Also, our class has the book Baby Beluga.
Today, during Learning Labs, Writing Lab was individual sized dry erase boards and dry erase markers. I was across the room working with some other kids when I heard singing coming from the Writing Lab. Clarissa, Louis, and Landon were busy with their markers, and all singing Baby Beluga. It was so cute! I had to get my camera and take a video of it. As soon as the camera was out, a few things changed. Louis got shy and stopped singing, Landon continued singing and drawing, and Clarissa's full attention was putting on a show for the camera.
For your enjoyment:
In case you didn't know what was going on, Clarissa stopped in the middle and said "Is there this kind on my (points to cheek)?" She was focused on the camera and not paying attention to her marker, and wanted to know if she had marked on her face. I scrunched my nose at her, indicating that there was not marker on her cheek.
Here is another video for your enjoyment:
No matter where you live, Baby Beluga is a fun song. Here in Northwest Alaska, not only is it fun, but it is culturally relevant. Shishmaref is not a whaling community, but many villages near us are. Muktuk is a traditional native food. Muktuk is whale blubber with the skin attached on the top.
Before I wrote this post, I went to go talk to John Sinnok and Bessi Sinnok in the Culture classroom. Bessi's husband is John's nephew. They, along with Stanley Tocktoo, are our local experts who work for the school. Stanley wasn't there today, so I didn't get to talk to him about this. I was asking if the term muktuk is used for any kind of whale blubber and skin, and the answer is yes, it is. However, John told me that muktuk is just the generally accepted term and that actually it has more specific names. The skin is the kaataq and the blubber is agikaq.
Because Shishmaref is not a whaling community, muktuk is a rare treat. Likewise, we have native foods that other villages may not. When the Savoonga basketball team came to Shishmaref, some kids brought boxes of muktuk with them, then they called someone they knew in the village and traded their muktuk for dried fish, berries, or seal oil.
Even though whaling doesn't happen in Shishmaref, the children know about beluga whales. Its cool that we can sing a song about an animal that they have real experiences with and stories about.