A map of Alaska with the Statewide region highlighted.
Organization: Rural Alaska Community Action Program
City: Anchorage
Region: Statewide
Program Area: Human Services
Grants Received:
2016: $25,000  2005: $20,000
2015: $875,000  2003: $22,210
2014: $345,000  2002: $371,000
2013: $64,500  1995: $2,900
2012: $718,560  1994: $2,100
2011: $800,000  1993: $2,844
2010: $15,000  1992: $4,800
2008: $225,000
2006: $19,490

Atauciq, Malruq, Pingayun — A poem inspired by a RurAL CAP Head Start pre-school

Mission Statement

RurAL CAP encourages the efforts of low-income people attempting to break the cycle of dependency and gain control of the changes affecting their lives. Its mission is to protect and improve the quality of life for low-income Alaskans through education, training, direct services, decent and affordable housing, advocacy, and strengthen the ability of low income people to advocate for themselves.
One: Atauciq

Cup'aq rides on her mother's back
Down the slippery boardwalk
Past the curled and snoozing sled dogs
towards her head start on life

towards the magical building
a place unlike anywhere in the village
with little tables and chairs made just for her
with fingerpaints, shelves of colorful books, and a toy kitchen

how many boats can you count?
her mother asks
Cup'aq stretches a blue knitted mitten
out to the morning mirror of the bay
and counts:

A photo of a little girl in traditional Native Alaskan dress.Spacer Image Atuaciq, Malruq, Pingayun
she says

now kass'atun
her mother says

One, Two, Three
Cup'aq says.

Two: Malruq

Isaac's son was shy at first
but the cook took him
under her wing and now
each night he talks about how

he set up tables for lunch
and painted muskox, ducks, and seals
with his fingers

sometimes Isaac hears him
singing the Yup'ik alphabet song
and when they walk together to school
in the morning dark

A photo of a little girl working on a crafts projectSpacer Image the snow diamonds sparkling
in the flashlight's glow
he remembers his own father
walking him through the village
braving the monster-filled shadows

bundled back then in his little squirrel-lined parka
the thick warm hood drawn tight to keep out the wind

Isaac wonders if his son will someday
make the same walk with a son of his own
and if their stories of hunting and school will be
told in the tongue of their ancestors.

Three: Pingayun

Cup'aq's brown eyes turn down
to the table where her oldest two daughters,
clench crayons and turn snow white
pages into worlds of color

she carries her third,
on her hip into the kitchen

who wants to make necklaces?
she asks, carrying a flat cake pan
filled with dyed Cheerios
red, plain, and blue

she made her own jewelry once
slipping string through the small cereal holes
fine tuning motor skills, learning
the months and days, and how to brush baby teeth
and wash dirty hands

now, a world away from the Bering Sea
and the village she called home
she tries to recreate that magic
of learning and excitement
for her own daughters

they count the little cereal gems
in Yup'ik: Atauciq, Malruq, Pingayun

Don J. Rearden teaches writing at the University of Alaska Anchorage. A screenwriter from Bethel, with three independent films (Clawed, Jack Kain and Skid Marks), Rearden has also published short fiction and poetry in Ice-Floe, Copper Nickel, Ghost Stories From Around the World and Chronogram. He hopes to someday write and produce a feature film about ancient Yup'ik warriors.