the student dancers were reluctant
Twenty other dance groups besides Mekoryuk assembled together at Kotlik's high school. Our first performance was about 10:00 pm. We were received verywell by the people of Kotlik. Some individuals I spoke with said we were the most unique and different from what they have ever seen.
Every night of the dance festival, country and
western "fiddling" followed the cultural dancing. A band from Emmonak provided the music. Our students enjoyed this very special trip to a community that spurred friendship.
Nuniwarmiut Kassiyurtait will perform during the
Camai Dance festival at Bethel on April 16-18, 2004.
See you all there at that time.
February 4, 2004
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