The joys of Inuk living

I’m still thriving and living and writing in this crazy world. Hope y’all are too.

I submitted a poem, “Ode to a Phenomenal Woman,” for the chapbook that Straw Dog Writers Guild summer intern, Marissa Mizzoni of Smith College, is editing. The chapbook is a fundraiser for the Dead Writers Dance that will be held at the Northampton Center for the Arts on Oct. 19th. Some chosen writers, poets will read aloud during the Spooktacular dance.

My office is still messy and I need better organization. I sit among the sea of papers with the fan on and the TV on for background noise. My handsome husband still delivers the daily 17:00-17:30 cup of coffee.

I went to the NMAI-NY for the day with my private chauffeur aka Husband earlier this month. I saw the amazing educational room that teaches visitors about Indigenous peoples. There are drawers full of items to touch and feel the joys of culture. My fren, Jennifer Rolenz, works there too. Go visit and say hi for me. I “smartly” brought my mini-ulu and the guard didn’t like it when he saw it in the xray machine. I leave it in my bag but always have it on me. How good of an Inuk would I be if I didn’t carry my caribou-handle ulu? (I mean, a girl’s gotta be able to cut her meat.) Fellow Happy Valley-Goose Bay born, Labrador Inuk Michael Massie has his art displayed in the big NMAI-NY room on the first floor. I have goofball photos of me in front of them. I couldn’t help but grin in pride. I saw my Lesley MFA alumna fren, Stacy LeVine, for a quick chat before we left the city. We “smartly” forgot to take photographs. (booo!)

I use the Procreate app on my iPad Air 3d gen. I have been busy making digital art since I can’t bead with my bad hands. (Advil is my fren.) I might post more of my prints here.

I am excited for my first brief piece to be published in Inuktitut of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. (What a fabulous opportunity for this writer to be in this amazing magazine for Inuit Nunangat.) Should be published in this coming week. My next piece is due soon. I’ve sent the cold emails out to people who know stuff. I hope they write back so I can interview them soon.

I saw Pudding and her g.f. as I helped her move into her new room. The old roommates should be grateful we kept our mouths shut. (FLOTUS Obama taught us well, “They go low, we go high.”) My Subbie is a very good vehicle and I am happy everyday to own her.

It’s all good. Take care, eat dessert first like Grandma-ma said, remember “Water is Life,” and be kind in this crazy world. Go Sox!

P.S. I don’t know how I forgot that I will be participating in the 21st Inuit Studies Conference in Montral this October. I am soo excited! I ordered my ticket early and was able to buy a ticket for my bio-Mom, Juliana. We’ll bunk together in a hotel too. I can’t wait and need to start practicing my Inuktitut. I’ll share more info as time gets closer. Taima.

Some of my artwork

I thought I’d share three of my pieces. Let me know if you want to buy them and/or see more. I draw when I’m stuck in the creative process.

Patik is Inuktitut for bone marrow.
This is my cool factor.
This is my Sedna the Sea Goddess. She’s in my thesis, Nomad on the Move.
My tattoo of Sedna is different than this one above.

Resume

Atsusi/Greetings,

I thought you might like to read my resume. EA_Resume_0219

I’m happy to edit, write, and work for you. I am available to speak and/or work on projects. Please contact me with inquiries and job offers.

I write, bead, sketch and enjoy my Inuk life with my family.

Publications

I wrote a book review for 2040 Review. I had the privilege to hear Oglala Sioux poet Layli Long Soldier read at Bard Microcollege Holyoke her book Whereas. We presented the new issue at The Muse & Marketplace 2019 conference that was held at The Boston Park Plaza. 2040 Review is a new magazine that is taking donations of $5.00 per hard copy or can be read online. (Look on page 13 in Volume 2 for my piece.)

I read aloud a poem in January at Amherst College called “Connections.” It was fun to participate with undergrad students after I spoke to their class earlier that week.

The Secret Path showed at 4:30 p.m. on November 28, 2018 at the UMass Amherst campus ILC,* room S240. (*ILC means the Integrative Learning Center on 650 N Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA.) The room was full of undergraduates and community members. The film, created by the late Gord Downie,  detailed one version of what happened to indigenous children in Canada and in the United States. First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were forced to leave home and live in boarding schools where they suffered abuse of all types. I spoke before the film since my Inuk now-mother had to attend the Nain Residential Boarding School for eight years. Gord’s brother, Patrick Downie of Toronto, introduced the film and answered questions after. Dr. Joe Pater of the UMass Amherst Linguistics department included a sub-link on the UMass Amherst Linguistics dept. blog a chapter from my thesis.  I attended Lesley University for my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Nonfiction. I am very grateful Dr. Pater added my words to raise awareness of what happened to innocent indigenous children.

