I certainly feel that my first 18 years in the 49th state have made me knowledgeable in areas most teenage girls are not. It would be more difficult for me to show someone how to curl their hair than it would for me to instruct them on gutting a moose. Alaska has shaped my interests and has developed in me an unusual knowledge base.
My family goes subsistence caribou hunting. For many Alaskan families, hunting is a way of life. The people, who live here, like my family, depend on game meat. Fortunately my brother and I shot two caribou. Gunning these animals down is one thing. Gutting the animals and hauling the meat back to camp is another. It can be quite an ordeal! When I am in the process of field butchering, I am sometimes reminded how different my teenage years have been spent. While many other girls my age are going to movies and malls with friends, I am often up to my forearms in blood.
This is my life, so different from most, but I enjoy it so much and think it is truly one aspect of my life that makes me unique. Living in remote Alaska, I have learned to appreciate the uncommon privileges associated with growing up here. For example, in the fall, I go berry picking with my mom and sisters. My mom has taught us how to make bread, pie, and jams with these berries. There is nothing like a fresh Alaskan blueberry pie! Subsistence fishing and hunting take up most of the late summer and autumn season. My brothers and dad have also taught me how to dip net and fillet the Copper River red salmon that run near our home. We love salmon! We were able to put away fifty-six reds (sockeyes) this year, which is considerably less than what we used to harvest when my mom and dad had seven children at home to feed.
After school in the winter, it is common for me to spend hours in the woods trapping with my brother. We snow machine down the trap-line, checking the traps for mink, marten, fox, and lynx. Last weekend in addition to the caribou, we also harvested a few beavers in preparation for trapping season. Beaver carcasses attract many fur-bearing animals.
NowI have one semester of high school to finish, and I am so excited to learn about the rich backgrounds of others while I am at college. At the same time, I hope to be able to share my unique childhood with the people I meet.