Kathy is now looking at artifacts that have been carefully tucked away in white, cardboard boxes. She’s wearing white cotton gloves. She’s a forensic specialist, and knows how to do this. She told me that her dream job would be to be a coroner, and do death investigations. My thinking is that it takes a special kind of person to do this. This sort of job would be low on my list of priorities. I could not (last night) even watch a movie she selected, which was about the Boston Marathon Bombing. It made me very unsettled.
Kathy has just finished examining an infant bundle. Kale, the intern, assisted her in untying the cotton sack like material surrounding it. I took a close look it. I recognized the cranium, and a fibula. It was brown and dirt-like – in the throes of decomposition.
Kathy told me that the Natives believed in liminality – and that mummification put the soul in a state of being that was between this world and the next. This has got me wondering – does this mean that this infant’s soul is now stuck in this netherworld? And would it have to be buried in order to be freed? Or will it be freed when it disintegrates? I can fully understand, if this is what some believe, they would want this mummy to be buried.
And did the conversion of many Natives to Christianity change this particular belief construct? These are important questions that Kathy, with a good dissertation advisor, would have explored. Maybe she will still do this. For sure, she is not going to get an assist from the Native community, who undoubtedly would like for her to do her dissertation on some other subject.
Me, I’m interested in finding out more about the horse herd that is on Summer Island, which is close to Dutch Harbor. In looking at photos I have deduced that they are from draft horse bloodlines – they are large, stocky, and have large heads. I asked a few people and was told they were brought here about twenty years ago. Makes sense, they were probably brought here to pull things around, and then released. I would like to come back and go see them, and see what kind of care they are getting.
I am now thumbing through a book entitled “Cow Woman of Akutan,” which is about one family’s attempt to make a living on Akutan Island as ranchers. They brought in cows and sheep. Not such a good idea, to bring in livestock – such things decimate rare plant species. That’s human beings for you.
Next: 91. 4/1/17: Finally in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska