The time has come to write the obituary for the summer of 2006. The mountains, gripped by rigor mortis, stare sightlessly upwards, unblinking as the snowy burial shroud of summer’s demise is drawn over their craggy faces. Waterfowl flying in solemn procession ululate a mournful eulogy. The gregarious sun is becoming increasingly reclusive in his grief, withdrawing behind a black veil for longer periods each day. Alaskans from all walks of life sink exhausted into bed for a few hours respite from frantic efforts to clear their backlog of last minute funeral preparations. In short, the entire arctic and sub-arctic community seems to resonate with sorrow that the bleak grave of winter is upon us.
It’s really not hard to understand why many cultures built a religion around the ebb and flow of the seasons. In particular, the people indigenous to northern latitudes must have felt a more urgent need to placate the elements. Because their survival depended on the food and shelter that could be harvested from nature, the arrival of smothering snow and entombing ice must have symbolized their worst fears of the afterlife. Desperately they constructed sacred rites to postpone the inevitability of death.
We invite you to read the entire article in our Chinook pages.