Manuqutarmiunguunga. Mamterillermiungulua-llu. Kassatun ayukengerma. Tuall, Yuguunga-wii. Hello. My name is Ayagiaq. I am from Manokotak and Bethel. I am non-Native on the outside, but I am Yugtun.When I found out the May issue of the ECHO was focusing on what being Alaskan means to you, I knew immediately that I wanted to write on the topic. However, I wasn’t prepared for the internal struggle I would face as I mulled around how to describe it. Then, I realized that being Alaskan meant not having to define it because it is in everything I do, everything I say, and everything I am.
“Look! Here he comes!”
She points to the sky and waves as we put our arms out like airplane wings and run hoping he will see us. In his Grummans Widgeon, he buzzes the one room schoolhouse, dipping his wings in acknowledgement of our welcome just before his landing on Lake Iliamna.Our mother was the school teacher, our father the pilot.
Let me take you on a journey.
Imagine you are sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor of a Native home in rural southwestern Alaska. You have been invited by some locals to have coffee and dried fish while you wait out the weather.You have been taken in to a circle of Yugtun women of varying ages.