Monday, October 29, 2012

The Privilege of Race

There is only one Sunday left before our performance of the Race Monologues. I am getting nervous, but more excited than nervous. I think I have a lot to share and I am excited to have a venue to express myself. I didn't make it to the last meeting, and right now we are refining our final pieces to perform, so I want to keep it a secret, but I thought I'd give another prompt for all you MISS followers. Write on what privileges your race gives you.

I've been lucky enough to experience being white in two very different worlds. When I moved to Alaska at 13 I became the minority. In high school I was the only white girl on the cheer leading team for a while. Living in Kotzebue, this difference was never very important to me and I rarely noticed. At college I was given time to reflect on who I was in high school. I realized that my difference affected my experience a lot. There were a lot of moments of exclusion based on my whiteness.

Even though I was a minority and faced exclusion based on that, I have come to the ultimate realization that being a minority in a small corner of Alaska did not erase my privilege in the world. Our country has a lot of power, and within our country who has that power? This country was created for Caucasians despite the fact that it already belonged to Native Americans. Through time as our population has expanded to include a large population of Latin Americans, African Americans, and Alaska Natives our country remains focused on Caucasians excluding other populations all together.

Coming to the realization that I have this privilege that I did not earn, that sometimes I feel that I don't deserve, simply because of my race, was difficult for me to deal with. But I realized that what I do with my power is more important than how I got it. As a person of power in this country I will always fight for others who don't have as much, in order to make this a more inclusive country. In my mind, when life gives you opportunity it is your responsibility to pass it on.

-Hannah Atkinson

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Is Stopping Male Violence Impossible?

This week's chapter from bell hooks' "The Will to Change" was entitled "Stopping Male Violence." I wasn't expecting an answer but I also wasn't expecting to come away so disheartened. Hooks makes a clear distinction that male violence is not caused by individual men, but is instead a product of the patriarchy. In fact, she argues that women enact this patriarchal violence just as frequently as men. The violence that she is discussing is not driven by the individual. It cannot be attributed to anger. She argues that violence is used in the continuous power struggle that our society has created. One part of her argument that I found interesting and true to my life is the inclusion of emotional manipulation as violence. She discussed instances as in the relationship between a mother and her son, or in the relationship between a man and his girlfriend where emotions are withheld as being just as violent as physical abuse.

Hooks directly links violence/power struggle to rape in the following example: "When researchers looking at date rape interviewed a range of college men and found that many of them saw nothing wrong with forcing a woman sexually, they were astounded Their findings seemed to challenge the previously accepted notion that raping was aberrant male behavior. While it may be unlikely that any of the men in this study would became rapists, it was evident that given what they conceived as the appropriate circumstance, they could see themselves being sexually violent." Reading this quote I thought back to chapter 2, "Understanding Patriarchy." For men, violence is sanctioned, even celebrated in the "appropriate" circumstance. As is evident in the above quote, our society has decided that sexual relationships are an "appropriate" circumstance. This needs to change. 

As I came to the end of the chapter I didn't feel very hopeful. Hooks does not offer step by step instructions for how to stop male violence because it is an issue of changing our society. However, bringing it back home, I am again brought to the culture inherent in the lifestyle of the NANA region. Our culture is a hybrid of American and Inupiaq values. How can the NANA region heal from within, pulling from traditional values to work towards stopping male violence?

-Hannah Atkinson

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hannah Gets Mad

This Sunday I was asked to write about something that makes me mad. I had a hard time with this, I don't usually get very angry. I had to think back to the last few times in which I was really frustrated.

Kotzebue, my home.
Kotzebue, which you spit on. You don't deserve to be here.
You have been here 8 weeks, 3 months, 9 years.
You have 3 birch bark baskets which you keep your car keys and extra change in. You have tried the local delicacy of muktuk once. You spit it out.
You comment on the children, how sad. They run ammock in the muck with no shoes. Where are there parents?
You condemn the streets littered with pepsi cans after snow melt "if people around here knew how to take care of this place."
You walk to work everyday with your synthetic fur ruff covering your eyes. Keep your head down, wouldn't want to damper your day with their poverty.
You will never be a part of this community which you judge through the window of your government housing.
What really grinds my gears, boils my blood, and gets me fired up: we are the same.
But I am different.
Kotzebue, my home. I will not let you spit on it.
You have been here 8 weeks. You refuse to open yourself to any part of this community.
There is bad here, but there is also good.
You wouldn't know. You can't judge what you haven't lived.
Pull yourself up by your boot straps bullshit
I will not let you talk about my best friends brother, my ex lover, or the guy who cheated off my tests in high school like losers.
You remain ignorant to your privilege. Ignorant to the systems built for you and forced on them.
You don't deserve to be here. You don't want to be here.
Go back to the lower 48, you aren't cut out for this.

