49 Voices: John Active of Bethel

John Active of Bethel (Photo courtesy of KYUK – Bethel)

This week we’re hearing from John Active in Bethel. Active translates world news for Yup’ik listeners at KYUK, and loves telling stories he learned from his grandmother.

Listen now

ACTIVE: One day there was a fox and he was walking on the tundra in the fall, looking for something to eat. He came upon a goose. He couldn’t fly because he was growing new feathers. And the old fox, he was so happy that he was gonna have a good meal. He started singing. Well that old fox, he was so sure that the goose wouldn’t fly away, or go get away, the next verse he sang, he closed his eyes.

Sings in Yup’ik. 

He [the fox] sang out a little longer. And he opened his eyes, he looked and the goose was gone.

He looked in the middle of the lake. There was the goose. He had gone down to the lake and he was swimming in the middle of the lake.

He looked in the water. He was all red with embarrassment. He said, “Oh no. I can’t look like this. If the other animals, they’ll say I made a mistake and turned red with embarrassment.

He kinda got an idea. So, he took black charcoal in his paws (rubs hands together) and he rubbed both of his paws and both of his feet. And then he took his tail and colored that tip of his tail black too. Then he took some white ash, it was just white, and he colored from underneath his neck all the way down to his chest.

Then he looked in the water again, “Ooh. I look really good now. Nobody will make fun of me, or know that I made a mistake.” And from that day on. that fox became those colors.

This interviewed was gathered by the interns at KYUK in Bethel. 

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

Previous articleAK: “Kicking the sky with your feet,” four teams compete in Bethel’s NYO Invitational
Next articleGovernor signs Petersburg land bill