Director's Messages (Most recent messages at top)

Nakaar, Howard T. Amos
(R.Drozda photo)

Hello there! From the Director of NPT.
From time to time I will attempt to pass on information from Nuniwar.

Spring 2011

Camai, cangacec’i? For me I’m fine. Sorry for such a long delay in submitting my commentary. The winter went just fine out here on Nuniwar, but the snow melt kind of slow this spring. Currently, we’re still snow covered, but its beginning to disappear quite fast. I believe the upcoming rain forecast will allow it to disappear overnight.

Nuniwarmiut School graduated one senior student this year on May 10th and his name is Jason Hunt. Three pre-schooler’s also graduated, so their challenge will be in the kindergarten this coming fall. We hope the best for the wonderful young man, Jason, in his future ventures.

Sealhunting? Guys have been going out although our bay has been plugged with sea ice. Skiffs are hauled over the snow to open water locations. I’m guessing that those who weren’t fortunate last year have secured something for this year. Seal oil is a commodity for the Cup’ig people at Nuniwar, without it, our dried foods don’t taste good.

There is a lot of work involved in catching seal. Out in the Bering Sea, a guy may shoot a seal in the water or on an ice pan. Butchering is a requirement on an ice pan. Upon returning home, the women begin processing the seal blubber. Ull’uat or in English terminology, 'ulu' are used to remove the fat (blubber) from the skin. It is then cut into strips and placed into a container. Over time, the blubber renders (become seal oil), literally separating itself from the tissue. When warmer weather allows it, it renders much faster. The meat is either cooked fresh, or stored into freezers for future use. It is also dried and may be eaten with seal oil. So that’s a crash course in preparing a seal once caught and brought home.

We’ll now be looking out for spawning herring (Iqalluarpit). In this day and age, most of what is caught with gillnets are used for commercial halibut bait. Sac roe from herring is collected to dry or to pickle. Sea weed (elquat) or roe on kelp is also a favorite for our people. Some families do slice (cut) herring to dry. The first herring arrivals are usually older fish; therefore, it is very fat. Our mainland neighbors at Nelson Island age younger and smaller fish inside earth pits. I believe this also removes the fat that allows it to dry much faster. It is also dried whole back there with guts removed.

In the days of our ancestors, right about this time after sea ice recedes, men start going out test fishing for Pacific Cod. Now, that is much preferred than chum salmon that our current day subsistence fishers gather today. If you ever have seen a tom cod (Saffron cod), a Pacific Cod (Atgiyat) is an enlarged version of a tomcod. This fish has hardly any fat, so only method for preserving it was by air-drying it on boulders on beaches, or today on fish racks. Immediately after the Pacific Cod comes Capelin or (Cik’at). A minnow like fish, but is also very good freshly cooked or dried.

Spring season is very exciting. I just caught five sand hill crane (Qucilkuryut) yesterday. Some men have also caught other geese species. Pond vegetation also grows prior to melting of ice. (Tayarut), we don’t have a scientific name for the green vegetation. it is eaten with fermented seal flippers and rendered seal blubber. Different bird species will also be nesting. This is also one activity that our children love, egg hunting. Quite some times later than Easter, but that is fun.

We hope you have a very wonderful summer, think of us out here once in awhile.

NPT, Inc. Executive Director

October, 2010
Hello (Camai)
What a 2010 summer, huh? The weather on Nuniwar has been quite something else. We experienced mostly cloudy skies and temperatures cool and not summer like. I’m not getting into details of Fahrenheit because I’m not pursuing a grant. (jokes!) We’re not adept to recording these details, as would our non-native peers. However, when one has to wear a coat at all times in the summer, you may have an idea what “cool” means. Nevertheless, that is history.

I believe most subsistence gatherers at Mikuryarmiut are happy with their collection of natural foods. I’m happy, as I have dried some mac’ut’at (dog salmon) as well as other fish species. For those of you who are not aware of the distance we have to travel to our fish camps in the summer, they are far. Rough estimates are about 132 coastal miles round trip. One may imagine how much gasoline and oil is associated with these trips to southern Nunivak Island. It is out of reach anymore for some families, and much cheaper to fish for dog salmon from Mikuryarmiut River or other rivers close by.

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 much farther.

Identifying ourselves as unique Cup’ig natives is a challenge at our time and age. The Federal Government under its Bureau of Indian Affairs schools bombarded my peers into eradicating our spoken dialect. Then the approach of the western churches went further into exterminating our tradition and culture. Our human kinds were probably guinea pigs for researching modern medicines. Ever wonder why the cancer rate in the native community has multiplied so much in the past decade? I remember written accounts of visiting westerners to Nunivak Island in the late 1800’s. They write: “These natives are so (physically) dirty.” My ancestors were one of the healthiest human beings on earth until western visitors inflicted their diseases on my people.

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?

In recent news, our wind generators have not turned yet, and it has been about a year now since their erection. I know that Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) employees are working everyday to make this a reality but it hasn’t happened yet.
NPT, Inc’s final multi-year ANA grant expired on September 29, 2010. This 3-year grant focused on Cup’ig Language Natural History and Culture. We had ANA Evaluators at the tiny NPT, Inc. office in August 2010. We had a good visit with them, and hopefully we may be in their positive list for future grants. The Esther Martinez Initiative grant writing was a challenge. We didn’t get awarded the grant, however, our future proposals have been made much easier through this request that was critiqued.

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%
AVCP housing units are being maintained, thus producing needed temporary employment for our residents.

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.
Piurci, cali allamiku alznganqigciquanga.

