Athabascan Woman Blog

Athabascan Culture & Alaska Native Life

Iditarod Halfway Checkpoint – Huslia

2017 Iditarod Musher Dee Dee Jonrowe arrives in Huslia. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

2017 Iditarod Musher Dee Dee Jonrowe arrives in Huslia. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Huslia was the halfway checkpoint for the 2017 Iditarod. It was fun to be in Huslia as the Iditarod musher passed through. People of all ages enjoyed seeing the mushers and their dogs. The first musher arrived on the evening of Thursday, March 9. My daughter and I went to Huslia on March 10 and stayed until March 13. Each day, we made short videos of interviews with community members and mushers.

On the first day, Ermelina Gonzalez interviewed Barbie Sam, Jefferson Sam, Jessie Henry, Hugh Bifelt, Warner Vent, Sr. (former Iditarod musher), and Katherine Keith (2017 Iditarod musher). On the second day, Ermelina interviewed Warren Vent (grandson of late Bobby Vent, former Iditarod musher), Bill Derendoff, Kristy and Anna Barrington (2017 Iditarod mushers), and Nicolas Vanier (2017 Iditarod rookie musher). On the third day, Ermelina interviewed Agnes Dayton and Rosie Edwin, and we shared some video footage of racers leaving Huslia.

On the last day we were in Huslia, we shared footage the last musher arriving in Huslia. The Huslia Tribal Council gifted Ellen Halverson (2017 Iditarod musher) with a pair of beaver skin mitts made by Colleen Weter. Iditarod volunteers thanked the community of Huslia for all of their efforts for making it a successful checkpoint.

Playlist of all videos:

I was impressed with the community of Huslia and how they came together to welcome mushers, dogs and visitors. For about four days, volunteers worked around the clocks. Volunteer vets, dog handlers and officials came to Huslia too. The community hall was a place to gather for information, meetings and to eat. The community made sure there was plenty of food for everyone.

The weather was fairly warm in the teens and it was sunny. It was awesome to see the dogs when they arrived in Huslia. They had to pull a sled 478 miles from Fairbanks to reach Huslia. They are true athletes. I could see how much they enjoyed resting in the sun. The field in front of the community hall was filled with mushers throughout the weekend.

I am so glad I took a break from city life and went home to see the mushers going through Huslia. Watching mushers at the ceremonial start in Anchorage is always exciting, but it is thrilling to watch them on the trail. You gain a deeper understanding the strength, strategy and will it takes to complete the nearly 1,000 mile race to Nome.

Here are some photos I took in Huslia (click photo to see album on Flickr). Enjoy!

Iditarod in Huslia

Kelley Baggerly – Athabascan Barber and Hairdresser

Kelley Baggerly. Courtesy photo

Kelley Baggerly. Courtesy photo

I love connecting with people in person and online. I started following an Athabascan barber and hairdresser, Kelley Baggerly, on Instagram (@kelleycuts). I enjoy seeing her adventures in Alaska, the work she does and times spent with family and friends. I reached out to learn more about her and she graciously agreed to an interview for the Athabascan Woman Blog.

Kelley is Koyukon Athabascan and was born and raised for most of her childhood in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her late mother, Thelma Cline, was from Nulato, Alaska. Her father, Tim Cline, came up to Alaska from Novato, California to teach music. Her maternal grandparents were Janet and Robert Stanley of Nulato. Kelley is a single mother of two children ages five and seven. She loves spending time with my family in Anchorage. Kelley enjoys being outside hiking, snowboarding and photography.

Kelley Baggerly and children. Courtesy photo

Kelley Baggerly and children. Courtesy photo

Kelley is constantly pushing to keep some of her Athabascan traditions alive by eating Alaska Native foods. She reads stories to her children, encourages them to get involved in Native events in Anchorage. Her son, Kaiyuh Nokinba, has a Koyukon Athabascan name. It was important to her to give her first child an Athabascan name so he always knew how proud we are of his Alaska Native heritage.