-Hannah Atkinson

Friday, October 19, 2012

Being a Boy

Ch. 3 in "The Will to Change" is titled "Being a Boy." In this chapter bell hooks discusses the way that the patriarchy raises boys to become men: "Patriarchal culture influences parents to devalue the emotional development of boys. Naturally this disregard affects boy' capacity to love and be loving." She goes on to argue that  we must build a culture that is accepting of male expressions of emotion.  The argument does not wholly translate to the NANA Region because of cultural differences in raising children, but in a time when young men in rural Alaska are committing suicide at a higher rate than any other demographic, I think it is important to consider: what is being a boy like?

I think that bell hooks argument rings true of our society as a whole. Tony Porter shares his personal experience of becoming frustrated with his crying five year old son: "As soon I would hear him crying, a clock would go off. I would give the boy probably about 30 seconds which means, by the time he got to me I was already saying things like 'why you crying, hold your head up, look at me, explain to me what's wrong... and out of my own frustration of my role and responsibility of building him up as a man to fit into these guidelines and these structures that are defined in this man box, I would find myself saying things like 'just go in your room! Sit down, get yourself together, and come out and talk to me when you can talk to me like a man.'"

Our patriarchal society does not tolerate emotional expression from males starting at boyhood. Because men cannot freely express frustration and sadness through things like crying or talking about feelings this translates to anger and violence. This anger and violence is more socially acceptable than the frustration and sadness.

Living in the NANA region I have been fortunate enough to see how a different culture raises children. In the Inupiaq culture, traditionally, parents raise their children with more love than discipline. Compared to western culture, children are much more free to do as they please. Bell hooks' argument may not ring as truthful in Kotzebue, because of this difference in culture, but I think that the societal pressures of what a man should be still start from a young age. Even if boys are not raised in a household in which they are disciplined for expressing emotion they are taught how to act through media and their peers.

How does the Inupiaq culture raise boys? Is male emotional expression socially acceptable in traditional Inupiaq culture? Why or why not? Has western culture changed expectations of young men in our society? How do we want to be raising our boys?

-Hannah Atkinson

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MISS Monday October 16 2012 (Teressa Baldwin)

MISS Woman of the Week
Teressa Baldwin, Kotzebue 

In high school, Teressa Baldwin made herself a list of goals and one of them was to save 100 people from committing suicide. She did not sit back and wait for the opportunities to knock on her door. Instead, Baldwin started her own campaign, Hope4Alaska, and traveled across the state of Alaska to tell the story of how suicide has affected her. She gave a speech at the end of her senior year where she mentioned that she has reached out to the Congress, 24 senators, 6 governors, 4 states, over 6,000 Alaska teenagers, and even to President Obama himself. 

Teressa Baldwin is the daughter of Sarah Randall of Ambler and Clyde Baldwin of Kiana. She grew up close to her step-father Peter Reich Sr. and his parents Herman and Della Reich. Baldwin grew up in Kotzebue and is a 4-year Mt. Edgecumbe High School alumnus. She is grateful for the experiences both places have given her; Kotzebue showed her the true cultural triumphs and hardships Rural Alaska faces today while MEHS acted as a bridge to different cultures and opportunities as well as providing an environment that helped her prepare for college. 

Baldwin first got involved in Mt. Edgecumbe’s student council when she was a Sophomore. That year, she was appointed as the Secretary/Treasurer by the Alaska Association of Student Governments. These involvements led to Baldwin’s interest in giving back to Alaska and, more specifically, getting involved in suicide prevention. Along with her collaboration in student governments both locally and across the state, she participated in cheerleading for two years, served as the president of both the National Honor Society and LEADS, a community service group on campus. As a Junior, Baldwin was chosen by Governor Parnell to be the Youth Representative of the statewide suicide prevention council. She was a unique voice in this adult-based council and, with the help from them, she decided to begin Hope4Alaska. 