June, 2010
(apologies for the late posting of this)
Cangaceci upnerkarpag? How are you this spring? For me, I just returned from a Middle East trip. It was exciting, awesome, surprising, and hot. I traveled to Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Temperatures were extremely hot periodically, possibly hovering in the 80-100’s at midday. Culture in the Middle East? Quite different from what we are used to. Food? Lots of fresh vegetables, no bacon for breakfast and the list goes on. Security? Very well established in Israel. At time of leaving the country, I remember going through 6-security checkpoints. Oh yes, we’re able to wear our shoes and belts going through the metal detector. When people talk about our tundra being barren, I will say from my visual experiences, it is luscious. The Middle East is mostly desert with periodic approaches to some oases. Water? It is so precious there that it will probably stir a conflict in those countries in the near future.

Locally, we’re still in the middle of early spring, so it appears. Our northern and northwestern coast of Nuniwar is still plugged up with sea ice. We are fast approaching middle of June, and the summer solstice is only about a week away. This is nature at work, and it is not my business to criticize why the sea ice hasn’t disappeared yet. I’ve been to other mainland Alaska towns; most are in their summer season. Our ancestors used to tell stories that during some years, winter months came about again even in summer. The events always have to be triggered by some erroneous behavior of humans. For example, children were told not to play with toys outside, or if a human being were careless with remains of life-giving land and marine mammals, it would trigger anger from “Ellam Cua.”

“Ellam Cua” literally is Person of the Universe. But correctly in this time and age, it is “God.” I vividly remember as a small boy, my mother used to tell me to go dump seal intestine contents into ice crevices in our bay. I never asked why, but apparently that was a practice passed on down through generations. Cooked seal bones were cleaned bare prior to depositing them into the ocean. Our ancestors also told us that if a seal bone had remnants of flesh, “the bone would whimper and cry.” Why am I going into these details? Because I witness some remains and parts of seals and land mammals carelessly dumped into our village solid waste site. That is humiliating; why should I publicize this shameful act? It is now a practice by our very own people in this day and age. Some of our people at Mekoryuk have not been fortunate to secure a seal for meat and seal oil. Perhaps the above mentioned is the cause of our reprimand from “Ellam Cua.”

At one point in time, I dreamt that our village commercial herring fisher would be fishing out of Mekoryuk bay. Lo and behold, our people are actually gillnetting for herring to use as bait for commercial halibut fishing from Mikuryarmiut Taciat. We are unable at the time of this writing to exit out of our bay. Our neighboring villages at Nelson Island have mostly caught their annual share of subsistence herring. I also recall my late father saying that establishing a village at the north coast of Nuniwar was a big mistake. I witness what he meant when he made that statement. The southern coast of Nunivak Island is ice-free. I seriously thought about building a cabin down at Nunarrlugarmiut and retire there. Perhaps that’s not a bad idea after all.

NPT, Inc. is currently on its last year of Administration for Native Americans Cup’ig Language preservations grant. The Title for the grant for the past three years was: Natural History and Cultural grant. To further our goals and programs we have submitted an ANA Esther Martinez Initiative grant proposal. It is very competitive as only four grants will be awarded throughout the continental U.S. and the Pacific Islands. Please give us your prayers so that we may become one of the grantees. This will create jobs and at the same time continue to pave the way for preserving our special Nunivak Island culture, tradition and mostly our Cup’ig language.

Make plans to visit your home this summer, and undoubtedly we will welcome you with open arms. For those who may be visitors, this is a unique Island in the Bering Sea and unlike any other place in the world. We don’t have hotels, but our residents will be more than willing to take you up for a few days.
Until the next time, exercise, eat well and expect to read more of commentaries from Nuniwar in the future.

October 2 , 2009
We apologize to our audience out there for not having updated the newsletter from Mekoryuk in recent months. The summer of 2009 has been very busy for us out here on Nuniwar as any other summers.

I’m quite confident that our seal hunters did well this year. As our ancestors practiced, we provided for those who are not as fortunate as others. The early spring brings us Iqalluarpit (herring) to collect as subsistence food supplement and bait for commercial halibut fishery. During the first week of June, halibut fishers migrated to Cing’ig (Cape Corwin) to their commercial halibut fish camp. At this particular time, atgiyat (Pacific Cod) are caught as well. This fish species does not go to waste neither dumped over side; it is collected and dried for winter food. I understand from fellow fishers, that Cing’ig’s population grew to a large camp. Our neighboring villages from; Toksook Bay, Nightmute, Newtok, Tununak, Chefornak and Kipnuk also use that site for their spring camp for commercial halibut fishing. I’m a halibut fisher, but camped at Nunarrlugarmiut.

In the past two (2) years, a construction firm has been building a petroleum tank farm. It is a new addition to our scene, but looks a lot better than the old bulk tanks. We are also fortunate that two wind generators were also constructed and ready for operation. In the wind swept island, it will provide substantial energy benefits for our residents.

Other activities of interest: since 2008, NPT, Inc. has been sponsoring beach cleanup on Nuniwar. We received funds from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with supplemental funds from Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF). Last year we hired village teens from Mekoryuk to clean up our southern beaches. This year, we brought the clean up locally to our village and its surrounding beaches. It’s a cumbersome task, but someone has to keep our beaches clean. I personally thank NOAA, CVRF and our teenagers for a work well done.

Three years ago, we received funds from US Fish and Wildlife Service to survey Pacific Cod. If you’re not familiar with this fish species, our ancestors used this primarily for their food supplement. Through our investigation and interviews from our elders, we found out that this subsistence fish was more preferable than any other fish species for drying and storing for winter use. Our contractor and friend, Mr. Robert M. Drozda just finished his lengthy report. We hope to use this information for future leverage for other funds, information for our people and educational utilization. Thanks Robert!

The City of Mekoryuk just received a new Fire Truck and hope that it will keep us worry free from unexpected village fires. The Native Village of Mekoryuk just received a Cops grant to hire a Tribal Police Officer. Thanks to our very own Dale T. Smith, Jr. for writing a grant to hire an officer for the next 3-years. Thanks Dale!

We just received news from Nunivak Reindeer and Seafood Products that the reindeer population on Nuniwar is at about 1100 animals. That is good news; hope it grows back up to management level of 3000. Until then, piurci. Enjoy the Fall Season (Uksuar)!

