I am a Woman, I am Alaska Native, I’m Getting Married: Why I’m Not Changing my Last Name

Wonderful news! I will be getting married soon! I am excited to be marrying my best friend and I am especially excited for my daughter to have a dad who is around full time and is a positive influence on her life.

The wedding will follow many of the traditions of modern Western culture. There will be a bridal party. I will wear a fashionable, white dress. My husband-to-be will be waiting at the end of the aisle that I walk down, led by my father.

However, there is one aspect of traditional Western marriage practice that I am not adhering to: changing my last name.

Of course, I am expected to change it to my soon-to-be husband’s last name. This is what all the women in my family have done. It is a practice that has been a part of Western culture for centuries. And it is a practice that, up until a few years, I had fully expected myself to follow.

My ethnic heritage is Iñupiaq and German, but I grew up in an Iñupiaq village surrounded by that part of my heritage. In spite of the fact that my Iñupiaq ancestors only acquired last names within the last century or so, this idea of the wife changing her last name to match her husband’s has taken a strong grip on my community. Why? We are led to believe that it is right to do so. It shows unity in the family. It shows faithfulness, love and submission to the husband who is to be the head of the household, and to whom the wife must be a helper. Or, at least that is what I was led to believe during my upbringing, even upon my entry into adulthood. Additionally, the effects of the assimilation movement of the 19th and 20th centuries are still very strong today.

The Iñupiaq people acquired the Western cultural practice of using last names around 1900, depending on the region and time of contact. During this time, people only had their given name, a nickname, and possibly a community title. The Quaker missionaries had established themselves in Kotzebue and some of the surrounding villages. It was decided that these people needed last names. So they were given names. And sometimes, last names were given without regard to kinship relations. For instance, two adult brothers might be given different last names. Along with the new practice of surnames came the practice of the women taking on her husband’s last name after a legal and religious marriage ceremony.

It wasn’t until I reached my mid to late 20s that my mindset began to change. I had been a single parent for about a year or two, and I was beginning to feel rather independent. I was the head of my own household, and doing a fair job at it. I wasn’t relying on a male partner to take care of intimidating tasks like raising a daughter solo, making all major household decisions, or killing spiders. I realized that I did the work of two by myself.

Another thing that I had begun to do was write. I wrote, and I created works that I could call my own. Works that I put my name on. No, I have not published these (yet). But I brought them to an audience of my peers through workshop classes, I shared them with friends, and I received a Master’s degree through these writings. All under this name.

There are many more reasons why I am choosing to keep my last name. More reasons to keep it than to change it. Here they are in no particular order.

  1. It is the name I have been identifying with for thirty years. Why change it now?
  2. My feminist mind constantly brings up the unfair fact that no one even blinks an eye at men keeping their names.
  3. The paperwork is a pain in the butt.
  4. My last name is awesome.
  5. Every.Single.Goddamn.Thing.With.My.Name.On.It.Would.Need.To.Be.Changed.
  6. I have a right to identify the way that I choose.
  7. I, as a human, choose to keep my last name.
  8. I, as a mother, choose to keep my last name.
  9. I, as an indigenous woman, choose to keep my last name.

I love my fiance. I love that we are unified in our relationship and that we are parents to my daughter. I love his last name (it is also very awesome). However, I do not believe that I need to give up my name, the name that has been with me for nearly thirty years, to prove that we are unified.

Some might argue that it also doesn’t make sense to keep a name that I didn’t even choose for myself. Yes. My parents chose my name for me. I didn’t have a choice then, but I have a choice now. And I choose the route that many men take without giving it a second thought: I will remain the name that I have had for the past thirty years.

Screencast Assignment

My screencasting assignment is done at last. I only made two videos unfortunately, as teaching and taking a class has been overwhelming me a bit lately. These videos show how to install and use the Iñupiaq language keyboard on a macbook.

I think synchronizing the screencast along with the narration was the most difficulty for me. If I were to do it over, I would begin the narration from scratch, and I would speak louder (I had to adjust the volume multiple times).


Screen Capture Assignment

Hello ED 659-ers!

