Have you ever thought about who you are? I thought about this question, and here is my answer. I am a true Alaskan. I call myself that because I'm bilingual and bicultural.

A true Alaskan, in my opinion, is someone who knows their language and culture and isn't afraid of showing it. Sadly, today, many people have forgotten their language and have taken on another identity.

I worked hard to learn my mother's culture, which by the way, is mine. My mother grew up on the Yukon River in the village of Emmonak. She enjoys teaching me about who I am, and I enjoy learning as much as I can from her. Although my father is from Wisconsin he encourages me to learn as much as I can so I can keep every part of me alive.

Being bicultural means knowing how to be myself in both settings. When I am in my mother's village, I know how to help with cutting fish, and picking berries to help fill the family freezer. Most importantly, I speak the language that many in Emmonak have decided not to share with their children and have allowed to decline.

When I am in Bethel I participate in plays and musicals. I cherish my iPod and long for a cell phone. I know how to hold onto who I am as a Yupik and enjoy the toys and conveniences that come to Alaska from other cultures.

In enjoy both of my cultures I cannot be me without both cultures. Now that I have shared who I am, I realized I have one job as a true Alaskan. I need to share what I know with others so they share my cultural pride and be a true Alaskan.


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