March 31, 2009
Hello again out there! There have been interesting natural events on Nuniwar since my last commentary. We are literally covered by snow; I have never seen this much snow on Nuniwar since my childhood years. When people have to be dug out of their houses it spells, s-n-o-w. Our road to the airport (3-miles) has been shut down for sometime. It appears like every other day we are hit by a blizzard. But we’re not from the lower 48’s, where a half-inch of snow shuts down their schools. It takes a severe blizzard, where you no longer see other houses in your surroundings to close our school, and that has happened once so far.

We also have had open water to the north of Mekoryuk. Therefore, some men were out seal hunting. Several caught maklag (bearded seal). I also went out but wasn’t as fortunate as others, though my hunting partner caught two nay’ig (ring seal) and one suuri (spotted seal). In the past years, we’ve had to haul our boats over the snow to locations on eastern or southern shores of Nuniwar.
I understand recently that the musk-ox hunting season was extended due to the severe weather conditions we have experienced. Hope all who acquired permits secure their game. Reindeer - about a month ago Mekoryuk residents were fortunate, given an opportunity to butcher a reindeer. Nunivak Reindeer and Seafood Products, the company managing the herd has been out in the field several times counting the population. Each time they come up with at least 800 reindeer. That is a decline of approximately 3,200 from 2 years ago. Where has all the reindeer gone? Some say; “they drifted out into the sea on pack ice,” while others say; “They went into the earth!” I’ll tell you what I know. I am a seal hunter and an experienced boater. It’s also safe to say that I know most of the coastlines of Nuniwar. In the past 2 years I have been out seal hunting and have not found traces of reindeer that was supposed to have drifted out on pack ice. I have been boating in the summer for the past 2 years as well. I even coordinated a marine debris clean-up project at the southern coast of Nuniwar. Guess what? I have not found any traces of reindeer carcasses.
Now, the theory about reindeer entering the earth. You who are reading probably think, “Don’t get into fairy tales!” I just finished transcribing and translating an audiotape from Jack Uyuruciar Williams, Sr. Jack was one of our ancestors who participated in reindeer herding on Nuniwar and on foot. Apparently at one point in time, Nunivak Island hosted approximately 20,000 head of reindeer. Theoretically, that population is too much for Nuniwar. Jack, in an audiotape said that he and his herding partners were dropped of at the northwestern coast of Nuniwar at Miqsarmiut. It didn’t take them long to find a reindeer herd. He was amazed at the size of the herd. At that point his partners wanted to rest and make coffee after driving the herd for some time. One of his partners said; Ka, ka! (Listen!) What they heard was undoubtedly reindeer but from underneath the ground. The herd they had driven disappeared. They managed to find another herd from the southern coast near Tacirmiut. I have snow machined across Nuniwar from north to south and from east to west. Because of the bareness of Nuniwar and no trees, one is capable of seeing everything around the immediate area. I have seen dead musk-oxen and reindeer carcasses that both red and white foxes are feeding on. Wouldn’t you think that I should have seen a lot of reindeer carcasses on our tundra? Well, guess what? I haven’t.
Recently, the Native Village of Mekoryuk, our tribal government made a decision to release management of the reindeer to our village corporation, NIMA. I’m confident that this is an honest and a wise business decision. We will see in the coming years, and I will keep you informed as to developments of qusngit (reindeer). Commercial potential of the herd is questionable at this point in time. My opinion is that the herd needs to grow to at least 3000 head.

December 9, 2008
November 2008 was a warm month.  In Cup’ig, the month is called “Imam Umgut’i” literally meaning, “When the ocean plugs up.” This event didn’t occur until the last week of November. Imarpig (ocean) was practically frozen overnight covering the expanse of the sea in the northerly direction.  Snow is not much now, but based on our experiences much more may come in early spring.

Resident subsistence fishers at Mekoryuk have been ice fishing for “Iqalluat” or saffron (tom) cod.  Others have also fished for Dolly Varden bringing fresh fish to the table.  There were also reports of people catching late silver salmon through ice.  For many years we have traveled across the island to Qayigyalegmiut at the southwest coast to fish for grayling “Culugpaugat”, but late winter starts has hampered those ventures virtually ending it.  Fermenting Dolly Varden and silver salmon in late fall seasons has also come to a screeching halt.  This all accounts for change in diet of our Cup’ig peoples.  Our people also have more reliance on modern commodities such as freezers.  These newly introduced tools appear to be much more convenient and preserve foods much better than old ways.  All in all, this is such sad news for me.

I’m not reluctant to use modern day commodities to pursue my subsistence way of life.  Changes in weather patterns are also seen as such that we need faster mode of transportation to pursue marine and land animals.  These changes are inevitable, and as reluctant as we may be about alterations to our lifestyle we need to adjust to them.  I’m adamant about the adaptations we now see acceptable, but I’m allowing that to slowly sink in.

Reindeer.  No, not Rudolph!  The reindeer population has crashed in numbers so drastically over the past year, slaughter will not occur this winter.  Aerial survey this past summer showed approximately 800 head.  That number is not enough to support a commercial or a local slaughter.  I have not heard first hand from Nunivak Reindeer and Seafood Products about their plans.  However, I know that perhaps a two-year moratorium to allow the herd to increase in size should be called for.  How the population decreased to a low count is very much a mystery.  Some say that a large herd just walked out to sea ice and floated away.  If that were the case, why hasn’t anybody reported seeing any carcasses out on the open water? 

The elders envisioned that majority of the animals just walked into the earth.  A short story to confirm that account:  Once there were herders pushing a herd of reindeer to an unspecified location.  The reindeer herd - faster in pace than men - went over the hill and disappeared ahead of them. Finally reaching the hilltop the herders looked beyond to find nothing.  However, the reindeer was heard rumbling underneath the ground with their distinct grunting noise.

That being said, Santa may not be much of a myth after all.
From Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalkuti, we wish you a Very Merry Christmas, (Agayunerpakegcikici).


