Sunday, May 18, 2008

found: kup'it language

I had the opportunity to go to the Anchorage Museum for their 40th birthday & expansion celebration. The special exhibit, Yuugnaqiallerput, was about the Kup'it (kupiit) in northern Alaska. The exhibit was alive with culture, life, dance, and celebration. And language. Below are some phrases I wrote down which touched me in some way as I wandered and looked and watched.

How does this relate to writing? Because it's language. Each trip I take I find myself being exposed to new pieces of this world and this country where I live. And I am picking up pieces of language, be it other uses of words I know or, as in this case, a unique language on its own. And I see where we overlap or compliment or how, as in Kup'it, a whole idea is embodied in a word or two. And my sense of the world and the choices I have to make while writing are bigger, more open. Potentially more colorful. Who knows, maybe a future story will include a character meeting someone who it Kup'it or running across a phrase on an old piece of wood stuck in the snow as he snowmobiles in several miles to catch a glimpse of the Iditarod....

Alfred Milotte, Alaska State Museum
Pair of masked dancers performing at Hooper Bay in 1946

Cat Tamarmeng Elpengqertut : all things have awareness (One of my favorites)

Kenekngamceci Qanrutamceci: we talk to you because we love you

Qanruyutet: words of wisdom and instruction

Tuvqakiyaraq Kalukaryaraq-llu: sharing food and feasting

Aruqutkat: gifts

Tuaten-gguq ayuqellria tuvquyutuli cali ingna erneq aipirluku unguvaaqut: they say those who are generous with food are given another day to live. (Paul John, Toksook Bay)

Cauyarnariuq: time for drumming

Agayuyaraq: requesting abundance (at the final winter ceremony; involves singing songs of supplication to the animals' yuit [their persons])

Ciimat: stones

Kenngessuutet: a fire-making tool - nasal mucus was smeared on the edge of the fireband, which made the fire start right away

Yuungnaqpiallerput: The Way We Genuinely Live

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