Día de Muertos in Alaska

Indigenous Practices Honoring Life and Death from Mexico to Alaska

in Sibirica
Author:
Itzel Zagal University of Notre Dame, USA i.zagal@alaska.edu

Search for other papers by Itzel Zagal in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
and
Christina Edwin Student, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA cmedwin@alaska.edu

Search for other papers by Christina Edwin in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close

Abstract

The celebration of Día de Muertos (Spanish for Day of the Dead) has been hosted by the Latino community in Anchorage, Alaska, every second of November since 2004, where the ritual to honor ancestors is shared, and a symbolic bridge between the communities that converge within the territory is built. During the 2021 celebration, the Indigenous women Christina Edwin (Denaa and Chicana) and Itzel Zagal (Mexica Xochimilca) collaborated on an altar that was culturally appropriate for Olga Ezi (Ahtna Dene, South Central Dena'ina matriarch). It was a tribute the Alaska Native women (Chedas or grandmothers) and brought together Indigenous perspectives with a common respect for ancestries. This collaboration found that Día de Muertos is a spiritual practice and an act of cultural resistance and solidarity.

Prior to 1492 and onward into the 1900s there were trade routes between tribes throughout North and South America; the borders imposed on North, Central, and South America are products of colonization. The ongoing effects of colonialism, such as climate change and land grabs from multi-national corporations to exploit land and labor across the continent, continue to push Indigenous peoples off their traditional lands and oppress them. In the United States more people are being imprisoned in immigration detention facilities. Young children, women, and men are being criminalized and detained in deplorable conditions. The separation of families and the violent dehumanization of immigrants in the United States is directly correlated to the issues of land disputes and assimilation of American Indians and Alaska Natives, where children were removed from their families, homes, and communities to be placed in boarding schools and now a foster care system.

Indigenous Peoples from Mexico and all Latino America do not have the same history as Indigenous Peoples from Alaska. We share a common history of ongoing threats from colonization, and our resistance continues to live despite facing cultural genocide. Indigenous women are the highest demographic of missing persons throughout the Americas. In both Mexico and Alaska, the violence against Native women is high, and we see this as a direct correlation with neo-colonialism. The continued colonial violence is the systematic attack on Indigenous bodies, lands, and waters.

The choice to honor Olga Ezi with an ofrenda at Dia de Los Muertos on Dena'ina lands was a conscious effort to recognize the connections between Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island. Collaboration is a native value shared throughout Turtle Island. Reciprocity, respect, and protecting the environment are values we share beyond borders.

Olga Ezi, a matriarch, is a symbol and an icon, someone who took in children who were not even her blood relatives. Her loving and caring nature are in spirit with the type of people we need in this world: the true caregivers of our planet. We need motherly love in our world. Creating space for ceremony to honor our relatives was part of the goal of us creating an altar together. As Indigenous women in our own communities, we are honoring and observing the connections between different communities by reflecting on our experiences and journeys and learning Indigenous knowledge around spirituality and cultural practices (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Christina Edwin (Denaa and Chicana) with little brother Kawner, and Itzel Zagal (Mexica and Xochimilca) holding her son Santos, posed in front of the Cheda Olga Ezi altar, Día de Muertos, Anchorage, 2021. Photo by Sveta Yamin-Pasternak and Igor Pasternak.

Citation: sibirica 22, 1; 10.3167/sib.2023.220108

In her book Mexicans in Alaska, Sara Komarnisky documents the presence of Mexican immigrants in Alaska since the early 1900s with a significant increase to our days; many have come to work, and some have intermarried with Alaska Natives (Komarnisky 2018: 24–28). Yet, the relationships of Mexicans and Latino Americans with Alaska Natives do not have a public arena because the label of “immigrants” de-indigenizes people from Abya Yala (also called the Americas), preventing these “immigrants” from being seen as Indigenous relatives of Alaska Natives. Also, because there are no centers or spaces where the Latino community and Alaska Native communities come together, Día de Muertos created this space.

