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April has been fabulous

It’s been a whirlwind of events this April, with weather’s teasing early spring and winter snow that doesn’t want to give up.  Berry pickers understand the need for snow and rain on the ground.  “It’s still April and it will snow when it wants!” is what I have been saying.  April has its ups and down with spring expectations for good weather but its Alaska!  We will see unexpected weather changes that will not make everyone happy.  I have learned from growing up in the Yup’ik world view to see tomorrow as a time that might happen, pisqutekumteggu (plural).

Recent art events gave me confidence with Alaska traditional garments especially the traditional Yup’ik parkas, Qaliq.  Little words of encouragement can go a long way.  At the end of March I submitted the parka I made for the Adaptation – Fairbanks Arts 2019 Spring Juried Exhibition. The Juror was Alvin Amason . See fairbanksart.com. Mr. Amason was my Native Arts instructor back in the 1990s where I carved my first Yup’ik bowl.  At the last minute I made a cloth material parka with left over materials from qaspet and some fur.  It was a one week after work project!  I got it done and rushed over to the Bear Gallery to submit it for the art event.  I thought, I’ll just bring the actual fur parka in case they need it for comparison.  Once I got there, I decided to submit it.  I called the picture here, Iluungaqelriik (teasing girl to girl cousins):

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I basically measured each shape same excepted added 1/4 inch for sewing machine space.  The hard parts were the small piece that required angle sewing.  The fun parts were the fast pace sewing that didn’t take me four months.  I had my heart set on the material parka to be picked.  I had no idea, like a fish out of water that the fur parka would be selected:

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Having never done this kind of fun event, I was surprised, “what does this mean?!”  The night before the open house, I went to the Bear Gallery to hear Mr. Amason speak about his arts and adventures.  It was absolutely encouraging to hear a passionate Alaska Native artist talk about his work.  I want to share his words about the arts that were submitted;

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Leaves are plenty and they are growing indeed!  Never give up what creativity comes from the heart and mind. Another mind blowing event happened to three of my poems, they got published!  Yes, it was another last minute submission, this time to Alaska Women Speak.    The theme was Trajectories.  I sent three poems with the main title, “Letters to the Tundra” – Take me to the Tundra, Magnetic Snow and Duck Soup in Spring.   Over fifteen years ago I had one published with Ice Floe, called “Tuberculosis.”  So far, four have been published.  There is room for growing and the leaves are plenty, even storm clouds seem overwhelming, don’t forget there is sunshine and Alaska has plenty of it.

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I have another style I want to make that my mom started for my younger sister, just need to gather all the materials and study the style, Quliitaq.  Quliitaq will have a drum design and made similar to Qaliq but slightly different.  One of the reasons I have been happy about winter not completely being over, I had a fur project that needed to be done.  It was done once snow really started to melt;

Pisqutekumteggu! Piurci!

Green & Red Harvest

It is salmon fishing season – to have healthy food from the ocean and rivers. The first greens I usually pick are fireweed soots.

I went for a drive to Seward several weeks ago to see about snagging salmon and gathered interesting eatable wild greens.

Seaweed

I saw these sea weeds the first night and had to try a taste of one. It was little crunchy and had a nutty taste – the greens that herring fish lay eggs to spawn.

Drift wood to gather
Evening drive Seward HW
Willow

Willow was once frozen and covered with snow and snow slowly melted bringing life to green. Before Seward trip I drove up to Fairbanks to gather wild rhubarb and willow leaves.

Wild Strawberries blooming

These wild strawberries were blooming about the same time as our Salmon berries, if these warm days keep coming.

Trail to somewhere

Trails may lead you or you may lead off the trails and not by a shadow of doubt. Off trail is good to find your way thru the brushes like in the old days when a Yupiaq girl became a woman, she had to walk thru thick bushes 🍃. Among the trees on the Parks Highway I picked little bit of fiddle heads to fry.

Wild Rhubarb

I love to pick the wild rhubarbs every year to share with friends and family for dessert after a hearty meal.

Beans wild greens organic vegetables
Beach greens in Seward
People snagging red salmon
Salmon head eggs wild greens soup & pickled fireweed
Sewing break

I am teaching a Yupiaq Women’s ciivalek piluguq making class to 10 students thru the generous support from The CIRI Foundation (TCF), the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) thru a program called Alaska Native Artist Leaders: ARTShop 2021! Quyana for your support to be able to share what I’ve learned in making piluguq. We started our classes online and in person while working and during this busy harvesting summer season. It’s been exciting to take part in this program for myself and the participants. (Stay tune for more information)

Wild Alaskan Greens

The above picture is a mix of picked Alaskan greens; sea weed, sea lavage, willow leaves and beach greens.

Fish Rack

First week of June I hung a seed tag on this fish rack after the ceremony at the old Alaska Native hospital, when the ground was blessed by the First Indigenous People of this area, Dena’ina. There were some stories of heartache and healing spoken on this area. Now new growth will begin from planting of new seeds. Quyana my friend for invite 🍃.

Tuingunrituq🌸❤️😃