Chin'an gu nin yu



A friend and I were talking about how Alaska, as exotic as Hawaii, doesn’t have its own form of hello, or aloha. We pondered for a moment, then realized there are many ways to say hello in Alaska through the Native tongues that originated here long before the arrival of the other great cultures that make Alaska a melting pot of people, such as whites, blacks, Asians, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, and Latinos or Hispanics. The Great Land is as full of diversity, as it is full of adventures. It is a unique place, indeed.


I would like to introduce myself, as this is my first issue at Alaska magazine. It is a pleasure to be here. I came from a background of journalism, marketing and business, and my last job was a managing editor of Alaska Business Monthly where I holed up for nearly 14 years.

I love business, but I love Alaska more. I remember crossing the border for the first time in February 1986 as a herd of caribou overtook the road to the point we had to stop as we watched them swarm around us. I was amazed and in awe and turned to my then-husband and said, “This is home; I am never leaving.”

And I haven’t. This place is so incredible, so full of adventure and opportunity, so full of life. To live in Alaska is like living a dream—a good dream you never wake up from and don’t want to.

I have been trailed by wolves while hiking. I have been charged by a moose. I’ve had a bear cub approach me and a group of friends out in the wilds (Where was mama?). I’ve hiked the 26-mile Crow Pass Historical Trail with a 50-pound backpack, climbed Flattop and nearly every other mountain in the Anchorage vicinity, watched sled dogs race, flown in small planes above glaciers, been to rural and roadless Alaska and oh, so much more.

I hope you enjoy our state as much as I do. In the meantime, I’d just like to get to know you. So hello.

Or rather ‘Niit: (Sm’algyax Tsimshean: hello); Aang (Unangax: hello); Tats gwiik (Haida); Quyaakamsi iteghaallghiisi (St.Lawrence Island Yupik: I’m glad you all came); Camai’i (Sugpiaq: hello); Waq’aa (Yup’ik/Cup’ik: hello); Qanuqitpiit (Bering Straits Inupiaq); Wáa sá iyatee? (Tlingit: How are you doing?); and Chin’an gu nin yu (Dena’ina Athabascan: Thank you, you came here).

Debbie Cutler

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