Meet Marjorie “Kunaq” Tahbone
“…With the research that I have been doing for traditional Inupiaq tattooing, I come to learn that marine conservation is at the root of our traditions, protocols, celebrations, and values.”
Inupiaq, Nome Eskimo Community
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Graduate in Cross Cultural Studies
Class of May 2018
What drew you to the Caleb Scholars Program?
I grew up with a strong cultural identity built around marine life. Being Inupiaq, I was taught about reciprocity of the land and sea, as we rely on the animals that live in them for sustenance. Marine Conservation is our way to ensure we have food for the next season and generation. That is what drew me to this scholarship program.
What does marine conservation mean to you? How do you engage with marine conservation at school and/or at home?
I believe marine conservation is an outcome to living our traditional values and culture. We are inherently taught to respect and take care of our land and animals. Through the avenues of our culture, marine conservation seems to be the base. With the research that I have been doing for traditional Inupiaq tattooing, I come to learn that marine conservation is at the root of our traditions, protocols, celebrations, and values. We live by these values with our protocols to ensure that our children’s children have access to food from the animals from our land. I work to learn more about our Inupiaq worldviews and share the knowledge that I gain through my research.
What are your future educational and career goals? What are the top three things that are moving you toward those goals?
Right now I am currently working towards my masters degree in Cross-Cultural Studies, and I plan to continue my education by attaining my PhD in Indigenous Studies with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. My goal is to be an educator of our language and culture within the Bering Strait Region. Right now there is always a need for language teachers and culture bearers to educate and share. I am motivated to work toward my goals to fulfill what is needed for our communities.
Do you have a personal connection to Caleb or his legacy?
My mother was the subsistence director for Kawerak for many years, she worked hard with policies and was an advocate for our people, just like Caleb. I know how much work she put into her job for the betterment of our people, and I so much respect for her and for Caleb for what they did to help our people.
Can you share a fun fact about yourself?
I hold the world record for filleting a salmon to hang for dry fish, 29.9 seconds. Broke it at the World Eskimo Indian Olympics 2016!
Thank you for your commitment to marine conservation and continuing the legacy of Caleb Lumen Pungowiyi!