Description (From Transcript): “I think it [the story] circulates in the Alaskan Native culture, because that side of my family is Alaskan native, and I’m from Juno, Alaska. So there’s this lake that’s in my town. My town is landlocked. So it means it starts at one end and ends on the other, and we can only get out by boat. So at the end of the town there’s a lake called Auke Lake, and my dad would always tell me, when we passed by, that there was like a creature there. They always believed that there was a creature in that lake. So my dad would always like, tell us that there was like a creature there. It was actually to the point of like cultural belief. I don’t know if it was just a family belief. But I think there were variations of the story. My parents preferred that I didn’t go in that lake cause a lot of times people would put floaties on the lake, or just like be in the lake. But I remember growing up, and even in high school, so when I was past childhood, I just didn’t go there. And then there’s just a lot of sacred areas, especially like the town, too. My parents would teach me that nature’s nature and don’t overstep nature to an extent because in Alaska, there’s this mindset sometimes that, like “ Oh, well, we can conquer nature. We can go on all these hikes and huge mountains” and stuff like that. But that can get dangerous, too, just because it’s Alaska, so it’s really intense terrain and stuff. Yes, we can appreciate nature, but also not like pushing our boundaries”.
Context: T.M. is a second year student at USC. She is part Ecuadorian and part Native Alaskan. Her father told her this story. She believes it comes from Alaskan Native stories. She explains how Alaskan Natives are always very aware of spiritual aspects and the powers of nature, so even when going in the ocean, they’re very careful. She believes in the legend to a certain extent, even just spiritually because she grew up hearing it and now she is always careful in that area. The caution was reiterated so much by her parents, specifically the aspect about respecting nature and making sure not overstep any boundaries. The story stayed with her even in high school. She says that people would throw bonfires and other events by the lake, but she never chose to go to them because of the stories she grew up hearing. Her father would tell her the story because it was a part of his childhood and her grandfather would tell it to him.
My interpretation: This story seems like something that might be told to children to ensure that they didn’t get near this lake, perhaps because they wanted children to learn to leave the land undisturbed, or also to avoid anyone drowning. Because high schoolers also consistently congregated there, it might also be parents’ way of making sure their children didn’t participate in unsupervised teenage activities. The emphasis on respecting nature and not overstepping any boundaries is very indicative of the respect Alaskan Natives have for their land on spiritual and cultural levels. Even though it wasn’t super clear what the creature living in the lake looked like, came from, or did, the importance seemed to be that it kept people away from the lake just by being a cultural, intergenerational legend.