Kelley shares her love of music with her father. She feels her father’s love for music really brought the community of Nulato together. Kelley says, “I really think he impacted a lot of Native youth through his teaching and love for music.” At 18 years old, she got two small tattoos on her wrist in honor of her love of music; they were a small treble and bass clef.

Kelley Baggerly. Courtesy photo

Kelley Baggerly. Courtesy photo

Kelley continued to get other tattoos to signify different parts of her life, like her struggles and accomplishments, and to remember ones she has lost. Her love of tattoos continues and her most recent ones are some roses on her elbow she got Valentine’s Day. Kelley says, “They really are just a map of my life.”

At 17 years old, Kelley faced the devastating loss of her mother. Her family has helped her through that loss and in her current life as a single mother. She appreciates her supportive family and network in Anchorage. Kelley says, “Being able to count on them has helped me overcome the struggles of parenting alone.”

Kelley cut her brother's hair on a barber's chair from the 1890's originally from the SS Nenana (a steamboat now in Pioneer Park in Fairbanks). Courtesy photo

Kelley cut her brother’s hair on a barber’s chair from the 1890’s originally from the SS Nenana (a steamboat now in Pioneer Park in Fairbanks). Courtesy photo

Kelley earned her hairdresser’s license in 2008 from the Academy of Hair Design. She worked as a hairdresser for about four years. Then, she became more interested in men’s haircutting and styling. She got a job at a barbershop on Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson (JBER) in 2012 to gain more experience on barbering skills. At that point, she was hooked and decided to switch her career from hairdressing to barbering. Nowadays, you can book appointments with her at the Razor Barbershop in Anchorage (907-349-2889).

In 2015, Kelley took the plunge and completed the hours to retake her state boards to become a licensed barber. She explained that being able to do straight razor shaves and use the straight razor on haircuts and designs is what sets a barber apart from a hairdresser. Kelley says, “The amount of skill that goes into barbering really drew me in, and the huge amount of talent in this industry really excited me.”

Kelley Baggerly at work. Courtesy photo

Kelley loves helping her clients look extra fresh. Courtesy photo

Being a successful business owner and being able to support her family is important to Kelley. It was not easy to accomplish and there were times when she made almost nothing cutting hair, but she persevered. Kelley is glad she stuck with it and continued to build relationships with clients. She has a chair rental at the current shop she works in and has an established clientele. Kelley says, “My clients are amazing. I would literally be nothing if none of them believed in me and trusted me to be consistent with their services behind the chair.”

“My advice for anyone getting into the industry is to stick it out, have self-discipline, and remember that hard work goes a long way!” – Kelley Baggerly, Koyukon Athabascan

Kelley encourages people to follow their dreams and says, “Education is key, never stop learning or pushing yourself.” She always knew she would work with people, but she did not realize how much she would love barbering. Barbering brought her a sense of community in Anchorage and beyond. She has begun to establish relationships with other barbers and hairdressers in other states.

Kelley, Willy (owner of Razor Barbershop) and co-worker Ryan at Hairpalooza. Courtesy photo

Kelley, Willy (owner of Razor Barbershop) and co-worker Ryan at Hairpalooza. Courtesy photo

Kelley recently attended Hairpalooza at the Razor Barbershop in San Antonio, Texas. Hairpalooza was a combination of a hair show and a competition. Kelley says, “While I didn’t compete, I was able to go behind the scenes and meet all the judges and teachers of the class we took the next day.”

Kelley says, “My love for this trade has opened many doors for me and has also given me to the opportunity to give back.” She has done haircuts for many local events with other local businesses. She volunteers to give free cuts to people in need when she can.

Kudos to Kelley for overcoming challenges and following her dreams with hard work and perseverance. I know it is not easy raising two children on her own and she is doing a great job raising and supporting them. Thank you Kelley for sharing your story and being an inspiration to others!

Alaska Native Pulse 2017

What’s going on in the Alaska Native community? Here is a list of events of interest to Alaska Native people and Alaskans. I enjoy going to these events to learn more about Alaska Native culture and to visit with friends and relatives. This is the sixth year I’m publishing the Alaska Native Pulse event listing!

Some of the events have vendor tables where you can buy Alaska Native arts and crafts. Please feel free to contact me with any events that you would like me to consider adding or comment below.

