Inupiaq

IMG_1637IMG_1695IMG_1909IMG_2272IMG_2273IMG_3380I grew up being called an Eskimo and guess what? It has never bothered me not once. This is not a derogatory term, it simply means “eater of raw meat.” I eat muktuk, which is the part of the whale skin and blubber, raw. We also eat quaq, which is thinly sliced frozen fish. We dip that in seal oil, which is seal blubber rendered into a clear oil. I am Eskimo, but I prefer Inupiaq as it is more identifiable to where I am from, Unalakleet. The sod houses on our beach date between 200 B.C. And 300 A.D. A lot of people move to Unalakleet but my mother’s side is originally from the area, unlike  a lot of families who do not originate from there. I loved growing up at fish camp, my mom would tell us oral legends and all these were passed down through the generations. One of my favorite is of the link between Orcas and Wolves. Long ago they would say when a wolf was near death they went into to ocean to transform to the killer whale, and vice versa. Mainly the point of that legend from my understanding is that a pack of wolves are so similar to a pod of orcas. We do not hunt killer whales. Our area hunts beluga whale and our family trades other Native food for bowhead whale from more up north villages. When I was growing up a fresh gallon of milk was five to seven dollars and I’m sure the price went up. It is too expensive to only rely on modern grocery stores, so we live a subsistence lifestyle. Most of my vivid nightmares, starting from a very young age, are of catastrophic events happening in the village I grew up in. I still live in Alaska but not in Unalakleet. I am Inupiaq, but we are all people and when people come together for a common cause, it’s pretty awesome. Love and be love.

 

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Sewskimo Gertz

I am who I am

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