I am writing this from Manndalen, Norway, home of the Riddu Riddu festival! Riddu Riddu is an Indigenous music festival in the northern part of Norway. I performed as AKU-MATU here last year as part of the Alaskan Native contingent as Alaskan Natives were the "Northern Peoples of the Year" in 2017.
This year, I have returned as part of a first ever Inuit Circumpolar Arctic Hip-Hop Collaboration. We are creating new music that will be released as mp3's and also on vinyl in 2018. It is an exciting collaboration, led by Greenlandic beatmaker and producer, Aqqalu Berthelsen.
It is beautiful here in Manndalen. We as a collaborative team arrived to the festival to work on our collaborations. There are also hip-hop dancers here that will be part of the festival and part of the collaboration.
After Manndalen, I will travel to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates to do the initial research for "Everybody Will Be A Millionaire!" which is a collaboration between myself and Iñupiaq photographer Brian Adams. I am nervous about the heat, about being in 106 degree fahrenheit temperatures for six days in a row.
I hope to sit on a camel. I am excited to be in a different part of the world.
I recently spent almost three weeks in Kaktovik, my traditional homelands. I had no internet access while there, which was great in many ways. It was so good to be home. Now, I travelled halfway across the world to be in the Arctic again, with Inuit from different places in the Arctic. Collaborating, creating new music.
I highly recommend visiting the Riddu Riddu festival. It was a longtime dream come true to be able to perform here last year, and a big honor to return again so soon as part of a collaborative team.
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!
Hello. Welcome to my blog! A place for you to get to know me more. I intend to post here once a week, possibly more about my life, my artistic practice, and about where I am and what I am working on.
Thanks for finding me on the internet! The above photo is of me, as a baby.
It might sound crazy, but I remember being a baby, and more specifically, I remember smiling for this photograph. I remember thinking, "I made it!" I made it to another lifetime. And here I am.
I am Iñupiaq. I was raised to be Iñupiaq. My Mom is full Iñupiaq, and my Dad is a redheaded man from Missouri. I attended my grandmothers funeral in Missouri a couple of years ago (my Dad's Mom), and I was surprised to find out that she was part Indigenous, from a tribe in North America. I am not sure which tribe, it is something that I need to do research on. I'm not sure if my family knows. I talked to some of my cousins about it and asked about the tribes that were from that area. I need to travel there, talk to my older relatives that are there and hopefully see if there are photos. I think from the photos I will be able to contact the different Nations directly and hopefully get help solving the mystery.
My Dad divorced my Mom when I was two, so I was raised fully as an Iñupiaq, as my Mom likes to say. I grew up around Elders. I was given Iñupiaq names as a baby, which is part of our traditions. I grew up in a small city, yet travelled to Kaktovik, where my Mom is from and where I am a tribally enrolled member of the Native Village of Kaktovik.
There are so many stories to tell. I am in a really exciting moment in my career as an artist. I am like a bird, just catching the wind, seeing where I can go, how I can get there. I see my blog as a way to give you more insight into how I became the person I am today. A way to take you along on my journey with me. I'm very excited to share with you. Thank you for being here. If you want, check out my Patreon page where I list out goals for each month and report back to subscribers on my progress. It is another way to have deeper access to my process, my goals and intentions.
I look forward to sharing more. Quyanaqpak (thank you very much)!
Allison Akootchook Warden