Brother Lance is famed as a mighty hunter in this town of Kotzebue, AK. Hunting and fishing just for survival here among the Inupiaq Eskimos is essential. Often, just to get enough food to eat, these people have to hunt and fish continually. Hunting and trap lines provide necessary food and furs to keep themselves warm through the long and bitterly cold winters here in the Arctic circle.
Brother Lance is an expert at both. He knows how to hunt for Caribou ("bou") or moose ("tiniikaq" in Inupiaq) for both meat and the warm hides to make beautiful Eskimo parkas. Lance also runs a trap line. This is a series of traps set daily to also help bring in the food and warm furs he and his family need to survive.
When Lance informed me the other day that he would be checking his trap line, and hoped he would find some lynx, I promised him I would pray for a miracle of "MORE lynx!".
"Heavenly Father God," I prayed, "you know how his family needs Your provision to survive. Please send him alot of lynx today! In Jesus' name..." Later that evening we came to his Bible study. Lance came in all smiles from visiting his trap line earlier that day. "You won't believe this, " he said, "But today I got not just ONE lynx, but THREE!"
I became excited. I said, "Lance, I DO believe, because I prayed for God to send you more lynx today!" His wife admitted that this was the most he had ever gotten in one day.Lance took me down to his snowmobile and sled that held the lynx. Huge paws and beautiful furry coats from all three greeted us. With a look of mischief on his smiling face, Lance commented that "...I heard that lynx tastes delicious...so we are going to have stir-fried lynx soon!"
Let's pause for a moment here. I know what some of you , my readers, are thinking as you read this. "Ugh! Trapping cute little wild animals? USING their furs? EATING them as well? Grrrr...Where's PETA!"
But listen. You need to read the following to understand what this is really all about.
Each lynx hide he sells for $200 helps to feed his family and provide finances for his wonderful ministry among the Inupiaq here. Lance loves the Inupiaq children of his village, and his ministry to his people often involves taking them into his home to help them. Lynx hides also help provide soft and warm furs to make baby booties and parkas to keep the Inupiaq warm throughout the cold and bitter winters they must endure here. Remember, they have no WALMART or KMART to run to here in Kotzebue for warm winter clothing! The nearest one in hundreds of miles away, and it is only accessible by expensive plane flights to Anchorage.
My friend Lisa, a cat lover, almost gagged when she heard that Lance was going to cook up some "stir-fried lynx" for dinner. Lance only laughed. You see, this is the ancient Eskimo way of survival in a brutal climate and harsh surroundings. They know how to gratefully receive and harvest God's bounty wisely, and put all of it to good use. None of God's provision is wasted here.
You must understand: the brief summer here is not long enough for any substantial farms to grow to provide food for them. It is far too expensive to live solely on foods imported to this part of the world. The Inupiaqs and related tribal peoples have survived for centuries on the provisions of both land and sea. It never has been the Native and tribal peoples of Alaska or throughout the rest of the world who have been responsible for the raping and pillaging of the earth and her resources, but rather the curse of modern civilization accompanied with modern industry and it's greedy consumption of the earth's precious resources.
Maniilaq is proud of providing state-of-the-art medical equipment and facilities for the people, and includes a wonderful facility to provide care for the elderly of the region as well. Highly trained doctors and nurses and lab technicians work hard to provide the best of health care for both the village of Kotzebue and the remote Inupiaq villages beyond. Applicants who desire to work here must go through rigorous screening, testing and preparation in order to be accepted to work for this unique facility and opportunity to assist the Inupiaq people dwelling in their native villages. So in this respect modern civilization can prove to be a medical blessing, as it has to the people of Kotzebue.
"Endangered species" is a problem peculiar to the industrialized age, allegedly the "age of enlightenment." Prior to this, native peoples have lived in peace, balance and harmony with nature, her food chains and her seasons. In other words, it has not been the fault of the traditional "hunters/gatherers" who have lived off the earth for thousands of years in this manner, but rather often the curse of various elements of modern civilization, at times coupled with greed and disrespect for the earth that God created, and disregard for healthy and safe harvesting of the earth's resources.
Because of Lisa's limited food budget (due to the cost of food being so high), Lance has been kindly donating extra moose and 'bou (caribou) meat to her to feed her children. And ever since I have arrived, I have become the family chef. I have been learning all about preparing moose for dinner. Now it looks like I will be learning how to prepare (gasp) "tenderloin of lynx"! Thank you, Lance!
Life is becoming very interesting in the land of the midnight sun!
Merry Christmas and Happy New year to all my wonderful readers everywhere!
-"Chef Pamela" reporting from Kotzebue, Alaska