Word in Alutiiq: Uluranaq
In a sentence:
TRaapat allrani uluranartaartut. - Ladders are sometimes dangerous.
MP3 File: danger
Danger is a recurring theme in the modern place names of the Kodiak Archipelago. Terror Bay, Stormy Point, Tombstone Rocks, Dark Passage, Dangerous Cape, Shark Point, Deadman Bay, and Danger Bay are some of the place names that have made their way to modern maps to warn travelers of hazards, persistent bad weather, and even past disasters. Using place names to encode information about the landscape is an ancient tradition, one also used by Alutiiqs. The Alutiiq name for the Refuge Rock, the secluded island in Partition Cove where a bloody battle initiated the Russian conquest of Kodiak, is Awa’uq. It means to become numb.
In addition to place names, Alutiiqs store and share information about dangerous situations in their stories. By repeating these stories, community members learned important lessons – to be careful of strangers, to travel cautiously in unknown places, and to recognize events that occurred infrequently.
Stories about volcanoes, for example, help people understand the power of rare but deadly eruptions. According to a Kodiak story collected in the early twentieth century, the mountains of the Alaska Peninsula were home to spirits and giants, where brown bears kept watch to keep out people. If a man evaded the bears, and continued on into the mountains, the giants would rise out of the smoking peaks, and roar with anger till the intruder was buried by burring rock.
Photo: The mission boat Evangel in Danger Bay. Smith Collection, courtesy Tim and Norman Smith.