Over the summer I read aloud my poem, “R.I.P. DJ” at The Iconica Social Club. On another night, I also read most of my essay, “A Whale of a Tale” at the Read-Aloud Night at The Basement of Northampton. Both audiences gave me great feedback and it’s great to sit amongst fellow writers.

I read aloud a short piece I titled, “4 June 2018” at the Forbes Library. It was a Straw Dog Writer’s Guild event. I read with fabulous poets and writers– Martin Espada and Nicole M. Young. The singers’ The Nields’ played a tune. I posted the piece I read aloud on a separate page. It was an amazing experience.

The American Story

is in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of The Auburn Avenue of Atlanta, Georgia.

My Uivak

was published on May 1, 2018 in the sixth issue of Dawnland Voices. My uivak means “My journey” in Inuktitut as it pertains to being an Inuk woman living in America.

Can I Travel?

was published in late Winter, early Spring 2018. Accessible Family Travel is a blog about/for/by people living well despite the challenges that physical and mental ailments produce on a human body. Started by grad student Suzanne Bair of Washington.

Written for a group of UMass Amherst freshmen

When my former UMass Amherst mentor asked me to help a freshman learn about Indigenous rights and how the media and the gov’t work for/against the indigenous of North America within the last decade, I rose to the task. How could I not? I’m a formally trained journalist and writer whose job is to inform others. Doing this type of homework was fun for me. My homeland, Nunatsiavut, had to be first of the nine current events. Sonya said she’d return to her group and share it with everyone. I was not paid though someday, the check will be in the mail. I gave the student a copy of the following pdf. I can send out a pdf version if you email me. I always welcome feedback and questions.

Ella Alkiewicz
member of Nunatsiavut kavamanga of Labrador, Canada
UMass Amherst B.A. in BDIC: Journalism and CPNAIS, 2012
Lesley University MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction, 2018

Ella.alkiewicz@gmail.com                                               
Mobile: 413-XXX-XXX6

Throughout the years, the original inhabitants of Canada and the 50 states, the Aboriginal and the Native Americans, have not received the same rights that their counterparts, the colonizers, have. The governments have altered the indigenous peoples of North America since the beginning. The governments have profited by: stealing land; mining Mother Earth for her natural resources—oil, gas, hydropower with no regard for community safety; sensationalizing indigenous peoples in movies/commercials; selling “Pretend-ian” [pretend Indian] merchandise; revoking tribal rights and/or ignoring signed Treaties.

These types of gains have happened since Canada and America were “founded.” The history taught in public schools vs. what really happened are two different stories since history is written by the victor(s). When I was a child, teachers classified me as a trouble maker bc I fought or was confrontational to adults because I knew what people told me was wrong. I didn’t have the formal education to properly vocalize what I knew intuitively. Once I attended UMass Amherst, and took CPNAIS classes, I learned the sad truths about what happened to my Inuit family and to other indigenous peoples. Fortunately, I found the Native community here in western Mass. Years later, I’m a trained journalist and a writer, I am compelled to impart the news of what I learned. Nevertheless, I’ve noticed when I speak about indigenous issues, listeners become uncomfortable though it is very necessary to have these conversations. I am delighted to meet with freshmen today. Dr. Jean Forward taught me well since she was then-director of the CPNAIS program at UMass Amherst and my BDIC mentor.

Fortunately, the Indigenous peoples have improved their resistance with social media in recent years because technology is our friend. It is important to acknowledge these issues because Mother Earth is sacred, Water is Life, and it is reprehensible for the government to break/ignore treaties.

I compiled a list of the current events for Inuit Nunangat and Indian Country:
The first line describes how the gov’t profited from the Aboriginals and Native Americans. The second line is what area/type of current event I’m describing. The third+ lines are credible online articles that substantiate my statements.

1) Natural resources. Stealing land. Threat of poisoning water.
my homeland –#MakeMuskratRight (Muskrat Falls-Churchill Falls of Labrador)

http://makemuskratright.com/

https://canada.constructconnect.com/dcn/news/government/2018/09/muskrat-falls-inquiry-discovers-quebec-n-l-tensions-churchill-river-energy

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/muskrat-falls-court-battle-continues-1.4879566

2) Natural resources.

‘The Black Snake’ Line 3, stretching over Native lands and protestors stopping it.

http://www.honorearth.org/stop_line_3

https://bullshit.ist/big-muddy-and-the-black-snake-environmental-racism-and-the-dakota-access-pipeline-2d2d95d3a892

3) Revoking rights of indigenous people.

