We would say that when we smelled something stinky. We heard it a lot after Mom made a big pot of yummi bean soup!
I laughed when I showed Mom the book I had just recieved from our Native Corporation and she said, "Eeee!" Then she laughed when I asked her what "giinaquq meant. She said well they would say that when they could not figure out who someone was and it meant like, "Who the heck is that?"
"Two Journeys, A Companion to the Giinaquq: Like A Face Exhibition" is a beautiful book and is a supplement to the now showing display of masks at the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak, Alaska. The masks that originally came from Kodiak Island and were taken by a French explorer - way back when (Read PDF file). Actually, it is amazing that these items are still around surviving all that traveling - even warfare.
My Dad spoke of a time when a guy came to their village (Eagle Harbor), spent time with the people and became one with them. Living among them, eating the food they ate, learning and doing all the things our people did. Our people liked him and trusted him, "just like he was one of us." One morning after a long spell of drunkeness, the whole village slept while every piece of their handed down past was stolen from a special ceremonial barabara which held only all those things. The villagers woke up and looked for this guy - but he was gone. Where could he be? Then they found that all the items they used for their celebrations and ceremonies were gone. "Yah, they used those things for celebrating a boys first-time successful hunt for seal or bear too; like those times," Mom shared.
In late prehistoric times, Alutiiq people lived in sod houses, known as ciqluaq (barabara in Russian). These dwellings were built partially underground and had a driftwood frame, plank walls covered with sod and a thatched roof. These warm, insulated homes provided protection against Kodiak’s wet, windy weather. On average, a ciqluaq accommodated about eighteen residents; which generally consisted of related families. There was a center room connected by low openings to private side chambers used for sleeping, storage, and steam bathing (maqiq in Alutiiq or banya in Russian). OLD HARBOR NATIVE CORPORATION
Of course I can't know who this guy was from Dad's story, but I have thought of his story many times since reading of the Alutiiq (many of my relatives) finding our lost (?) heritage. Finding all this Alutiiq stuff over in France, of all places, one can only wonder.
I told Mom about what Will Anderson, President of Koniag, Incorporated wrote in the Foreword of this book -
"Growing up in Kodiak in the 1960s, I sometimes found myself in one of the downtown gift shops that catered to the tourist market. The shops sold curios, postcards, t-shirts, and the occasional mask or paddled that appeared to be hand crafted by an Alaska native. Since Kodiak Island is predominately Alutiiq, it was always puzzling to me that the only native artwork sold in the local shops were of Tlingit design. Why was there no artwork from our own history and culture?"I asked Mom, "Why isn't there anything from our culture?" She thought a while then said that she thinks that the people on Kodiak were so freed from their bondage to their old ways that they gave it all up just as the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church said they should do. She said when others would try to speak of those "voodoo-like" things they were discouraged. She said her oldest sister Sasha would quickly say, "Footey, Amen!" when she heard people talk of the scary old ways.
Dad told me of how other villagers would come to their village for dances. A big fire was built on the beach and as each visitor got out of their kayaks they would have to jump over the fire before coming into their village. This was common practice when people traveled from village to village. Dad said it was so that their own old spirits would stay over there and not come and bother them too in their village. Dad said that when the priests began to come to the villages, the people would hollar out as he walked past - there was so much power from God over those dark spirits, even in their shadows.
One day while on Maui in Hawaii, I went to a big international art show under the banyan tree. I walked slowly and quietly, enjoying artwork from different places. A vendor stopped me to ask if I was from a Native American culture. I said I had an Alutiiq heritage. I asked him why. He said, I sensed a strong presence when you stepped on the grounds here, I've been watching you approach. I thought that was strange because there is nothing special about me. There were so many people there why did he single me out? He continued to tell me that he had just returned from a big celebration of the culture of the native peoples of America on the mainland. He said that he could sense that I came from an old culture. (Don't we all!?)
The spiritual world is an unseen world of great powers that most of us don't understand, or appreciate their daily influence. The Bible speaks of it. I prayed that the spirit this man felt was the Holy Spirit! I pray that I do not keep any other lesser spirits comfortable remaining in my life. I've heard that spirits follow family lines (this is how one can "hear" a dead relative speak through a medium). I have renounced all spirits that were strong in my family/heritage. Keep out of my life, I now follow after God through the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Whispers grew strong and loud and my heart would pound as I hurried to be with other people rather than all alone. I hated those times because my heart would fill with incredible, crippling fear. I was silent and told no one. No one else could hear them, and I believed I would be considered crazy. I remained a fearfully controlled person for years, even after kneeling down and accepting Christ Jesus into my life, my heart, my thoughts!
One day during my first year away at the Bible boarding school I was in my dorm room alone when again the whispers started. First quietly, then louder than I had ever heard. I ran from my room and down the hallway to my dorm parents apartment. I pushed open their door. "I hear voices!" Carol was there and she got up quickly then questioned me about why I was so afraid. I frantically told her about the whispers. She was so spiritually wise. She took me to her bedside, knelt down and prayed with her arm around my shoulders. She told me it was spiritual, and that everytime I felt this I should kneel down and pray for deliverance. "Claim the powerful blood of Jesus Christ over this," she said. "God is able to deliver." I did and I was freed from fear! (Occasionally this fear tries to return and I pray.) We read Psalm 139 together. So much power over evil has been gained for us through Jesus Christ's defeat of the evil one! I am thankful to live without fear, just as my ancestors were in Eagle Harbor, and Kodiak Island when the priests shared the Gospel with them.
"When we got to Boulogne, I wasn't expecting that feeling I got. Like there was a presence there. It totally floored me. I was not ready for it. It sent chills up my spine. Something was there, I can't explain it. It felt like somebody or something was there, and it or they were happy we were there. Gary Knagin, Two Journeys, A Companion to the Giinaquq: Like a Face Exhibition.So it is with mixed feelings that I read about these masks from the Alutiiq's past. It was a voodoo type way, Mom said. They would make little carvings and stick hair or something from a person they wanted to torment, and they would. They could hang this little carving in a tree or someplace, and the cold wind would blow on it and the person would feel that.
I can understand why our people want to revive/find things from the past, it gives one pride in the people that they are. But I worry that they are digging up things our people put aside too - to be rid of their great fears when they gratefully accepted Christianity when it first came to their villages on Kodiak Island.
This is not Christianity against our culture, it is Christianity's power to release our people from the bondages of great spiritual fears and spirits. It is sad that so many tribes and peoples of the world are in great bondage to the ruler of this world through fear when they could have freedom through Christ Jesus. Freedom through Christ for the Alutiiq, and for all who will believe the Gospel. Fear has no strength against Christ. If Christ is for us... who can stand against us?
Incredible! I am thankful.