For Alaska Native tribes and Indigenous peoples from Mexico, the relationship with the Ancestors is a fundamental part of the worldview. For instance, when Yup'ik people feast, it includes the ancestors; Joe Asuluk explains, “Even though we don't see them, our dead relatives are there with us at feast… Those that bring food to the feast, it is like they are filling the bowls of their departed relatives…if families do not participate, their dead relatives leave the dance with nothing” (Fiend-Riordan, John, and Masterman 2018: 40). Likewise, sharing food with the dead relatives is a common element with Día de Muertos, where it is also believed that if no food is offered on the altar, the ancestors leave empty-handed. Harold Napoleon mentions the offering of food to ancestors when he explains that Yup'ik people called the human spirit anerneq (breath) and the spirits “were appeased and celebrated through the Great Feast of the Dead” (Napoleon and Madsen 2005: 6–7). Also, during the celebration of One's First Dance, grandparents and other relatives join the first-time dancer “not only out of fondness for the children but also in honor of those departed elders for whom the children are named and who are believed to be reborn in them” (Barker et al. 2010: 89). Moreover, traditional dancing allows Yup'ik people to socialize with the dead and living (Barker et al. 2010: 191). In the book Yupiit Yuyaryarait, Yup'ik Ways of Dancing, Theresa Arevgaq John states, “I dance, for it lifts my spirit. I reach out and touch the hands of my ancestors and know that I've come home” (Barker et al. 2010: 190). In the relationship with ancestors, there is a sense of coming home, where the living and dead find family and community. Honoring and coexisting with the deceased family, friends, and leaders with ceremonies, prayers, songs, dances, or offerings may look very different among the Latino American and Alaska Native communities. Still, the essence is similar: the continuous nourishment of the relationship with ancestors. For example, the altar or ofrenda to Olga Ezi within the Día de Muertos in Anchorage allowed to honor and dignify the memory of a local Indigenous matriarch among Mexicans and Latino Americans (relatives of the South) and Alaska Natives (relatives of the North) together (see Figure 2). For many participants, this was the first time they had the opportunity to see this symbolic alliance and cultural sisterhood between both communities.

Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Photo of Christina and Itzel by the Cheda Olga Ezi altar, Anchorage, 2021. Photo by the authors.

Citation: sibirica 22, 1; 10.3167/sib.2023.220108

With Alaska Natives and Indigenous women across Turtle Island being the highest population of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW), honoring a matriarch was critical, and honoring a local matriarch to bring further reflection to the local history of Indigenous peoples where the ceremony of Día de Muertos took place was deliberate on our part.

According to Indra Arriaga (pioneer of the celebration in Alaska), in previous years, Alaska Native people had participated in groups to set up altars. Still, the Olga Ezi altar was the first dedicated to an Alaska Native woman (Indra Arriaga, personal communication 2021). The altar provoked reflections about the respect and appreciation for the matriarch that stewarded the land where the communities now live, Cheda Olga Ezi (Cheda means “grandmother” in Dena'ina). In that sense, the altar was a starting point of a dialogue among cultures, where both current inhabitants and ancestors of the Alaskan land could reunite, as the ritual allows. Día de Muertos is seen as a path for the ancestors to reclaim the space from which they once were erased, and in this way, “Nuestros Muertos Viven” (Our Dead Live).

There are many ways to celebrate Día de Muertos in Mexico and Latino America, depending on the community, the geographical area, and the level of syncretism and the Indigenous roots. This diversity is also reflected in the public community celebration of Día de Muertos in Anchorage. Arriaga tells how Día de Muertos became a cherished event in Anchorage:

I decided to open The Spot Gallery with a Día de Muertos exhibit that comprised my own personal altar, a small traditional altar, and a couple of small paintings. I sent out a press release and had no expectations that anyone would show up. On November 2, 2004, the Post Office Mall saw activity like it hadn't seen in decades. The small gallery could only fit a few people at a time, but outside, a crowd gathered; Mexican people, Latinos, and folks from other communities shared space and mingled. Television and radio crews descended, and the event made headlines across the city. (Indra Arriaga, personal communication, 2021)

Since then, Día de Muertos has been celebrated for 18 years in Alaska. During the 2021 celebration, individuals, families, and schools participated in setting up altars with a variety of designs: from traditional Indigenous Oaxacan ofrendas to ginormous Guatemalan kites, Chilean poems, Haitian food, flags from all Latino America, handmade sculptures of skull heads, and even humorist miniature altars.

