Saturday, October 6

Skin and Fur

Photographer: Chío
Seattle, WA
August 1997

Skin. That primordial organ that offers us our first and most vital information. The largest of all the senses. That elastic wrapping that is capable to stretch in amazing ways and then come back to its original position, with more or less success. That eternal companion that contains us, protects us, and draws our boundaries. That skin I always envied in my sister, because she was the one that inherited Grandma Rosa's, instead of me. That which I see changing every day in front of the mirror while it shows me that life really is passing by.

And here, in Alaska, being in contact with other types of skin. Skin that far away, in the "civilized" world, I would've never considered putting over my body. That other sister skin, the ones that the animals wear. So necessary here, such a part of what living in contact with nature with a subsistence economy really is.

Yup'ik believe that when an animal crosses your path, it's because it is offering itself to you. And the correct thing to do is to be grateful, receive the offering, and hunt it. Of course, to truly honor the animal, you must utilize all the resources it is offering. They generously give up their meat to feed us, and with that same generosity, we must offer it first to the elders. They offer their fur as well, which will be transformed into warm and soft gloves, hats, and mukluk boots. Nothing goes to waste, it would be an offense to the animal.

It is easy to understand that the local people are against hunting as a "sport." The type of hunting that the white man practices so much here. The tourist, that thrilled by the adventure of bow-hunting a bear in the mountains of Alaska, leaves the animal to rot in the wilderness, decapitated and dishonored, while he leaves proudly with his trophy. One more head that will soon hang in some wall in Munich, Chicago, or Madrid. I have never liked to see heads hanging from walls. Though seeing them here in peoples homes takes a different meaning, like so many other things.

It is impossible to see this world through civilized eyes. I am in the process of a full mental reconditioning in order to be able to accept that some of my truths and values will have to step aside for the time being. As with everything, there is a process of adaptation that transforms you, and you never know who you will be at the end of that process.

1 comment:

karen said...

Me gusta su pensamiento, ese uso de los recursos naturales sin abusar, utilizando solo lo necesario, como debería ser, vivir realmente dentro del "círculo de la vida"...

Estoy aprovechando para leer tus entradas pasadas...