When I arrived in Barrow for Kivgiq, the ambient temperature was in the -40's, and the wind chill, the -70's. I traveled from within the warmth of a jet airplane. Rex Nashookpuk traveled 100 miles on his snowmachine, coming from Wainwright.
I can guarantee you, he did not drive slow. So you can imagine what kind of windchill he experienced.
I doubt that he cared at all.
He just wanted to get to Kivgiq.
I am going to use different pictures than the few that I actually managed to post last February. At that, in the ten months that have since passed, I have so far only found the time to take a close look at a small percentage of my 2009 Kivgiq take and these represent only a tiny smattering of that. I chose them for this, because they were all in one folder and easy to get to.
Now... I know this kid's name... he is from Point Lay and he was three years old... and he was one of the very most popular dancers at the 2009 Kivgiq...
I know his name... it's just not popping up in my head... I want to post this right away...
Well, sooner or later, I will add his name back in.
...It's Elmo,,, Elmo Henry.
The man raising the walrus skull and tusks is Eugene Brower. Many gifts are given at Kivgiq. The man dancing to Eugene's right is his son, Frederick. Frederick shot the walrus and gave his father the skull and tusks.
Isaac Killugvik of Point Hope. Dancing comes natural to him. In his motions, there is power, grace and soul. Despite what I do, by nature I am a very shy person. Isaac gave me a gift and brought me onto the floor and I had no choice but to dance, just he and I, with all eyes focused directly upon us.
But after I started I got a feeling for it and it was fun. Then everybody applauded and shouted and we had to dance an encore. Once again, it was fun.
Come next Kivgiq, I must give Isaac a gift. I know just what it will be. After I give it, I will have to dance again. I am not sure I can do it again.
We will see.
Kivgiq only happens every two years on the average, so I still have more than a year to prepare myself.
Barrow High School Whaler dancers, caught in video.
My sister, Mary Ellen Ahmaogak, whose Wainwright family adopted me.
The Barrow Dancers drum.
Rhea Frankson of Atqasuk, who knows how to make a mask of her own face. She makes everybody laugh.
Elvis Presley passes out gifts.
Steven Kaleak, an active National Guardsman who served in Iraq and expects to soon serve in Afghanistan. He is doing a dance in honor of all veterans and servicemen and women.
Young Tagiugmiut dancers paddle in pursuit of a dance bowhead whale.
Kaktovik does a dance where the men and women switch styles - the women stomping and dancing about energetically, the men standing in one place, feet together, trying to mimic feminine grace.
See the beautiful young woman dancing out front? That is Katheryn Aishanna. Once, when she was a little girl, I was in Kaktovik and was staying in the home of her grandparents. Her aunt and uncle wanted to have a night out, and so they asked me if I would babysit their kids and the others hanging out with them.
Katheryn was one of those kids. She was very mischievous. It was a rowdy and fun evening.
Now she is grown and dances beautifully, with exceptional grace.
Lela Ahgook of Anaktuvuk Pass, who makes beautiful caribou skin masks and has fed me caribou at her table.
Four Wainwright girls.
Mary Ann Sundown, Yup'ik of Scammon Bay, 93 years old. She danced strong and energetic. Towards the end of her performance, someone spontaneously ran up and dropped some money in front of her.
Soon, everybody was dropping money before her.
Barrow dancers doing Kalukaq.
Back home in Wasilla, I found Kalib in Caleb's arms, looking at me through the backdoor window.