North Dakota’s voting laws changed where Indians can’t vote bc they use post office boxes

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/judge-denies-native-american-motion-block-voter-id/story?id=58923035

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/01/us/politics/north-dakota-voter-id-tribe.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FNative%20Americans&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/19/us/politics/north-dakota-voter-identification-registration.html?module=inline

4) Natural resources. Abuse of power. Stealing land.

#NoDAPL (No Dakota Access Pipeline)

https://www.nodaplarchive.com/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/magazine/the-youth-group-that-launched-a-movement-at-standing-rock.html

5) Stereotyping. Selling Pretendian merch.

Regalia is not a (Halloween) costume
https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2018/10/25/protesting-native-american-costumes/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XwIix0a2b4

6) Sensationalizing. Selling Pretendian merch. Stereotypes.

Indians are not mascots

https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/29/opinions/chief-wahoo-cleveland-indians-baseball-mlb-trnd/index.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/washington-redskins-native-americans_n_5607082http://www.ncai.org/proudtobe

https://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/01/tempers_flare_over_indians_mas.html

7) Revoking/ignoring treaty rights.

Erasure of Federally-recognized tribe(s)

https://www.capecodtimes.com/news/20181022/mashpee-tribes-leader-the-threat-is-real

http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2018/09/17/mashpee-wampanoag-tribe-lands

http://blog.nativepartnership.org/can-tribes-be-unrecognized/

8) Sensationalizing indigenous women.

Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)—my Ajâtsuk/maternal aunt is one.

https://www.nwac.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Fact_Sheet_Root_Causes_of_Violence_Against_Aboriginal_Women.pdf

https://www.nwac.ca/national-inquiry-mmiwg/understanding-mmiwg/

9) Sensationalizing indigenous women.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/republicans-violence-against-women-act/

https://indianlaw.org/issue/ending-violence-against-native-women

https://www.justice.gov/tribal/violence-against-women-act-vawa-reauthorization-2013-0

Resources

  • Nunatsiavut kavamanga/government nunatsiavut.com
  • Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami itk.ca
  • Native American and Indigenous Studies Association naisa.org
  • Native American Journalist Association (NAJA)              naja.com
  • North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB) naicob.org
  • Mass Commission on Indian Affairs

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/indian-affairs

 

Tardy

Atsusi/Greetings!

My apologies for not writing this past summer. I hope this finds you well.
I did submit some of my work though I haven’t learned if the pieces will get published or not. I get to “Hurry up and wait” which is one of my a-dad’s favorite sayings.  Nevertheless, I won’t write that I had a boring summer.

I bought (Professor) Ted Van Alst Jr.’s newest book, Sacred Smokes. It was great to send a picture to him after I received it. (He thanked me too.) I’ll need a whole post to write about it than share now. Definitely, go find it at your local bookstore.

I am happier with the upward trend that Native authors are on the shelves. (There’s hope for my future books to be alongside Mailhot, Orange, Trudell, and Van Alst’s.) Youngsters today are luckier then when I was a shorty.

Sadly, when I was a child- Natives were considered extinct or ancient. I was the “token” Indian in the room who heard jokes and derogatory remarks about my people. No one understood their racism hurt me to my core; they just saw my fists fly and my tears stream down my tan, round face. Now in my adult years, I know now that Aboriginals/American Indians/Inuit/First Nations/Native Americans* exist. We are strong, smart, educated, funny, beautiful, important people who vote, read, write, shop, live in society. I earned my Certificate in Native American Indian Studies from UMass Amherst in 2012 to prove, to The People, I know stuff.

In my younger years, my a-mother tried to normalize my heritage and show that I wasn’t unique. I was a loved lone Inuk regardless. A-Mom bought me over the years: toy igloos, Eskimo** dolls, posted pictures of Eskimos in the snow, and had statues for me to cherish. I liked them and felt better with the artifacts around my side of the room.

Back then, we didn’t have the internet on a phone or on a laptop. We, kids, bike rode or walked to the public library during business hours and used the card catalog to find the books or find a relic, the heavy encyclopedia— you couldn’t take out of the reference section. We either checked out the book or found the correct encyclopedia where we then rewrote the pages or photocopied the pages for a nickel! (And nickels for photocopies took away our trips to the penny candy store. That in itself was a travesty to the chubby Inuk** I was.) After the arduous library trip, we had to walk or bike home to sit at the kitchen table and write in cursive on paper the homework assignment! (Cursive writing is when one scribbles legibly the alphabet and the words connect. A skill that public ed teachers have stopped teaching the next generation.)

Trips to the library were a chore and I enjoyed the lessons and knowledge they gave me once I could sit at the table. (I still swell up with pride walking into a library though now I drive.) After dinner, one of my parents took the responsibility to stand over me and reread my work to make sure I didn’t plagiarize or sound like an idiot. (English and Social studies was A-Mom’s cup of tea while A-Dad’s ken was/is science and math.)