Throughout her senior year, Baldwin traveled nearly every week to hold school assemblies where she told her story to students of all ages. Her speech described how suicide has affected her life, starting from the story of losing her uncle at the age of five to an ex-boyfriend committing suicide when she was sixteen. She would also tell of how these students can help with preventing suicide through simple acts of kindness. Being a strong advocate of community service, Baldwin also provided opportunities for the schools to volunteer through student councils and youth leader groups. 

Throughout the process of her campaign, Baldwin received the Lu Young Leadership Award from the Alaska Federation of Natives, President Obama’s Champion of Changes Award (which was personally awarded by Obama himself!), Student Leader of the Year from Alaska Association of Student Governments, and the Alaska Marketplace Award which rewarded up to $25,000 to the efforts of Hope4Alaska. Baldwin is humbled by these awards and recognitions but admits that the morals and values she’s learned during the process have benefited her more. The lessons she’s learned and the relationships she’s formed through Hope4Alaska gave it its true worth. 

Hope4Alaska is now in the hands of 3 teens from across Alaska as Baldwin attends her first year at the University of California, San Diego. Hope4Alaska has the goals of going national with the help from the Center for Native American Youth when she finishes school. Next month, she will be speaking on the issues of Indian Country at the Center for Native American Youth. She is also a new, proud sister of Chi-Omega, a sorority of 100 sisters who support her at UCSD. Baldwin currently works at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography where she is continuing her research on the acoustics of Bowhead whales. She holds interests in environmental systems, earth science, and sociology but has yet to determine what she would like to major in. One thing she is sure of, though, is her return back home when she is done with school. 

“I really believe that the best way to help out our community is to bring back what I have learned, whether it be an environmental aspect or a social aspect.” Baldwin said. 

Baldwin mentions that she could not have gotten here without the support and inspiration many adults have provided for her. Baldwin says she is most influenced by her mother, Sarah Randall, who graduated college in 2011 while also working full time and raising a family. Baldwin is also motivated by Carol Waters, Rosie Ropell, Sonnie Anderson, Corey Butler, and Emily Sexton who provided her support throughout the year while working with Hope4Alaska. Mt. Edgecumbe High School made is possible for Baldwin to pursue her passion in suicide prevention while also making sure she graduated. Baldwin says Marie Greene and Martha Whiting helped her learn that she can be a strong Inupiaq woman who fought for her people. 

“I am not telling you these stories for you all to feel depressed. I am telling you these stories because it is time for all of us to know that it does happen. When you belong, you feel safe and accepted and you become yourself. Our current environment with rape, suicide, and abuse isn’t a safe environment. Someone at your school can’t be themselves because they don’t have a safe environment. Society tries to hide these things that happen every day.” Baldwin says in her closing speech for Hope4Alaska in spring 2012. 

“It has been proven that if you talk about an issue and make it known and spread awareness, the epidemic problem can be solved and lives can be saved.” She says later in the speech, “Alaska held the highest suicide rates in the nation for almost all our lives. Now, we are number two in the nation because of how many people have pulled together to make it an everyday awareness.”

Remember, if there are any influential women of the Arctic you would like to nominate to be featured as the MISS Woman of the Week, you can e-mail us the name and a way of contact to We would love to feature women from all over the region to celebrate their lifestyles and accomplishments.

MISS Quote of the Week
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” -Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the US 

MISS Song of the Week 
Unwritten- Natasha Bedingfield 
-Jacqui Lambert

Monday, October 15, 2012

When People Look at me I Wish They Saw

This week I was instructed to do a free write, but it must begin with the phrase "when people look at me I wish they saw...."

I used to think: when people look at me I wish they saw a small pink wildflower
Aqpik means salmonberry
Nauyak means seagull
Pamiuqtak means fireweed.

"Do you know everybody's Inupiaq name?" I asked Sigaurak in awe, as she picked her nieces and nephews and neighbors up one by one and called them by their Inupiaq name, their real name, their name rarely said. "I try to, and I try to call them by it. Do you have an Inupiaq name?" I shook my head and she continued to look into my eyes as she thought, I used to think, of the animal that I most closely resembled. "Allaitchaq," she said finally.
"What does it mean?!" I asked in wonder. Had she named me after an animal, a plant, or a bend in the river?
"It's just a name! Allaitchaq was the name of Hannah Gallahorn, the Reich's late grandmother. She was a wonderful woman, very active in establishing the education here in Kotzebue."

