To represent a culture, you must listen to a culture.

In the space of a week, Sean Vesce, creative director at E-Line, met with four different groups, including an Alaska Native elders group that counted William Hensley, who helped negotiate the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, among its members. He also met with a group of kids hand-picked by the Alaska Native community to represent youth issues and a group of CITC employees of indigenous heritage.

The fourth meeting was with an artists and storytellers group, where Vesce met Ishmael Hope, an actor, playwright, and poet who immediately delivered some hard truths about the project. Hope’s father is Tlingit, an Alaska Native people whose culture is based in the southeastern portion of the state. Hope is an expert in the Tlingit language. His mother is Iñupiaq, an Alaska Native people who hail from the state’s northernmost regions and who currently live in large numbers in the town of Barrow, Alaska, which sits above the Arctic Circle.

“[Ishmael] was the one that came out right at the outset and said, ‘Hey, look, if you guys are thinking that you’re gonna come up here once in a while and make your game down in Seattle, and check in with us once in a while to see if you’re on the track, there’s a long list of films and books and other kinds of artists that have come up to try that, and they have all failed,’” Vesce recalled. “‘If you want to succeed in this, if you want to create something that’s really appropriate and authentic, and you want to make something that not only excites people outside Alaska but makes people inside Alaska proud, you’re going to have to involve us in a very direct way, throughout the entire development.’ That really set the tone with us, in the way that we engaged with the community from that point forward.”

Hope and Vesce had a lengthy dialogue about how Westerners needed to break down internalized stereotypes, especially if they wanted to share, articulate, and understand an indigenous worldview. Without the ability to articulate the Alaska Native experience, Never Alone would be dead on arrival.

Why Never Alone is so much more than a video game

As the Arctic Erodes, Archaeologists Are Racing to Protect Ancient Treasures

A headless body, stretched out along the beach, appears through the smudged window of our ATV as we sail across the sand. There’s a windy lawlessness up here along the Chukchi Sea; I’m reassured by the rifle lashed to the lead ATV in the caravan. The archaeologist at the helm passes the decaying creature without pause. Anne Jensen has seen many headless walruses before—this one was likely already dead when it washed ashore and was relieved of its tusks. Jensen’s not worried about poachers; the rifle is for polar bears—the Arctic’s fiercest of predators. And Jensen seems entirely capable of staying calm and slamming a bullet into one.

We’re just south of Barrow, Alaska, heading to an archaeological site at a place called Walakpa Bay. It’s a grassy coastline that’s been occupied by semi-nomadic native Alaskans for at least 4,000 years. Their story, told in material remains, is scattered across the landscape we traverse at 60 kilometers per hour, past flocks of ducks and eroding bluffs. Most archaeologists mine the soil to better understand how the animals, landscape, and climate of the past may have shaped a culture. Read more.


Irene Bedard at the premiere of Disney’s ‘Pocahontas’ on June 11, 1995 at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, California. Bedard provided the voice for Pocahontas. Most recently, she stars in the film “Songs My Brothers Taught Me.”


Experience Native Alaskan culture with this beautiful indie game

Very seldom do we see a new game that presents itself as a means of cultural discussion.

Never Alone, or Kisima Innitchuna for those of you who speak Inupiat, is a game being developed by Upper One Games. The studio wants to bring “world games” to the medium and help facilitate the celebration of culture.

[Read more]
Mulaka, Never Alone, and videogames as cultural agents
Games can keep history alive.

It’s not unlike Never Alone, a puzzle-platformer game released in 2014 that borrowed heavily from the traditions and mythology of the Alaskan Native people. It was created by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council in association with E-Line Media as a way to harness technology and better educate people of the customs and traditions held by the Inupiaq and other Alaskan indigenous peoples. By incorporating their legends and beliefs into a video game, their rich heritage can be virtually immortalized and survive much longer and in a more pure state than these tribes themselves.

