Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Flat Stanley's Final Adventures

Flat Stanley had to return to his home in North Ogden, Utah. He enjoyed a Priority trip via the USPS. (Hey Post Office! Thanks for getting him there safely!) In his honor, I thought we would do a showcase of Flat Stanley's final adventures in Shishmaref.


FS made lots of new friends. Some of his friends were even cute girls! Wahoo!!!


One of FS's new friends even shared a candy bar with him! (Don't worry, no germs were spread.)


FS made cinnamon rolls. He was a little disappointed that he didn't get to learn how to butcher seals or walrus, but the school was having a little water shortage problem. No water = no way to clean up marine mammal guts = gross.


The older girls gave FS a lesson on scissor safety and let him help make kuspuks (traditional Inupiaq shirts). FS was going to make his own, but he didn't like the flowery material.


There was more sewing action in the elementary wing.


FS couldn't thread his own needle, but his stitches were nice and even.


FS was super excited when we let him paint. I guess he doesn't get to do that very often at home.


His finished product turned out pretty good. Way to go FS! (You'll notice he labeled the paper underneath his lantern so he could tell it apart from all the other ones.


FS even got to help the eighth graders make cotton candy for a fundraiser. That could have been a drag, but he got to eat some of the extra cotton candy, so it was all good.


FS watched some kids coloring Tlingit headbands.


The kids were especially cute and friendly.


They invited him to join in, and he got to show off his mad skills with a red crayon.


The finished products turned out pretty good.


This is FS with Peggy. Peggy came to Shishmaref from Fairbanks to teach art for Inupiaq Days.


FS took advantage of Peggy's expertise by creating a Zen Tangle under her direction.


FS also learned what happens when you have high cholesterol. Your blood is supposed to flow through your arteries like the tube on the left, but if you have high cholesterol your little blood beads get blocked like the tube on the right. Very sad.


I heart Flat Stanley.


Thanks for staying with us.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fun Fact: Ice Fishing Hooks

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is a popular past time and subsistence activity in Shishmaref during the winter.

Note to readers: I've never actually gone ice fishing in Shishmaref. I've only, so this post might lack the usual VFN expertise. My apologies.

Other note to readers: This picture was taken decades ago in Shishmaref. I got it from our librarian Bill Nayokpuk.

You will notice that the "fishing rod" is a small piece of wood. That piece of wood is usually referred to as an ice fishing hook, even though a hook is only a small part of the apparatus.


My kiddos got to make ice fishing hooks during Inupiaq Days, and Flat Stanley joined in on the fun. They started by using a file to make an indentation down the length of the wood. FS did a great job filing, even though the file was as tall as him.


I got to give the filing a shot too. My kids totally cracked up. Let's just say it's harder than it looks. Hence the look of extreme concentration.


The next step is to sand the wood so that it's nice and smooth. FS got to master the use of sandpaper and, uh, the clampy things.


Once the wood is smooth, you have to drill a hole to tie the fishing line through.


My high school boys made sure FS was instructed on proper use of the drill. Power tools can be fun!

FS wasn't able to take his finished hook fishing, but he can rest assured that his efforts helped secure a yummy dinner for somebody.

Note to readers: one more Flat Stanley post coming up (in time for the due date). Stay tuned!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fun Fact: The Inupiaq Alphabet


In the early seventies, linguists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks partnered with local experts to create a standardized written version of the Inupiaq language. Shishmaref is extremely lucky to have one of the local experts in our village. John Sinnok was instrumental in creating the written version of Inupiaq and preserving our local dialect. He taught a basic Inupiaq Writing class during Inupiaq Days, and Flat Stanley and I attended.

The Inupiaq Alphabet has 23 letters. Some you probably recognize. Some you probably don't. (Wow, that was profound. Get ready for the Pulitzer nomination...)

Picture 1

This is the "belted l." You begin pronouncing it like you would a regular English "l," but then you make a sound kind of like you're clearing your throat.

(Note to readers: Stay with me. The descriptions will get better from here on out. I promise.)

Picture 2

This is the dotted g. It's pronounced kind of like the belted l. You begin pronouncing it like an English g and end with a sound like you're clearing your throat.

(Note to readers: Just kidding about the improved descriptions thing...)

Picture 3

This is the "n" with a tail. It is pronounced like the "ng" in "song."

Fun facts about Inupiaq consonants:

-you will never have three consonants together in an Inupiaq word

-the letter "v" makes a "b" sound if it precedes the letters "l" or "z"

-zr together sounds like "sh"

-the Shishmaref dialect of Inupiaq has five consonants that are not used in other Inupiaq dialects

-four of the consonants in the other dialects are not used in the Shishmaref dialect (they are represented in the top picture with a squiggly line underneath them)


Inupiaq only has three vowels: a, i, and u, but they can be combined in nine different ways, each with its own pronunciation.

a = uh
aa= aahhh (like a doctor is checking your throat)
ai= long a (like ape, ate, or angelic)
au = oh (like oat, only, or ode)

i= short i (like is, if, or iridescent)
ia= ee-uh
ii= eeeeeeeeeeeee (like something started you)
iu= eee-oo

u= oo (said in a short syllable, like you're shouting "Boo!" at someone (you wouldn't say, "Booooooooooooooo!"))
ua = oo-uh
ui= oo-ee
uu= ooooooooo (like booing a bad ref at a basketball game, "Boooooooooooooooooooooooo!")


After learning the basic phonics of Inupiaq, John gave us a series of quizzes. He would say words or letter combinations, and we had to write them down, spelling them according to Inupiaq phonics. Flat Stanley and I did AWESOME on the quizzes until John got to the six- and seven-letter words. Then we started tanking it.

I guess we need a little more practice. Maybe we should check out the following sites:

Alaskool's Inupiaq Text Dictionary

BSSD Inupiaq Dictionary With Pictures and Sound Recordings