Why a website for historical and cultural information? Why call the website ‘tanam awaa?’
Why a website for historical and cultural information?
In the approximated 2002 to 2012 timeframe the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island (ACSPI) Government noticed an increase in requests for historical and cultural information relevant to the ACSPI. Through one-on-one, email, and survey inquiries the ACSPI Government secured responses from the membership that generally reflected the following desire: Historical and cultural information of, by, and for the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island be readily available to individual members of the ACSPI for the purpose of being better equipped at keeping alive the language, ways, and stories of the Unangan Nation.
By 2012 approximately 66% of the enrolled membership of the ACSPI lives away from the homelands; and an unknown but sizeable percentage of the enrolled membership, both at home and abroad, utilize technological tools such as the Internet and websites to acquire information. In order for a nation to keep its language, ways, and stories going, its youth need to be provided opportunities to learn and utilize the knowledge and skills of the nation. The Internet is a tool much utilized by the youth of the ACSPI. Taking the tool and youth opportunity into account led to pursuing funding to develop a website that could support individuals’ needs for education and access to information towards lifelong learning of the ancestral ways of the Unangan; to strengthen knowledge and cultural wellbeing of current and future generations.
A website is the present opportunity to make historical and cultural information of, by, and for the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island readily available to the individual members of the ACSPI for the purpose of being better equipped at keeping alive the language, ways, and stories of the nation.
Why call the website ‘tanam awaa?’
Actually, there are at least two reasons for using the phrase ‘tanam awaa.’ One reason is ‘to keep the language alive’ by using the targeted tunux̂, or language. So we did. Now it’s your turn. Give it a try! Say ‘tanam awaa.’ Tastes pretty good, doesn’t it? Quite a flavorful phrase, don’t you think? The other reason is ‘to keep a way of thinking and knowing alive’ by making it known. So, now you know.
Try understanding this-every nation had works, stories and ways, that belonged to the nation. The stories and ways don’t belong to any one individual. For example, when a story about the time-honored journey of the Unangan was to be told the storyteller would preface it by saying ‘tanam awaa’ signifying that something of national importance was going to be said; and further signifying that it did not belong to any one individual. So, if you or I were to tell a story about the journey of the homeland or the nation of the ACSPI, we would say ‘Tanam awaa Tanax̂-Amix̂’ which is like saying, in English ‘Work of the nation Land [named] Mother’s Brother.’