Monday, August 9, 2010

Harris Family Reunion

ahlu at sisualik


I miss the crunch of the tundra. I miss the rocks in my keens. I miss the smell of sourdough hotcakes in the morning. That smell permeates everything around you. I guess I could just go through my dirty clothes from this weekend and close my eyes. I'll be there again, minus the whir of a dishwasher, and the screech of the computer.

our camp

cutting muktuk

This weekend in Sisualik, our traditional camping grounds, we had our Family Reunion. There were just about 200 people in Sisualik for the reunion, and even more because that's just where they are in the summer/fall.

sourdough and blueberries

Millions of blueberries begged to be handpicked, put into Aimaqs and brought home to eat, make into jam, or hide from your kids, like I do! Enough berries were picked each night so we could enjoy Blueberry Hotcakes every morning we were there. Note to self - Don't forget the syrup next time!


The sun shone brightly upon everyone who arrived. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday hosted more and more relatives, cousins, friends and more. The youngest descendant who attended was Rea Carrol, daughter of Elsa (Johnson) Carrol, daughter of L. Jennie (Harris) Johnson, daughter of Doc Harris, who was the son of Yiyuk and Ruth Harris. (She also happens to be my niece!) I failed to get the oldest living descendant, but my Aana (grandmother) is the only living "child" of Ruth and Yiyuk Harris. She was the wife of Doc Harris. All the other children, and spouses of children have passed away. Many of them buried at Sisualik themselves.

aana irene alik
Aana Katak, Irene Gallahorn and Alik Downey

rea and minnie

Foot races, Amaq (carrying a child on your back) races, three-legged races, and even a long distance Run-to-the-airplane-and-back race happened. The winners receiving donated items from local companies around town. A sweatshirt here, a water bottle there. My daughter won a few races, my nieces and cousins won a few...oh, shoot, they're all my cousins!

kids winners

josie and I

Generations and generations participated in a game of "Norwegian" which is a form of Lapp Baseball. We used to play it endlessly in the midnight sun growing up, and recently it hasn't been played too much. The reunion may have changed that, because once we played, people were so excited that we played for HOURS. It was my husbands first time playing. He declared, "THIS IS BETTER THAN SOFTBALL!" Which speaks for itself!


kaisa winning

As some of you may know, we were serious Mouse Killers growing up, so naturally, we had a mouse catching contest. Either we used up all the boards or killed off all the mice cause it took the kids a few HOURS to find just one mouse! Everyone from grandparents to kids were hunting for mice. Everyone had their driftwood sticks and a few of the boys even had their BB guns, but alas, no mice. Until well after dinner, Anthen Goodwin (Mary Goodwin's great-grandson) came running into the house holding one!

anthen and mouse


We ended Saturday with a feast and plenty of singing. People hugged, cried, laughed and reminisced about growing up at Sisualik. Many of my cousins hadn't been "home" in many, many years. Many hadn't been home since their mom/dad/brother had passed away. This was a great way to get together without someone passing away first. Almost everyone I know visited their parents/grandparents graves, some re-painted them white, added flowers, and talked quietly. The end of a very long day calls for only one thing. A Sauna.


So, Dean fired it up and off went the kids first, then the women, then the men. It ran for about four hours, sweating all the toxins out of our bodies. I am sort of a Sauna-wuss, so I was in and out of there, washing kids, washing my Aana, and taking a shower myself before being done. (Yes, we have a shower in there!)

clara and Jazzy

kids tent
This is where the kids slept all weekend!

The smell of blueberry hotcakes filled the house and the kids started waking up, one by one. I can see myself, my cousin Josie and Grover (Goober) waking up to my Aana's hotcakes. This time, it was me cooking, and my kids, nieces and nephews waking up. Several of us grew up together. I mean, literally grew up in the same household, being raised by our grandparents for long periods of time, so rather than first cousin, we are more like brother and sister. We still fight like brothers and sisters too. And we still scold each other kids like aunts and uncles!

blueberry hotcakes

dean in the plane
Dean left early because it was getting windy out...

Once again, blueberries ruled the roost, glittering the hotcakes like little pieces of gold in a mine. Slather on some Mrs. Butterworth or Log Cabin syrup and you have yourself a traditional Sisualik breakfast.

bun clooney aana

lance preaching

Church services were held at my Aana's little house by one of the "cousins." He is a pastor who has, for years, dreamed of preaching at Sisualik. He spoke of Following Jesus, just like we followed our grandparents around, with no trepidation and no worry, because they provided for us and we never worried. As does Jesus as long as you follow Him in the same way.

edwin and barb

dora wheeler

After the game of Norwegian, the BEST time we had was visiting Kutvak's house. An old traditional sod house that was still up, albeit the roof caved in. After hearing scary stories about the house, we each made our way down the tunnel into the main part of the home. When I was growing up, you could not catch me within 100 yards of old Kutvak's house. Maybe I'm stronger now. Or maybe it was cause I didn't want to seem like a wuss to my 13 year old son!

koy boat


A nice boatride before midnight allowed us to all go home to the land of flush toilets, and ugly front street construction. But only until this weekend, when we go back "home" again.

martha on sled


Sherri B. said...

This entire post about your precious family reunion is very touching, I especially like that your cousin could finally have his church service and what a beautiful way to describe following Jesus like your grandmother...Thank you for sharing this special time.

Netty said...

I have never met you but have known John Chase for many years..and often check out his blog. I must say I check yours before his now.. everyday at work. I have never been able to venture around in Kotz other than landing and taking off but have many friends from there.. and hope to visit someday.. Your blog shares so much of your love for you family, culture, and way of life today.. LOVE IT!!

Non-Mommy said...

What a special time for your family. I love that second picture of everyone sitting around all bundled up!

Anonymous said...

But the very first picture is of a truly beautiful child.