#1 - Apay'uq Moore - Artist and Indigenous, Yup'ik Activist

Apay’uq Moore is a Yup’ik artist and activist. She creates art that exemplifies the best parts of the traditional Yup’ik way of life and raises her two kids off-grid in Bristol Bay, Alaska. She advocates for social justice, indigenous rights and the sanctity of Bristol Bay’s headwaters – fighting for decades to block the proposed Pebble Mine. Mark and Apay’uq discuss her artwork, traditional lifestyle in Bristol Bay, the sanctity of wild food and the Pebble Mine project.

Check out Apay'uq Moore and her art:⁣⁣

Other topics discussed:⁣
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Save What You Love with Mark Titus:⁣⁣
Produced: Tyler White⁣⁣
Edited: Patrick Troll⁣⁣
Music: Whiskey Class⁣⁣
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Transcript:⁣⁣
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Mark Titus  ⁣⁣
Welcome to save what you love. I'm Mark Titus. It's my privilege to welcome my friend Apay'uq Moore the podcast today. Apay'uq is a Yup'ik artists from Bristol Bay. Painting is her primary art. She is inspired by the outdoors and the indigenous ways of life in her homeland. She works to communicate the best parts of her culture and advance the understanding of indigenous values as it relates to the current world. Apay'uk lives in rural Alaska with her two children, where she draws inspiration from her cultural way of life in Bristol Bay. And the dialogue she gains through indigenous gatherings and storytelling. Now without further delay, welcome Apay'uq, I'm grateful you're here.⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore  ⁣⁣
Well, hello.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus ⁣⁣
Well, hello. And where are you joining us from today?⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
I am calling in from the Dillingham Alaska Boat Harbor.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus⁣⁣
That is awesome. I know exactly where you're calling from paint a little picture for us if you would.⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Yes. So I'm sitting here and I am watching the icebergs kind of like the tide is coming in right now. So the icebergs are flowing in towards the Nushagak and Wood River. And I see Nushagak point across the way and some ducks are flying over the iceberg filled bay. little flock of maybe 10 ducks there. And the bluffs are kind of this wintery blue and gray and brown in the distance towards Kanakanak. Yeah, it's a really cold nine degree day here.⁣⁣
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It's like you're an artist or something, the way you describe these things. And just so y'all know, Bristol Bay is out of ways. If you are looking at Anchorage. And here's a handy little thing if you make like a gun shape with your hand, you turn it upside down. And this is like the shape of the state of Alaska, Anchorage is up here. And then Bristol Bay is clear down here. So it's 330 miles away from Anchorage. There's no roads in or out. You either fly in or you boat in. And so it's a very unique place and abayas, you're right in the middle of it right now. That's pretty cool. And it's pretty cool to that we can actually after trying few times have this conversation through the miracle of modern science here. And, you know, I have so much I want to dig in with you. But first, I would just love to hear from you. Your story and how you came to love the things that means so much to you.⁣⁣
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A little bit more on my story, like, Ooh, that's so broad. Let's see. I was born May 13. On a lovely spring Mother's Day. What are you wanting?⁣⁣
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Mark Titus  ⁣⁣
Yeah. Just, you know, origin story coming from Bristol Bay. What were your big influences and kind of, you know, kind of the bio on how we got to where we are now.⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore  ⁣⁣
All right. Well, I grew up it's so funny talking to you since we know each other, right? Like, let me pretend that I don't know Mark. Well, I grew up doing kind of the typical Bristol Bay childhood, we commercial fished. I thought it was normal for all children to have parents and grandparents that were in the commercial fishing industry. So by the time I got to college, when people would ask what my parents did for a living, and I'd say that my dad was a commercial fisherman, and they looked at me sort of puzzled, I'd be like, what? Isn't that what you guys do here in Washington to there's fish here, right? Like your dad's fish, right? No, what do you mean like with a rod and reel? Yes, we grew up grew up in that kind of setting where the commercial fishing boat was our means of income or livelihood from my dad. But I remember some of my greatest summers where we had taken the boat or this one summer in particular, my dad took the boat all the way up to Lake Aleknagik, and we anchored out from one of these little bays, and we vacation there for a week and some of his friends went up and anchored their boat. So it was like several families. And we we basically camped in the boat, and then we're able to swim to the beach in the morning with their big inner tubes. And, I mean, so the commercial fishing boat was like our central, the center of our lives, you know, for everything good. All the transportation like it's so weird now that I've had some life experience. And looking back at how unique that was for us, or is still for us to have these lengthy amount of times that we spend on these 32 foot drift fishing boats. That's cool. So yeah, high school all the way through in Dillingham I would spend some summers when I was in elementary school in twin hills where my mom's family's from, and I would go back and visit every now and then. So we had kind of that very cultural Yup'ik lifestyle. There were my grandparents were, and my aunts and uncles, were all fluent in Yup'ik. And it's hard to explain the things that I just thought were normal. That took a while for me to have these epiphanies as an adult or young adult and suddenly have this slap in the face. The rest of the world doesn't harvest a moose every year, people aren't constantly talking about what the tide is doing. People don't look at the weather every single day or check out the forecast it so it was this very, you don't appreciate what you have until you leave. And so it took definitely going to college and trying to relate to other people and finding that it was a little bit difficult to find that common ground because we are so different here. It's like living in another little country.⁣⁣
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And by the time Pebble kind of popped up in my later years for college, it just seemed evident, like I was homesick. I was feeling like I didn't have very much purpose in the cities that I was in. I bounced around from Seattle, and the Washington area. And then I went into Missouri and went to Columbia, Missouri. And then I was finishing up in Fort Lewis. And through the lectures and everything. I just felt like I didn't quite belong. And Pebble came. And it just made me very territorial, I guess, and suddenly realize all of the great things that we had at home. And I was just getting into like, you know, that Colorado area's very adventure education oriented, and lots of biking, hiking, climbing, there's just very active people there. And it opened my eyes to what kind of possibilities do we have in Bristol Bay, and we have so much of this crazy opportunity for adventure. And I was just I was pretty inspired by that active community to come home and revisit our communities and with a different mindset not so much. Oh, I'm from this tiny little rural town and it sucks being home and everything's the same to this more expanded thought of Wow, we live in one of the most amazing places on the planet. This is so cool. And it gave me pride and yeah, I came back with just like a new outlook on where I came from.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus ⁣⁣
