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My Awesome Great-grandmother


This story is about ancestors whom I believe everyone has around them all the time, but don't always notice.

Now to explain background. My family is the average American family, European background with some Native American. My Granddad used to talk about his parents a lot, because they were characters and a lot of fun even though they worked hard. His dad worked in a gold mining company, of all things, and his mother was a very strong minded Inuit woman.

To this day we have more Alaskan Native traditions in our household than European because his momma said it had to be that way. She was a neat woman whom I'd never met, only heard about. So I never thought it strange that a lot of times, while drifting off to sleep, I could hear singing, not in English. It was always a native American language that I didn't know, and couldn't remember by the morning.

As I grew up and lived life, I would still hear and sometimes see, snatches of conversation, people sitting in a small circle a lot, and women singing. Not loud, quietly like you do when your working. Especially when things were difficult; driving to work on a moped in the snow, when it got unbearable and I couldn't feel my hands and felt nauseated, they would start singing loud and clear, and I felt circulation coming back. Working two shifts back-to-back for three days, out trotted the singing Inuits, and once again, not a problem, didn't feel like sitting down anyways. It became a thing.

The family would get in conversations about "when do you hear the ancestors singing?" And sure enough, a number of us had stories. So a lot of us made trips to Alaska to find some of our family heritage. I've never had the money to go myself, so I contented myself with trying to journal the words to the Yu'pik songs I've heard. I never got anywhere because singing is always phrased differently than speaking, and Yu'pik has a number of sounds that have no equivalent in our alphabet. So I didn't know how to write a lot of it down, or even if I heard it right, or was it all just my imagination.

It was just this past week I was thinking, "If you want to speak to me, I wish you'd explain what your saying." I was putting things away from a music event that I was vending at. And they had a lot of wannabe Cherokees there selling "authentic" Cherokee stuff. Well, as we helped each other set up and break down, we all got together for a blessing to see us on our way. The lady organizer came and told me to step out of it because I wasn't part of their group. I had thought, "Right, I'm not a red-headed wannabe Cherokee. I know who my tough Inuit ancestor is so that's fine."

So I was thinking of this, and how yeah, I don't even understand all this singing I've heard all my life and I heard a woman singing softly, like to her kids. I scrambled for my journal to write it down before I forgot it, and I forgot it! It comes out of the blue! I was just kicking myself for losing it, and heard it again. I tried to say it and heard her correct me! "Not anock, say it ahhnuk." I said ahnook. She said "Ahhnuk, Ahhnuk, Ahhnuk" singsong like. I googled it to make sure. It means Mother in Yu'pik. Then she sang about an umiak for mother over and over until I got it right. Then she sang "Alt a" see they have a sound like you make an "L" but say nothing, "altah nag" it sounded like Schinuk. Which I looked up, and it means pay attention now, to Schinuk. She told me to pay attention to Schinuk which was a trade language in her time. Then she repeated and we said together "ahhduk" which means Father.

I'm crying now thinking how thoughtful my Great-Grandmother is to spend this time when she could be in the light, trying to help me understand her language. And helping all of us so much. She still speaks a lot but but it's hard to verify a lot of it because Google quits after a half hour of Yu'pik, it assumes pranking or something.

I'd so appreciate comments, and if you know of how to get a hold of a website for Inuit languages, zing it on over.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Swimsinfire, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will participate in the discussion and I need help with what I have experienced.

Swimsinfire (11 stories) (556 posts)
10 years ago (2013-09-02)
Wow guys, first I read some of that guys profile, he seems to be really troubled more than anything. If that's the best he's got to offer life I'm sorry for him. Val, thanks for the links, I'm going to them next. Yeah the folks at the event actually invited me to their circle because I helped them set up a teepe. We had already started when she showed up. Hey, it comes around. Miracles, yes, it struck me as comical too, we actually argued a bit. "I said Anoook/ no it's Ahnuck/ that's what I said/ no it wasn't." The dictionary will help a lot. Thank's guys for the sweet comments. Even Confederate, it was a lesson in something or other.
Miracles51031 (39 stories) (4999 posts) mod
10 years ago (2013-09-01)
Swimsinfire - when I read your story the first time (yep, read it a couple of times LOL), one of the first things that brought tears to my eyes was when your ancestors are there to give you strength. Sometimes I don't think we realize where our "extra boost of energy" comes from. Depending upon our heritage, our belief, our religion, our spirituality, to know that there is someone helping us not give up is just amazing to me.

