The girl from Nowhere

Growing up, my village was my world, some may consider where I am from
: nowhere. I am the Eskimo girl from nowhere.
Nowhere is where I want to be
Being there is where I can be free
Nowhere is where I’d rather be
Nowhere will always be,
Home
A poem for my childhood: Guggeelee guggeelee, I see you! Guggeelee guggeelee! I will catch you. Let me be the one to set you free, Guggeelee. Out of the lake into the river, here I will help you swim better! Guggeelee guggeelee, I set you free, you can swim faster, thanks to me!
In our language, Inupiaq, we call minnows Guggeelees. As a child, I vividly remember catching these tiny fish in an old tin coffee can, usually red with Hills Bros. labeling.
My childhood was well spent, with much of the time being outside. I knew where all the best flowers grew. Even though I was afraid of bumblebees, I was still willing to pick flowers. It was one of my favorite things to do. Purple wild Iris, wild pink bumblebee flowers, yellow buttercups, white daisies and another white flower smaller in size, purple forget me not flowers, pink rosehip flowers, of course not to forget the pink fireweed blossoms and bluebell beauties.
When I go for hikes, I am always excited to make a bouquet of flowers and sometimes other plants and greens as well. Whatever is appeasing to my eyes. I call it the gift of an eye for beauty. Seeing the beauty in all of creation.
Perhaps you are watching a movie, paying very close attention to every detail, then imagining the brain behind what you are watching. The beauty, or the suspense, maybe the horror, or the joy, or bone felt sorrow of a scene. All so captivating and all from the mind of a beautiful unique human. Someone you most likely do not know. From the script to the costume designs to the area of the shoot of each scene. All so unique and different but all from the mind of a human.
Story telling has been our form of passing information down to the next generation so that they may have a better chance of survival. Now it is assumed, we will always survive. We are taught how to survive just from what is available as a food source in our area. I did not edit my journal entries from the seventh grade. I thought I would share a piece of me growing up in rural Alaska.
The Journal of Gertie Ann Johnson: 7th Grade
3-19-97
Yesterday, I went riding with Amber, Venessa and Cheryl. I also watched TV. And I did my homework. I’m writing with my left hand. I like school, I can’t believe it is almost over. I can’t wait till the picnic. I remember in 4th grade I had to write with my left hand. I think Chris is a lot more cuter. I don’t think he looks good with his hats on all the time. I am so happy I am not a lefty. I think Frank is cute as a little guy! Gertie Johnson Sorry so messy I wrote with my left hand.