I tried to hide my disappointment
Aqpik means salmonberry,
Nauyak means seagull,
Allaitchaq is just a name.

The next time someone asked me if I had an Inupiaq name, I lied. At a basketball game, Argagiak and I began to talk about names. I asked him to give me one. He narrowed his eyes and the corners of his mouth turned down, after a while he said "Allaitchaq. After Hannah Gallahorn, one of the great elders, her portrait is in the cafeteria."
I didn't have to ask what it meant. 

It took me three years to find my utting. Last summer I tagged along one afternoon to camp with a friend. Climbing in his boat, I realized across the bow was my name, Hannah, after his ahna Hannah Gallahorn. On the beach across the sound I saw her old camp. Her grandson shared stories with me about being young at camp with Hannah.

Later that night I walked down the beach to a neighboring camp to meet my friend, camping out with her cousins and making smores. The little girls were excited about something as I walked up. One girl emerged from the group and my friend said, "Hey Hannah, this is my friend Hannah, she's your ut." Hannah smiled shyly at me and gave me a hug.

Aqpik means salmonberry
Nauyak means seagull
Allaitchaq connects me with a place through the wisdom and kindness that has come before me. It connects me with all the people who were touched by Hannah Gallahorn, and it connects me to generations in the future. It gives me something to honor.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gender Roles


This video from Tony Porter's "man box" is directly inline with what bell hooks describes in her book as the patriarchy.
In Ch. 2, “Understanding Patriarchy,” bell hooks elaborates on the concept of the patriarchy. She uses her personal experience, growing up in a traditional household to delineate how she and her brother were socialized differently, and how the roles that they were taught sometimes didn’t fit.
“My brother and I remember our confusion about gender. In reality I was stronger and more violent than my brother, which we learned quickly was bad. And he was a gentle, peaceful boy, which we learned was really bad.”
I’ll offer a summary of the societal pressures bell hooks experienced in her life, which she claims are a direct effect of the patriarchy.

  • weak
  • “free from the burden of thinking”
  • caretaker
  • nurture others
  • cannot be violent: violence for women is unnatural

  • the bible teaches that men were created to rule the world
  • to be served and to provide
  • think, strategize, plan
  • violence can be appropriate
  • boys should not express feelings

I think hooks brings up an interesting point when she describes the consequences of not abiding by their gender roles. Gender roles are defined by Blackwell sociological Encyclopedia as "attitudes regarding the appropriate roles, rights, and responsibilities of women and men in society." I do not claim that gender roles are bad, I personally think that they serve a purpose in our society. I do think that when society enforces these gender roles on all individuals across all cultures and across changing times that tensions are created. People are dynamic, and putting them in a box has consequences. In the case of the patriarchy or "man box" as described by Tony Parker, the consequence is violence against women, rape culture, and sexual assault. 

What are the gender roles enforced by society? What are the gender roles enforced by Inupiaq culture?  How has the NANA region seen tensions or felt consequences of the strict gender roles enforced in changing times and on a diverse group of people?

Here is a link to a spoken word piece about the pressure to "man up"

Monday, October 8, 2012

MISS Monday October 8, 2012 (Kelsey Wallace)

MISS Woman of the Week
Kelsey Wallace, Bethel

[photo from:]

“Ciugutnguunga. Maairpak University of Alaska Fairbanks-aami elitetuunga taugaam Mamterillermiunguunga. Aanaka Cingarkaq Sheila Wallace-auguq aataka-llu Apassangayaq John Wallace-auluni. Kenkaqa Cungauyar Alfred Wallace-auguq.” Kelsey Wallace of Bethel, Alaska introduces herself in her Yup’ik language. 

Wallace began learning how to use the Yup’ik language when she was a kindergartener at the Ayaprun Elitnaurvik, an immersion schooling program she attended through 6th grade. She went to high school at the Bethel Regional High School where she participated in events such as student government, drama club, cheerleading, volleyball, speech competitions, honor society, and BRHS’ first Yup’ik dance group in over ten years. Wallace is currently in her third year at the University of Alaska Fairbanks studying Rural Development with an emphasis on Community Development and a minor in Communications. She is involved in the Inu-Yupiaq dance group and works at the Alaska Native Language Center. 

