Lately I have been trying to discover exactly what it means to be an 'Aleut Woman' and one of the first things I found was that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ALEUT . Well, so what does that mean? And here I just got used to proudly thinking of myself as an Aleut too!
But I do agree with the idea of the article, that in going back to our culture and traditions they should be the ones and ways we defined ourselves 'pre-contact'. So, I tried to wrap my tongue around that word: Unangas.
I have to admit I found it hard to not giggle as I tried to pronounce it and say "I am Unangas" over and over. I think it took about 10 tries before I could do it without adding a giggle at the end. I found 2 big books of grammar and dictionary for the language but they cost $75 or so together so that will need to be saved up for but I will get them in a few months.
It got me wondering if I am just really weird or do others practice saying things out loud like this.... I think it is because I am a bit shy so there is usually a giggle or 'mmmmmm' sound after I say something but that is lessening over time. I think I managed to Skype without having a fit of giggles so yeah! I was so worried my Mentor would think I was mental (oh funny, almost a tongue twister! Say it 3 times fast, I dare you!) but managed to control that urge.
But in looking for my roots it is funny since it is more 'prehistoric' and how that sounds a bit weird... A modern empowered woman looking for her prehistoric roots. Almost like it wanting to travel back in time to find the Truth and my Spirit. I think it is the western image of prehistoric that partly makes it sound so weird to me. How when they try to picture earlier civilizations they always imagine grunting dirty people in animal rags as the image instead of realizing that a lot of cultures are in existence with little contact and they are vibrant, brightly dressed and have complex social structures even in a simple lifestyle. So, I guess part of my search will be to reinforce the beauty and sophistication of my roots while showing it's living in harmony with Nature.
It is too bad not much is written about the Unangas religious ideas but I will keep looking and trying to connect myself with my cultural Goddesses. It always interests me to find just bits and pieces of it around and hope to learn much more about it all. I think a lot of what happens is it gets mixed in with the Russian Orthodox religion so trying to separate them again will be interesting.
My nephew is inspiring in that the young in the villages are getting back into the culture in a big way and I often think of moving to there but also think it would be better to wait awhile too. It is what I want to be a part of and hope to get my girls more involved in. We are attending an 'Urban Unganax' camp next month so that will be interesting and I will be posting about it more later.
Here is some that shows some of the Dancers:
Unangax Dance Troupe
So close, yet so far! The Atka Island and it's dancers is 1103.5 miles from Anchorage where I live... And about $1,500 each to travel there...
Video of the dancers, listen to the music and feel your soul soar! On that same page it links to similar videos.
Unangax Dancers - Alaska Fedration of Natives Quyana
But watch the video and enjoy a peek at my culture!