I there's so much I want to unpack there, but the I think it's gonna dovetail nicely into the rest of the questions here. But I just wanted to also touch base on that sense of home that sense of place. I certainly feel that in Alaska. You know, I spent my college summers working up there with in Bristol Bay, and right down the road from where you live. And but recently here, even in Washington State, I've been seeing all of these incredible places that are nearby, out in the mountains and on the river. And that are this incredible sense of place and sense of home. And it brings a lot of wellness. And it brings a lot of sense of identity. So I totally jive with what you're saying. And just to be clear for folks, you referred to Pebble, we're gonna get into that in a minute. But what I think you're referring to is the proposed Pebble Mine, which has been a large bit of interest and news and controversy in Bristol Bay for 20 years now or so. So we're gonna get into that.⁣⁣
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This summer, you wrote an article in First Alaskans magazine. It was beautiful. I was telling you earlier today, you're a really beautiful writer. And you made a very kind mention of our collaboration on my film, The Wild about the proposed Pebble Mine and Bristol Bay. And thank you for that. I'm going to read just a little bit from your work that you wrote in this article. You said, "What is that feeling? When we step into clear view and see a vista so beautiful, it seems unreal and out of this world. The thing is, it can't be quantified into a single feeling. The feeling is the abundance of feelings. To what extent would we go to make sure this abundance of feelings is preserved and shared with as many humans as possible for the betterment of life on Earth? In this case, in The Wild, Mark is referring to roughly 27 point 5 million acres of feelings that make up the Bristol Bay region and Alaska. More specifically, the 12 point 5 million acres of feeling set aside for development by the Bureau of Land Management known as the Bristol Bay Area management plan. Even more specifically, it's the 98,000 acres of feelings that have been proposed for development of the largest open pit gold and copper mine in the entire world, known globally as Pebble Mine. So some of you may have not heard about the pebble Pebble Mine. So Apay'uq, can you tell us about what it is and what it could potentially mean, for Bristol Bay, if this project was constructed there? ⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore  ⁣⁣
Yeah, I'm definitely not a mining expert, or anything like that. But from the public from  what I call myself from just a person who is living here, who is trying to take in and understand what this kind of technical project really is. It is potentially the largest open pit gold and copper mine in the entire world. And the reason why it is so scary, is because if there were any sort of dam breach, because it would have the largest, you know, along with being the largest open pit mine, it would also come with the largest dam that would be hold, holding back, whatever amount of tailings and tailings is the toxic waste that they're using to extract the precious metals or whatever. Again, I'm not a specialist. So you could look, look up the technical info, but it's basically poison would be coming down our rivers, if anything happened to that dam. And that comes with poisoning all that lives within the water, and that uses the water. And for us, that's just this incredible universe of beings, including us, from the fish, the moose, the plants, you know, we're trying to live in this kind of magical world here. And I'd say, for from the adults standpoint, we really need to take the accountability to live in, in these sort of emotional realms and bring that back into our daily practice for life. Because it brings us to another place of compassion and takes us off the paper also, just like we can't always live by the herd. We can't, some people will, we shouldn't have my opinion, we shouldn't be living by these standards on paper and on just what the entire what our government is built off of in building these economies that are so exact to whatever these words are. And that's not real life. There's always needing, like, we always need to compromise and we're always needing to adjust to whatever things that we didn't account for coming up. And this mine is exactly that. Like, on paper. It looks like it's going to be a great perfect project. But that's marketing. You know, that's that's how businesses succeed. They have excellent marketing plans and they have that. So, you know, it risks a lot, including the spiritual realm that we've just overlooked as the human population living in capitalism, in my opinionated opinion.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus  ⁣⁣
Yeah, you know, we'll we'll link to some technical specs, and some deep dives into what the project entails on the show notes on on the podcast website. But, you know, one of the things you touched on earlier is everything that's living in this system, including us. But of course, Bristol Bay is particularly known for one creature besides humans, and that's wild salmon.⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore  ⁣⁣
I could, I could argue, I don't think people know about the humans that are here.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus   ⁣⁣
You might be right. That's, that's part of our, our journey. And our, our task is to shed a light on this part of the world that, you know, like we opened up with today, you are way up in this place where there's literally icebergs coming by your car right now. And that's hard for most people to get their brains around. But I think everybody anywhere in America, or anywhere in the world really can identify with place and identify with things that are sacred in that place. So, you know, one of those things clearly is the wild salmon that return to Bristol Bay and have from time immemorial, in the 10s of millions every year, which is just, that's a big number. It's like you're saying on paper, that means one thing, but when you see it, and you feel it, and you eat it, and you take it into you, it's an entirely different thing. And so I'd love to talk to you for a little bit here about the sanctity of food. And and, again, quote from your article, and you mentioned this, "while we were locked down contemplating our options, and reevaluating what we can and can't live without, we see that food will always be the most valuable resource for the majority of people in the lower income brackets of America. How do we win this fight to save what we love? We do it by coming to terms with the destruction for which we are responsible, and being accountable for the results of our thoughtlessness. We find unity in the ways we are all connected so we can understand what the world has to lose by recklessly developing the incredible 98,000 acres of feelings that are gained through experiencing Bristol Bay. We save what we love by sharing what we have and the trickling effect of gratitude and sustainable benefits that spread throughout the world by valuing life and food over money". So I put to you, how do you perceive the sanctity of food and a regenerative food source from where you sit?⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
