Weekend in Xutsnoowú Aaní
On the cusp of March and April, an inspired and inspiring group of teachers, organizers and culture bearers rode down to Aangóon, isthmus town, from Áak’w Tá, little lake bay, on an Allen Marine catamaran. The weather and spring-unfolding lands & seas smiled on us. As usual for adventures like these, it took way longer to journal than to experience. I hope you enjoy the little discoveries arising from that process as much as I did.
Two central readings have provided focus this year for the Middle School STEAM Community of Practice:
● Haa Shuká, Our ancestors: Tlingit oral narratives. Dauenhauers eds. (1986), and . . .
● Haa L’éelk’w Hás Aani Saax’ú. Our grandparents’ names on the land. Thorton & Martin eds (2012)
Both helped to focus this trip. One reading was the chapter on Ḵák’w, little basket (Basket Bay), by Shaadaax’, Robert Zuboff, whose clan, Ḵak’w.eidí, takes its name from that place.
And from Grandparents names, chapter 6, the atlas for Xutsnoowú Aaní, served as a kind of textbook, with stories of distant peaks, deadly reefs, and the doings of shamans and ravens.
On our trip down we tucked into Ḵák’w, little basket, helping to make the point that Xutsnoowú Aaní is defined quite differently from how biogeographers might conceptualize significant provinces within our archipelago. I’ve tried to illustrate this on the category page for Xutsnoowú Province #14
Xutsnoowú Ḵwáan never claimed all of its namesake island. Three other Ḵwáans—Áak’w, T’aakú & Ḵéex̱—inhabited its other quadrants. More logical for canoe based people (or even travelers in today’s skiffs and fishing boats, with about the same daily range) to define territories’ hearts according to the fiords that feed and conduct us. Collectively, the clans of Xutsnoowú Ḵwáan used both sides of The Strait equally.
BTW: If anyone knows of a Lingít name for what Vancouver called Chatham Strait, please let me know. Grandparents names is strong on microtopographic detail but often mute on these grandest of archipelagic features. And while we’re at it, what’s the name for Chichagof Island?! Stephens Passage? Kupreanof Island?! If they never existed, or fell unremembered, let’s make some new ones, more poetic and place-based than these irrelevant, clueless colonials.