Eskimo to the World

I am Trina Landlord and this is my blog. In a past life, Eskimo to the World documented my adventures in New York – where in minute everything can change. Much like my life changed when I moved from Alaska to the 'city that never sleeps'. From the biggest state in America to the most populous city in the United States. From the immaculate nature of the Chugach Mountains, Yukon River and Bering Sea to the urban tundra of sky scrapers, enclaves of business and cultural capitals and the nation's foremost trendsetters. From 'the great land' to arguably the 'greatest city on earth'. I made a 5,000 mile prodigious leap from Anchorage to New York City – AND BACK TO ALASKA. The determination of Yup’ik peoples to survive in harsh Arctic conditions had given me the foundation to survive on streets of New York, I will continue to chronicle the parallels of both worlds.
Yup’ik /yoo-pick/
The Yupik (in the Central Alaskan Yup’ik language, Yup’ik, plural Yupiit), are a group of indigenous or aboriginal peoples of western, southwestern, and southcentral Alaska and the Russian Far East. They include the Central Alaskan Yup’ik people of the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta, the Kuskokwim River, and along the northern coast of Bristol Bay as far east as Nushagak Bay and the northern Alaska Peninsula at Naknek River and Egegik Bay in Alaska; the Alutiiq (or Sugpiaq) of the Alaska Peninsula and coastal and island areas of southcentral Alaska; and the Siberian Yupik people of the Russian Far East and St. Lawrence Island in western Alaska. They are Eskimo and are related to the Inuit.
I found this sticker on a car in Anchorage.

Yup’ik /yoo-pick/

The Yupik (in the Central Alaskan Yup’ik languageYup’ik, plural Yupiit), are a group of indigenous or aboriginal peoples of western, southwestern, and southcentral Alaska and the Russian Far East. They include the Central Alaskan Yup’ik people of the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta, the Kuskokwim River, and along the northern coast of Bristol Bay as far east as Nushagak Bay and the northern Alaska Peninsula at Naknek River and Egegik Bay in Alaska; the Alutiiq (or Sugpiaq) of the Alaska Peninsula and coastal and island areas of southcentral Alaska; and the Siberian Yupik people of the Russian Far East and St. Lawrence Island in western Alaska. They are Eskimo and are related to the Inuit.

I found this sticker on a car in Anchorage.

Random National Media Encounter

In February 2012, I was home in Mountain Village for meetings and Yup’ik dance festival. My grandma was interviewed by MSNBC.com on the topic of ‘extremes’ in America. This story is about ‘age extremes.’ The oldest population in Sumpter, Florida. The extreme is the youngest population which happens to be in the Wade Hampton Census Area. Jim Seida, MSNBC photojournalist, and his colleague were in St. Mary’s which is just upriver from Mountain Village.

They got a tip about the conference and Yup’ik dance festival, so they came down river to film and conducted interviews at the festival. I introduced myself to Jim and he said he had coverage of youth and needed to talk to an Elder who survived TB. I told him about my grandmother and he was interested. She agreed to talk to them.

Jim and his colleague said of entering her house on the hill, “It feels like home.”

Not sure when the segment will air?

"Walrus, it’s what’s for Dinner"In February 2012, I flew to Bethel for the day for work with my colleague. She had meetings that evening and she introduced me to her friend who invited me over for dinner. On the menu was walrus.
Walrus is considered a delicacy in Yup’ik culture, according to my host. I had never eaten walrus before and did not know what to expect. I was willing to try it, especially, I did not want to be rude.She, her mother-in-law and I sat down at the table. We each helped ourselves to the walrus in a stove pot mixed with rice and broth. I served myself a little bit of meat and a little bit of the skin.At my first spoonful, I understood why it’s considered a delicacy! The walrus meat was chewy and the exterior melted in my mouth. I’ll do my best in describing an indescribable food.The walrus is cooked for about five hours on the stovetop. The meat part is the consistency of boeuf. The exterior, given the slow cooking process melts. The broth is good for your blood flow. It’s not a ‘gamey’ tasting food.
In the jar is seal oil. It is a staple of the Yup’ik diet and enhances flavors and adds a special yumminess. Seal oil is like a Yup’ik condiment such as ketchup with a cheeseburger. In the top left is similar-to-traditional style akutaq (a-goo-d-ak). Traditionally, the akutaq base would be whipped reindeer fat. Today, Crisco is whipped to a light, fluffy consistency. My grandmother also adds finely flaked white fish. She adds blueberries, salmonberries of cranberries she picks from the tundra and adds sugar. My host used yogurt instead.

"Walrus, it’s what’s for Dinner"

In February 2012, I flew to Bethel for the day for work with my colleague. She had meetings that evening and she introduced me to her friend who invited me over for dinner. On the menu was walrus.

Walrus is considered a delicacy in Yup’ik culture, according to my host. I had never eaten walrus before and did not know what to expect. I was willing to try it, especially, I did not want to be rude.

She, her mother-in-law and I sat down at the table. We each helped ourselves to the walrus in a stove pot mixed with rice and broth. I served myself a little bit of meat and a little bit of the skin.

At my first spoonful, I understood why it’s considered a delicacy! The walrus meat was chewy and the exterior melted in my mouth. I’ll do my best in describing an indescribable food.

The walrus is cooked for about five hours on the stovetop. The meat part is the consistency of boeuf. The exterior, given the slow cooking process melts. The broth is good for your blood flow. It’s not a ‘gamey’ tasting food.