What would be the literal definition of sanctity?⁣⁣
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Mark Titus  ⁣⁣
The sacredness.⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore  ⁣⁣
The sacredness. Ah, okay, repeat that question.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus  ⁣⁣
Sure. How do you perceive the sanctity or the sacredness of food, and a regenerative food source one that can make itself forever from where you sit.⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore  ⁣⁣
And think from the global waste perspective, and seeing how easy it is to throw a half of a sandwich away when you don't know where that food comes from. And you don't understand the process that it took to actually get that bread to your table. It just and the global crisis that we've been in, because we are wasting so much food, you know, the 1000s of acres of lands that we're destroying, to make this overabundance of food just to waste it. And that's kind of what the culture of America is sort of come to. But here in Bristol Bay, because in we're so remote, we have been able to keep intact a lot of these basic things that our ancestors are these practices that our ancestors have had for 1000s of years. And because we can easily and affordably get food to our grocery stores, then it's necessity that we go out and continue practicing these ways of life. And in doing that, when we're going out, we're connecting spiritually with the land. And we understand that there's so much more to it than just a plastic bag with things that we put in our mouths and spit out the other end. There's just an entirely magnificent, you know, a universe within our universe within our world. Like we're just living in a place that we don't have control over that you have to think critically with you have to adapt. You can't play the victim. If suddenly you're down on your luck in the middle of nowhere and you know, you step into a hole that covers your boot and you're just needing to pull your book Out of the muck, all of those experiences seem like they're not related to the food. But by the time you're putting it in your mouth, and you're processing it with your family, all of these memories and everything, go to the gratitude and your willingness to not waste. If you cook something and it doesn't turn out exactly right, and you, you're the one with your own hands and your own family, cut an entire quarter of a moose that was gifted to you, you know, what kind of work goes into one, the airplane ride that that, you know, for me the last several years, the way that I've gotten moose is one of the guiding outfits. Some of their guides don't always want all of their meat. And so they'll say, hey, there's some stuff that is here for donations. And so I've gotten an entire quarter of moose. So I haven't gone out and hunted my own moose and done that, but I've gone to pick up an entire quarter. And so me and my two kids by ourselves, are learning how to cut, you know, with the lines of the meat and take all of the meat off of the bones. And that's no small process, you know, it's hours and hours when you have right now my kids are nine and six. But we've been doing this since they were like four, four, and six. And so they're helping me like cut little things. And those precious moments just make everything so much more tastier.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus ⁣⁣
I love some of those precious moments that you you generously share with us on your Instagram. It's remarkable seeing those kids do these things that, you know, have typically been reserved for adults, and not most of us have even done that. So it's really cool to see.⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Well, and it's been really fun. So for food waste, like, of course leftovers in our culture. As far as like the United States, States in general, people are always so stoked on leftovers. But for me, it isn't so much like that entitlement of: Do I have the choice, we don't have the choice to feel entitled that we're going to throw away our leftovers from yesterday. So we bring it in. And I try to use stories with the kids or this sort of magical land and realm because they're in that sweet age, where it's like, oh, can you believe that this moose was walking through, like whatever the walking down the Nushagak River or this was way up in Fifth Lake or like, what a what a what a journey this moose has been on before it came to our plates, and now we're putting it to our mouth, it was, you know, so combatting and having that mental toughness to realize when we're feeling entitled, and what the right thing to do is, even in our daily life with things as simple as the foods that we're eating.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus⁣⁣
That is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. And Wenche and I my wife and I have been watching this show Alone on of course on Netflix, while we're all COVID out here, but basically they plop 10 people in a wilderness setting and they've got to find food and fire and make themselves you know, the last person standing wins type of scenario. And it's, it's, of course, you know, wonderfully addictive, but it also makes you really keenly aware through these folks documenting themselves about what it takes to actually put energy into your body calories into your body like, and the things that we take for granted that just like you say, a pure wrapped in a wrapper somehow, you know, there's a process that brought that ham sandwich onto your desk, and they're, you know, whether it's the the farmers milling the wheat to make the bread or the, the ranchers, you know, raising the animals and then shipping it off to market. I mean, if you were to give somebody from the lower 48 a little perspective on that, from your place where you are now, how can you help us get our brains around? Again, that sanctity or that, you know, sacredness of food? When it seems so easy to get?⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
I you know, I'm reading this. I'm reading that book on audio booking it, Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins. Do you know what I'm talking about?⁣⁣
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Mark Titus⁣⁣
I don't, but I'm certainly curious.⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
