Wilson Bay by Conley Stone McAnally

12-9-13 Wilson Bay Conley

I wanted to share this excerpt with you from Conley Stone McAnally’s new book. His first, out earlier this year, is Tales From Homer. They are both good reads and would make any Christmas stocking happy!

Wilson Bay excerpt

Conley Stone McAnally

…The meat is divided among the hunters in proportion to the help each provided during the hunt. It is cheaper than buying beef at the village store.  

The intestines will be sold to a craftsman that will produce a water proof rain coat to sell to the tourists that want to show people after they return home how ingenious Eskimos can be.  

The skin is used for ceremonial clothing and repairing of artifacts that the Eskimos keep around more to impress the tourists than anything else.  The best part of the skin, however is taken to the eldest of the Elders.  He or she makes the selection as to who will be given the task, and then the village waits.

A three foot diameter circle is made by the selected craftsman by carving, bending, heating, and pressing driftwood together.  It is held in place by a stone vice while a handle made from ivory or still more driftwood is attached by sinew.  The length of the handle depends on the size of the beater. 

 The skin, after being cured, cleaned, and scraped to a shinny surface is stretched tightly across the circular frame.  The instrument is left to dry and harden in the sun, thus further stretching the skin tighter, thereby giving it it’s haunting melodious sound.  

The eldest of the Elders directs how the product is to be decorated.  A different craftsman provides the ceremonial decorations.  The item is then presented to the eldest of the Elders for approval. 

 After an ancient blessing, that no one now alive knows how long it has been chanted, a crafted willow stick strikes the middle of the drum and it resonates though out the tundra as all previous drums on the tundra have done for ten thousand years…

Conley is on Twitter (Stone@639) and Facebook (Conley Snapper McAnally)