In the jar is seal oil. It is a staple of the Yup’ik diet and enhances flavors and adds a special yumminess. Seal oil is like a Yup’ik condiment such as ketchup with a cheeseburger. In the top left is similar-to-traditional style akutaq (a-goo-d-ak). Traditionally, the akutaq base would be whipped reindeer fat. Today, Crisco is whipped to a light, fluffy consistency. My grandmother also adds finely flaked white fish. She adds blueberries, salmonberries of cranberries she picks from the tundra and adds sugar. My host used yogurt instead.

This :16 second video is taken at a Yup’ik Dance Festival in Mountain Village; this clip is of the Cup’ik Dance Group from Chevak who were an audience favorite. In the video is Cody Pequeno in the front row. They are Rockstars.

In February 2012, I went home to Mountain Village to attend a suicide prevention conference led by the Youth Advocacy Group for the Asa’carsamiut Tribal Council; coinciding with the meetings was a Yup’ik Dance Festival convening five surrounding villages. Hooper Bay, Chevak, St. Mary’s, Kotlik and Mountain Village dance groups got together and rocked the house.

I stayed with my Maurluq Aleok (Maurluq is the Yup’ik word for grandmother; Aleok is her Yup’ik name). She had been asking for me to visit for about a week before my Uncle Ted called and said I needed to come home.

My cousin David caught two lynx. He and my Uncle Leonard have been going out hunting for furs to trade-in at a furrier.

Baby Girl, Hailey, is pictured above wearing a kuspuk made by her Maurluq Gladys.

Also above is a photo of Mountain Village overlooking the Yukon River. It is a Yup’ik community located on the lower river, 90 miles inland from the Bering Sea founded by my great-grandfather, Chekohak Landlord.

The last photo is a little drummer boy with the Mountain Village dance group. My Aunt Gladys invited me to perform with the dance group. Many moons ago, I was part of a Yup’ik dance group. I haven’t performed in a long time so I stood in the way, way back. While in the back, I captured a photo of this little drummer boy. 

Photo taken by Team Baker at the kickoff luncheon at the Alaska Native Heritage Center cheering on John Baker, 2011 Iditarod Champion.

Photo taken by Team Baker at the kickoff luncheon at the Alaska Native Heritage Center cheering on John Baker, 2011 Iditarod Champion.

"As a young man in the 1980s, John Quniaq Baker flew above the Iditarod Trail to watch the annual sled dog race with a friend. Looking at the course out the window, he told he wanted to run the race someday.

Baker smashed the record by three hours, with a time of 8 days, 46 minutes and 39 seconds. Perhaps most satisfying for many spectators, Baker became the first Alaska Native to run the race in 35 years.” — by Trina Landlord for First Alaskans Magazine

———

Last fall, when I got the phone call that I was being considered to write a feature column about 2011 Inupiaq Iditarod champion, John Baker, I was honored and it brought me back to the day that he won and the pride that “one of our own had won.” At work, we hung up a sign in the window that read, “Arigaaa! Velvet, Snickers and John Baker!” 

A few days later from that initial phone call, his sister and I flew to Kotzebue together for the weekend. I stayed at John’s mothers house, watched him run his dogs on the tundra and interviewed him, his family and Team Baker. Just like going home to Mountain Village, life in rural Alaska is at a different pace and friendly people said, “Welcome to Kotzebue.”



 

We don’t need to huff and puff, let’s get it done. It’s not that tough! Cheer Bear, Care Bears

Many moons ago, I hiked 26 miles across the tundra in Tana, Norway with the Sami peoples following their traditional reindeer herding trails.

There were about 20 of us total on that Scandinavian adventure. At the reindeer herding site, we stayed in lavvu’s (see in photo). They are temporary dwelling used by the Sami people of northern Scandinavia.

A lavvu has a design similar to a Native American tipi but is less vertical and more stable in high winds. It enables the indigenous cultures of the treeless plains of northern Scandinavia and the high Arctic of Eurasia to follow their reindeer herds. It is still used as a temporary shelter by the Sami, and increasingly by other people for camping.

Saami peoples are also known as Laplanders which is considered archaic and pejorative. Saami are the Arctic indigenous peoples inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, but also in the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost and the Nordic countries’ only officially indigenous people.

(More later…)

What does it mean to be a Feminist?

My hairstylist, K.J., requested a group of young women to answer a broad question, ‘What does it mean to be a feminist?’ Below is my response which was published in her book for her senior project at UAA:


In Annette Jaimes’s article, “American Indian Women: At the Center of Indigenous Resistance in North America.” She argues that Native women activists, except those who are “assimilated,” do not consider themselves feminists. Feminism, according to Jaimes, is an imperial project that assumes the givenness of U.S. colonial stranglehold on indigenous nations.


In Alaska, in 1971, Congress did away with Native sovereignty with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) which created thirteen large regional corporations, 200 smaller ones, 44 million acres of their choice land and large amounts of continual money in exchange for Aboriginal rights.


Forty years later, there are still arguments about tribal sovereignty and ANCSA, however one thing is for certain, as T.T.P. (Inupiaq) said in a recent magazine interview, “We are making our mark.” Alaska Native regional corporations, non-profit associations and tribal organizations, are being run by Alaska Native women.


Growing up in the city in the 80’s, it was not cool to be “Native.” At school, I was called derogatory names, people threw things at me and if I could pass as another ethnicity, I would welcome it. A couple years ago, my sister wrote on her hand, “N.P.” and I asked her what that meant and she said, “Native Pride.”


Feminism or not, assimilated or not, there is a Native movement and empowerment of women. Not all chiefs are men.