November 5, 2008
Hello y’all. We apologize for the inconveniences regarding our website. Unfortunately our web address was stolen by some European organization, but hope that is in the past now.
Recent trends at Mekoryuk; the boat harbor was dug deeper so accessing it is a lot easier than when it was shallow.  It is a lot easier to moor our boats inside, even in low tide.  The deeper water also prevents shoreline erosion that has caused problems in the past. 
Bulk tank project under the auspices of Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC, Inc.) has been an entire summer project for 2008.  The older bulk tanks for storing fuel were stripped off from their foundation and replaced with new tanks that lay on their sides.  I saw that some of these older bulk tanks were smashed/flattened and discarded into the community waste area.  We had our fingers crossed for a windmill to produce wind energy for Mekoryuk, but that didn’t go through.  Apparently, a state organization called Denali Commission ran out of funds to construct one.
Co-Water Alaska has been working on our water reservoir after the synthetic liner was punctured in the winter of 2008.  That hole within the water reservoir liner allowed it to leak and eventually emptied.  Recently, after completing that replacement liner, water was being pumped from the Mekoryuk fresh water source.
A new home is being constructed by the Native Village of Mekoryuk for an elderly couple.  It is a late start in the season, but I hope the carpentry work advances rapidly.
The Executive and Project Director’s recently attended a first Administration for Native Americans (ANA) grantee meeting.  We recently discovered that ANA is a huge federal grantor that provides millions of dollars across the country including some south Pacific Islands.  It is also a very competitive grant, in which we are so fortunate to have achieved and awarded over the past 7 years.  We are also very grateful for our grant writer and website maintenance person:  Mr. Robert M. Drozda, he is our honorary Cup’ig member and was named, Taalegalzria. 
Quyana Taalegalzria

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
Happy New Year, Allrakukegcikici!
2008 brings with it a new weather environment for Mekoryuk. It is actually cold out here at Nuniwar. To top that off the Bering Sea north of the island practically froze overnight. It is white out there as far as the eyes can see. This is a positive change for those of us who live out here. Nunivak has also whitened with newly fallen snow, but as this Island is wind swept it is hard for me to estimate how many inches are on ground.

Nunivak Reindeer and Seafood Products Company brought a herd of qusngit reindeer to the village near the airport. Hopefully this will allow our economics to increase somewhat. This company has over the years provided the needed job opportunities for our residents during this time of year. It also provides us with new fresh red meat that we cannot live without. Thank you NRSP.

Last year, in 2007 we applied for a federal grant, “Marine Debris Removal” from NOAA.  I am happy to pass along information that we were awarded this grant. Work will begin in late spring of this year. We will target at least seven fish camp bays on southern coast of Nuniwar.  It will provide economic opportunities for fish campers to be employed during their fish drying days. We expect those people to actually go around gathering trash that washed up inside their bays.  Coastal Villages Region Fund provided funds to employ our young people, which we very much appreciate. We hope their huge capital improvement project at Platinum does not deter the direction of those funds.

I started writing this commentary about two weeks ago, but as I’m taking my time, the weather system has also turned around 180 degrees. The temperature is now hanging around 30 degrees with wet snow.  Imagine the weather cooling off again where the feed for the land mammals will be frozen in. I’ve been writing about the weird weather system for the past two years out here in the Bering Sea. January and February are usually the coldest months of the year, but it appears so different from what I’m used to. 

During one of our men’s community meeting in late 2007, one of our elders was telling a story. He said that when dog teams were used in his youthful days, the weather system was very different as well.  He further said that during one winter, the temperatures were so cold one of his dogs froze to death even while running.  Just imagine that.  We’ve been kind of digging out from the snow, but that’s okay.  I’m just so happy that we do have snow.
For your information, I just completed my Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application on-line.  You can do that and save 41 cents on a postage stamp.

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.

Even those of you living in the road system to the lower 48’s are affected by the changing world events. If you have never voted before or are now old enough to vote, this year may be the time to do it. Being Republican has been advantageous for Alaskans because of Uncle Ted Stevens.  He has benefited our state with so much funding for different causes.

Times change, and this trend will not continue, believe me. Your one vote counts for change within our political system in Washington.  I don’t want to clutter this commentary with politics, but what recourse do we have in the beginning stages when painful events to come in our rural world.


December 04, 2007
Imagine 2007 Thanksgiving now in our memories and hastily approaching Christmas. It is hard to envision us entering a new year. We at Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalkuti, Inc. would like to express our heartfelt holiday greetings to you, or in Cugtun, “Agayunerpakegcikici”.

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
I am fully aware that people out there look forward to my commentaries. I’m sorry if I’m slow in writing. This month, in cugtun is called “Nanwarrat Cikutit”, literally meaning when “ponds freeze.” I haven’t seen that happen yet though. A very thin crust of ice formed recently, but a southerly blow melted all that.

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 CugtunImam 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.
Until the next time, Qaaritaaqegcikici! Have a wonderful Halloween!

September 04, 2007
NPT, Inc. personnel appear to be neglecting the website, but honestly our hands have been tied for the past few weeks. Most of the NPT employees take some time off for gathering subsistence foods, targeting mostly summer months. Subsistence gathering starts very early in the season. In our ancestral times, winter camps were usually abandoned in the month of March. Seal hunting occurred earlier in the southern coast of Nuniwar because the break-up of sea ice occurred sooner than on the northern shorelines. Sealing was a very busy season, the fresh seal meat dried and the oil stored in seal pokes. In this modern era, what we gather is now stored in freezers. The longevity of easily spoiled meats is much extended through this modern process. Seal hunting usually last until late April to mid-May.