He's like a navy seal. And so it's about mental toughness. And I've related to a lot of it through my own upbringing, because when you're living in rural Alaska, they're just like these very tough things. Life is just hard emotionally, like we're coming straight out of colonialism. We're still in it. And so the, you know, the abuses that have been done to our people, our grandparents, those things have still are still too soon in our history. to really talk about openly all the time, so my grandparents, I don't know a ton about their childhoods, just because they were so traumatized in some sense that they weren't able to just openly talk about everything. And things are coming out, like my kids will probably know more about their great grandparents than I knew about my grandparents, because it needs those generations to put the buffer between that craziness. And so with the mental toughness that goes to these, these practices, like we need, one of the concepts that he kind of has in there is he's talking about callusing our minds. And sometimes it seems a little bit harsh, but I found that I have just gotten through life and so many things, I've been able to find the positive twist in a lot of scenarios, because you have to just know, it is what it is like that is hard. And that is raw, and that is very uncomfortable. But that is what it is. So let's move on. And with practicing stuff, as simple as not wasting food, that there's like self revelation that you need to find in there to take accountability. Like, is it okay? Is it really okay for me to waste this food? Is it okay for me to be picky? Those are things that are there more internal. And I don't know how to, like fully get it across, or to even inspire people to want to not waste, to want to use everything that they have. But to realize that everything that we're doing in this day and age because we have allowed so many of us to survive, impacts things in such great ways. Because it's not just one like I just I like to think of myself as I'm one person. And I'm not something special. There are so many people that are like me living similar. Similarly. And so when I buy a bottle drink from the grocery store times that by what how many people do we have on earth? Now it's insane.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus ⁣⁣
Seven and a half billion,⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
7 and a half billion, and maybe not everyone is doing that. So let's cut that in half 350 billion, like, I don't know what the true statistics would be. But to amplify in that way, in your own mind, like, this isn't just one bottle that we're wasting This is so much more.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus  ⁣⁣
Yeah, I like that. And, and in terms of the mass of the volume. And then also, you know, going back to like, what, what it takes to actually bring this food from where it came from into your mouth onto your table. Like, the example you use with your kids is, you know, physically cutting the meat off that mousse and understanding what did it eat and what reverse is similar to come from the work that goes into that you're really eloquent about talking about the work. I know a lot of our our chef and restaurateur friends here in Seattle are so struck by, you know, again, where this food comes from, and taking it and cutting it and bring it in home and bring it into your body. And then like we have chef friends and restaurant tours here who are, you know, really struggling, there's a lot of folks struggling during COVID right now. And it is just, you know, especially being now in a business where we're selling salmon and bringing it to market, it takes a ton. It takes a lot of energy, it takes a lot of people. And so to your point of thinking about this food waste idea, it's just it's almost unthinkable, you know, to waste that food and all of that energy and all those humans that that and and care took to bring it to your plate, not to mention the sacred life of the animal or the plant itself. That is you what you're consuming so⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
The amount of land it takes to make all of this food, whether it looks like it's something that came from the land or not. It has still taken like this considerable amount of land to me, like in the land is something that we've just kind of objectify into this thing that doesn't really matter. It's just the things that we could see that are moving. But basically like we need to remember those small basic things that this land is what's feeding these things that are coming to us to our plates. And if that land isn't healthy, then we sure as hell isn't going to be.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus ⁣⁣
I'm with you. And it's a great segue, I think into the next topic I wanted to get into with you, which is the evolution of your art. We have links to your work in the show notes for the podcast here, and do yourself a treat, and check Apay'uq's work. It's amazing. I don't know what I'm more struck with the human and the personal constructs that you create, or the landscapes I was first come, I came to be aware of your art, coming to Dillingham and seeing it on the walls of buildings, on the exterior walls of buildings in town. And I was immediately struck with this really potent sense of place and belonging and authenticity. And it's gorgeous. And it made me feel like I was home and alive and energized. And your palette is bright and gorgeous. But the piece that really brought it all together for me was our agreement, which we'll talk in more depth about in just a minute. But what what has the evolution of your work been like? And what is turning on the lights for you creatively right now, what's really sparking your imagination?⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Well, I'd say originally, like what got me what got my career launched into the possibility of being a successful artist was definitely my inspiration to love where I came from, and to kind of depict local imagery of this stuff that we're trying to protect. So I was in college and was absolutely inspired with the deepest homesickness I've ever had by hearing about what was happening with Pebble. And so in my last art class, my instruct my instructor was kind enough to let me sort of, well, my logic behind it all was, I don't want to go to class every day and paint fruits and vegetables, when I am able to paint images that I come up with myself and sell them you're wasting my time.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus ⁣⁣
Does not surprise me.⁣⁣
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Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
And I was in a rush, I needed to get out of college, like I just needed something out, I was I was, I'm always that entrepreneur and me just kind of likes that part of it, like feeling the extra fulfillment one by doing something that I want, and then being able to make income and get by with that. So anyway, so I painted one of my first prints or the first images that kind of got me out there into recognition, which was "Spawning Grounds". And it was a landscape with a beautiful sunset in the back in a creek and red salmon just swimming up and you could see the splash marks of the water. And that golden kind of our you know, when the sun is going down, and the greens are just really bright green in the summer. So that that was the start, like all of my inspiration for the salmon through the possibility of it all disappearing with the threat of Pebble Mine. And then it evolving to once I moved home, kind of seeing that there was artwork being used by other phenomenal artists, but they weren't necessarily from Bristol Bay. And they weren't exuding that power that I felt the inspiration that I felt from having an entire lifetime of experiences here. They weren't depicting the people in the way that I felt true to who our people are. And it still felt to objectified like our people were just some tribe around, you know, wandering around Bristol Bay, and it was like No, our people and our customs and our way of being is we're not be who we were 100 years ago. So just focusing on that wasn't depicting what was really at risk, you know, romanticizing our culture into 100 years back, when here we are living culture in this day today, as people who can relate to everyone else, sharing photos on social media and finding these ways to connect. And I got support through that because I was a local artist who wanted to show local imagery, and there weren't a lot of people at the time who were doing that. And I really honed in on that that I wanted to. I went to the Fort Lewis Business School so my major