Wallace held leadership roles in the activities she participated in and has received multiple awards recognizing her hard work. She served as a class representative, advisory school board representative, secretary, cheerleading captain, volleyball captain, drama lead role, and dance group chair. The awards include: Internship in the Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski (2010), Two British Petroleum Principle and Commissioner Scholarships (2010), Member of the Alaska Native Education Panel for the Alaska Federation of Natives (2009-2010), Alaska Student Leader of the Year (2010), Academic Honor Roll (2007-2010), Alaska State Cheerleading Squad and All-State Individual Champion (2010), Alaska Regional All Tournament (2008), and 6 Speech Meet Champion Titles (2006-2008).

Wallace’s hometown provided her a connection to the native culture through a school that offered both language and dance lessons. She attended Ayaprun Elitnaurvik for seven years and learned the vocabulary and structure to speak with her teachers, peers and family members. She has continued building fluency by taking courses at UAF. 

“Although it is my second language, I still feel that it is an utmost importance to use my language whenever possible.” She explained. “Imagine in ten years when our elders are gone and we’re forced to re-learn our language without the guidance of fluent speakers! I can only imagine the difficulty students and community members will have in continuing the use of any indigenous language. We all need to step up, stop talking about how we need to start using our language, and actually start putting to use that motivation to continue these languages.” 

Wallace began dancing in kindergarten, too, through a class that lasted about an hour a day. It began as a task that was required through school but as she grew up, she really found herself as a person through recognizing dance as a part of who she is. In high school, she was a part of BRHS’ first native dance group in over 10 years and currently dances with the Inu-Yupiaq group in Fairbanks and Acilquq (meaning our roots) dance group in Anchorage. 

“When I hear the drum, it’s like a spirit takes over me and I feel the beat of the drum and the beat of my heart drumming together in unicon. Everyone has that one thing that gives him or her a feeling of utmost happiness; Yup’ik dancing is my energizer” Wallace said. 

Her family also plays a big role in defining her identity. Wallace’s dancing headdress is made of beads left behind by her grandma who passed away before she was born. Her grandfather taught respect and patience through unspoken words during visits at the retirement home where he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Her mom helps with building her language fluency by incorporating Yup’ik into her English sentences while speaking to her and her brother. It gives them a better understanding of their second language with the help of their first language. Wallace’s father was the teacher of the family on how to properly cut fish. He taught her mom when they got married and what surprises most people is that he is white but still participates in native cultural activities. Wallace was taught by her father the sense of motivation, the competition with herself rather than others, and to strive to reach her potential. 

These roots of Wallace are what inspires her the most today. The small community of Bethel and her close-knit family drive her to succeed at her full potential while encouraging her to push herself. Because of the impact of her strong family, she encourages parents and communities to always put effort into reminding the youth of dreaming big. 

Wallace takes a piece of her culture wherever she goes and shares it with people. She teaches people her native language, how to make traditional foods, how to sing songs, shares traditional foods and it usually come as second-nature for her. She also shares by telling stories of growing up and telling about the environment. 

Wallace is currently pursuing a degree in Rural Development with an emphasis on Community Development with a minor in Communications. She learned she was not interested in taking a communications direction after her experience as an intern for Calisto. The intern opportunity instead helped her realize she would like to be more involved in cultural awareness through development. Wallace believed the younger generations can be provided with healthy, successful lifestyles through education. She advises parents and communities to focus on giving the younger generations hope for the future through encouragement of reaching for something more. 

“I cannot stress how important it is for our younger generations to remember that we need to look passed the statistics; look passed the peer pressure and use obstacles in life as a reminder and motivator in knowing that we CAN succeed! We can all achieve our goals and dreams.” 

Kelsey Wallace was nominated by co-founder of MISS, Hannah Atkinson. Wallace was one of her best friends in middle school during her first year in Alaska and she opened up to her and welcomed her to the native culture. Wallace took Atkinson to the heritage center to watch dancing. 

“She was cool because she always wore her mukluks to school and basketball games. Her mukluks were probably the first pair I ever saw.” Atkinson explained. 

Remember, if there are any influential women you would like to nominate to be featured as the MISS Woman of the Week, you can e-mail us the name and a way of contact to We would love to feature women who are making a difference in Alaska to celebrate their lifestyles and accomplishments. 