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.
From the tundra on Nuniwar women gather tayarut (pond greens) even though ice is still present. Ikiitut (cow parsnip) are gathered and eaten right away, everything is eaten with seal oil, including sourdock (ciwaasat), atsat (salmon berries), paunrat (crow berries). So Nuniwar and its surrounding Bering Sea is practically a source for all our foods. It is our grocery store. But lately, our younger generations are now using the NIMA Store for their (ciqlug’ar) food storage shed. It is kind of sad in a way that the western society’s commodities are becoming more of a preference over our sea and land acquired foods.

Recent news from Mikuryarmiut:
-Our condolences to the Noatak family for the loss of Nickline Noatak.
-Nuniwarmiut Schools started on the 20th of August. We encourage our students to gain education.
-NPT, Inc was just awarded an Administration for Native Americans Language grant. It is a multi-year grant and we are ever so gracious for our grant writer, Mr. Robert M. Drozda for doing so much for the community of Mekoryuk in terms of saving our cultural identity. I will be quite frank, that once a language is lost by a group of people, much of their cultural identity immediately follows. We have been blessed with ANA grants for the past 6 years. We have hired and trained the next generation of Nuniwarmiut cultural bearers; we hope they will maintain their interest in preserving our unique culture. New grant period begins on September 30, 2007.
-We were also awarded National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris removal grant. NPT has targeted the bays and coasts of southern Nunivak Island for removing debris. Coastal Villages Region Fund also provided in-kind contribution for this project, and will provide funding to hire our high school students. Clean-up will start in the spring of 2008.

Until next time, piurci cali ernekeggciluci.

May 07, 2007
I apologize for not providing an earlier commentary from Nuniwar. Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalkuti office has been extremely busy making attempts to meet different grant deadlines. At the same time, seal hunting season approached so fast. In February of this year, my friend and I went out sealing and caught a couple bearded seal.

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
Fall season is well underway. Many families at Mekoryuk are making efforts to collect subsistence foods - fall season fishes: ciayuryar (Silver Salmon), iqalluyagar (dolly varden). One person caught a stray King salmon. Others are gathering atsat (salmon berries), and shortly if not now; paunrat (crowberries or preferably called blackberries on Nuniwar ). Migrating water fowl is also fattening up on our grounds prior to its departure to warmer climates.

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
What a spring season we had on Nuniwar. The sea ice lingered for quite a while out there, but eventually disappeared. The astonishing thing about the ice was that it resembled glacier ice. It was aqua blue, pretty and very rare for Nuniwar. There still remains coastal snow, and who knows when it will melt; perhaps sometime this fall.

Commercial halibut fishers have been fishing the south coast of Nuniwar , where some had some luck bringing home several hundred pounds. Most have also caught Pacific cod or atgiiyar. This particular fish specie was gathered in enormous amounts by our ancestors. NPT, Inc. staff went around Nuniwar gathering population data on that specie. Our statistical data will be heavily weighed on the commercial fishers catch numbers.

Hopefully we will be able to perform a better and more thorough survey sometimes in the future. Although I know that the gasoline prices will hamper that event. For those of you abroad, consider yourselves lucky that you're not hit as hard as we are. Price of gasoline for a gallon is $5.22 per gallon.

Subsistence mac'utar (or dog salmon) fishing is just about done for the year. There still remain a couple families on the south coast. I'm thinking that they will return today (July 19, 2006), as the weather is much more favorable than the last few days. I go to fish camp at Nunarrlugarmiut. We are astounded by the numbers of mac'utar in the Iqangmiut drainage.

(click image for larger view)

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.

There is some construction occurring at Mekoryuk. Three new houses are being built by Association of Village Council Presidents Housing. United Companies are improving their telephone system, which I presume will include internet services and wireless telephone system. Alaska Villages Electric Cooperative is also planning to construct a new power plant, and have done quite a bit of work around their existing plant.

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
In my April 10 commentary I made a briefing on seal hunting. It has been over a month since I wrote that statement and I've been out several times in the sea-ice seeking the valued bearded seal (maklag). I must tell you, it is presently a struggle finding this sea mammal. Many a hunter returns home without any catch. It is saddening to hear that many of our seal hunters are seal-less. We are totally dependent on petroleum (gasoline) for transporting us over the water looking for our food; at $4.02 per gallon it's becoming costly.

This story is the same for our neighboring villages on Nelson Island . Today, May 20 marks spring, right? Well, it snowed overnight and is again white out there. That white substance out there doesn't want to go away. Our ancestors made comments about arrival of winter again. We wondered about this statement and why it was said. Our environment out there feels and appears as though winter has arrived again. The winds are whipping out at us around 40 miles per hour from the northwest. My friend, Mr. Robert Drozda is enjoying absolute spring weather up at Fairbanks , enjoy Robert!

Yes, sea ice is plentiful even as I'm writing this commentary. It is fast approaching Nuniwar and will probably collide onto the Island sometimes today. The problem with the existing ice conditions is that it is so packed tightly together, it is impossible to penetrate to find the bearded seal. Some hunters are fortunate to bring in a ring or spotted seal, but very few are privileged to bring home a maklag . I am quite honored that my son caught a baby bearded, while I was lucky enough to secure a yearling maklag . This is very unusual though, the huge animal is becoming shy to present itself to us.

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
Updating news from Nuniwar for our website has been a challenge this time around. Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalkuti staff has been overwhelmed writing a proposal to Administration for Native Americans. We are targeting needs for multifunction offices and cultural center at Mekoryuk.

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
I remember prior to Thanksgiving in 2005, I complained about not enough snow. Back then the northern coast of Nuniwar was plugged with sea ice before we were dumped with snow, and the low pressure weather systems were by-passing south of us and affecting the northwestern United States . These systems are beginning to normalize, as several of them have been right on target, hitting us squarely and dumping much snow into our backyard.

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
"Happy New Year 2006!" as many of my friends would say when the clock strikes midnight during that appropriate celebration. So far, we have had no incidents at Mekoryuk this New Year, but happily entering the 3rd week of January.

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.