was an art business so I was lucky enough to go through some of the marketing and kind of get that mentality of Well, how do you capture an audience? You have to sort of stick to one thing, you can't be bouncing around everywhere. And I said, Well, where is my one thing? What is? What is it that I'm trying to do as an artist, and I just wanted to share the best parts of who we are. And that was, that has been sort of my mantra throughout, just like what is the best parts of who we are, we don't always need to show our struggle, because there's so much that the mainstream world is missing. And then I go into having a first starting a family, and it evolved into something else where it was, whoa, I'm bringing one I know about the destruction of the planet, which is scary, humans are awful, we're just tearing this shit up. And now I'm going to bring a new human in to tear more stuff up, like what am I doing? And it just was a flood of emotions, and just like, well, how can I raise a good human? How can I start doing my part as a native person and passing on values to someone from the very start to her adulthood? What am I going to do? So you start implementing these different things, and then the inspiration is coming so differently, once you're caring for another being because that is like a whole other, you know, mental challenge for this, that phase in our lives when we become responsible for other people. So a lot more maybe maternal images came up through that and a lot more family images from the perspective of more what, as an adult, what are you seeing, in these situations of subsistence, and experiencing subsistence? What is that feel, and one of the greatest prides that you could take is when you see kids enjoying themselves, when there's families that are just like relishing the adrenaline rush of being in the unexpected, because you really cannot control everything is there yet you have a basic idea, the sun is out, the wind is going 10 miles an hour tide is coming in. But you can't anticipate like if your rope snaps? And then what kind of things are you going to be doing or if you were expecting 20 fish and end up with 100, you know, like that overwhelm. And then it's just the meaning to stay calm and make it a positive environment for your children and to the kids excitement because it almost seems like no matter what happens, even if it's kind of a scary situation, kids are just genuinely generally usually excited. Even in the face of danger. They're just like, wow! And then you have to control yourself because like, you don't want to traumatize them by hollering at them too much buy like, this is dangerous and crazy, just like Whoo, All right, guys, step back and just show your, you know, your best leadership skills that you are capable of showing and exhibiting in the face of struggle and the unexpected, and whatever. So my new work has kind of evolved into more of a general not just what is going on with Pebble Mine exclusively and what that is going to do to our regional people. But I'm more into like social justice, like Who are we as native people globally? Who what are our likenesses with the other indigenous people that are around our world? And how do we come together to sort of to share our love and our glory and like values in a modern context to inspire others to not just go along with you know, being this whitewashed group of humans on the planet but the diversity just there's like the nice things that we've learned with the Pebble stuff with the environment diversity is the key to a successful ecosystem. Right? And that includes us like we are animals and like just like them we need moose and salmon and wolves and bugs all to make like this little ecosystem healthy but we also need like the different kinds of animals that are within that right so like yeah, we need Yup'ik people we need Navajo people we need white people we need you know people from all over the world in all different races and cultures like the more diverse We are the more vibrant and amazing we could like be to make the world something that is not so traumatic.⁣⁣
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Mark Titus    ⁣⁣
I am hearing this sense of unity through throughout when you're speaking about this and it is a very zeitgeisty topic these days of unity and I think that there's a deep craving for it. I also have in I have also seen in the writing that you've done and listened to you speaking about all of us taking responsibility. And in the recovery world, we like to say, you know, it's not my fault. But it is my responsibility. And I think that that is a really I think that's a really intelligent way of looking at things, I think it's an empathetic way of looking at things, I think it's a realistic way of looking at things, that we all have a stake in this and it doesn't cast aspersions and, and blame and responsibility over there with some other group, it, it then brings it home to me where I'm sitting right now, kind of like locally with food or locally with politics or locally with the Pebble Mine, or locally with whatever it is down the street, if it's a fracking oufit, that's moving in on a family farm land, you know, you don't it, it brings it into sharper focus, and it makes it more real when it becomes your own thing at home. And, and it also doesn't just again, like put the onus on somebody else over there. It, it makes me as an individual to have to take a look at what my role is, in the world. how we've got here. And where do we go from here? Speaking of addiction and recovery, you and I both intimately know stories of addiction. I do certainly as as a person who is in recovery myself. And I know you've experienced it in your life too. In in The Wild in the movie, in our you know, the documentary that you are in and I did back in 2019. We try we try to draw the metaphor of addiction to what is at stake in Bristol Bay. Do you think that metaphor helps paint that picture? And if it does work, what do you say is the the next step forward in recovery for ourselves and for Bristol Bay.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
I've definitely my part in the addiction is more from like the top tough love side, I guess where I haven't been the addict. But I've had very personal people close people struggle. And I haven't ever been able to like fully understand that because I've sort of, I've become very hardened, I guess, against that kind of behavior, because I experienced it from such a very young age. And so seeing that it was hurtful and being a really sensitive child, and not wanting to ever feel that or see that or make other people feel what I was feeling. And so through through that it has made me very disciplined, where maybe I thrive more in, in hard situations, because of it. Like, if there's something difficult, I see that as like an opportunity to outdo my mind. And to get above it to avoid whatever the temptation is, or whatever the struggle is. And the temptation is usually always like kind of that victim mentality of why is this happening to me or some level of that, where I see like, well, this is happening, but it doesn't need to happen to me. And it is has been a very inspirational thing. And I like that challenge. So as far as addiction goes in our consumerism, the addiction to consumerism, and needing to open these minds, because we need to create more stuff for the consuming world. For me, it is another challenge, what can I live without, I am happy to live without so much if it means that we're not going to destroy this, this land these waters and these people like I don't want to, I don't want to support something that is going to cause more pain to an entire group of people that are living here who have successfully found purpose in life. And, you know, I'm also most of a single person exploring the online dating world during COVID. And a reoccurring topic that has kind of come up when I've had conversations with men is that they appreciate my sense of purpose, and that they have not had that opportunity. You know, maybe like men being from just the Midwest would be one recent example like in Missouri and they're just like, Oh, well, there's like lots of religion and farming and whatever, and you're just kind of in this life and you're going through but you don't necessarily have this deep meaningful purpose that you could actually change the world. And here in Bristol Bay, we definitely have that feeling. You know, our Fish are going everywhere, we have the largest wild salmon run in the entire world. And that's, that's something that's just, I don't know, like a, you can't even comprehend how special it is, unless you take time to think on it. It's so easy to say things, but to not realize what you're saying.