Posts Tagged ‘mukluks’

To start reading from the beginning, go to May 11, 2008.

Jimmy was back and Captain K (Kiyukuk), the reindeer herder, was
scheduled to leave. For days the Captain sat on the living room
varnished plywood floor scraping reindeer leggings. Leggings are,
naturally, fur skinned from the legs of reindeer. Kiyukuk placed the
14″-ish X 8″-ish piece of hide fur side down on the floor. With the hide
between his outstretched legs he thumped and stroked his handmade
scraper — rounded steel blade and bone handle — against the raw side
of the leggings removing dried membrane and tissue. Maggie was happy to
finally have her stash of leggings clean, white , soft and supple for
making mukluks. I was the happy recipient of a pair reindeer mukluks
with seal hide sole and land otter trim.

Kiyukuk was an expert at scraping reindeer hide. He worked for hours
happy to have work to do in a warm living area keeping an eye on the
comings and goings. He didn’t say much but would occasionally converse
with Maggie in Eskimo. He spoke English but when I said a word or two,
he pretended not to hear me.

Maggie and Martin brought him to the house nearly starved to death
with pneumonia. Maggie had taken good care of him and after a few weeks
of recuperation in Golovin, he was to be taken to live with his sister
in the midst of civilization (Anchorage?). Most of his adult life he had
lived alone surviving in the arctic wilderness. I wondered how he would
survive his last years in the city. It didn’t seem right or fair to me.
But it was inevitable. My suburban mind believed if we worked hard
through to retirement and old age, we would be and should be awarded
approaching death with dignity and peace. It didn’t appear to be a
dignified end for Captain K. I imagined him feeling displaced and caged.
I can’t know, but I am now aware, having watched my elderly parents and
others, that if I live to be an old woman, those last years may offer
the biggest of life’s challenges.

(to be continued) copyright Tamara Ann Burgh, all rights

Dancing Eskimo Boys

Learning to dance, Nome Elementary School

The Iditarod recently finished in Nome. My first experience with Iditarod, I took this picture of the last sled to
arrive in Nome some seven days after the winner. A ptarmigan is attached
to the stick.

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