 [Wallace was crowned as the 2011 Miss WEIO. She organized a culture camp located at Howard Luke’s camp and taught students how to tell stories using Yup’ik story knives. She got involved in gatherings around Alaska. She served as Master of Ceremonies for the Festival of Native Arts and Alaska Federation of Natives Quyana Alaska performances. She organized an akutaq making workshop. She participated in the AFN Elders and Youth conference. She co-organized the Mr. and Miss Cama-I cultural pageant. “One of the beauty’s within cultural pageants are that young men and women showcase and demonstrate their ability to perform cultural activities while serving as a role model for the younger generations.” Above is a video of Kelsey Wallace’s performance for the 2011 Miss WEIO Talent Show]

MISS Quote of the Week
“Don’t wait for something big to occur. Start where you are, with what you have, and that will always lead you into something greater.” -Mary Manin Morrissey, New Thought Minister

MISS Song of the Week 
Pretty Girl Rock - Keri Hilson 
-Jacqui Lambert

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Race Monologues

The leaders of my race monologues workshop asked us last week think about race in our everyday lives and bring a moment from our week to share with the group. Do you ever stop and think about how often race comes up in your daily life? When I stopped to think, I realized it happens quite frequently. Maybe it's just me, a white girl from a small native community, going to a very white college. The prompt for the week was to write about your family history. Here is my piece

"Why are you here?"
asks big black/brown eyes
full moon frost bitten cheeks
hair down her back

Les hommes francais!
fur economy exploitation
empty waters where sea cows once grazed

a nomadic people making more and more rips into fur trading posts
I am a relic of colonialism

you named my father eagle
the same as on the dollar bills
your children hand
to their cousin at the cash register
no nikipiaq Ahna!
black meat with seal oil, I want a snickers bar

astounding faith
North to the Future
manifest destiny

-Hannah Atkinson

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Men for MISS: Loving in the Patriarchy

In ch. 1 of "The Will to Change" bell hooks discusses pressures society puts on men in the form of Patriarchy. Patriarchy is --> Defined by the Blackwell Encyclopedia: “Patriarchy is most commonly understood as a form of social organization in which cultural and institutional beliefs and patterns accept, support, and reproduce the domination of women and younger men by older or more powerful men: Literally the “rule of the fathers.” (
hooks relates the pressures of the patriarchy to men's ability to express emotions, specifically love. Because we live in a patriarchal society we have built up a notion of manhood that is related to the qualities of a strong leader/provider. She describes the patriarchal notion of manhood: strength, domination, even violence. All of these qualities can make for a great leader/provider but they also have effect of demoralizing the weakness and vulnerability that comes with feelings. In this way, hooks proposes that our society pressures men to hold back their love. Because men are pressured to hold back their love, women are frustrated, because they want that love more than anything.  If the problem is lack of love, she proposes that more love, unconditional love, is the only answer:
"Only a revolution of values in our nation will end male violence, and that revolution will necessarily be based on a love ethic. To create loving men, we must love males. Loving maleness is different from praising and rewarding males for living up to sexist defined notions of male identity. Caring about men because of what they do for us is not the same as loving males for simply being. When we love maleness, we extend our love whether males are performing or not." (page 11)

How do men and women love differently? How does this create tensions between the genders?
Do you think that the cultural pressures of men to be providers has created performance based love? How does one overcome performance based love? 

-Hannah Atkinson

Monday, October 1, 2012

MISS Monday October 1, 2012 (Maija Lukin)

MISS Woman of the Week
Maija Lukin, Kotzebue

This past summer, I spent an evening listening to Maija Katak Harris Lukin tell stories in a little confined area behind her house that is devoted to drying meat. There were strips of ugruk hanging above us, piled on the table in front of us, and even hanging on a recycled bunk bed frame. We were about to leave until we realized the door was locked from outside and there was no way out. Lukin had used my phone to call her husband, Dean Lukin, who was in the house at the time. 

“Help!!!! There’s a fire and we can’t get... Oh” Lukin giggled and looked at us “He hung up! He must have believed..”

Lukin’s voice was cut off as we heard the footsteps of her husband running towards us. He stopped in his tracks as soon as he realized we were completely safe and there was no fire. Lukin kinda giggled at her husband, knowing her humor was taken a little too seriously. 

“What if there was really a fire though? At least we would have been safe, my husband made it back here in less than thirty seconds.” Lukin said. 