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus ⁣⁣
Yeah, and, you know, I think one of the main tenants in the metaphor that comparison to addiction and where we are with Bristol Bay, where we are on the planet, you know, in our relationship with consuming things, resources, energy food, as you're saying, you know, as a person in recovery, and knowing this story, all too well, it's this age old, you know, saying that we say to ourselves, this time, this time, it'll be different. And with a place like Bristol Bay, that is the last fully intact wild salmon system on the planet. I don't think we have that luxury. And so yeah, I mean, we all use these things, right. And you're using them to talk to folks around the country, I'm using it right now to talk to you that it's used on commercial fishing boats, but up in Bristol Bay to harvest the salmon that we all enjoy and and need and sustain ourselves with. But to you know, what you're saying earlier? Like, how much do we need? And do I need another one of these phones every year? Do I need everybody in our family to have you know, all the latest and greatest of this? Can we explore recycling copper, which is the most malleable metal there is he retains its properties better than any other metal, we haven't really fully gone down that path and there is a supply of copper on this planet. And that doesn't need to be extracted from the headwaters of the most vibrant salmon run that we know of. So it's asking these questions like you're saying and ultimately coming down to, you know, can we afford to say this time, it'll be different? One more time, with a place like Bristol Bay?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Yeah, and I think that would, it's like taking the path of least resistance, right? The easiest thing for a capitalist country to do is to jump forward in these in these plans. And these operations, because that's what we do. We're a capitalist society, we generate income, we've built this system to see how far it could go. And we are, there we are, we have surpassed where it can go. And now it's a time to realize that the path of least resistance isn't always the right way to go. Or, more often, it's never the right way to go. Right. Like, if you can challenge yourself, to practice accountability and to find comfort in the discomfort, it is so much more rewarding. Because you're you're fighting for something that you're not quite aware of the potential of, you know,⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus⁣⁣
Yes. And I think that you're really keying in on this, like, that idea of discomfort or inconvenience is anathema to, you know, the American, most of our kind of modern understanding of, Oh, I want a pizza and man I you know, it's it's way too difficult to go to the pizza store, go to the pizza restaurant. I want it right now. And I want it delivered immediately to my doorstep. And now, you know, everything is is coming online that way. So I think this is such an important conversation to be able to take a step back and take a look at where things come from, what it takes to actually get it to you and what do we actually need to sustain ourselves and to be happy in this life. In your work in your art, one of the I see magic, I see gorgeous landscapes. I see almost this ethereal sense of being inside of this world that you're creating. And I see a lot of joy in the people on the faces of the people that you paint inside of this landscape in this world that you live in and that you know, and if it's true that it you know, it costs a lot to bring energy into bring groceries out to that part of the world to where you live. And it's true that salmon make up a big part of your diet as do moose and caribou and traditional foods. And yet you've, you've got all this joy that you're painting, right? Where does that come from?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
It's such a cool experience to be part of the world. Like we're truly a part of the world where another wild animal within the world, and we're trying to master and survive, like whatever these systems are that we're navigating ourselves through. You know, and I think that one of the most important things through all of this is how, how do we, you know, if we're trying to go for like, what, what are how do we save what we love, like that kind of mentality with all of this and addiction. The key part, what, from what my experience has been now as a mom is starting with our youth, and letting our kids know from the because by the time we're adults, it's so hard to change our habits, it's such a tough thing to do. But it's definitely a lot easier to see in other people what they're lacking. So as a parent, your children are just forming. And so it's a lot easier to have this list of practices that we must continue on as native people. And my kids, I might, the path, again, like the path of least resistance is not my route for parenting. I am struggling the whole time, and I have judgment, and people sort of ridiculing my outlandish ways. But I'm seeing progress, and it is so fulfilling. My kids want presents for Christmas, I say that hurts Mother Earth, we're not doing that I'm not gonna go crazy. And by you all of this stuff, all of that packaging all of your dolls made out of plastic, like oil, all of that stuff is extraction, like that hurts Mother Earth, and there, oh, well, I'll ask grandma. And so the next thing is like trying to get her to change, right. And so the next thing is trying to get the adults on board to understand that it's up to us to hold our kids accountable to what this new world is going to look like in the next 20 years. And although my kids are, you know, trying to jump me, they at least hear it and I tried to practice it, like I definitely buy them gifts. But that is with great guilt and shame that I do that. That's my weakness. And I definitely buy a lot less gifts and things for my kids that I know that other parents do. But it's still I know better. And I should hold myself accountable to these addictions. And to say, when is enough enough, like 10 years, 20 years ago, enough was enough, like we are way past Enough is enough. And we really need to be hard asses on herself and say, let's get our shit together. So our kids aren't living in a freaking dump. I mean,⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus ⁣⁣