March 20, 1997
Dear Journal, Hello, I wrote my letter to my pen pal. Gee, whenever I look at this boy I get butterflys in my stomach. I think Frank is perfectly fine. I really think Chris is a lot cuter, more fine, and more of an babe. I guess it is the hair-cut and perm. I think It is not right to sin. My mommy wanted to buy eggs but we are going to wait till they get bigger. Yesterday Jamie and I fed my dogs and her dogs, rode around and worked on our fort. It was fun.
3-21-97
Dear Journal, The fort Crystal, Jamie and I are building is almost done. It is so big Crystal can stand up in it, so can I and Jamie. Today is Friday. I do not know what I am going to do. I might ride around. I am still in school and have to go. Have a nice day, Gertie Johnson.
3-24-97
Dear Journal, Tomorrow I went to St. Micheal. This weekend I did a lot of things. On Friday I went to suerside with Cheryl and Jamie. Then Jamie and I worked on the fort and fed dogs. It is real sad. Yesterday someone trashed our fort, but just the ground. On Saturday I stayed at Dawns house all day with Crystal. We were cleaning and mating socks for her. I guess they are going to move to Washington. Well, we helped her pack. We also watched a couple movies while we were there. Then I played out, watched Eddie. Crystal rented it. It was a good movie. And that day my cousin Joey was going to Shaktoolik with Doy’s rig. The ice was thin and he sunk by blueberry. He tried to go into Ricky’s cabin because he was wet. Then my Dad and Doy went to find him. They helped him get into that cabin. Took off his clothes and warmed him up. Doy came back to town with our rig, got extra clothes and got Shane and Bruce. Shane and Bruce got out Doys snow machine and my Dad brought Joey back. Then he slept at my house that night. It was fun. Gertie J.
3-26-97
Dear Journal,
Yesterday was so fun! I went to St. Michael. At first it was boring but when Kellen, Greg and Louis showed up it was like going on a roller-coaster. We played basketball, went to the store and talked a lot. Out of Louis, Greg and Kellen, I think Kellen is the nicest. He was real nice to me but I don’t really like him. Denny was ok. We placed first for 7/8 and High School placed first also. When we went to go and get the trophy we all held it and screamed/yelled chickens. Their was all sorts of cute boys. Their was this cute boy and his name was Dennis. And their was Ryan Washington, the judge with a green vest and plenty more. At night Andri, Chels, Bev, Dana and I stayed up late and just talked. It was fun. Then this morning when I said goodbye to Kellen, Greg and Louis I hugged Kellen and Louis. It was a lot of fun, I would like to do it again some day. Gertie J.
3-27-97
Dear Journal,
Yesterday I slept all day. I never woke up until 5:00 am. I did my homework and fell back asleep. Then woke up at 7:45 and washed my hair. I can’t forget about St. Mike’s. I guess it will always stay in my mind. I just had a pop earlier and broke up with a friend. I miss all of my friends in St. Michael’s. It was really fun. Have a nice day! Gertie Johnson
3-28-97
Dear Journal,
Yesterday I watched TV and did most of my homework. Les is sick and ugly. Denny seems to be getting nicer (in a way). I wish I was president of the class. Jeremy is so immature! The way he acts and everything is so kiddish. He is bright (in some way) but his attitude. The most mature people in this class would be me, Chelsea, Wags, Isaiah (most of the time) and Gabe, maybe Angela. In school I guess I am mature. Man! I miss Kellen so much and Louis and Greg. Greg is so cute as a little boy. In St. Michaels their was this judge (not Brisco) that was a babe. He wore a green vest, I mean everyone thought he was cute, even Andri. Have a great week! Ps Happy Easter! Gertie Johnson (Hope you had a wonderful Easter -Mr. Ross)
4-1-97
Dear Journal,
My Easter was fine, but I feel bad because I never went to church. I ate lots of boiled eggs. Spent quality time with my family. Me and my sister Crystal hanged out with each other. So it was a great Easter. This weekend was fun. On Monday I did my homework. I can’t believe I never went to Suercide this week. I usually do. Today after school I need to finish my Africa HS. -Gertie J.
4-2-97
Dear Journal,
Today I killed a chicken. So did Andri, Sonya and Mr. Holmguard. Mr. H really killed it. He twisted it in circles. I started crying and almost pissed in my pants. But I didn’t. Andri is real brave, Sonya just laughed all the time and helped a bit. The bird flew away after and opened its eyes after we cut its neck. It saw Andri last. I hope she doesn’t have nightmares. I will never forget my Seventh grade year. -Gertie J. (Hope you’re ok. We should have video taped you girls. Mr. Ross)

Inupiaq Lore The Mosquito Man

The Mosquito Man
By Gertie Ann
Long ago, there lived a wicked hearted man. He despised summer. In part, due to the pestilence of the mosquitoes.
So, each day he worked very hard to kill as many mosquitoes as he could. No matter how many he slapped or flicked, there were always more to fight the next day.
This wicked man did not understand that the mosquitoes were an important food source for the birds of the sky. Each animal and insect in life plays its role in the circle we call life.
Our mother taught us to respect animals and insects alike, only taking what we need to survive for food.
One spring, the man was hunting in the woods with his dog sled team. His hate for mosquitoes transpired to different parts of his life. Creating a hate in his heart for all life.
His dog team knew to listen to their master. The one time they did not listen was the last time the wicked man would wreak hate in this world.
It was a spring day with the snow not yet melted. There were spring puddles here and there that the dog team worked hard to run through. Then on a trail well used the dogs came to a sudden stop. The furious wicked man beat the dogs to keep going, yelling and screaming like the mad man he was.
Still, the dogs refused to go on. Then he looked down the trail. There was a figure of a man on the trail. The wicked man was taken back and started yelling at this figure. He knew he did not hear him because he still stood there. So, the wicked man went to go talk to this figure.
Upon close contact the wicked man trembled at this figure, for it was not a man at all, but a swarm of mosquitoes shaped as a man. The mosquitoes swarmed him. Sucking so much blood from this man that he passed out and soon died.
When a caribou comes across a swarm of mosquitoes, this will happen to the caribou. The caribou will be so badly bitten they could not live on.
Being cruel in any shape or form will have severe consequences. Always remember there is a reason for all forms of life, and the best thing to do is to show respect for all life. In our culture, Inupiaq, we are told stories from old, so that we do not be cruel. Lessons are learned through stories like this to not be mean, even to blood sucking insects. When an animal is caught for food, nothing is wasted, we eat all that is edible. Anything that isn’t edible is given to the dogs. So always remember to be thankful, for food provided by our Creator, God. Giving thanks for everything.