Yuguunga

Wiinga Ayagiaruunga. 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.

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Staying sane in the store checkout lane, and beyond…

Impatience and intolerance for others seem to be hallmarks of 21st century American culture, as well as a general lack of awareness of others. Nowhere are those trends more evident than at the local supermarkets. I am probably just as guilty as others when it comes to supermarket impatience. When I only have a few items, I’ll make a beeline to the self-checkout lane. It bothers me, however, because I wonder if I’m ultimately contributing to the elimination of jobs.

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Alaska’s “Forgotten Gardens”

Drive down any highway, and you will see intentional landscaping. These areas are planted with lovely perennial trees, bushes, and grass with the intention of beautifying our country, making our commute a little brighter and improving our mental state. However, more often, you may notice this landscaping has been neglected. It is now overgrown. Unsightly and dangerous, blocking visibility for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Not at all meeting the intended purpose of improving our mental state.These “Forgotten Gardens” have quite a history, and a future as well.   The story begins with good intentions, but there was a fatal flaw in the plan.

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My work for the Alaska Legislature ended in mid-April after 100 days. Reflections upon what I had witnessed in Juneau over this time began while aboard the Alaska Marine Highway vessel M/V Columbia as we pled the waters toward Haines. As a certified Alaska teacher I have long been amazed at how Public Education funding is handled as a political hot potato.

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Waiting for Mother’s Day

Jeannette and her husband had been married for about a year when they decided to start their family. Months passed, then years without success. Staying positive became more and more difficult. She was being told by her doctors that nothing was wrong, and yet nothing was right either.There were social situations that became overwhelming for her, seeing a little boy drinking hot chocolate, conversations with other couples that centered around their children, watching groups of children play, dance and have fun together. She was happy for her friends with families, but couldn't understand why she was unable to conceive.“You just didn’t know; there were some days I could handle it, other days I couldn’t.”

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Ah, Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day. That blessed day when moms across the world get a break and have a celebration just for them. Maybe your idea Mother's Day is breakfast in bed. Perhaps it is a massage, a bubble bath or dinner out. Whatever it is, dreams of Mother’s Day are certain to involve relaxation as you revel in the love of your family.Of course, this is all fantasy.

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The Battle of Attu

From June 3 to 7, 1942, Japanese forces attacked Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, bombing Dutch Harbor on the island of Unalaska and invading the islands of Attu and Kiska. Attu’s radio operator, Charles Foster Jones, died during the invasion and his wife Etta, the island’s schoolteacher, taken prisoner. The Aleut (Unangan) residents of Attu were taken to Japan for the duration of the war. Of the 40 captives, 16 (40%) died from disease and starvation.

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Shop local this Spring

As the days lengthen but the cool and wet temperatures drag on, the primal urge to seek signs of spring grows strong within us all. Budding trees and sprigs of green may be hard to find out in the natural world at this time of year in Alaska, but with a bit of simple modern technology and the help of some local professionals, they are simple enough to bring into your life and home.

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Rural Sprouts

“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.

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Legislative Skits Amuse

Easter was on April Fool’s Day this year, and Good Friday was chosen as a great time to feature the Annual Legislative Skits that began decades ago as a fundraiser for the Democratic Party. The show, which features staff making fun of their bosses, is now unaffiliated to any political organization but gives money to worthy causes in Juneau.Being a people watcher myself, familiar with this Juneau tradition, I went to observe what I knew would be The Beautiful People in all their glory.I don’t begrudge a once funny Saturday Night Live television show--which over the years has become less funny.

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