You are, as usual, we're riding the same wave. And I was just gonna go into this, this bit here with you. And you, you kind of beat me to it. It's sorry. No, it's fantastic. It's It's It's a natural confluence of waters here. And that this is exactly what I wanted to talk about was was your kids and "Our Agreement" and go back in going back to your article that you wrote, and you wrote, "this period of time will be the college Master's projects for futures, future generations, it will become a guide to social justice, and establish the prioritization of indigenous life ways as a critical piece for the success of modern society. So this too, is part of the feelings that are included in the millions of acres of emotion that we have as Alaskans, by being a part of this epic land, have we lived if our children haven't tasted the hard work of gathering food, have we lived yet, if we haven't passed on the knowledge of how to gather wild food and talk to the wild animals, as our ancestors have for millennia, this world in which we live is magical, in a way we must feel to understand". So in your painting, that's what I got out of "Our Agreement". And you can check out the painting "Our Agreement" up in our show notes on the website. But can you describe what your painting, "Our Agreement" looks like? And why why did you paint it?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
I painted it when I was pregnant, it was sort of that whole epiphany that I was bringing another wasteful being to the world. So finding that Doom but I also thrive again, like I must put things down and comfortably for me to have a revelation that I can twist into something positive. So I need to be real with myself that humans are wasteful creatures, and bringing or are contributing to the population issues that we are having on the globe. Like I am a part of that also and by choosing to bring new life in like I must fully understand what I am taking on, which is a considerable amount of waste and garbage. And first destruction from the perspective of an indigenous person, right? Like our lifestyle trying to merge into US society is completely against what we have been raised to believe for 1000s of years that material possessions are not worth people. And so with painting this it was first all of the doom and gloom of Pebble and population and wastefulness. And then to twist it into like, well, I'm already here and this child is growing within me, how do I make the best of it. And it was like, we need to make an agreement with our future generations that they are going to be the caretakers of our lands, and our animals are going to be the voice of all beings. And they're going to find that creativity and imagination to tap into like our ancestors did, because it's not. It seems that Western, the Western world really looks down on imagination as ignorance. And when people talk in metaphor, and these worlds, these other worlds within our world, they don't realize that it's I was like this, this religion type stuff that they're talking about. But religion, as far as like Christianity, they do such a good job of grounding it more to like this humanly level, well, as native people like, we also include our animals and the environment and everything like that. And unless we could kind of bring that magic. Like it, there has to be like a different word than magic, just like these mystical wonders of the universe. They're there, whether it's through our religions, and as Christians, or our spiritual beliefs as Native People needing to bring myself in that vulnerability out there, because people will shame you as an adult, if you're like, I speak to the wind. That's not a literal thing. You know, it's not, Americans just want to make everything so literal, I am speaking to the wind. But that's also just like putting this feeling out there and opening your energy and magic and, like, we need that to thrive. And so the painting our agreement, again, kind of goes into putting the positive twist into what I was doing, as a mom and making an agreement with the environment and the fish and letting my child in me know that they have responsibility coming into this earth, like, and that's our agreement. With the fish and the fishes making the handshake like, you know, Native People, we do a lot of handshakes, it's not, we're just coming into the world of paperwork and notarizing things, there was a lot of verbal agreements, then. So are verbal agreements with the salmon. In the salmon with us, I will nourish your future generations as long as you protect mine. So as long as these the lands and waters that these fish are living in and recreating are protected and pristine for them to properly, make new generations, then in turn, or in theory, our children will be fed another year, another generation another, you know, 100 years, like we're, there was a lot in it.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus ⁣⁣
I know it's rewarding, and but it's also not easy to raise your kids off grid and teach them about traditional food and teachings and art and the land. Why do you do it? Why is it worth it?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
Cuz it's hard as F haha. it's so hard and I do absolutely love a challenge like my entire life has just, life is not easy for anybody. As a Native Person, like we're from rural Alaska, get my heart rate down a little bit. We can watch these icebergs, meditate. Get me back?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus⁣⁣
I'm so with you. Right, right now I'm seeing it. I've actually seen it up there. You're doing great. I think it's important stuff.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Just want to word it in a calm, calm tone. Yeah, thank goodness for editing.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus⁣⁣
Oh, yes. I've been listening to myself, there's gonna be plenty of editing involved in this. So, why do you think it's worth it?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
just needed a good swallow? Sure. Um, yeah, life is just not an easy journey for anyone, there's always no matter what your base level is, you know, there, it's hard for everyone on some level like whether or not you have privilege or like, it doesn't matter what the relativity, relativity to the hardness is. It's it's just a complicated journey that we're all on.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus⁣⁣
It is.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
This one would be easier to get through with just texting it to you. I think, oh, look it! A mask! Also it does really well as a handkercheif. Thank you COVID.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
