February, Friendships cherished arm to arm and sunshines

I wrote this blog early part of February with an intention of finishing it before the end of the month but things didn’t work out with my timing and heartaches. Sun is shining more each day – like a morning stretch from winter days. One winter while attending undergraduate courses at UAF I didn’t see the sun for a few weeks – walked to classes at morning nights and walked to the dorm at evening nights. In Alaska, we get excited when we gain light day by day after cold winter days. Today, it’s not the sun that melts the snow earlier than normal – climate change is real! Several weeks ago it was raining in southwest Alaska! It’s flooding in one of the Y-K tundra villages in March and spring is not yet here! Be careful out there when you’re traveling. Always let someone know where you go and your estimate return!

I finished a pair of kameksak few weeks ago. The pair were for a naming ceremony in Saint Marys, AK. My Kuskokwim Campus UAF advisor, Bridget Kline placed an order for a fancy Yup’ik women’s traditional kameksak, ciivalek for her granddaughter. Bridget makes beautiful qaspeqs, check out her Facebook page ‘Qaspeqs by Bridget.’ Bridge sewed the top piece of the kameksak matching her unique design. So exciting!

My friend Lolly Carpluk guided me with measurements and rounding the naterkaq just right. Lolly has helped me at my difficult situations at these crafts, Quyana!

I have made the kameksaks naterkaqs shaped like a lower lip sticking up or slightly smiling:

Congratulations to the 2019 Governor’s Arts and Humanities Awards recipients. I was able to watch through 360 North – they are inspiring to witness.

I thank God for many friends, who at times pray for me when I am struggling. Below is a Yup’ik women’s dance headdress for a friend and prayer warrior, Bonnie;

My next assignment was a qaspeq for Ivana. Ivana Ash is a Sugpiaq from Nanwalek attending UAF, majoring in Linguistics. She has a presentation coming up in Hawaii.

On Saturday’s – when busyness isn’t overwhelming, my friends have been over for sewing time! We had successfully cut patterns and sew. Thank you Val Pingayak, Rebecca Wilbur and Rebecca’s aunt for coming over. We will get together for sewing again sometime. I have plenty of leather for baby booties or other projects that were donated by my cousin Sophie and her husband Eric Holland – Quyana!

I am making slow progress with the little squirrel atkuk:

I have been debating, with the hood or no hood? We will see how much squirrels I have left. These furs are leftovers from the qaliq, many of them are front parts of squirrels. I just love the way they turned out.

I am working on the arms and trying to figure out the mechanics of the underarms so they don’t tear from putting the atkuk on. I have it mapped out in my mind. Talking of mapping, my mom sent some pictures I have drawn out in the late 1900s;

This was the time I was taking a class in Indian Law at UAF. I was never bored at that class because the teacher made it interesting and he, he was takarnarqeq. I had a left over note book to scribble. I have completely forgotten about this drawing. At that time, I envisioned myself to someday sew a parka. Rasmuson Foundation helped my drawing a reality, Quyana!

Around the time in 2005 spring semester at UAF, I met a young Yup’ik lady from Tooksok Bay. We first saw each other’s at the airport before we became neighbors. Our Yugnikek connected us – the love of being who we are, nature, subsistence gathering and hunting, traditional art, love of eating fermented food and other Native food, and raising our children with Yup’ik values, with love and healthy habits. My friend Anna, Ingamuralria “Ingam”- you have taught my family healthy foods and habits. You provided positive feedback in raising my girls. You truly made us feel valuable and loved by you. We have ventured out for berry picking, hunted grouse, went fishing, camped out with our children, we cried, laughed, we fell and picked each other up thru prayer. You were humble, loving and forgiving. You have set a positive Yup’ikness to my girls and I – and I am forever grateful for you, I love you my friend.

Please pray for my friend Ingam’s family and many friends. Ingam’s friendship shined in our hearts ♥️🌸

“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John‬ ‭20:29‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Author: Nasek'taq

Merna Wharton “Nasek’taq” is Yup'ik from Akiacuaq (Akiachak) lives in Anchorage Alaska. Merna is an Alaska Native artist, poet, traditional and contemporary seamstress, carver, gatherer of greens and berries, and loves the outdoors of Alaska! Merna enjoys finding art in natural elements and shares her experiences through her website, nasektaq.com. Merna crafts to preserve her culture and art and shares her worldview from a remote village Yup’ik girl’s perspective with a glimpse of life in Alaska in her writing and poems. More information about her art can be found at https://www.rasmuson.org/49writers/artist-profile/merna-wharton/.

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