Upcoming Events

Alaska Premier of Kivalina: Life in the Modern Arctic ● March 29 at 7 pm ● Anchorage Museum
Kivalina: Life in the Modern Arctic by Gina Abatemarco
Kivalina is a candid portrait of life 130 miles above the Arctic Circle in the Inupiaq village of Kivalina and living on an island that is disappearing into the ocean. Once a nomadic people, the film begins its telling a century after their ancestors were settled on the tiny island made of silt, sand and permafrost. With no resources to move and only a precarious sea wall to protect them, the film poetically explores the community’s struggle to maintain their way of life within a landscape and a system that is failing them. Weaving together observational storytelling and cinematic imagery, Kivalina is an evocative portrait of the Arctic. Digital projection. Presented in partnership with the Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association (AMIPA).

Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation Raven’s Ball ● March 25 ● Anchorage

Native Issues Forum ● March 30 ● Juneau

Cama-i Festival ● March 31-April 2 ● Bethel

Native Issues Forum ● April 6 ● Juneau

Alaska Native Studies Conference ● April 7-9  ● Fairbanks

Alaska Native Art Auction by Koahnic Broadcast Corp. ● April 13 ● Anchorage

82nd Annual Tribal Assembly of Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Central Council)  ● April 19 – 21 ● Juneau

Native Youth Olympics (NYO) Games Alaska  ● April 27–29  ● Anchorage

Denakkanaaga Elders & Youth Conference ● June 13-15 ● Holy Cross

World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO) ● July 19-22 ● Fairbanks

Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Annual Convention ● October 19-21 ● Anchorage

This is not meant to be a complete list. As with any events, dates are subject to change. I recommend going to the links provided for the most up-to-date information.

Half-Dried Fish

K’eyoge’ is half-dried fish in Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan). Photo by Angela Gonzalez

K’eyoge’ is half-dried fish in Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan). Photo by Angela Gonzalez

I challenged readers of the Athabascan Woman Blog to help me come up with some one-word writing prompts. The prompts will help inspire me throughout the year. My goal is to do one blog post a week. Worpdress’ daily one-word prompts is originally what inspired me. I thought it would be great to make the words more related to Alaska or Alaska Native people, culture and more. I hosted a giveaway for you all to help me. Thank you to all who participated!

The first word is k’eyoge’. Thank you to Margaret David for suggesting the word. K’eyoge’ means half-dried fish in Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan). I spent my summers in fish camp along the Koyukuk River near Huslia, and we were fortunate to catch, cut and smoke a lot of fish. We would smoke the eating fish in a smoke-house. Half-dried fish is exactly has it sounds. We smoke it until it is half-way dried, and bake it or put it in the freezer.

This is what fully-smoked salmon looks like. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

This is what fully-smoked salmon looks like. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

K’eyoge’ is a little softer in consistency than fully-dried white fish or salmon. It also is half-smoked, so you get that delicious smoked flavor. We used dead cottonwood to smoke fish. It’s making me hungry thinking about it. 🙂

Have you eaten k’eyoge’? I am very grateful when I get to eat some. Sometimes potlatches are the only place to get it. Check out Susan Paskvan’s Athabascan word of the week article on cutting fish on the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer.

One-word prompts suggestion jar. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

One-word prompts suggestion jar. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Do you have a word you would like to me to add to my suggestion jar? Comment below or send me a message on my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages. Be sure to like the Athabascan Woman Blog on Facebook for future giveaways.

Woman’s March on Anchorage Youth Report

My daughter and I went to the Woman’s March on Anchorage to take photos and interview a some people. It was about 11 degrees Fahrenheit and snowing. My phone died pretty quickly, but we managed to interview a few people.

Here are couple photos from the March.

Approximately 2,000 people attended the Woman's March on Anchorage. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Approximately 2,000 people attended the Woman’s March on Anchorage. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Approximately 2,000 people attended the Woman's March on Anchorage. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Approximately 2,000 people attended the Woman’s March on Anchorage. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Thank you to Ermelina Gonzalez for reporting for the Athabascan Woman Blog!

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