Furthermore, the people that are honored vary: mothers, grandfathers, LGTBQ+ people, revolutionary icons, famous artists, and even some altars that interweave issues of social justice. For instance, in 2019, artist Macuca Cuca alongside the community event included an altar dedicated to the immigrant children that have died inside immigration detention centers in the US. In this sense, Día de Muertos is a spiritual ritual and a cultural resistance. The resistance is the public occupation of space by living and dead Indigenous and immigrant people. The physicality of the altar is the body of the protest, and the memory of the ancestors is the force of cultural resistance and unity. In dignifying their death, the living reclaim dignity and challenge the inhumane labels of “illegals,” “aliens,” or “Indians.” Día de Muertos gives testimony of family and community, and in doing that, it obligates us to question injustice and inequality in a Western society that refuses to speak about death in these terms. Consequently, it forces us to see death under a curious mixture of humor and ritualistic nostalgia that contrasts with the morbid and stigmatized treatment of death in Western society. The celebration in Alaska has always been free and open to all, regardless of the intent of the commodification and appropriation of spirituality and tradition by the capitalist market. Mainly because Día de Muertos is rooted in the community connection to family, arts, food, and traditional knowledge.

Significance of Día de Muertos in Alaska

For Indigenous immigrants in the North and mixed-heritage Indigenous and Alaskan Natives, Día de Muertos means honoring ancestors; it is a social-political act laboring for visibility and recognition through new forms of community alliances (see Figure 3). The dead do not need visas or passports to visit their loved ones. Even if their bodies are buried in their places of origin, their spirits transcend and challenge the imposed colonial borders. In that sense, the ancestors are a bridge connecting the places people migrate to and from. Unfortunately, many immigrants cannot travel back and forth because they lack regular immigration status (les sans papiers). For them, Día de Muertos is the only way to deal with their dead. Consequently, Día de Muertos is the bridge or Nepantla (a Nahuatl word to describe being between two kinds of weather, places, cultures, etc.), as the celebration where dead and living mingle and intertwine beyond borders and communities. In the United States, many Mexican-Americans and Chicanos use Nepantla to define their experience living within two cultures (Anzaldúa 2007: 100). Día de Muertos in Anchorage may not have the unadulterated traditional elements from the Aztec altars and ofrendas. Still, it has the essence of nourishing the relationship with ancestors. The celebration of Día de Muertos in Anchorage allowed the creation of a Nepantla space within its unique perspective and relationship to the land and people there. Indra Arriaga states that Día de Muertos in Anchorage is the beating heart of Latino expression in the city, and it is also a public manifestation that serves as resistance to 500 years of colonialism and the current oppressive political climate (Arriaga 2019). Therefore, Indigenous teachings on the relationship between life and death are essential for collective decolonization and an opening for Indigenous immigrants from the South to form a community with Alaska Natives, making space for dialogue and learning how to support each other, preserve their environment, and stand up for mutual causes: Día de Muertos represents a powerful space for communities to converge.

Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Photo by Indra Arriaga, Anchorage, 2020.

Citation: sibirica 22, 1; 10.3167/sib.2023.220108

For its cultural meaning and social empowerment, celebrating Día de Muertos in Alaska has become an intergenerational space where the younger generations are involved in the reclaiming of cultural heritage. Currently, Día de Muertos conflicts with Halloween in Anchorage because Halloween is popular among the younger generations of Latinos and Chicanos. For this reason, the celebration in Anchorage is usually accompanied by conferences that serve as an “appetizer” for the community to understand the ritualistic and symbolic Aztec aspects behind the contemporary practice (Lorena Medina, personal communication, 2020). Also, the practice of Día de Muertos allows the new generations to perceive the differences with Halloween that otherwise could be confused by the propaganda that has appropriated many elements of Día de Muertos into Halloween.