I am at last done with my screen capture assignment. In my English 11th and 12th grade class (it’s a combined class), we are reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. As a pre-reading activity to get them interested (if they are not already). It also gives them a sense of what the world of Harry Potter is like. Plus, it was very fun for me to see how everyone was sorted (2 out of 3 times, I sorted into Hufflepuff House. However, the last time I was sorted into Slytherin…hmmm).


  1. I took screenshots on my macbook pro.
  2. I used Skitch to edit the screenshots.
  3. I compiled everything onto Microsoft Word and exported as a pdf.
How to Discover your Hogwarts House

Video Series

This video series is called “Iñupiaq Uqałit”, which means “Iñupiaq Words” in the Upper Kobuk dialect. I chose to create this series because I am an Iñupiaq teacher and I want to create more resources for the language. I would also like to assign a similar video project to my students this semester.

Below are the equipment I used.

Footage: iPhone 6s Plus

Editing: iMovie

Sound effects/music: iMovie sound effects and freesound.org.

Stills: pixabay.com

Things I would do differently in future videos: use a better mic. I used the microphone on my earbuds and on my laptop. I would like to eventually acquire a blue yeti microphone for audio recording.



Summer Wrap-Up

So, in my very first blog, my first yawp, I made a list of summer goals. It is not September. I have already started a new (part-time) teaching job (yay! income!) almost a month ago. The cranberries are also ready to be picked and the air is cold. Summer is over.

New photo by Chelsey Zibell / Google Photos

So, I’ve gone over my list to see what if I have done anything with these goals. The things I’ve accomplished, I’ve crossed off and provided notes in blue. The things I haven’t done, I’ve provided excuses for in red.

Goals for the summer:

  1. Read at least one book that has nothing to do with education or research  I’m counting audiobooks because that is the only way my fried brain can consume books nowadays. I listened to Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It was incredibly moving. If I ever teach a college writing course ever again, I would like to use this text.
  2. Sew one atikłuk/qaspeq/kuspuk (pictures here if you don’t know what that is). I have not sewn a stitch this summer. I still have fabric sitting in the plastic store bag that I carried them home in.
  3. Organize my daughter’s room (seriously, I’m afraid of getting lost in the jungle of toys). Has not happened yet, but I am hopeful for the coming week.
  4. Finish the Shopkins craft I started with my daughter one year ago. Not yet. Still hopeful for this week. 
  5. Run all the way to that sign I ran to that sign, I ran past that sign, ran down the road that goes past that sign, ran down another road, and another and eventually made a loop back to my car (Yeah, it took all summer for me to be able to do that, but running muscles aren’t built in a day).
  6. Figure out how to get that bit of pink nail polish out of the carpet. Nope. I did shampoo the carpet in my apartment though (ok, my boyfriend did about 2/3 of it)
  7. Expand my Netflixing beyond just watching documentaries narrated by John Hurt (although I’m pretty sure falling asleep to the disembodied voice of Human Planet is making me dream smarter) I did expand my Netflixing to Hulu-ing, and eventually started watching house-flipping shows. After months of deliberation I’ve decided that I don’t like subway tile but I loooove farmhouse sinks.

Not-So-Final-Project: Part 2

Thinking about Your Thinking

A Semester in Review

Over the course, the thing that has stood out to me the most is copyright and fair use. It applies directly to my personal interests and my work. I look back on the many times I’ve used images in presentations and wonder how I didn’t even consider my use of these images. Yes, I included citations. And for the most part, I was using these images for educational purposes, which falls under fair use. However, this course made me more informed and makes me want to pass on this understanding to my students.

The part that became less emphasized for me (I won’t say less important, because it is important) was the Collection on ADA and IDEA. But the reason for this is that I have begun internalizing more how the ADA and IDEA applies to my work, so I felt like I didn’t need to delve into it as much.

I think that digital citizenship is something that I rarely thought of before, but it is incredibly important. Especially as a person whose job it is to prepare teenagers for life beyond high school. The digital world has greatly expanded since I was a teenager and it will only continue to grow. Issues such as copyright, fair use, and digital literacy is important in my students’ lives, whether they realize it or not.

I think a lot more about the way I use online content. I am more responsible about what I can use, and in what way I can use it. With my position as a teacher, I definitely claim fair use in a lot of the work that I use. However, I want to be a responsible digital citizen and I want to teach my students digital citizenship within the context of what I teach in the classroom.


Not-So-Final-Project: Part 3