Place names and landmarks of home

These picturesque cliffs are found near Toksook Bay. Back then when i was a kid I used to walk around this rocky point. It seemed to be much wider and further out in the bay. Coastal erosion is happening everywhere. photo by Greg Lincoln

by Greg Lincoln

For some of us, we consider the place of our birth or where we grew up as children our hometowns. These places hold special places in our lives because they are part of our earliest memories, the place where we have our first glimpse of realization when we first become aware.

This past week I had the greatest honor of being able to visit our home, the home of my family and our children. Many things have changed, but the constants that have endured the passage of time were still there – the beach, the mountain hills, the ocean – all the things that we love and are connected to through our culture, traditions, and language.

And the place names of the landmarks there are still the same – Nialruq, Car-aruaq, Upnerkilleq, Al’aqucik, and the list goes on and on.

Even now in your own hometowns you are familiar with your own landmarks and place names of significance. And since you are from where you are from, you know and love them all. When you visit them they are like old friends, and you can even proclaim the name out loud. Feelings of nostalgia may wash over you and that may bring a tinge of sadness because those times are now past. During these times you miss the ones you love the most and wish they were still with you, to share the visit of that place with you.

Have you ever done that?

You share that knowledge with others who are from your village and you can talk about them with each other freely without any confusion. That binds us together. Your mind can recall the place names just like that, because it is all a part of you and your life.

During my trip I squeezed in some ocean fishing, a 7.25 mile run up those beloved hills, and got to eat my brother’s family’s cooking, quyana. During my run I almost went all the way to Tununak.

There was not one mosquito in sight.

While visiting family and walking around the village, the majority of the children still spoke our native language, the unique version of Yup’ik that is called the Nelson Island dialect.

You can usually tell where a person is from by the way they talk.

Thank you to my brothers and their families for the gifts of Eskimo food for our family. Kelly does loves them all so much and says quyana!

There is more to my trip story, but maybe I’ll save that for another time. Thank you to our local airlines for safe transport. Prayers for our villages, our beloved hometowns.