And so the summer season begins. Over the last few weeks, I have been on the road. I left the city sidewalks of the east coast to be renewed by the high deserts and the Colorado and Utah sun. From there we traveled north to the high waters of Montana’s rivers and the evening rains that brought much needed hydration. Four days ago I hopped on the plane to travel farther north. North to the taiga. North to the salmon filled rivers. North to the cooler summer days. North to Alaska. I tried not to grumble too hard at the tourists that I rubbed elbows with on the plane from SeaTac and wore my xtratufs proudly though I’m sure no one knew what they meant or represented. When we landed in Anchorage, flying in over the Chugach Mountains, I felt the familiar giddiness that starts deep in the pit of my stomach and works it’s way through my body every time I come home. I tried to ignore the oil rigs that sat just off shore. Their presence a reminder of the conflicting values and economies that continue to haunt even the most remote parts of this stunning land.
It was a quick 12 hour turn over. Just enough for a dip in a jacuzzi and a quick nights sleep before it was back to the air. I had not been back to Anvik, my maternal home village for seven years. I was surprised and relieved when people recognized me. From collecting fiddle head ferns for reindeer sausage soup to hunting for chaga and collecting spring water, I was renewed by returning to my ancestral home. Apart from reconnecting to the community I am most grateful for this shifish which was given as a gift to me by an elder in the community after he head I was craving one of our traditional food. I kneeled outside on the grass yesterday morning scaling, heading and gutting it. As I did, I thought of the abundance of foods that have sustained my ancestors from this region and of their creation stories and this fish. It has been a fast month, this month of May and oh how good it is to be back up north to celebrate summer.