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Alaska Salmon Cup
A Letter From The Artist

Ron Apangalook

   Being asked if I would like to add a piece of artwork to the Alaska Salmon Cup has certainly been an honor. During my eighteen years as an artist, I had not done anything like this before and it presented a challenge.

   The Alaska Salmon Cup is part of a diversity program. Diversity can be interpreted many ways. I believe that finding common ground among peoples, such as the sport of hockey and fishing is an awesome way to start to diversify culture and people in general.

   I am a Siberian Yupik from St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Straight. Diversity in our culture can mean survival and adaptability. My people have not only survived, but prospered in a land many label as ‘uninhabitable’ because of extreme winter storms and the powerful ocean currents that swirl around the island year round. As contact with the ‘outside’ world increased over time, diversity began to take on a different meaning. Our culture began to change and how we now view the world expanded by a thousand percent. This is the dichotomy we now face: how do we maintain our culture and also try to conform to this ‘new’ world? It is proving to be very difficult to try to have both.

   I believe that increased awareness and more knowledge allows us to become more accepting of different cultures. The more we know, the more we can appreciate innate and distinct differences/similarities in all cultures. Renewed appreciation and acceptance invariable increases the chances of an indigenous culture to survive and flourish in an everchanging world.

   Our son began playing hockey eight years ago at the mini-mite level. We have certainly enjoyed the games, tournaments, road trips, etc, over the years. However, what we have unequivocally enjoyed the most have been people. We continue to meet people from different races, cultures, social classes, occupations, etc. Through our son’s hockey, we haveAlaska Salmon Cup - Ron Qaygeghutkaq Apangalook met more people that we ever thought we would. Having a sincere interest in a person or a culture has undoubtedly begun to expand our worldview. St. Lawrence Island used to be our only world, but through hockey, our world continues to grow.

   This piece I made represents diversity as I see it. It is based on a simple idea that people come from four ‘points’ in the world. I used different colors of ivory and fossilized whalebone to depict people of a different culture. As a society, we tend to use color as a differentiating factor among people. When in fact, different colors have blended us into the beautiful collage known as the human race. Beauty would be rather hard to find if we were all the same.

   I would like to thank NHL Diversity and the Alaska Salmon Cup for providing us this opportunity to share an inkling of our culture through this art piece. I fully believe that as you continue to reach out to all people and encourage them to share a little bit of themselves, your vision of diversity will continue to take shape.

Thank you,

Ron Qaygeghutkaq Apangalook

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