This winter we really got into what outside and traditional activities we could enjoy. It feels like things came together for us, Esther and I, as far as what my vision of our lives could be, this winter: Esther is old enough to join in, and our new house location is really very conducive for us to have access to lots of things. I just realized that I can put a picture into this blog post itself, so check out the images attached -- or that I hope to attach when I'm done writing.
First up: My new Yellow Honda!
Here is Esther, all decked out in her cold-weather gear, sitting on my brand-new "Honda" -- all ATV's, regardless of their make or model, are casually called "Honda" in Hooper Bay. It's totally been our ticket to ride this winter, letting us go out to visit the beach, visit relatives, and explore the frozen tundra beyond the village. It's a freedom I haven't known when I have lived here before; I definitely am a bit sad to see the days of walking while pulling Esther in the sled behind me go, but we did a lot of that, and now we can join in with more community activities that happen outside of town, like ice-fishing, or manuking.
Yuraq -- traditional Yup'ik dancing
Many of you know how entranced I've felt about Yuraq since the first time I tried it, in Pilot Station, and I haven't ever felt like I've reached the same level of involvement since I left that village in the spring of 2000. It was such a great experience that led to so much understanding of Yup'ik people and village life, and brought me so much acceptance that I have been eager to try again, here in Hooper Bay. This year I set it as my goal to participate in one of the two local dance groups, and I wanted to bring Esther with me, to have her growing up around this strong tradtion. We joined the school group and danced often with them, and Esther tried her little baby best and was precious. In this picture she is holding dance fans and wearing a qaspeq, often spelled kuspuk. This type of dancing is done by waving fans or your hands in motions that tell a story, while bouncing in one place. There are both women and men dancers, though women often dance standing up and men often dance kneeling down (though there are no strict gender roles). Mostly men sing and drum the songs, and the words of the songs tell the stories that the dancers tell with their motions. The songs are repeated several times, each time getting more lively and fast, with the dancers dancing more animated each time. It's totally a thrill-- quite a rush to dance in front of an audience. And I've felt wonderful acceptance from the dance group, and I feel honored and priviledged that they allow me to dance with them.