Blog #1 1 comment


Northwest Arctic Borough/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The concept of landscape is very important when working with Alaskan writing. It creates a stage for written work and paints a picture for the reader. There are many perspectives of landscape that one can take.   They can view landscape in terms of wildlife, land, people, or comparison to another landscape.

Depending on the culture and tradition of the reader, they may have a different view of landscape than you or me.   It may depend on the amount of education or experience one has with different cultures to completely understand the landscape of the story.

The landscape in Alaska is very unique and expansive when compared with other places in the United States.   Because of my interest in Alaska Fiction, I have thoroughly read the work of Sue Harrison.   In the excerpt of “Mother Earth Father Sky’, Sue Harrison defines the landscape mainly through landmarks and the people who inhabit specific areas of land.   There are the Whale Hunters, the Walrus people, and spirits of people in general.   The individuals in the story are defined by their skills and experiences.

In my culture (Yup’ik), the people are connected to nature, and nature is connected to our higher power.   Even if it is defined as a resource, it does not separate us from the land.   Ellam Yua is referred to as the Great Spirit that is pleased or angered depending on respect and usage of the resources.   This is not to say that Ellam Yua is God, or separated from God.   Ancestors and elders in my culture speak of taboos and ways that Ellam Yua is pleased or angered.   For example, if a hunter/fisherman is prepares to go out fishing or hunting and speaks of the catch he will bring home, he may return home empty-handed.   Another example is when a close family member passes on, there are certain beliefs that the family must follow.   In some villages, close family members must not hunt or fish for 40 days following the death.   Women are expected to refrain from subsistence activities, and must not use anything with a sharp tip, even when crafting.

Works Cited

Borough, N. A. Kivalina. Climate Change will Cause Alaskan Village to Vanish Under Water Within 10 Years: Scientists. Associated Press, New York City. Retrieved on September 25, 2013 from



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One thought on “Blog #1

  • Madara

    I’m really fascinated by Yup’ik and Cup’ik cultures, especially the masked dancing. I used to have students from Chevak when I taught some classes here at UAF over the summer. The Chevak students were always the best dancers (in my opinion). They tried to teach me about their culture, and even though I didn’t learn as much as I wanted to, what they shared has always stuck with me. Some of the masks and traditions have even influenced some of my own artwork. Thanks for sharing!