Living for others

Day one of filming is complete!

We interviewed three people today- whew. It may not seem like a lot, but the amount of preparation and setup that goes into each interview makes each interview take a while.

Each of the interviewees had a different perspective to bring to light regarding the major problems plaguing Bethel, including substance abuse, violence, and the lack of access to education. One highlighted the economic problems facing the people of Bethel, one focused on the connectivity between the land and the spiritual lives of the people, and the third one discussed the value systems of the people.

Each of the three people we interviewed discussed the issue of subsistence living in Bethel, or lack thereof. The effects that the inability to live a subsistent lifestyle have been devastating to the Yup’ik people, whose value systems are based off of subsistence. It was the glue that holds families together, and without it the entire family dynamic is changing. They are a people formed by the landscape in which they live. For example, children are often named after the place where they are from…it is literally their identity.

Despite the difficulties faced by the Yup’iks, they are resilient. This culture is one of beauty and strength, and one that focuses on the importance of gratitude.

Gratitude- something our consumerist society in the lower 48 often forgets about. The Yup’iks are grateful for every little thing. When they go hunting, if they kill a moose they take the time to pray and be thankful that the animal chose to give itself to them. They don’t boast their personal triumph of killing a moose, but rather treat it as a special guest they respect, rather than a piece of meat for their

No one lives for themselves out here. Children are traditionally named after the last family member who died. That dead family member is believed to live through that new child. They believe this so strongly that the life of that person comes back through the life of a newborn family member that they even celebrate the birthday of the deceased namesake with the new child…who never even knew the relative.

The Yup’ik culture is deeply rooted in the values of community, family, and togetherness and the proof of those values are seen everywhere here. Not only within the family unit, but outside of the family unit as well. For example, a parishioner of the Catholic Church we’re staying in brought us two plates of freshly caught (and deliciously prepared) fish, for no other reason than to thank us for visiting.

The community here is a beautiful one seemingly willing to accept us, and we’ve only been here a short two days.

More later-

(here is the closest thing to a sunset I’ve seen so far…and this was taken around midnight)

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One thought on “Living for others

  1. Charming and disarming and learning how others think! That is your mission, should you choose to accept it. Thanks for all of the vivid descriptions and the great photos! I love you and am very glad that you have taken on this challenge. I love you and hope to see the videos you are making…..is that part of the plan? Say your prayers every night…..you are in mine…..God bless and keep you warm and safe…tonight and always….Love, Momma

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