There's just yeah, there's the challenge of... getting through it. And I it's hard to voice that I think from this land position and talking about political things, because our people are still going through colonization. And this exact subject, this development project is a prime example for modern day genocide. And whether you put it to like an extreme, you know, there's very... non emotional people who just say, "but how does that even work?" but from the artists perspective of like, metaphorically speaking, like, these are legal ways of taking out Native People and native beliefs by offering them and shaming them for holding on to this emotional way of living, because our, our way of life has so much emotion. And I think that was one of the biggest or hardest parts of working, working in. In fighting against Pebble for the nonprofit named Nunamta Aulukestai, Caretakers Of Our Land, which has now been sorted that realm is now maybe the equivalent to like, what you UTBB is now, United Tribes of Bristol Bay. But people would, we'd go to testimony and they'd be like, you're too emotional. That's not science. You can't, you can't use that as your reason for not wanting this here are the figures, this amount of dollars, this amount of like fish, this percent of impact this chance of of a dam failure. When we're saying emotionally, any chance of a dam failure is too much for us. So choosing raise kids, and the challenge that it brings is my way out of colonialism. You know, at the time it's not like I thought like, how do I help our people get out of colonialism, that's just like an entire subject that I'm learning about in adulthood. It wasn't like we were taught that in school, right? We all know that Christopher Christopher Columbus is a hero haha. Um, so bringing kids into it. Now like along with, you know, hindsight and bringing it all to what it is now and not having words for then or understanding what I was doing but raising good kids who understand what our environment is, and what animals are, what Mother Earth is, and pridefully taking ownership of that warrior status, that they're gonna call their own mom out, if something falls out of my pocket, and they're like, Mom, you're polluting Mother Earth. Go shoot, pick that up, we need to get that. If we don't raise kids with Healthy Minds, then how can we say what we love because this world isn't going to end? You know, in our lifetime. Like, we must continue passing these values on and ingrain it into humans in a way that they're going to be inspired to pass it on also. And it's not easy, we're stubborn. We're stubborn little shits, all of us humans, like, we don't learn easy. That's for sure. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus ⁣⁣
Well, you inspire me. And, you know, we're, we're in this time that is hard. Every generation faces big challenges we are facing a lot of them right now. Existential challenges, some would argue, I think most would at this point. And they feel these challenges feel monumental and amplified by COVID. And feeling, you know, kind of isolated and not connected. But still, I feel I feel hope and I feel inspired when I'm connected to you like we are right now. What? Where do you find hope? Where what gives you fuel? When the days are hard?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore  ⁣⁣
Hmm. Blue Sky? Sure helps.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus  ⁣⁣
Sure enough. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Um, yeah, it's always finding, finding that purpose. Like what is my purpose in life? And COVID definitely pushes that question to a lot of hearts. Right. I just think that there have been so many people who have struggled with what is my purpose when when economy shuts down, when, when our business sector is shut down. What is our purpose? You know, we're all being sort of blindsided by industry, and kind of going into every day thinking that our purpose is to just do the work that the corporations need us to do to spin, spin those dollar figures. And once we realize that that's actually a pretty fragile system. And it's sort of unrealistic, and it's not self sustainable. What are we doing? What are we doing with our selves? And how fulfilled? Are we, when we're not dependent on this capitalist mentality, and economy? What are the alternative economies of our world? Well, one, one that is very undervalued is like the emotional economy. I don't know what that would be Spiritual Economy, just what worth and value do we have on our emotional well being? And who are we when we can't depend on the cash economy? What are we doing? There's so much self improvement going on. In this COVID this COVID year seeing people just really work through it and unpack it and, and find, you know, Black Lives Matter. Missing and murdered Indigenous Women, like, we matter. That's what matters when the cash economy is completely falling into the shithole. Like our people matter, and our well being matters, and we need to have each other's back. Otherwise, you know, we have chaos.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus ⁣⁣
This is such an inspiring conversation. I'm so glad we got to connect today. And we are approaching the end of it for for now. I got kind of a rapid fire little thing, three parts to this. It's sort of the similar theme, you'll get it. The first part is okay, your house is on fire. So of course, you get your loved ones out first, but in addition to them, what's the one physical thing you saved from the fire?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Let it burn.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus ⁣⁣
Wow, going all in?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Let's just cleanse how much of that do we need? Um, I don't know once my kids are out, really. I'm just happy that we're alive. I can't say that there's anything in there that would be worth more than our hearts and minds. Let's start fresh.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus⁣⁣
Yeah, that pretty much wraps up the rest of this except maybe you've got a little addendum. So let's now call it your spiritual house. What are the two most important things about your life that you take with you?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Um, gratitude is something that I have to practice every day again, like, you know, life in rural Alaska is not easy. And the way to get through it is by spinning it and always being thankful. Like no matter what. The next thing is my sense of humor.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus ⁣⁣
So good. So true.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Take some laughter with all of that. Oh, yeah, went down. I want to laugh. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus ⁣⁣
That's right. And we do. Well, lastly, what's the one thing you leave behind in the house to burn down?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
Fear. Let's get that out.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus ⁣⁣
Let's get that out.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq I am so grateful to be your friend. Thank you for this time together. And we're gonna continue sometime down the line, and I can't wait to see you back in Bristol Bay again soon. And for those of you who want to follow  Apay'uq's work, how do they find you?⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore ⁣⁣
You could check me out on Instagram. I've changed the spelling of my name more recently, right. And so I'm still adapting on Instagram. It's @apay'uq. And then my webs Ah, is it apay'uqart? I think it's just Apay'uq. And then also my website a apayuq.com. And there you can see my entire portfolio.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus⁣⁣
So grateful for you. Thank you for being our very first guest on the save what you love podcast.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Ah, you're welcome. I didn't think you were gonna break me this time I came in I was like no tears this time. I got it. But you got me. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus⁣⁣
No one escapes. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Not yet but the next time I'm up for a challenge next time. We're gonna be clear boys. Feel free to write that out and you could read it like I had sent you an email.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Mark Titus ⁣⁣
You are on I will always take up the challenge because I like challenges too. Thank you my friend. I appreciate you.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Apay'uq Moore⁣⁣
Alright, Peace. Peace.⁣


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