Friday, February 4, 2011

Growing up Pang

I don't like this community a lot sometimes but it's my hometown and it always brings me back here. the reasons are different each time, either death or to celebrate something or to go out hunting. and even though i don't like it a lot sometimes, it always brings me to my bare bones and usually gets me to think about my childhood and how lucky we are to have grown up here.

now when i was kid, i spent a huge time of it being out on the land with my family. and not just my family but it was my cousins and my parents cousins or just a whole lot of people. we usually were in one camp, maybe up to ten tents and even sometimes more. and we all hunted and helped hunt in one way or another. it used to be a big part of the community when i was growing up to see your peers not show up to school because they were out hunting. and to prepare ourselves to be hunters, which including myself didn't turn out to be, we usually had either slingshots or BB guns to use to hunt small birds.

but before i go there, let me point out that Pang has grown quite a bit since i was kid. new houses are springing up and new jobs have been produced through the years. the fishing industry has grown and and the weather has even changed.

i remember that we used to bring slingshots to schools and even without going home, we used to look for small birds everywhere and usually trekking up to an hour or two to go to the dump where it was flushed with qupanuaqs and lemmings. man were they fun to hunt. usually each day one or two of us would bring home a wounded bird to take care of as a pet. but they always died a couple days later, prompting us to go out again, day after day and practicing our shots.

and we went both in bad or good weather. we played outside so much that our parents would even send us outside during a blizzard. maybe they got so tired of us or they just saw the value of being and experiencing weather of all sorts. there is one memory i have that jumps out very sharply. we were burying ourselves in blizzard conditions in snow and we'd try and find the other people that were buried. we were never careful and we could have been buried so quickly and never been found, but there was never any casualties.

i don't know if kids still do this but we all used to have small skidoos and small boats with strings attached to them, so we'd go out into the pressure ice or tide and also kill anything that moved. the krill were the fish that we caught and the kanajuq's were our seal or whales depending on their size. and of course our parents let us do just that, nine, ten and eleven year olds out there alone. and we were good kids, not this not-listen-to-your parents kids. we did stuff for them and sometimes they even sent us to do dangerous chores. it was such an innocent world.

such as these activities. parents sent us with ice pick as little kids and we had to go pick up ice from the river just because they craved ice water. they all had running water by this time but they craved the old days where they had ice water. so they sent us.

or sent us fishing during the summer because the sun was out all hours. and of course some of us got caught when the tide was coming up and were stranded in a rock until you got brave enough to either swim or go up top your chest in freezing water. and some of us were lucky to catch fish and come home three or four in the morning all smiles. some got snatched in their fishing hooks too and got some pretty good cuts. we also went looking for fishing hooks into popular fishing places and even to raging river waters just so that we can get new hooks. i don't know if any of us got swept away but i know that some of us got really good fishing hooks, just to lose again the next day.

snowmobiles were good back then. and they didn't seem all that heavy. although they weren't as efficient as they are now on gas. and the leather seat was different, not even sure if it was real leather, but it used to get sticky during hot spring days. i remember having black streaks on my butt on spring days because the seat were all black and sticky, unless your father put some sort of protection as a canvas on to it. and i think the qamutiit used to be longer back then because i come from big family and we'd fit six children into them and be gone for a month or even longer.

and when it was school time. we used to visit all the new teachers. and there would be many kids visiting the new teachers. so for at least a month or two, the teachers would get little inuit children visiting them every single day and asking for candy or cookies. we had no sense of shame back then and we all enjoyed it. if they were not necessarily nice teachers, come winter, when they were holed up, we throw rocks at the house and run like hell. it was our version of leaving dog shit in a paper bag and ringing the door bell, except we didn't ring the door bell and just tried to annoy the hell out of the teacher. and teachers back then stayed for more than a year in spite all of that.

and we didn't shower or take a bath for at least a good week. i remember that a few of us didn't want to take our socks off when it was time to do some foot paint on a big piece of paper, because we all had dirty feet. and our heads would be nice and shiny from grease because we hadn't bothered to wash them. and we didn't even have lice outbreaks or anything like that. we moved around too much to have lice.

street hockey was played every hundred feet on the roads. and we didn't have teams, so there'd be kids of up to thirty all chasing one puck. but we all knew who was our teammates and who they pretended to be. mario lemieux, gretzky, jarri kurri, mark messier and so on. and we had real wooden sticks. it got so cold sometimes, that the soft pucks would turn out to be real hard pucks and more than a few of us got lucky enough to get hit in the face and get shiners.

and we played with fire too. so during the summer many of us would collect wood from all over town and used them for firewood. it was as if we were garbage men for the town because i remember having a hard time finding some good wood to burn. and get this, some of us were lucky enough to get some gasoline or naphtha from our fathers and we'd have real shows of fire. and some of us even used to steal bullets from our fathers and also used them to make our own fireworks. sometimes it sure got scary and dangerous. despite all of that, we survived up to this day.

come to think of it, it is kinda scary that we are the ones to run our communities and schools and are teachers now. we own boats and skidoos and rifles and some of us have kids.

i hope kids today are going to think their childhood was as awesome as ours.


kelly said...

i can totally relate to this as i grew up in "shish" or shishmaref, alaska! good stuff!!

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