Susan Ringstad-Emery

Tribe: Iñupiat
Based In: Everett, WA
Social Media: @art_n_photos

About the Art
The Legend of the Smallest Star which Fell from the Sky
A suggested fictional interpretation of Nalukatuq:

After the people of Turtle Island came together and lifted the sky, one of the tiniest stars could be seen winking at the bottom of a palm-rimmed bay under rippling blue-green waters. It had shaken loose during the great effort to lift the sky. The most skilled diver of the island people dove down below the surface—down, down down past turquoise shallows and into the indigo deep. Up he came, carrying the brilliant little orb-shaped star. The glimmering orb was brought before the elders of the island people. They advised that the people in the far northern lands of Turtle Island could return the tiny star to the sky. They directed that the star should be taken to the far north. With the star wrapped in palm leaves, some of the bravest of the island people paddling the small treasure across heaving seas until they eventually reached the opposite shore, where the people of the tall green trees had their longhouses.

The island people gave the twinkling star to the people of the tall green trees. Their long, dugout canoes pointed north and warriors were taking the little star to the far north. Their adventures were too many to relate here, and would need an entire book to tell.

At long last the star was delivered to the people of the far north. Their entire village met in the qargi (community house) to discuss how to return the star to the sky. They decided upon a plan: they would toss their most lithe and skilled hunter in a nalukataq (blanket toss). After numerous tries, the men’s arm began to tire and the hunter was unable to be tossed high enough to place the star back into the heavens.

Some of the ladies took places along the blanket toss and suggested they let the littlest girl try. Once the girl was tossed high into the night sky, she felt the rushing wind like many unseen hands, bearing her rapidly upwards. She was amongst the stars! Instinctively tossing the little star from her hands, she saw it streak upward, leaving a trail of light until it miraculously hung amidst its family in the heavens!

The village rejoiced with feasting, dancing, and sharing stories about the smallest star that had fallen from the sky, and its return with the help of their littlest girl, the villagers, the island people, and the people of the tall green trees. They would always remember that by working together they could accomplish much, and that each villager had much to offer, even the very smallest among them.