The woman I picked from my amazing owl hat was Mary Antisarlook, born Changunak, or the Reindeer Queen. She was born in St. Michael, Alaska, in either 1870. Her mother was an Eskimo and her father was a Russian trader living in Alaska. Because of this, she could speak three languages: her mother’s native Inupiaq, her father’s native Russian, and English. In 1889, she married Charlie Antisarlook and moved to Cape Nome, Alaska. There, she and her husband worked as translators for a US vessel used to transport reindeer from Siberia to Alaska. Eventually, Mary and her husband were given their own small herd of reindeer. They were some of the first Natives to have their own herd.
Their herd thrived and grew to large numbers. In 1900, Charlie died. As both a Native and a woman, Mary should not have been able to keep any of her husband’s property, including their reindeer herd. She fought hard and won the right to half of the herd. Over the years, the herd grew stronger and Mary herself grew rich through her herd. In 1902, she remarried and began training other Inupiaq men as herders. She never had any children of her own, but adopted several, who all grew up to take care of their own herds.
Mary was a strong and independent woman, and was a key contributor to the reintroduction of reindeer into Alaska. With her love and dedication to the reindeer, she rightly received the nickname Reindeer Queen. Mary passed away in 1948, leaving behind numerous children and grandchildren to carry on the tradition of reindeer herding.
Research on Inuit Art
The Inuit art is based around their way of life, with focus on traditional myths and beliefs, and the animals of the artic. Their art reveals more about their life: the pursuit of food, their closeness to nature and animals, and the every day tasks they consider simple.
The artworks I found were brightly colored, with patterns within the different colors. I was really interested in the colors and patterns incorporated into the art, as well as the constant association with nature. I want to use collage for this project, going back in with colored pencil or marker to give the paper the patterns found in Inuit art.