In any event, the Cup'ig people of Mekoryuk are fine and jolly. Commercial reindeer butchering is ongoing. Hot reindeer soup is very good during these very cold days. Daylight has sprung (metngur) back up, as our ancestors would say. Metngur literally means to expand.

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
Nunivak Island lacked snow until about the first week of December. The month of November (Imam Umguti - "when sea freezes over") was right on target for its Cup'ig name. It was odd to see a white horizon north of Nuniwar with a brown island. But, since then, it snowed, warmed up and cooled off again. Therefore we are now partially covered with snow.

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
Nanwarat Cikutit (October), has the literal meaning "when ponds begin to freeze over," although in the recent past years this hasn't been the case. Our weather system has changed drastically, possibly due to global warming. I'm not an expert in this field, but my personal experiences vouch that theory. It appears that low pressures that breach our shores on Nuniwar are more intense and destructive than in the past. This holds very true for hurricane and typhoon belts globally. These weather pattern changes are costing our United States government billions of dollars.

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
July, the summer month most appreciated by the residents of Mekoryuk due to its mild weather conditions is already history. During that period, we make preparations to travel to the south coast of Nunivak to harvest our subsistence dog salmon, or Mac'utat. Pacific Cod or atgiyar, a supplement for our dried fish was caught early in June, but has dwindled in numbers over the years. Prior to the Magnuson Stevens Act, that created the 200 mile off shore limits to foreign fishing fleet; our ancestors harvested that fish specie in great numbers. Halibut ( cag'ir) is also dried. Our Mekoryuk residents have gone and came back with a good supply of dried fish.

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.
Quyana piurci,
Nakaar, Howard T. Amos

June 15, 2005
June, what an extraordinary month. Most of the migrating birds and sea mammals have arrived and gone, except for those that nest here on Nuniwar. We again look forward for their arrival in the fall months.

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.

May 18, 2005
Quswanarqellria May'r <Happy May>,
Watching Mikuryarmiut men striving to secure subsistence resources for their tables instills pride into my Cup'ig blood. This is exactly what spring months mean to most rural Alaska villages. We have no access to Fred Meyers, Sams Club, Costco, etc, therefore spring hunting for land and sea mammals is so important for we who reside outside of urban settings.

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

April 4, 2005
Welcome to the spring month of April. This month marks our ancestors strive for gathering their annual supply of sustenance for the upcoming year. We are no different in these times for gathering our subsistence needs for the upcoming year.

In reality, our ancestors began their migration to their seal camps in March. My recent experiences traveling via sno-mobile around Nuniwar tells me the changes that take place within our environment at this time. Enormous flocks of murre (alpat) migrating to their respective rookery stands on western Nunivak cliffs are signs of warmer weather yet to encroach Nuniwar and the surrounding geographic areas. Then comes: Uyallget (cormorant), many other sea bird species, ptarmigan (aqesgit), and many other land bird species.

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!

March 4, 2005
All the modern gadgets, computers, internet, etc. were so astonishing just a few years ago. The purchasing value for these products were out of reach for a lot of us as well. I apologize for belated news and other issues from Nuniwar. The modern gadgetry I mentioned above can also break, or in computer terms, "crash!". Guess what, that is exactly what happened to my home computer.

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).
Nakaar Howard T. Amos

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>.

January 5, 2005
Happy New Year 2005! Our hope is that you had very wonderful holidays in 2004 and a new year full of resolutions. Personally, I am not really up to resolutions because I never keep them. Do you have any reflections for the past year? It was a challenge for some of us, for instance: in the preparation of a second Administration for Native Americans language grant (or ANA for some of us who are now so familiar with the acronym). We were rewarded with the very successful achievement for the hard work we put into the proposal for another multi-year grant.

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.

Until then, piuraqkeggtaaraqici, you be well!
Nakaar/ Howard

December 6, 2004    
     December is rapidly disappearing on us. Qusngim Kevga (Reindeer Festival) is gaining ground, and is happening this week, December 9-10-11 . My oh my! The first week of December was interesting for Nuniwarmiut Kassiyurtait dancers. We performed on December 1st for the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) Providers Conference at the Hilton hotel in Anchorage . The event was during a banquet for the conference attendees. We had fun; our presentation was in a more confident stature than previous performances. Our audience demonstrated that they enjoyed our entertainment with a standing ovation after our 45 minutes recital.
     Telephone calls from different villages are keeping the phone off the hook for their curiosity about Qusngim Kevga. It is this time of the year, as well, that other villages look up to Mekoryuk for their red meat (reindeer) supply. A herd was brought in during my absence, but to my understanding, a strong southerly storm battered Nunivak , in which the reindeer took advantage of and escaped. But yes, snow is being dumped on us like you wouldn't believe. Snowdrifts are beginning to pile up keeping the road maintenance equipment roaring our roads.
     Homes at Mekoryuk are beginning to light up brightly in beautiful colors for the Christmas season. Several families are also making their annual shopping travel to Anchorage . I'm foreseeing wonderful events to take place at Mekoryuk beginning this week at the Qusgnim Kevga festival and throughout the New Year. I have spent many years away from Mekoryuk for the Christmas holidays, but home is always the most enjoyable. For those of you who are traveling distances from your homes for the holidays, NPT wishes you a safe, wonderful, and a Happy New 2005.
Agayunerpakegcikici! <Have a Wonderful Christmas!>, Nakaar

