Waqaa, Cama-i, Cissiarougua. Wiinga Yup’iaq angun, wii Qusquqvagmiu-llu. (Greetings, My Name is Ciissiar (Little-Bug), I am a Yup’ik man, and I am from the Kuskokwim River). My parents are Allen Simeon of Aniak married to Laura Simeon of Kalskag and Gloria Simeon of Bethel married to Michael Meeks of Kenai. I am fairly new to the lower Kenai Peninsula, having relocated here during the COVID pandemic in 2020. I am, however, a lifelong Alaskan who believes in clean water, food sovereignty, and healthy waters, environments, and communities. I was raised on salmon and at our fish-camp where our family harvested from the bounty of the Kuskokwim River. I moved to Anchorage in 1994. I have three children Ashlynn (24), Stormy (21), and Emerson (15). I earned my BA in English from UAA in 2006, and I have worked in and around higher education and cultural education ever since 2003. Over the years, I have created a variety of engaging educational programs for our Alaska Native and broader Alaskan communities, such as a youth fish camp, tattoo storytelling events, and online media conversations. I am now settling here in Kachemak Bay; the ancestral home of the Dena’ina and Sugpiaq peoples. I am honored to be in a place and a part of a team that provides a progressive platform where great ideas can be launched as we push forward as protectors of Tikahtnu (Cook Inlet) and the watershed.
Giving thanks can often get lost in “Thanksgiving”. This is meant to be a time of sharing our gratitude for all that we have experienced and harvested throughout the year. In my Yup’ik culture, November is Cauyarvik (The Time to Drum/Celebrate). I intend to celebrate. This year our family was still able to catch salmon from the Kuskokwim River and Bristol Bay, we were able to gather wood and berries for the winter, and our family shared some amazing time together across the state. Our home is warm and we are pretty healthy, besides an encounter with a drill and another time with an escalator. I am grateful for all these experiences and things that sustain us. I am grateful for the thriving life within Cook Inlet, and I am super grateful to celebrate all of our experiences that embrace the lifestyle of stewardship for this place we call home.
The month of November is National Native American Heritage month, and we honor our place as allies and we honor our place on Indigenous lands with signatures on our emails, and acknowledgements in our meetings; but what does that mean and what effect do we expect? For me, it reminds me that I am a guest and that I should act accordingly. When I am a guest, I try to be my best self; I am my most courteous, most responsible, and most gracious self. I clean up after myself, I help with cleaning up, I offer to help with dishes (hoping they will not accept my offer), I do not over indulge myself, and I even wipe down the mirror in the bathroom if I splatter water on it. We are all guests on this land and we should all try to be our best selves.
“They used to tell us how to take care of the animals,
bones and stuff like that.
Even the trees, we didn’t knock down trees for nothing,
if we did we limbed it right to the end
and pile the boughs, not scatter it all over the woods.
This is so it’s not wasted.
Anything that’s alive,
we see leaves growing, same with trees,
anything alive need to be treated with respect.
A tree is like a person,
when it gets old it falls down, bends over,
just like a person, when they get old,
then they’re gone.
That’s why you got to treat the things that are growing