It is called the jewel of Alaska, but it’s not found in mines and it doesn’t have a golden glitter. It is found in the waters, along 34,000 miles of Alaskan coastline and in countless pristine lakes and flowing rivers. It is the “fish,” and Alaskans and globe trotters are out there for the catch!
There are five species of salmon that can range from pan-sized to 80 pounds. A Halibut can easily weigh in at over 150 pounds. I would imagine the most lucrative businesses (besides the oil industry) are the ones who outfit and transport those who have come for these jewels of Alaska. A stylish pair of chest waders goes for about $120. Then there is the license, the guide, the dip-net, the fly-ins and the flash freeze!
At the Anchorage Museum there is a wonderful display of the his/herstories of native Alaskans which includes artifacts, tools, clothing and continuously playing video narrations.
I was moved by the images of an older woman hanging fish that would be smoked and how she used every part of the fish. This was in stark contrast to the fishing I observed at the mouth of the Kenai River, where, once caught the fish is filleted on the spot and the head, bones, skin, roe and much of the body is discarded on the beach (the rules say the remains must be thrown back into the river).
If we used the whole of something, like the fish, would we take less? Would it have a different impact on us and on the EarthMother? So for my small part I am making sure to use my refillable water bottles! Can’t say I am willing to eat the fish heads though.
Jamie Sams writes about her Healing Quest (which focuses on the feminine energies and needs as opposed to the Vision Quest which includes deprivations suited to the masculine warrior needs), and she recalls the wisdom of Grandmother Cici. “We come from the bones of our ancestors.” Grandmother Berta told her that “animal bones give us the structure we need in order to learn the Medicine that particular Creature offers us.”
I am not on a Healing or Vision Quest but do have time for insightful reflection. A good start has been reading Jamie Sams’ book, “The 13 Original Clan Mothers.” Sams is a member of the Wolf Clan Teaching Lodge and offers us a powerful and engaging method for honoring and owning native feminine wisdom within our own daily lives. (I guess I can call this a sabbatical now since I am discovering and integrating new ideas into my vision and being.)
Tomorrow I am off to Lake Clark to photograph bears. Lots of them I hope. So far most of my bear sightings have been of mounds of sleeping fur or grass-browsing lethargic giants.
Although the temps for the last few weeks have felt more like Hawaii, the landscapes and endless fields of fireweed shout “Alaska.” One of the names of the 13 Clan Mothers is “Loves All Things.” She represents the 7th moon cycle. I haven’t read about her yet, but when I go from location to location enjoying the wilderness I feel like I know her!