An altar for Cheda Olga Ezi

There were many reasons to pay tribute to Cheda Olga Ezi (see Figure 4). First, she is a powerful representative of Alaska Native women with a moving life history. In her lifetime, which spanned from 1875 to 1953, she was a chief's wife, worked with her hands, tanned moose hides, provided skin-sewn winter gear to trading posts, and loved her grandchildren. She also had a vast knowledge and respect for the Alaskan landscape. She traveled all over the region she inhabited her entire life, mostly on foot: Anchorage, Palmer, Knik, Wasilla, and the Matanuska. As a child, she migrated hundreds of miles, walking every spring from the Copper Center area to the beach in Anchorage, known as Point Woronzoff, to put up fish camp for the summer with her dad, who was a medicine man. She lived off the land her whole life. She was born at a time when major shifts began around Alaska, from the ongoing legacy of colonialism with the Treaty of Cession in 1867 to the era of the United States territorial government to statehood in 1959. In the latter part of her life, she faced major challenges, from being rich, nomadic, and lively to being criminalized for being Indigenous on her own land and later widowed. The altar on Día de Muertos was offered to honor her story, honor the story of Indigenous women who have been disregarded by official history, create consciousness about the unique land-based relationships across Indigenous cultures, and learn about the blessings and teachings of the wise matriarchs and grandmothers of Alaska Native people. Olga Ezi's biography explains that “she spoke broken English. Still, she made many friends with people from different parts of the world” (Stephan 2001: 7). She welcomed people who were not her own, causing a feeling of gratitude and hospitality. She spoke multiple Indigenous languages, Ahtna and Dena'ina, and she adopted children, making her home a refuge.

Figure 4.
Figure 4.

Cheda Olga Ezi. Photo by A. E. Stephan.

Citation: sibirica 22, 1; 10.3167/sib.2023.220108

On the altar, in the Aztec and Alaskan way, the four elements were offered to Olga: water with tea, earth with berries, air with copal aroma, and fire with candles (see Figure 5). To honor her special connection to the Dena'ina lands, we put traditional foods like dry moose meat and salmon, traditional tools like a sewing bag, and other relevant items such as skins, moccasins, gloves, and a drum, among other objects, for her to enjoy. Another part of the altar had feathers and drawings allusive to the blue jay and quotes from Cheda Olga that explained that Indigenous peoples and animals used to speak the same language (Stephan, 2001) as believed within the different Dene cultures in Alaska. It was important to offer Olga Ezi appropriate food and things from her culture.

Figure 5.
Figure 5.

The altar of Cheda Olga Ezi, Anchorage, 2021. Photo by the authors.

Citation: sibirica 22, 1; 10.3167/sib.2023.220108

Cheda Olga Ezi witnessed a lot of hardship in the transitions of her life, yet never complained. She lived through the dismantling of her worldview, and the takeover of her land by the invasion of settler colonialism (territorial government eventually becoming the State of Alaska). For that reason, honoring the memory of Cheda Olga is dignifying her sorrow and honoring her strength. And in her sorrow and pain is where nonwhite women relate to each other. Vilma Piedade affirms that women of color unite through dororidad (pain) more than sorority (Piedade 2017). Following Piedade, Día de Muertos intersects the parallel pains in the ancestras (ancestress); they come together as the Indigenous women come together in Nepantla and take over the space as they become stronger by learning from each other's heritage, teachings, and ways of life.

The Aztec Indigenous Worldview is the Root of Día de Muertos

To distinguish the Mexican-Latino Indigenous elements of Día de Muertos from those that Spain imposed with their Todos los Santos and Fieles Difuntos, it is necessary to highlight duality in the Aztec worldview: life-death, cold-hot, up-down, and masculine-feminine. For Aztec people, life and death were interwoven on so many levels: the spiritual understanding of the cycle of being nourished by Coatlicue (mother earth) and, after death, the return of nutrients to be recycled into a new life. Baéz-Jorge writes that mother earth is perceived as “a womb, telluric deposit where the gods procreate, a cavity of life and death, fertility and germination” (Báez-Jorge 1988: 14). One of the representations of Coatlicue is a sculpture on stone (exhibited now in the National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico), where she has sagging breasts symbolizing that she has breastfed many children as a mother that nourishes humanity. In “The Return to Coatlicue,” the goddess is analyzed as a symbol of nurture, reproduction, and recycling. At the same time, at the bottom of the sculpture, there is an image of Mitlantecutli (lord of the Underworld), linking the notion of life with death as its roots (Gómez-Cano 2011: 195). So then, in Coatlicue, life and death are phases of an indivisible cycle. Life comes from death and vice versa. However, this refers more to the body's physicality, and the question is, what happens with the spirit or soul after the body dies?