I remember I wrote reports about Eskimos to feel connected to my people. When I was in eighth grade, I wrote and gave a report to a little class for extra-credit. (I have always been a writer and a teacher. Now I have the legal certifications— then I acted as if.)  I had a bibliography and pictures like I did for my recent thesis.

I don’t know how the tangent began, I digress. I’m a writer who still has to write. I worked hard for my MFA these past two years, and I need to keep the juices flowing. I can’t wait for my diploma to arrive in the mail sometime soon (???).

This summer: my husband did have knee surgery, I moved our kid in/out of three different homes, we adopted a kitten, and we’re planning on moving to the next town. I submitted work to two agents. Though I was turned down, I did receive excellent feedback for my prose. I read aloud most of my “A Whale of a Tale” to the Straw Dog Writer’s Guild -Read Aloud Night – in Northampton. I visited with two LesleyMFA Alumni for supper at The Roost. Sonya Larson of Grub Street invited me to Alexander Chee’s book reading and Writers of Color gathering. I bought his book, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, and he is amazing. We had a fun night in Brookline. I am slowly learning my first language. There’s always another Red Sox or Patriots game to watch too. I saw my fren who returned from Scotland for a New York Minute. I miss her face. I visited another fren for dinner across the Commonwealth. Also, I took a day trip and  drove to New Haven, Connecticut then took the Metro-North R.R. into New York City to help celebrate my dear MFA friend’s birthday. Fun though was very short. And, of course, I got lost. We laughed, we noshed, I drank Pepsi. SL has awesome friends!

It’s been a h3ll of a summer thus far and Autumn is upon us. Later on this month, I am going to the Boston Writers of Color supported by Grub Street group and speak about WoC and MFA programs. The brisk weather, while I’m happier to have, came on quickly after the gawd-awful hot, humid days. The struggle is real.  Be well all. I’ll write again. I don’t want to be this tardy again.

*The five different words are used by Americans and Canadians. In my opinion, those words are all interchangeable. I don’t think those terms used reflect well upon us. I prefer to use Indigenous peoples of North America. We, a collective of tribal people, lived across the continent long before the countries were “founded” in 1776 or in 1867.
**Eskimos and Inuit are two tricky words. Canada has four different land regions of Inuit. The word Inuit is an Inuktitut word that translates into “The People.” Meaning the first people. We’ve lived for thousands of years across the tundra. Next, the word Inuit is plural for Inuk. I am a Labrador Inuk. Using the words, Inuit or Inuk, is preferred.
**Eskimo is an old term that translates into “Meat Eater.” It is a derogatory word and there are many people like me who despise hearing it. Ex., the NFL team, the Edmonton Eskimos, should change the team’s name. (But that’s another post.) Then, in Alaska, there are the Yup’ik Eskimos and they keep that title. Remember, I said it’s tricky.
***Either way, please respect my identification as Inuk because that is who/what this writer is.

 

A Night of There There

Native author Tommy Orange of California came to South Hadley, Massachusetts last night to read from his novel, There There. Every seat was filled.

He read the prologue that was full of wit and grit to the mostly White audience. The truth of what the gov’t did/do to Native Americans and how Hollywood depicted/s Indians saddens me. I know the truth he spoke.

The last two lines from the “Urbanity” segment rattled me to sit-up from my slouching position: “Being Indian has never been about returning to the land. The land is everywhere or nowhere” (11).

20180606_191413
Tommy Orange read from his novel, There There, to the audience at Odyssey Bookshop.          Photo by Ella Alkiewicz. 060618.

I noticed he handled the questions like a champ. I think I will be nervous when I read at bookstores (fingers and toes crossed my thesis becomes published someday).

I heard the same wisdom from him as what my first Lesley University MFA mentor, Janet Pocorobba, told me in Fall 2016. Someone asked him how did he deals with painful issues? He replied with pain is relative. Writing helps get through the pain.
I know his book will detail the pain that fellow Indians felt/feel. It’s inevitable.

I asked him what his favorite part of the book was (I’m a spazz; I admit it).
He said he loved writing it. I shouldn’t be surprised as I agonize editing my thesis for the hundredth time. It’s a perverse love that only fellow writers understand.

20180607_005501
An inspirational quote from a fellow Native MFA writer! Photo by Ella Alkiewicz. 060618.

It’s all good. I went with my Native elder, Joyce Vincent, and met some UMass Amherst faculty and another Native with husband. I wish more Natives attended but on a Wednesday night, who knows what everyone’s schedules are. We laughed and nodded and clapped for this gentleman. I’m glad we went and look forward to reading his book.

20180606_195226.jpg
He let me take a selfie. Photo by Ella Alkiewicz. 060618.