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
     October, in Cup'ig ; Nanwarr'at Cikutit , literally means, "when ponds freeze over." This literal meaning of this month, however, has not been the case over recent years.  Weather pattern changes are ever so evident since my childhood years.
     Usually, children of the past, meaning myself and peers have had excitement over newly formed ice caked over small ponds. " Cialiur " means when thin ice crackles under your feet and weight is placed on frozen ponds and water puddles and an amazing sound it creates. Yes, some of us had that thin ice break under us to the glorious shock of extremely cold water soaking the feet, sometimes to our knees.  Yet, it was something new that donned on us at this time of the year, it was exciting.
     Kavtit or "hail" usually dominates the first snow precipitation, and has done so, but that usually melts when daylight progressed. Small hills and mountains have already been capped by the white substance on Nuniwar , but all too soon that also disappeared.
     Most of all the summer activities are dwindling and concentration is now for expectations of snow. Ciuliaput, or ancestors, made preparations for fall festivals to celebrate the abundant fishing and gathering that occurred during the previous season.   Men crafting new eating utensils out of driftwood and creating new festival songs.
     In our present time, amazingly, the community is preparing for the upcoming Alaska Federation of Natives Quyana dance festival in Anchorage . For the second season, Nuniwarmiut Kassiyurtait or "Cultural Dancers" have once again been invited to perform for Alaska. Our tentative schedule is to peform for one night only, on October 27th at 8:00 pm. at the Egan Convention Center . We are allowing our Nuniwarmiut School students to perform this year, and rightly so, as they are our kinguliat or descendants who will carry on the feat to preserve our Cup'ig custom.
     On the other hand, the 2004 Reindeer Festival is upcoming which the Youth Council of Mekoryuk will sponsor under the auspices of Coastal Villages Region Fund.  The tentative dates for the Reindeer Festival is December 9, 10 & 11.  Different cultural dance groups from our neighboring villages of Nelson Island are to attend the festival as well. This will also include modern country and western bands. Our hope is that snow will blanket the Island prior to that special event. Reindeer Festival is exactly what it means, to herd reindeer to the community site to resupply our freezers for redmeat and to distribute the product to our neighboring villages.
     You are all invited to this exciting event. Make your preparations now to travel to Mekoryuk. It will be fun!

September 13 , 2004
     Here we are into mid-September. I haven't seen much small migrating birds lately, but cackling geese are still fattening up on Nuniwar. Some local men have taken that opportunity to secure some geese into their freezers.      It is amazing to see how nature prepares itself for drastic weather changes.  The clouds massing up and pouring rain squalls, and eventually that turns to snow. Plants are no longer green, but even out here at Nuniwar, the miniature plants become colorful during this time of the year.
     Tradition of gathering, subsisting on foods available to us during the course of spring (Upnerkar) and Summer (Kiag) will no-longer be available at winter (Uksur). Foods available in winter consist of reindeer (qusngir), Musk-oxen (Umingmar), saffron cod (iqalluat), dolly varden (iqalluyagat), grayling (culugpaugat) occassional seal from open waters, imported (kass'artat).  Fish has to be caught through the ice.
     These cycles of life and death have been used by our ancestors for who knows when.  Although I want to say that our tradition has been passed down, it is difficult to say it outright. We have some adaptation to western culture is my lump in the throat. I have to accept the changes that donned on us within the last 60 years, and I'm afraid those changes are forever.
    I am confident that we have done so much to turn this around, but work, lots of work has to be done yet through mutual working relationship amongst the other. A hole has been created within our young people due to their grasp for simple aspects of western civilization. This hole is a replacement for Cup'ig culture that is becoming harder and harder to hold on to.  When berry picking and hunting is not practiced by our younger generation and replaced with stereo headphones, MTV, etc., you know what I mean.
     Being positive about the progress that has been initiated to preserve our Cup'ig culture need to be up front. The negative thoughts should just be memories.
     Quyana for your attention.
Piurci allnganqigtellerkamnun (until the next written comment, bye).

August 15, 2004
       Hi out there from Mikuryarmiut.  Fair weather days are probably history for 2004 out here at Nuniwar. There is a feeling of fall weather donning on us. Fall birds are beginning to fly, and the once chick lapland longspur, and other small birds are beginning to congregate for their long journey south. Salmon (atsar) berry picking is also dwindling down, but crow berries are still at-large and yet to be picked.
     Ciayuryat (Silver Salmon) has not really entered Mikuryarmiut bay, but we know that will occur any moment.  People have been rodding and reeling out there, but I haven't heard anyone of them with a catch so far.      Commercial halibut fishery is also winding down for the season. I read on the community bulletin board that the last day for fishing will be on wednesday, August 18, 2004. Some fishers have done well.
     School, yes! school at Nuniwarmiut Schools will begin on thursday, August 19, 2004. Teachers from here will be going into Bethel for a work session prior to the opening day.  I wish the best school year for our students, and that their educators will hang in there to provide the best education for our children, especially those in the Cup'ig Immersion Class.
     "Pingraiceci ilavci ilangciksaunak'i" - <Although others infringe your integrity, let them alone> says our ancestral lore. Wow! what a most difficult word of advice given to our people from our ancestors. I may be the most vunerable for that word of advice. Retaliation is a no, no. It will get you further into problems. Your calmness, and serenity will have its rewards in the future. My late parents gave me this advice during their wonderful days on this earth, I will never forget it.
     Until the next time, be of good cheer and take care of yourselves.
Piurci, Nakaar, Howard T. Amos

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
     Our continuous efforts to preserve Nunivak Island Cup’ig is a challenge. In light of the recent federal mandate, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, Nuniwarmiut Schools continues to pursue its curriculum development for our Cup’ig language, culture and tradition. Test scores of our students in the major school topics; reading, writing and math will play a tone regarding existence of our Cup'ig Immersion class.
     This was a concern of the director and other Mekoryuk scholars in 1993, that if the community did not do anything about attempting to preserve our Cup'ig language, culture and tradition, it would vanish before our eyes. We continue with the uphill battle for preserving our Cup’ig pride. Kass'at civilization commodities are so convenient and break so easy are what we now cherish.
     This generation is extremely vulnerable to conveniences of western civilization. When a 14 year old is pumped up in a headphone listening to rap music, how is it possible to attract their attention for preserving subsistence foods for the winter? When hamburgers and other fast foods are at their finger tips. We face a generation who we rely on to carry on feats for preserving our Nunivak Island Cup'ig culture, and we must be creative to dismantle the (now) interests of our young people for our cause.
     We must fill the empty hole that was drilled by western civilization into the hearts of our young people. We who are fluent in Cup’ig, we who have some knowledge of the 2000+ years of our Cup’ig existence on Nunivak Island are now charged with passing it on to our children. Without a Cup’ig cultural pride, our children will never attempt to carry on our fight for preserving our unique Cup’ig traditions.
     Our ancestral lore; "A jealous person will never attempt to pass traditional laws to the younger generation." Personal differences have to be set aside in order to accomplish our mission and work together to rejuvenate our cultural pride.