The Aztecs and the Spanish peoples had a common belief that the soul survived the body. The divergence was about what happened to the soul after the physical death (Lomnitz-Adler 2006: 153, 157). Under the Catholic doctrine, after death, people can go to three possible places—heaven, hell, or purgatory—depending on how one behaves in life. For the Aztecs, the soul called teyolia could go to more than nine places or levels in the underworld and 13 heavens, but where you go does not depend on how you lived but on how you died.

Under the Aztec calendar, there were three occasions in which they held the feast of the dead in the veintenas (count of 20) dedicated to Mictlantecutli and Mictlancihuatl, the rulers of the underworld (Diel 2020: 115–120, 251–255). In these veintenas of the feast of the dead, the pre-Hispanic roots for the ofrendas or altars with food and gifts for the dead on their visit are found. Although Día de Muertos has a Spanish name, Catholic calendar dates, and many other elements imposed by Spanish Christianity, the Aztecs accepted Día de Muertos as a resistance strategy, not as a passive act of acculturation. Día de Muertos is an oxymoron that combines Aztec and Christian beliefs that contradict about what happens to the soul. The Spaniards adopted the Indigenous beliefs about the annual return of the ancestors’ celebration even when it contradicted the core values of Christian doctrine (Lomnitz-Adler 2006: 152, 154).

Also, Aztecs believed ancestors influenced everyday life: “Not only could they send punishing diseases, but they could serve as intermediaries between the living and the gods’’ (Miller and Taube 2020: 74). In this manner, ancestors are the specialists or intermediaries with gods. Still, people can communicate directly with their ancestors, unlike priests in the Christian churches who claim authority in the ritual for the dead and the communication with God, serving as intermediaries. Here is where the strong root of Día de Muertos could be seen; it empowers all who want to communicate with their ancestors. The authority of Día de Muertos resides in all humans without the need for a religious institutional authority or even an initiation as a traditional shaman. In any case, people shamanize when they put ofrendas in Día de Muertos, controlling the experience of having a relationship with the dead (see Figure 6). In Día de los Muertos, there is no need for an intermediary between the natural and the supernatural. People can claim their ancestry and offer and pray while talking to family and friends.

Figure 6.
Figure 6.

Calling to the Four Winds ceremony, Anchorage, 2021. Photo by the authors.

Citation: sibirica 22, 1; 10.3167/sib.2023.220108

The Aztecs set ofrendas or altars to give “support to the souls of ancestors so that they could continue to watch over and care for the living” (Diel 2020: 155). Moreover, dead people were not the only allies in the afterlife; Aztecs knew that one should be good to dogs because they are the ones that could help the soul to cross the river (the first level to the Mictlán) to the other side (Miller and Taube 2020: 74, 80). Denaa (Koyukon Athabascan) communities in Alaska honor the relationships between all living beings and the supernatural. In Make Prayers to the Raven, Richard Nelson affirms that “the distinction between animals and people is less sharply drawn than in Western thought” (Nelson 1983: 20) because Raven created humans under the Denaa creation story. The statement that an animal created humans supports the Koyukon protocols to treat them humanely and as sacred beings and even have regulations where the bodies of dead animals should be respectfully disposed, because if not, there could be a punishment (Nelson, 1983: 24, 25). The belief that animals have souls and deserve respect just as human souls is another example of how Aztec and Alaska Native worldviews are more horizontal with nature and treat animals as relatives even after death, unlike Christianity, which places humans above animals and in which nature and has no intervention with the afterlife destiny.