I laughed when you asked for your Great-Grandmother to speak more clearly so you can understand. I know it's not funny, and wasn't meant to be, but I understand that frustration 😆 It's like, "If you have something to say to me, talk so I can hear you!" I struggle with the "hearing" part sometimes and I had a "grandmother" ghost yell in my ear so loudly once that my ear vibrated LOL. I guess she wanted to make sure I could hear her. It was as if she was right up to my ear 😆 Anyway, I do understand how frustrating it can be to hear them, but not be able to understand what is being said.

I love the fact that your Great-Grandmother is doing everything she can to teach you your native language, at least what she can, to help you. That is just freaking awesome to me ❤ Your story left me with a warm feeling in my heart after I read it. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Fergie (40 stories) (1159 posts)
10 years ago (2013-09-01)
Wow Swims, Your narrative is weird and wonderful, but in a nice way. 😊

A few years back I read "Alaska" by J Mitchener; I developed a deep respect for the Inuit people through his writing. My knowledge is very shallow, but I find your experiences extremely fascinating.

Thank you for sharing. I am sorry that your thread was spoiled by a dork, and my reply to him/her. Forgive me please. 😐
Miracles51031 (39 stories) (4999 posts) mod
10 years ago (2013-09-01)
Fergie - you're welcome and I'm sorry you were hit too 😢 Unfortunately I recognize this sort of humor (on a personal level... Not site related), even though I never did understand it then. All sorts of issues are associated with the person who left those comments 😐 And not one of them are good.
Fergie (40 stories) (1159 posts)
10 years ago (2013-09-01)
Miracles, I thank you from the bottom of my heart! Trolling is one thing, but most of that persons comments were downright indecent. Luckily the ones remaining are not as offensive as the others were.

Thanks again Miracles. ❤
Miracles51031 (39 stories) (4999 posts) mod
10 years ago (2013-09-01)
Fergie - the administrator has been notified and almost all of the offensive comments have been deleted. The only ones left are where a direct response was made to the comment. This way I can inform the o/p that something is being done.

Swimsinfire - I can't, and won't, apologize for someone else's immaturity and ignorance. I've never understood that form of humor. All I can and will do is say we are doing everything we can to take care of the situation. You've been here long enough to know this isn't the norm. One idiot isn't going to ruin your story; you're made of better stuff than that 😊 Looking forward to more of your experiences.
Fergie (40 stories) (1159 posts)
10 years ago (2013-09-01)
[at] ConfederateGhost we do not need your kind here! Please remove yourself and your ugly comments, or go wash your mouth out with cyanide! Preferably, go play on the train-lines... Find your jollies elsewhere please. 😐
valkricry (48 stories) (3244 posts) mod
10 years ago (2013-08-31)
Hi Swims,
Here are some sites for Yupik you might find useful:
Http://www.freelang.net/dictionary/yupik.php (this is a translation dictionary you can download)
This one: http://www.native-languages.org/yupik.htm
Has a lot of links to other resources. Hopefully some or all of these will be useful.
That lady organizer was dead wrong asking for you to step out because you weren't part of their group. Would have served her right to have an ancestor slap her up along side of the head. Just on principle of rudeness. Now if it was a private ritual that would be different.
I think it's charming your great-grandmother bridges the gap so to speak, to sing to you, protect and lend you strength.
Seraphina (7 stories) (147 posts)
10 years ago (2013-08-31)
A fascinating post, Swimsinfire! I hope you'll keep us up to date on what you learn from your ancestor.

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