Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Traditional Wooden Sled

I was walking to the post office this afternoon and I saw Ralph Kiunya making a wooden sled. I had seen him make wooden sleds several times since I’ve been back to Kong. I asked him what he’s going to do with it. When he’s finished building it, he will sell it to someone from another village for a couple hundred dollars. From time to time he receives orders for wooden sleds. Ralph has a reputation for creating quality sleds at a low price. He’s Kong’s version of Wal-Mart, but instead of the goods coming from China, they come from the hardworking hands of an American Yup'ik Eskimo.

Since jobs are very scarce in the villages, some people continue to make things like native crafts like baskets, jewelry, parkas, etc. as a way of making income. While craft items are often sold to tourists, sleds are bought, sold and traded within this region to locals who must have this in order to survive the arctic winters. Ralph has been making wooden sleds for several years. Most families here have wooden sleds to haul driftwood for steam baths or chunks of ice for drinking water. People often use wooden sleds as a means of transporting passengers on snow-machines to nearby villages.

Panraven storybook

"Click here to see my Panraven storybook."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Welcome Home Potluck for the National Guard

There was a potluck held at the Dick R. Kiunya Memorial High School for the National Guard troops that came home from Iraq. An elder opened the potluck with a speech followed by a prayer. People brought food to share for the potluck. There was a variety of native food on the tables. Three of the men who were in Iraq attended the potluck. They wore their military uniforms and visited with the people in attendance. It is so good to see the troops reunite with their families. We are so blessed that every one of the troops came home alive and safe. I was glad the community honored them for their courageous actions.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Edible Plants "Negaasget"

For many years the Yup’ik Eskimos have picked various edible plants in southwestern Alaska. Between September and early November people pick “negaasget” commonly called “mouse food’’ from the tundra. It is called mouse food because mice collect these roots and store them for their winter food. It is picked before the tundra freezes. The mouse food comes from roots that grow under the tundra and they’re one to two inches in length. These pictures show mouse food that was picked over the weekend.

Usually people will pick mouse food in large quantities and wash them throughout the entire day. It is cooked with water until it becomes soft and easy to break apart. The excess mouse food is stored in Ziploc bags and then frozen. Ziploc bags are used for storing several types of subsistence food in the village. Mouse food is commonly turned into an Eskimo ice-cream dessert called “akutaq”. There are many ways to enjoy mouse food. Some people will remove it from the freezer and cook it again. It’s used like an extra vegetable when cooking bird or seal soup. Some people will eat it simply by dipping it in seal oil.