The Real, Alaska Bush People
Tales from the Bush – the invisible unseen side of rural Alaska
Tulukaruq – The Son of a Shaman
Waking up for another day of school Tulukaruq climbed out of the bed his family shared, careful not to wake them. His mother and father in the middle still wearing last night’s clothes, little sister snoring louder than a musk-ox, and little brother next to her. He’s been sleeping next to her a lot lately, dependent on his siblings to fill the gap that partying village parents just can’t. Tulukaruq stepped outside into the cold October air, wearing nothing but athletic shorts and a smile – it was a good day to be Yup’ik.
He began his morning just like he had every morning: with an oceanside prayer to the creator, his namesake, the trickster Raven. Tulukaruq thanked Raven for the purpose and happiness in his life. He thanked his creator for the sun, which Raven put in the sky so many years before. He pleaded with Raven to cure the ailments of the world and to share his happiness with all of man. In closing, Tulukaruq gave offering to the creator in the same way he did every morning – by blessing the sea with his urine.
Tulukaruq was un-orthodox to say the least, but as one of the last few practitioners of Yuuyaraq left in existence, he made his own rituals. As he stepped down from his modest church, a meager grassy bluff overlooking the sea, he felt a raindrop on his cheek. It slowly fell down his face and when it reached his lips it tasted of salt, as if it was a tear. Tulukaruq looked up to see where a few moments ago the skies were clear as the sea, now stood a single grey cloud overhead. He knew he would need to prepare his sled team if autumn rains were coming so he rushed down his bluff towards his home, unaware that this would be the last time he would climb this hill to prey.