Friday, September 7, 2007

Women’s Throwing Party by Kendra Krenz

Last Friday my high school classmate had a women’s throwing party which is called “uqiquq” (ooh-gee-gook) in Yupik. She hosted the party in honor of her foster child who picked his first berries. I wanted to share this event on my weekly blog for those who aren’t familiar with this event. It is one of my favorite village traditional activities. It was the first one I’ve been to since coming back to the village this fall. There are usually several throwing parties throughout the summer. We have two new women teachers, in our village and I invited them to the party as a way of sharing the Yupik culture and getting them involved with the community.

The women’s throwing party is generally held on a day when the wind is blowing and the weather isn’t too cold. Once I remember a woman had her throwing party on a warm sunny day in December. The woman who decides to host the throwing party announces over the VHF an open invitation to women. They are invited to come to the outside of her house. The VHF is the main way that local people communicate in the village. It’s a quick way to let the entire community know when a public event is taking place.

There are several reasons for having a throwing party. Many times subsistence activities are celebrated in this way. Basically anyone can host a throwing party for whatever reason they want. A child finding his or her first eggs on the tundra during egg-hunting season, a young man’s first seal hunt or a special village experience are some of the reasons people will host a party.

Sharing is very common in this community and everyone is well connected to the traditional lifestyle. Women start gathering their throwing party gifts over time, since money is tight. Usually this event is for ladies and elder women only, but little girls and boys always show up. Kids usually take part because they know they will walk away with candy. If you catch something, it is yours to keep. Some women get aggressive when going after items.

Usually the grand prize will be thrown at the beginning. There are variety of gifts the woman will throw in her party such as kitchen utensils, bowls, cups, individual trash-bags, zip-lock bags, tupperware, towels, wash cloth rags, rags, tissue, clothes pins, plastic bucket for berry picking, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, candy, and various household items.


skipvia said...

Fascinating! I had never heard of this tradition. I wonder how it's related to potlatches--the sharing of largess among community members over some special occasion?

Thanks so much for sharing this with us, and thanks also for the pictures. I learned something important today.

KendraKrenz said...

I think some students from the Kuskokwim delta area do know about this tradition. Although, I am not sure if their villages participate in this event.

darleneulak said...

Hi Kendra,
I really enjoyed your article and photos. I participated in one uqiquq this summer in Bethel, it was a blast. Uqiquq is not common here in Scammon. Two women have done this in about ten years. I don't know why, maybe I can get it going, that would be fun. Good Job!

KendraKrenz said...

Who's uqiquq did you go to this summer in Bethel? You should start one in your community? It is so much fun.

darleneulak said...

I went to Marlis Kinegak's, it was a lot of fun. I will look into the uqiquq by asking elders and others, I don't know why it is not common around this area. It would be something fun to do.

Kristi McEwen said...

Hi Kendra!
I'm so glad to see that you've posted this information! My mom wants to have uqiquq for completing my masters degree and I was wondering about proper protocol. Thank you and you are invited!

Freda in Anchorage said...

Nice, thanks for sharing.