Keneq - Fire (Process)
The essence of the mental or cognitive sphere is the metaphorical fire that ignites and drives us from within. The word for fire in Alutiiq is keneq. I selected this title for this values group as fire is the central natural element that engages process, provides warmth or vitality, produces sustenance and inspires creativity. Symbolically, fire brings change because it is capable of transforming things from one state into another.
The mental or cognitive sphere exists in the third sphere of the model, where three of the fourteen core Alutiiq values relate:
Liicirpet (Our way of learning)
“Learning by doing, observing, and listening”
Piciipet Uswituu’uq (Our way is wise)
“Traditional arts, skills and ingenuity”
Sugt’stun Niuwacipet; Yugnerpet (Our heritage language)
“Our heritage language”
The underlying question that these value statements answers is:
What thought processes sustain the Alutiiq knowledge system?
The location of this values group seems no accident. While we only know a little about the sky worlds within ancestral Alutiiq faith, the third world is where Kas’arpak resides, the ‘chief of the wise ones.’ Kas’arpak is “a spirit who created all of the different birds and animals from a single ‘little man,’ (i.e., a suk). He was also the ancestor and advisor to human kas’at on earth...[who communicated] the wishes of Llam Sua” (Crowell et al., 2001, p. 197). The kas’at were the masters of ceremony, who “taught the oral traditions, and composed dances and songs” (Crowell et al., 2001, p. 189). The third world is also the world that the kall’alet, healers or shamans, communicated with their spirit helpers. The Alutiiq traditionally believed that spirits communicated through whistling. This belief is illustrated in the original Llam Sua icon itself as the third world is depicted with four whistling lips at each of the four directions.
It is also interesting to consider how the cognitive aspect and Alutiiq cosmological beliefs relate to Freudian psychoanalytical understandings of cognitive processes. In Freudian psychoanalysis, the Ego is “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity” (New Oxford American Dictionary, 2005). We can also consider this aspect as where the development of intuition and common sense generates. It is the seat of knowledge, intellectual functioning, and applied learning and innovation.