Commentary: A blessing for the fleet

Patience Andersen Faulkner presented the following “Blessing of the Fleet” at the 2007 Cordova Iceworm Festival.

When my ancestors went to sea to hunt the riches given them by Nature, they left with a blessing from their spiritual guardian. Today I also bring these blessings.

The hunters went forth with protectors. It was to guard against our enemies, both human and nature. The hunters’ success was sorely needed for the whole community. Their need for successful harvesting for food, clothing and shelter was an important part of their mission.

The blessing was one that was inspiring. It thanked the skies for its sun. These were to make the hunting voyage clear — the better to see the ocean harvest.

The blessing thanked the wind to keep the hunters’ strength by helping the journey to go smoothly and keep the human scent from the sea mammals.

The blessing of the seas was to bring calm waters. This was for a journey that glided across the waters in a manner that was safe and swift.


The blessing of the harvest, be it fish, sea mammal or land mammal. May the spirits of the harvest readily give of themselves for the guardians of animals of Nature.

The blessing of the hunters themselves. May they use their best skills to bring this harvest home. May they travel to the areas of abundance swiftly and return home safely.

There were special blessings for the new hunters. They needed care to be safe, an opportunity to apply the lessons taught by their uncles to gain a first hunt that was successful. It was an important time for the community. Future protectors, future hunters and providers, and future leaders were to be tested.

The blessings also to the family members left behind — the entire community. May they remain safe from harm, in good health and with faith that the hunters would soon return.

Today I stand upon this vessel (Sycamore) — the guardian of the seas — and gaze unto the waters, I see many hunters and sea harvesters — fishers.

I give to them the blessings of the sun for a clear view, the wind to allow for the swift journey, the seas for a safe passage and an abundant harvest of their nets.

May they remain safe.

May they travel with a hopeful heart.

May they teach their young to be fishers and hunters.

May the community remain safe and well.

May they always return to us.

May all that is great and wondrous be with us together.

May all that is good within our hearts direct how we live with each other.

May there always be harmony in all we do.

May there be peace.

Patience Andersen Faulkner is a semi-retired legal technician and paralegal, and teacher of Alaska Native and Native American art and culture.