I am Inuk. My homeland is Nunatsiavut while my hometown is Amherst, Massachusetts. I have my husband and our daughter with super friends. Gobbling fish, creating art in various medium, and being near water are musts for this lil’ Inuk.
I was removed against my wishes from my homeland as an infant. I was renamed as an infant though now as an adult I am reclaiming my given name. I was raised amongst the Anglos and was taught to be obedient, scholarly, and uphold other White traditions. I did and can; however, I prefer to live the Inuit way. My ancestors’ genes live on and I want to make them proud before I go.
I am a former early childhood ed. teacher, trained by the greats at Salem State University. I am a former journalist, trained by the greats at UMass Amherst. I am a writer in the world of gross elitism. I will earn my MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction from the greats at Lesley University of Cambridge this June.
This is a challenge, to write about life here in the South. What do I share or withhold? What do I want to convey for the uneducated reader about my Inuk life?
Most people are shocked when I announce I am Inuit. I don’t define myself as Eskimo anymore. That old term is derogatory to my people, and a mascot for an Edmonton sports team. Most people think I’m Asian and talk slower to me or appear marveled when I speak intelligently. One of these days, I will speak a whole paragraph in Inuktitut to the next judgmental fool. Most people don’t know the beauty of life is in the simplicity I describe.
I am happy most days. I am grateful most days. My ui (husband) and panik (daughter) are here in The States. He is another adoptee, another warrior, and a cutie. I could write pages about his life and his love. Our daughter is a beauty with a smart brain for math and music and cherishes good food and good friends. My husband adopted her when she was 15, and he shows her what a safe, kind, good man is. We live well after years of difficulties.
Proudly, I believe I have altered the misconceptions about Inuit. For example, I did the drunk thing, and know it’s not a life I want my panik to duplicate. I did the domestic violence thing and am dang proud we survived the abuser’s rage. I did the homeless thing and it was a full-time job to reap the benefits. I did the church faith thing and realized my Gude lives amidst the forest not under a steeple. I did the nomad thing about the Commonwealth and think I found home here in town. I did the cigarette smoking thing until I grew a cyst on my uvula, but now I quit. Life has never been easy for this Inuk. I am not alone.
The good news is I have met my an (mom) and my ani (brother). Facebook helps me stay connected with my anâ, my ani, and my cousins. I see the faces and read the stories of what I miss in person. Their pictures and stories fill my broken spirit I carry from childhood. I am well-versed in what is going on in Inuit Nunangat. I will return home one day and make the full circle.
I live. I breathe fresh air. I hold my Inuit head high. I bead necklaces for important people. I sketch. I knit lop-sided scarves. I create words on the page to feel the scene. I am a sailor. I know water is life and wear blue every day. I drum and sing to the unknown. I am a fish-slurping carnivore. I found the Native American community in Western Mass. We powwow together and dine when available. I count on their hugs and chuckles. They help me thrive and pursue my future.
It is a good Inuk life. My purpose unfolds, and every day I am discovering what I want and don’t want. I am happy to write and share with you. Taima, bye for now.
Inuk writer, Ella Alkiewicz, is a Creative Writing Nonfiction MFA Candidate at Lesley University. She comes from Nunatsiavut kavamanga while she lives in western Mass. with her family. She loves the water, watching baseball, crafting new projects, and advocating for others. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.