(fiction) In my youthful self, I imagined the sea was a basket of treasures. All things that came from it were delights to my eyes or thrilled my mouth or woke my skin. When my sister and I set out foraging, I always suggested the sea’s edge, while she liked best the woods and mountains. I tried to be patient, but her need for dabbled shadows and high views ignored my need to flow and ebb, to breathe with the waves, to throw on changeling colors with a caprice of mood. I loved my sister, yet if I listened deeply to the chambers of my heart, I loved the sea more. Until I met Whale. Then I loved him best. My story never would have happened if I had been born a man, for then I would have met Whale as danger or as prey. I would…
The importance of the Porcupine herd to the Gwich’in people
[by Charlie Swaney and Peter Mather | photos by Peter Mather]
AS I SIT WITH GWICH’IN HUNTER CHARLIE SWANEY UNDER A CLASSIC BLUE CAMPING TARP, A RAIN DRIZZLE SILENTLY DRUMS ALL AROUND US.
The traditional art of tattooing DESPITE TATTOO PARLORS IN ALMOST EVERY CITY and celebrities flashing chic subcutaneous designs, facial tattoos still carry a stigma—try landing a bank job, even suited up fancily, when you look like Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man. In the wake of Age of Enlightenment voyages into the South Pacific, the practice reached Europe, where it has long been the domain of thugs, sailors, carnival freaks, biker gangs, and other “unsavory” folk. Some of the first New World encounters between pale faces and tattooed ones occurred along Bering Sea coastlines, during James Cook and Otto von Kotzebue’s expeditions. In Alaska, this visual language was ancient, known to Siberian Yupiit, Inupiat, Aleuts, Alutiit, Deg Hit’an, Gwich’in, Tlingit, and Haida. The earliest representation of a human face in the Arctic—a 3,600-year-old, Paleo-Eskimo carved-ivory maskette from Devon Island—has incised lines, a web of tattoos. Intrigued by fellow practitioners, expedition artists mostly…
Native Alaskans revere their past, present, future.
[by Steve Quin]
A treasure to its denizens, human and otherwise
[by Kerrie Flanagan]