Mary Ann Warden
“Eddie Rexford and I are both adopted. He was adopted later. I was adopted because I was named after my aunt’s and uncle’s first daughter. Her name was Mary Ann, and she had died. When my sister was born, they decided to move to Barrow, and the only way we traveled back then was by dog team or boat. It was in February. They decided to leave me behind, and Martha, his daughter by his first wife, begged them to take me along, she told them she could carry me on her back, but they didn’t listen. They left me behind with my new parents, Herman and Meldred Rexford. Spring came early that year. They came back by boat. When they came back, they tried to take me back with them to their home and family. I cried; I wanted to stay with my new parents. So they just left me there with them.
When I was little, we traveled by dog team to go hunt sheep in the mountains. My mom would dress me in caribou snow pants, boots, and parka; I was nice and toasty. I used to pick frozen berries while they trapped squirrels. I remember one time Hulahula River was frozen, they put a sail on the sled and we sailed down to the edge of the river. That was so cool. We always traveled by dog team, and my dad would sing and yodel. We would watch the sky and the aurora; it’s dark and the moon is bright, so we would know where we were going. Those were good times.
I remember when the army first came. They came with big ships—noisy, noisy. We had a tent down there and I remember I was with my uncle and we were down there to take care of our fish net. But they came and we got scared, rushed into our tent and covered ourselves up. Those G.I’s or whoever they were came peeking into our tent. We had a nice quiet village and then they came. They were so loud, with all of their equipment and building. They were building a warning system during the Cold War. We moved our little sod house from where the airport hanger is to over here.” — Mary Ann Warden is Inupiaq and lives in Kaktovik, Alaska.
- © Brian Adams
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- I AM INUIT