The value of reciprocity permeates the relationship with the ancestors and animal relatives, which is how an afterlife offering is a reciprocal act. The relationship between the living and their ancestors through Día de Muertos shows that it is neither a cult of the ancestors nor a cult of Death; instead, it is an act of reciprocity and affection. With the ofrendas, food, and gifts offered, people ask for ancestral support in their lives. This horizontal relationship is under a relationship of kindness, respect, and reciprocity: communal values in many rural Latino American and Alaska Native communities based on mutual support. This value of communal reciprocity transcends life and death because the ancestors help with daily life challenges, and the living provide for them in the afterlife.

Conclusion

Día de Muertos in Anchorage is a Nepantla (a bridge) space for dialogue and mutual support to decolonize in collectivity among Indigenous people from Abya Yala (Americas) and Alaska Natives. Life and death are constantly crossing colonial borders. The rivers, the birds, the sky, the ocean, the fish, the people, and the jaguars are all relatives, we all belong, and we have the natural right to migrate. Indigenous peoples of Abya Yala, specifically from Alaska to Mexico, are united in a collective struggle facing the climate crisis, missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and trans relatives, extractive economies, and criminalization of immigrant people, among others. Separating families is inherently anti-Indigenous, is similar to the history of boarding schools and foster care systems in Indigenous communities and the policing of the Black and Brown bodies, and with the school-to-prison pipeline. In the spirit of Cheda Olga Ezi, who adopted children, shared her resources, and traveled across borders, we resist the ongoing threats of colonialism forcing violence on our lands, waters, and bodies.

The food offered to ancestors has Indigenous roots and nowadays is a practice of cultural resistance and intercultural healing. The practice of Día de Muertos is a spiritual practice that does not need intermediaries or spiritual specialists; it is an Indigenous democratic spiritual practice that nourishes a reciprocal relationship with the ancestors and communities.

Reclaiming the memory of Abuelas and Chedas allows Indigenous women to relate in dororidad, acknowledging our parallel pain and decolonizing our lives and deaths while healing in collectivity.

References

  • Anzaldúa, Gloria. 2007. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books.

  • Arriaga, Indra. “Día de Muertos: Hecho en México”. Anchorage Press, 29 October 2019. https://www.anchoragepress.com/arts_and_entertainment/d-a-de-muertos-hecho-en-m-xico/article_3ee6e88c-fab1-11e9-9d47-97d82a6bb6bc.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Báez-Jorge, Félix. 1988. Los Oficios de las Diosas: Dialéctica de la religiosidad popular en los grupos indios de México [The Labors of the Goddesses: Dialectic of popular religiosity in the Indian groups of Mexico]. Veracruz: Universidad Veracruzana.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barker, James H., Ann Fienup-Riordan, and Theresa John. 2010. Yupiit Yuraryarait Yup'ik Ways of Dancing. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Diel, Lori. B. 2020. Aztec Codices: What They Tell Us About Daily Life. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

  • Gómez-Cano, Grisel. 2011. El Regreso a Coatlicue: Diosas y guerreras en el folklore mexicano [The Return to Cuatlicue: Goddesses and female warriors in Mexican folklore]. Coppell, TX: Xlibris.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fiend-Riordan, A.. (Ed.), M. John, and L. A. Masterman. 2018. Yuuyaraq: The Yup'ik Way of Being. 1st ed. Fairbanks, AK: Alaska Native Language Center.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Komarnisky, Sara V. 2018. Mexicans in Alaska: An Ethnography of Mobility, Place, and Transnational Life. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lomnitz-Adler, Claudio. 2006. Idea de la Muerte en México [Idea of Death in Mexico]. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

  • Miller, Mary, E., and Karl Taube. 2020. An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. London: Thames & Hudson.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Napoleon, Harold, and E. (Ed) Madsen. 2005. Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human Being. 7th ed. Fairbanks, AK: Alaska Native Knowledge Network, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nelson, Richard. K. 1983. Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

  • Piedade, Vilma. 2017. Dororidade. São Paulo: Editora Nós.

