The Things That Make Me Who I Am

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I believe that my culture is the most important thing that shows who I am and who I will always be. Growing up in a small community like Barrow, has brought me closer to my Inupiat culture because I am always surrounded by my family and others of my kind. In my culture, I was taught that our values and traditions are most important because they are what keep us alive and strong.

My culture is centered around family, community ties, nature, traditional song and motion dances, and language. My late grandparents, who I called “aapa and aaka,” taught me a lot about my culture and where I come from. I am especially thankful for my grandpa taking me out camping at his cabin up river every year since I was four years old. My grandpa was the one who taught me how to live off and survive nature. While at camp, we are away from today’s modern life and we bring back the old ways of living. One summer at camp my dad thought I was old enough to learn how to shoot a real gun. I was 14 years old with a 270 rifle in my hands shooting at coffee cans at 100 yards range. The next day my shoulder was bruised. Since I hit the can with most of the shots, I now had to learn to shoot at caribou. In that day, I had caught my first two caribou. The first one was easy because it was still, but the second was a challenge because it was running, but with only one bullet left in the rifle, I killed it. I was also taught how to butcher, prepare and cook the meat. When we returned from camp that summer, I also caught my first bearded seals and I learned how to drive a boat.

The thing I enjoy the most about my culture is the traditional songs and motion dances. I have been learning motion dances since I was three years old and as a member of the Suurimaanitchuat dance group, I am still learning .

A cultures language is the main thing that holds it together, because without a language there is no culture. My grandparents were the ones who spoke to me in the Inupiat language, now that...
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