Quyana niicugnillua - "Thank you for listening to me."

April 26, 2004
     Twenty-eight Nuniwarmiut Kassiyurtait (dancers) traveled to Bethel on April 15-18, to perform during 2004 Camai Festivities. The dance group was informed that previous year performers were usually not invited again, but the public demanded our second year appearance.
     The dance group would like to extend their appreciations to Native Village of Mekoryuk's, IRA Council and Nuniwarmiut School for providing travel funds for several students, Quyana. We are also very delighted with our students who are showing a keen interest in their Cup'ig cultural identity.
     Following the last dance performance, Mildred Whitman <Panigkar> was recognized as a living treasure and was awarded a beautiful plaque. Mildred's contributions for the efforts to preserve Cup'ig tradition, culture and language was well worth recognition by Camai Festival committee.
     Qiawig'ar <Kay Hendrickson> left us with 15 songs, in which we have learned 6. Other dance groups from mainland Alaska want to learn some of our songs, and that is a sign that the songs are unique and special. Our gratitude to the late Qiawig'ar for his unselfish contributions for our cause.
     We highly recommend attendance of future Camai Festivities. It is a special cultural experience. Not only is there dancing, but also a unique native arts and crafts show.

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
returning home.
     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.
Nakaar (Howard)

February 16, 2004
     Nuniwarmiut Kassiyurtait attended the February 6-8, 2004 Toksook Bay dance festival. Twenty members of the dance group traveled for the festivities. The opening ceremonies were something that this generation of Cup'ig has never seen.
     The basis for these festivities were family clan oriented. Three family groups celebrated the first subsistence catch by their children or grandchild. One child had caught a halibut, another lush fish, while another child had caught their first edible waterfowl.
     Toksook Bay's school gymnasium was packed with gifts purchased by each of the family groups. One group mentioned that their extended family expended about $6,000.00 worth of gifts. It showed by the stock pile of gifts in the gymnasium. Prior to a performance by a family group, the gifts were exposed to the anxiously awaiting audience. Following these preliminary performances by the host families, dancing festivities started.
     Dance groups from the following villages participated: Tununak, Newtok, Nightmute, Chefornak, Mekoryuk and the host village of Toksook Bay. Mekoryuk dance group was very well received by the awaiting audience. Anguksuar (Ruben Richards) our youngest dancer again stole the show.
     On the last day of the festival, the gifts were finally presented to the visiting dance groups. The elderly were given the choice gifts. Examples of the gifts were; rifles, sleds, fur, and many other wonderful things. Ruben received so many gifts, that he disappeared behind them.
     The group was storm bound for a couple days after the festival, but with wonderful hosts, we felt at home. We look forward to traveling to Kotlik on March 19-21, 2004. Till then, piurci.

Read about the festival in this Delta Discovery article by Vanessa Lincoln

February 4, 2004
     Welcome to February (Kwiget Aanit or Mother of Rivers).
Hello again, Thank you for visiting Nuniwar website.
     February 01 marked the open season for Musk-ox hunting on Nuniwar. About 30 subsistence cows and 30 trophy bull musk-oxen will be harvested from the herd. Our economy will be somewhat uplifted by trophy hunters arriving to Mekoryuk. Several local big-game guides will benefit from trophy musk-ox hunters. They do bring cash with them, so we appreciate their business.
     Nuniwarmiut Kassiyurtait
are prepared to travel to the neighboring village of Toksook Bay this weekend, February 6,7 & 8 to perform at a dance festival. Twelve members of the Nuniwarmiut cultural dance group will travel to that festival. Nuniwarmiut Schools have also recognized the importance of this community activity. Therefore, several junior and high school students will participate in these festivities.
     The community of Kotlik, on the Yukon River also invited Nuniwarmiut Kassiyurtait for their dance festival in mid-March. Following that, the group will travel to Bethel to attend Camai Festivities in mid-April.
     Commercial Reindeer operations are in full swing, a veterinarian or a meat inspector has arrived to Mekoryuk to inspect butchered reindeer meat. These reindeer operations are very important to the economy of Mekoryuk. Until the next time continue to visit our website.
Howard T. Amos (Nakaar)

December 27, 2003
     I want to wish the visitors to a very Merry Christmas and a more hopeful New Year 2004. Merry Christmas in Cup'ig is: Agayunerpag, literal translation; "a very big sunday!"
     Our winter out here is disappointing. There is only about 3 inches of snow, and it is hard on the reindeer herders. When there is hardly any snow, it is very difficult to herd reindeer. The good news is we have had fresh reindeer meat recently. Thanks to Nunivak Reindeer and Seafood Products.Commercial and local reindeer butchering is in full winter operation. You are more than welcome to travel to Mekoryuk to butcher your reindeer. It is cheaper butchering it yourself, but then again, airfare and freight may determine what is cheaper.
     Many Mekoryuk residents left Nuniwar for Christmas vacation, but I say, "there's no place like home for the holidays!" It sure is nice out here, a cool 1 degree outside, wind-chill factor to -17 degrees.
     A couple men secured walrus this past fall, and it was a treat for the village of Mekoryuk. Just last night, new snow fell, thank you from above. Weather outlook predicts for more snow.
     Agayunerpakegcikici (Have a very Merry Christmas) Allrakularakegciluci-llu, (and have a Happy New Year). So far, our holiday season has been great, and hope it is for you.
Howard T. Amos (Nakaar)


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