MISS Woman of the Week
Siikauraq Martha Whiting
Siikauraq Martha Whiting of camp Sisualik, located across the Kotzebue Sound, is the wife of Alex Whiting and mother of Denali Whiting. Siikauraq and Alex Whiting work together with their family roles and responsibilities to teach Denali to have a quality of life that is independent, strong, and to succeed at the best of her ability. Siikauraq believes that a strong view of life is to have the ability to walk into two worlds and be successful. We can go out and explore the world through different cities and states with different cultures but we should appreciate the luxury of camp and learn to live off of the land as our ancestors have done.
Siikauraq graduated from Sheldon Jackson College with a Natural Resource Land Management degree with the intentions and goals to help protect the land for her people. Her parents taught her how to live off of the land while she was growing up between Kotzebue and Sisualik. By participating in many extra curricular activities while in high school, she’s had the privilege to travel all over Alaska to compete. Between these two foundational experiences, she was inspired to continue onto college to learn of all the policies and laws behind managing and protecting the Alaskan land.
Today, Siikauraq is the first elected female Mayor for the Northwest Arctic Borough and says the job has been exciting, humbling, and challenging. She is termed out from being elected both in 2006 and 2009 and will be stepping down this October after serving 6 years in office. She is humbled by being elected into this position by her people with the responsibility of being the voice for them. “It is an amazing feeling,” Siikauraq says, “to have the ability myself and to open the door for other people, too. To have them see that if I can do it, they can to.”
Siikauraq has shared inspiring advice with us in the interview that we would like to share with you:
- Walk into both worlds with the ability to juggle them both. We are right in-between the traditional and western cultures of education. Explore the world outside of your homeland and get educated through books and technology. Appreciate the strength of our Inupiaq culture, too. Learn to live through our land, culture, and way of life because we are not a people of the museum - we still exist.
- Keep in touch with human interaction. Know your friends both emotionally and physically to see eye to eye. Go biking, walking, berry picking and physically interact with the people around you. Don’t get too caught up with texting, e-mailing, and social networking. Interacting technologically is not a priority way of life.
- Go out and explore even when you are afraid. Follow through with your dreams and ideas even when it comes with work to be put in. We have the tools to let students explore, take advantage of that. In middle and high school, get involved in everything because it is an avenue to the next level. Get out of dodge for a while, Kotzebue (home) will still be here when you come back.
- Don’t forget who you are. You have an identity. You have a people. You have a way of life. You have a connection to the land and you belong.
- When you have a burn in your gut and you have the nervousness, that’s when you know to act. You have to act and you cannot be afraid. Go in with knowledge, confidence, and sense of responsibility.
- Acknowledge and perpetuate your roles and responsibilities. The roles are beginning to blend as we transition from traditionally living to providing for ourselves through daytime jobs. Learn to provide for your family through your work but also through making time to learn the traditional Inupiaq roles of hunting, gathering, and preserving. Recognize and appreciate those around you who are learning their roles.
- Don’t forget we have fresh water. Don’t forget we have fresh moose. Don’t forget we have amazing salmon runs, akpiks, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries. Don’t forget we have a beautiful culture and a beautiful way of life. Don’t forget we can still Eskimo dance. Don’t forget that we are still here.
MISS Quote of the Week
"We won't always know whose life we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions can sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What's important is that you do care and you act." -Charlotte Lunsford Berry, Philanthropist
MISS Song of the Week
The Story - Brandi Carlile
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to