February 19, 2014

Native Goods

Living in a small village has its perks.
One of the perks is that many people are willing to make you items that are a part of this awesome Yupik culture. 
Seriously though, the items they can make out of walrus tusks and with a sewing machine/knitting needles is ah-maze-ing!

I have been fortunate enough to collect some of these said goods.
My first Yupik gift was for my birthday.
I was not expecting a gift at all from one of my favorite ladies in the village.
She comes to my room a lot of mornings and we just chit chat about different things.
Well for my birthday she asked to borrow a shirt of mine.
She comes back one day later with….
my first qaspeq!
You really do not know how excited I was!

The day I wore it to school, all of my students told me I had just become Yupik.
I like to think so :)

These qaspeq's are traditional clothing women wear often, everyday even. 
Men only on certain occasions. 
You should see the multitude of qaspeqs that are worn each day at Newtok Ayaprun School.
With good reason - look how cute they are!

And of course, you can't just have one, right? Riiiiight?

Good thing over break I got some fabric for just this situation!
The school secretary's mother-in-law offered to make one for Betsy and me.
One for each of us - not to share.

And it turned out great - don't ya think?!

Here is both of us with our new qaspeqs!

Look at the second picture - notice how Betsy's has a skirt? It is literally the cutest thing. I just wasn't sure if I got enough fabric for one for me - ya know, since I am the tallest woman in the village….

But I guess that means I will just have to get another one, eh husband??

So the above pictures are just a little something something that they can do with sewing machines. Let's look at what they can do with a walrus tusk.

Joshua and I thought it would be cool to get matching rings made for us to wear when we don't want to be all fancy with our fancy wedding rings. Is that just an Alaskan bush thing?

So when Joshua was here, he talked to one of the guys in the village and he offered to make them for us!
It took him about two days to finish them. 
Unfortunately, Joshua left before he was done, and I am too afraid to mail it because they are fragile. Joshua will just have to pick it up when he visits again!

Aren't they so cool?! 
I was told they are actually made of walrus and mammoth tusk. At first I didn't believe it. The whiter part is the walrus and the darker part is mammoth. But then someone explained how he actually made them. He carves the ring first out of walrus tusk. Then, where you see the darker color, that is the part made of mammoth. Apparently, he smashes the mammoth tusk into a powder. He then wets the bone and applies the powder to the ring, so then it dries and becomes that darker shade. So it is true! We have matching rings made out of walrus and mammoth tusk! 

Now, I hope you are ready for a good laugh. I was trying to be all "artsy fartsy" with the rings and try a few different poses.

The first one just makes my face look all dimply. Then the second one? I'm not even sure why I decided to put it in my mouth?? And can anyone tell me why I look so old?!

Then this is the picture when I realize how much of an idiot all these pictures make me look (But yet, you still see the ring in my mouth… I don't get it!). I will just leave the "artsy-ness" to the professionals!

On a side note of all Alaskan things - I saw the Northern Lights again last night!
They weren't as colorful as I hoped they would be, but they covered the sky a lot more than last time! I am just waiting till I can see the greens and blues dance in the sky!

And I am loving that we are getting more and more daylight. It was like all of a sudden, spring is here. The sun is starting to rise around 9 am and it doesn't even get dark until 7:30. Wow! I am not complaining!

Oh yeah… Joshua and I were featured in our college magazine. How cool is that?!

Go Bearcats!


  1. Have you not learned your lesson!? Why would you put another wedding ring in your mouth!? I'd hate to fish that thing out of the incinolet. :)