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Sivulliq: Ancestor

Lily H. Tuzroyluke

Top 10 Best Quotes

“In ancient times, when the world was cold, prosperous, and flourishing, it was a birthing place for our people. Newly married couples traveled to the cove, spending their first days as husband and wife. It is where love began.”

“This is how our people face death. We walk to the tundra, underneath the sky, and we face death by ourselves. Even the Elders, old, feeble, and minds like children, somehow, they know when the time is near. I suppose I’ll know when it is time.”

“We’re splicing rope today. Yesterday we cleaned out the trypots, the pots for boiling whale blubber, dry as an old maid in heat, Remigio says.”

“The healers drained our old blood in the arms or back of the knee. They tattooed ancient symbols on our bodies, especially children. Tattoos protect our spirits.”

“On an idyllic summer day, we walked through the meadows and hillsides, sitting in circles, laughing and filling sacks of cottongrass, salmonberries, crowberries, cranberries, mountain alder, northern golden rod, and rose hip roots. We collected cloudberry tea and Labrador tea, and wild celery. The Elders walked together, laughing, talking of the old days when they would travel to the Messenger Feasts, across the channel to Siberia, or south to trade in Qikiqtaġruk. We’d mix a dessert of fresh berries and lard, whipping and whipping the lard until fluffy.”

“My husband trudged up the ridge, stumbling, but determined. My children and I watched him until he disappeared over the ridge, out of view, vanishing into the abyss. It wasn’t an extraordinary day, not foggy, not stormy, or a bright day. It was grey and cloudy when a good man and a good father walked up to face death like our people have done for a millennia.”

“My children tell stories of the ancient world, the old world. They search for Little People on the tundra, little beings not taller than a human hand. They tell stories of strong men who stayed underwater for days. The strong men cupped their hands against the ocean floor, breathing with pockets of air made by their cupped hands. My children try to forget death by telling these old stories. They’ve carried dead bodies to the graveyard with their own youthful hands.”

“Instead, I think of my husband hunting in the foothills surrounded by fog, walking on tawny rocks and smoky green lichen, like we did in our early days of marriage when we wandered in the country on our dog sled, unrushed, unhurried, filled, and content.”

“In ancient times, at this shallow cove, the Koyukon attacked our people. The women fought alongside the men, running half-naked from their homes to show their courage. The Elders took the children into their umiaqs, fleeing to the sea. The Elders shielded the children’s eyes but could not shield their ears, and land went silent. The Elders and children buried the Inupiaq and Koyukon people side-by-side on the stilts of the whalebone, then they journeyed north to begin again.”

“Gerald and I saw the Azore Islands, Talcahuano, Tumbez, San Francisco, and Nome from afar while the captain and officers rowed to shore for fresh food and fresh whalers. Even at Nome, not two days ago, Gerald and I watched the Alaskan town from the ship. We saw Talcahuano at night, the town alive with lights and torches. We heard music across the water. People celebrated an event on shore. We thought it might be a wedding. We imagined walking the clay, brick roads, ordering crabs and clams near the sea, sampling the local exotic fruits and plants growing in their vibrant colors and prickly skins, and of course, seducing the dark- skinned indigenous women emanating macadamia oil, musk, and leafy air. Merihim laughed at our children’s eyes and said to act like men, not like guttersnipes at a bakery window.”

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Book Keywords:

historical-fiction, birthing-place, yankee-whalers, arctic, azore-islands, tattoos, love, death, native-american-literature, healing-plants, whalebone, traditional-plants, little-peoples, healing, guttersnipes, alaska, ancestors, inupiaq, qikiqtagruk, traditional-medicine, nome, love-quotes, healers, traditional-healing, indigenous-peoples, koyukon, indigenous, messenger-feasts, bowhead, commercial-whaling, alaska-native-literature, death-and-dying

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