  • Stephan, A. E. 2001. Cheda: Athabascan Indian for Grandma. The Life of Olga Ezi, an Athabascan Indian Woman of the Matanuska Valley, and the Changes She Witnessed. Anchorage, AK: Todd Communications.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Contributor Notes

Itzel Zagal (Mexica Xochimilca) was born in Tepetlixpa, Mexico. Zagal holds an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law from the University of Notre Dame. Currently, she is a Ph.D. student in the Indigenous Studies program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The topics Zagal researches are related to Indigenous migration, food sovereignty, cultural heritage, Indigenous feminism, and decolonization. Also, Zagal is a Mexica dancer where she is a sahumadora (a fire carrier). Email: i.zagal@alaska.edu.

Kk'odohdaatlno Christina Edwin (Denaa and Chicana) was born on Dena'ina lands, Anchorage, Alaska. Currently, she is a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, pursuing a master's degree in Anthropology, where she pursues her passion for education and culture rooted in healing and decolonization. In addition to being a lifelong student, she is a caregiver for her family, and she loves to learn various skills, from making art to preserving foods from the land. She is a community organizer for climate and social justice. As she grows, she continues to go back to her roots and the stories of elders. Email: cmedwin@alaska.edu.

  • Collapse
  • Expand

Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

  • Figure 1.

    Christina Edwin (Denaa and Chicana) with little brother Kawner, and Itzel Zagal (Mexica and Xochimilca) holding her son Santos, posed in front of the Cheda Olga Ezi altar, Día de Muertos, Anchorage, 2021. Photo by Sveta Yamin-Pasternak and Igor Pasternak.

  • Figure 2.

    Photo of Christina and Itzel by the Cheda Olga Ezi altar, Anchorage, 2021. Photo by the authors.

  • Figure 3.

    Photo by Indra Arriaga, Anchorage, 2020.

  • Figure 4.

    Cheda Olga Ezi. Photo by A. E. Stephan.

  • Figure 5.

    The altar of Cheda Olga Ezi, Anchorage, 2021. Photo by the authors.

  • Figure 6.

    Calling to the Four Winds ceremony, Anchorage, 2021. Photo by the authors.

  • Anzaldúa, Gloria. 2007. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books.

  • Arriaga, Indra. “Día de Muertos: Hecho en México”. Anchorage Press, 29 October 2019. https://www.anchoragepress.com/arts_and_entertainment/d-a-de-muertos-hecho-en-m-xico/article_3ee6e88c-fab1-11e9-9d47-97d82a6bb6bc.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Báez-Jorge, Félix. 1988. Los Oficios de las Diosas: Dialéctica de la religiosidad popular en los grupos indios de México [The Labors of the Goddesses: Dialectic of popular religiosity in the Indian groups of Mexico]. Veracruz: Universidad Veracruzana.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barker, James H., Ann Fienup-Riordan, and Theresa John. 2010. Yupiit Yuraryarait Yup'ik Ways of Dancing. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Diel, Lori. B. 2020. Aztec Codices: What They Tell Us About Daily Life. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

  • Gómez-Cano, Grisel. 2011. El Regreso a Coatlicue: Diosas y guerreras en el folklore mexicano [The Return to Cuatlicue: Goddesses and female warriors in Mexican folklore]. Coppell, TX: Xlibris.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fiend-Riordan, A.. (Ed.), M. John, and L. A. Masterman. 2018. Yuuyaraq: The Yup'ik Way of Being. 1st ed. Fairbanks, AK: Alaska Native Language Center.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Komarnisky, Sara V. 2018. Mexicans in Alaska: An Ethnography of Mobility, Place, and Transnational Life. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lomnitz-Adler, Claudio. 2006. Idea de la Muerte en México [Idea of Death in Mexico]. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

  • Miller, Mary, E., and Karl Taube. 2020. An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. London: Thames & Hudson.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Napoleon, Harold, and E. (Ed) Madsen. 2005. Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human Being. 7th ed. Fairbanks, AK: Alaska Native Knowledge Network, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nelson, Richard. K. 1983. Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

  • Piedade, Vilma. 2017. Dororidade. São Paulo: Editora Nós.

  • Stephan, A. E. 2001. Cheda: Athabascan Indian for Grandma. The Life of Olga Ezi, an Athabascan Indian Woman of the Matanuska Valley, and the Changes She Witnessed. Anchorage, AK: Todd Communications.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 1216 865 106
PDF Downloads 841 620 42