The above photo is of me as a little girl, in Kaktovik, with my dog Nanook. The more legit way of spelling it is Nanuq, and it means polar bear in Iñupiaq. I grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. I was born and raised there. My Mom was raised in Kaktovik, Alaska. We would travel to Kaktovik throughout my childhood and my Mom ended up moving back to Kaktovik at one point in her life, and I stayed with her off and on while she had a place in Kaktovik.
It is a dream of mine to eventually build a home in Kaktovik and to live there part of the year.
Growing up in Fairbanks, relatives from both Kaktovik and Barrow would visit Fairbanks for different reasons and often they would stay with my Mom and I. Even though my Mom was raising me in an urban environment, she did get quite a bit of subsistence foods sent down to her and we ourselves would go ice fishing and also berry picking in the greater Fairbanks area. I remember we would also go up to Kaktovik to go camping out on the land. I also remember hunting as a small girl, up in Kaktovik.
This photo is taken outside the post office in Kaktovik. It looks like I have bandages on my hands, and it might have been from a four-wheeler accident. I remember going home to my Aaka's house (grandmother - the newer word for grandmother, the older way is to say Aana, I grew up calling her Aaka) and I had my parka all dirty and muddy and my legs and boots were muddy. I had gotten into a four-wheeler crash with a cousin, but I was ok.
I think Nanook was the first dog that I remember having. My Mom says we had an Irish setter named Prince when I was a baby, and after Nanook, I remember a black lab named King. We also had Irish setter/lab mix named Sam, a husky named Evan, a lab/german shepard mix named Geordi (my mom's dog), and then later on I had a chocolate lab named Logi. My mom later had a Nanook of her own (a rat terrier). I would like to have a dog again, yet the timing is not right to have one now.
I am writing this blog, going back in my memories with you while I take a break from my current self-funded, self-directed artistic residency in Seattle at Hing Hay Coworks. I have been here for two and a half weeks, and I leave in a week. I have had a very productive residency, and I would return to Hing Hay again to work. It has been a period of intense focus for me, which has been very healing.
I work for myself, so I have been doing a lot of different things, all at once, making sure everything is covered and taken care of. It's a fun challenge. I do envision having a team that supports me in the future. A team of people of whom I trust and who bring a lot to the table. A fun, yet focused team, getting my work out into the world.
Thank you again for reading my blog. I forgot to talk about my visits to Missouri as a kid, where my Dad is from. I will save stories of that for a different post. If you want even more access and stories, subscribe to my Patreon account. See you next week for my next blog installment!
Allison Akootchook Warden