From the sounds of it, this is how the Lukin house is brought up. To finish the work that needs to be done but to have fun while you’re at it. Maija Katak Harris Lukin is a very active community member of Kotzebue that lives accordingly to the seasonal rotations. She gets involved in any event, she holds events to have something to do, and she hunts, fishes, cooks, and sews in the meantime. 

To really understand who she is, you need to hear the roots of her being. Her Finnish-American grandmother grew up in the 30’s and 40’s and raised her six kids in places like Turkey and Iran before making it to Anchorage and eventually making a home in Chickaloon. Her Inupiaq grandmother, Katak, grew up at Sisualik until they moved to Kotzebue for her husband to work. 

“And my mother. My mom probably inspired me most of all. She grew up an Inupiaq girl, being punished for speaking Inupiaq. She grew up doing both ‘male’ and ‘female’ chores. She went hunting, chopped wood, picked berries, drove the boat. She ended up with three girls and raised us the same way. My mom has always worked hard and rarely gotten the attention for it. She volunteers for everything too. I probably get that from her. She was always busy, as am I.” Lukin says. 
Lukin currently works with the Communications and Public Relations for the Maniilaq Association. She graduated from Kotzebue High School in 1995 where she participated in anything she could. She was raised on the belief that experiencing bigger things, like Washington DC, is always a good thing. Her mother was involved in everything so Lukin was the little kid who followed along and always had something to do. Along with volunteer work, Lukin was raised by the importance of her Inupiaq culture; she learned to shoot a gun, pick berries, igitchaq ducks, making paniqtuq, fillet fish, kavraq ugruk, play kick in the can, beat her cousins at run races, play Norwegian, hang beluga, and make qaugaq. 

Today, Lukin raises a family of her own. Her family consists of herself and her husband along with four kids and two dogs. Her family grows up with her extended family as most of her cousins are still in Kotzebue too and have children of the same age. She makes it a point to raise her kids through the Inupiaq culture, but also to grow with the Western culture too. 

“I hope that my children appreciate their cell phones as a way to connect with things we never thought possible, but still know to put them away when it’s time to hunt or berry pick or go to camp to relax.” Lukin says. 

Lukin has been the coordinator of the Arctic Circle Spring Festival where she devotes a long weekend during the Kobuk 440 Sled Dog race to providing things for the community to do. She wants to give new and old residents time to go out to experience the beautiful Spring weather and have fun. She admits it’s hard work to coordinate, but the Inupiaq value of “sharing” is easily incorporated into her life and it feels great to share the piece of culture with everyone. Lukin spends a great amount of her time volunteering and does things that are fun and relaxing. She bakes and sews for people, hosts bake sales, teaches sewing classes, skin sewing, she coaches, reads, and works with the kids in attempt to to make the community a better place for the residents. 

While she believes it’s extremely important to be deeply rooted in the Inupiaq culture, Lukin believes the youth with no dependents should jump at an opportunity to experience an out-of-state education, at least for a little while. She had spent some time living in Orlando, Florida and later attended the Eastern Oregon University in La Grande with her cousin Josie. She encourages high school students to do as much as possible before being forced to become an adult after graduation. In order to help encourage this, Lukin has been an advisor to raise money for graduations and senior trips, she’s been a coach, a referee, and helped several students with scholarships and jobs. 

Advice that Lukin carries with her is that she always has a choice.
“You have a choice to get up in the morning. You have a choice to be happy or mad. You can choose to let something keep you down, and you can choose not to. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but you’re ultimately responsible for all of your actions. Because, really, life is hard. But how you react to life situations is what people remember.” Lukin advises 

Lukin concentrates on being a good person who genuinely cares about other people above anything else. She believes that being an Inupiaq woman is not only hard right now, but it always has been in generations before us because you’re constantly pressured to be a good wife, mother, sister, Inupiaq, baker, seamstress and so on and so on. Being a good person and genuinely caring about others reflects being a good leader. Lukin encourages you to get involved in your community. 

“When you put the effort into the kids of the community, and give them a sense of person, that they’re important, they grow up feeling good about themselves, and learning from you. Stop complaining about nothing to do and go do something about it!” 

MISS Quote of the Week
“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform.” -Diane Mariechild, author of “Mother Wit and Inner Dance”

MISS Song of the Week
Sisters are Doin’ It For Themselves - Eurythmics 

-Jacqui Lambert