No amount of books, movies, or retellings of tales can quite match the revelatory power of experiencing something firsthand. Lessons learned from inhabiting a role can be deeper, more personal, and more rooted in appreciation and empathy. Videogames like Mulaka are unique chances to experience, explore, learn, and appreciate, the vehicles through which preservation and education reach heights traditional forms of education can only hope to achieve.

Endangered cultures and games.

From Wikipedia Picture Of The Day; October 11, 2014:

A family portrait of an Inupiat mother, father, and son, photographed in Noatak, Alaska, by Edward S. Curtis circa 1929. The Inupiat are an Alaska Native people whose traditional territory spans from the Norton Sound on the Bering Sea to the Canadian border. At the time this picture was taken, most were living in coastal areas, having migrated there during a period of starvation and an influenza epidemic.

Photograph: Edward S. Curtis;
restoration: Keraunoscopia

Seal, it’s what’s for dinner.

A young boy helps carry a recently shot seal back to camp on the sea ice outside of Kivalina, Alaska.

Subsistence hunting is as much about survival as it is preservation of culture. The ice camp is an annual tradition that happens when ice leads open and the whales begin migrating north. Extended families will set up canvas tents, the floors covered with blankets and animal skins, while nearer the ice’s edge hunters sit and watch the black water for a ripple and spout of a whale.

Climate change is causing the ice to form later and melt earlier, not only exposing the coastal village to devastating winter storms, but jeopardizing cultural traditions spanning generations.

Image made in 2008 on assignment for Der Spiegel.

#fromthearchives #1DMKII #inupiat #native #culture #kivalina #alaska #arctic #landscape #chukchi #sea #subsistence #hunting #tradition #climatechange #everydayclimatechange #journalism #photojournalism

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An inuksuk, also called an inukhuk or inukshuk, is a stone cairn or landmark used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other indigenous people of North America (predominantly Northern Canada and the US state of Alaska).

Usage and structure

The most recognizable inuksuk are those that are “human shaped”, typically consisting of 2 base stones (legs), a pile of stones on top of the base with a large stone spanning across the pile and jutting out like arms or—as some have suggested—a Christian cross, and another small pile of stones on top. There is debate over whether or not this design developed before or after the arrival of European missionaries and colonists. However, there are also simpler inuksuk that can be a single upright stone, or a small pile of stones very similar to a cairn. In any case, it’s thought that, given the size of some of these constructions, that the building of an inuksuk was a communal effort.

Inuksuk vary widely in usage, and this is likely because the peoples lived (and still live) close to the Arctic Circle, which lacks natural landmarks, so it would only make sense that they would have to develop landmarks of their own in order to navigate, assign travel routes, signify safe camp sites, hunting grounds, fishing grounds, or demark a food cache. The Inupiat, for example, even used them as drift fences for hunting, and to assist in herding caribou.


The word inuksuk derives from two words, inuk meaning “person” and –suk which roughly means “substitute,” some combined it can be taken to literally mean “in human likeness.”  That said, it’s a word with many contexts, and in the context of seeing a literal inuksuk it takes on the addition meaning of “someone was here” or, perhaps more accurately given their usage “you are on the right path.”

Modern Incarnations and Historical Sites

The Inuksuk has become something of an official symbol of Canada in more modern times. Markers have been built throughout the country and used as logos for various events ranging from World Youth Day to The 1986 World Transportation Expo to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games held in Vancouver. And several historical and modern inuksuk have been donated to other countries by Canada as a gesture of peace and friendship. And of course it is the main image on the provincial flag of Nunavut.

There is at least one major site of national historic value and importance in Canada where a collection of over 100 inuksuk located at Enukso Point on Baffin Island is federally protected as a Historic Site.

Anonymous said: Do you know of any reputable lists of Alaskan Native names? Preferrably Inupiat or Yupik, but other nations would be helpful too.

If anyone would like to be a resource for this anon on Inupiat or Yupik names, please respond to this post.

Thank you!


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