Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 18,

Not a lot of drama going on this week, we had a short week because Friday was Nulukatuk, the whale sharing ceremony, and we got the day off, mainly because the kids would not work anyway. Some went some didn't--it was bitterly cold on Friday but less so than during the week, the wind was especially harsh at the point.
For those of you who can't visualize it, I'll detail what I wear. First underwear, of course, than two pair of thermal bottoms, plus jeans and a windbreaker pair of pants. Under the boots are a pair of light thermal socks than a pair of merino wool socks and then the -25 Columbia boots. The top is thermals, with a sweat shirt (thank you Matt Johnson!) a regular shirt because I need a pocket for pens and such and Matt Grant's heavy ski jacket over that. The head had a full face polyproplene mask plus the wrap around collar from the jacket and the hood is pulled over the head, which is already covered by Polartec hat. The hands are glove liners with a pair of heavy insulated gloves to top them off, the last thing to go on is the goggles for the ride out to the point.
We've been having water issues, since the internal cistern only holds 200 gallons and there are 8 of us that works out to about 25 gallons each for showers, laundry, toilet and cooking, we do pretty well but last weekend we were out of water from Saturday afternoon till Monday evening when we got back from the field. We got creative and used the shower/bathroom that the Fish and Game people have at the lab that they never use, and transported about 20 gallons at a time back to the hut.
They took all of out DNA samples last year for the modern/ancient DNA project that they are running up here to rule out contamination. Today they had to take mine again as they said the previous sample had NO DNA in it at all , so I'm known around the lab as "The Alien" or some sort of non-carbon based life form, so Lois's suspicions all these years are proven correct.
Perry, the older of the two bear guards, came over, during lunch where Laura, Anne and I were sitting and sat down. The following ensued. He related the story of someone asking if he know how to sing, he answered that he did and they asked him if he wanted to learn the Elder's Song. He said that he did and he then asked if we (Anne, Laura and myself) wanted to hear it. In a thin melodious chant he receited his genealogy going back four generations and howthey teach him something every day and live in his home and in his prayers. There were several other verses also but the effect was somewhat magical coming (and certainly anthropological)from the purest Inupiat hunter that I've met up here. An instance of how they are trying to revive and save their cultural roots and traditions.
We were at Saturday school yard today and the meeting before ours ran late so I sat in on it and it was about how to incorporate Elder knowledge of the landscape and Animal migration patterns with GIS and GPS technologies. Also how to communicate that knowledge between generations of the elders who still speak mainly Inupiat, the middle generation who speak it and english and are somewhat computer literate and the younger generation who know no Inupiat and are totally computer literate. After kicking around various alternatives including webcasts, and web sites, the suprising suggestion was, of all things, Facebook, where you can restrict the number of "friends" and is a seriously effective social networking alternative.
Pictures, this time are of an Ulu we found, a polar bear metatarsal, a 20' X 10' X 1 meter ditch that a bulldozer dug in less than 2 hours behind the driftwood feature(comparing it to the other trench that we dug with 11 people working 5 days for about 500 manhours)and a view of the multiple testpits we've dug oin part of the site--
More later--- many bears but all far out on the ice, what we're calling "binocular bears"


summer widow said...

I was saying that your comments haven't seemed to have as much infomration about the culture. Not anymore! The "song" comments were wonderful. Remember to have them include you on thier FaceBook Favorite people when the publish. And Yes, I've always said you were ALIEN! Happy Fathers Day!

mercedesgirl said...

hi Dan (i know it's dave, dan ;)
so you're fighting the cold up in alaska - well, good thing you've got two sets of underwear and a lot of digging and singing to fight the cold. i know it's easy for me to be amused about your extreme winter conditions while sipping a nice refreshing mojito after taking a swim in our backyard pool to fight the heat :))
keep learning the tunes and songs - you can teach us next time we're up at the american river.
cheers and stay away from the bears! andrea