Showing posts from August, 2005

Coveting my neighbor's Honda

About a week and a half ago my friend Nick and I closed a deal on a couple of Honda four wheelers. We have been anxiously awaiting their arrival, and giddily planning all of the adventures that we will soon have with them. Well, they just arrived!...wait...scratch that...Nick's just arrived. They were shipped together out of Anchorage, however I got a call earlier today letting me know of a little problem. Apparently, my Honda was dropped, run over, shredded, and then set on fire. The only way that they were able to identify it as mine was from a scrap of charred bar code melted onto the tarmac. The nice lady on the phone told me not to worry, and that they would not try to fix my machine. Instead, the nice lady went on to explain that there are master mechanics, engineers, and scientists busily working right now to clone my dead four wheeler. I have been assured that they will work night and day until Wednesday to get my new cloned machine back to the freight warehouse, so that i…

Eskimo Dancing

The night before school started the community came together to wish us teachers the best. We were entertained for hours with traditional Eskimo dancing. I have learned that this area is very rich in traditional dancing, and I was impressed with the skill and variety of different dances. Much like other native dances, Eskimo dances always tell a story. Also, it is the tradition in this area that you must have a "First Dance" before you can dance in any sort of group function. When a boy, girl, man, or woman has learned a number of dances and is ready to dance with the group, they must dance by themselves in front of everyone. This is a very special time and the family provides gifts for all who attend. Some spend up to $3000 total on all of the different gifts. Of course the best gifts (handmade gloves and mukluks) go the elders of the village.

Here are some pictures of the dance that we attended:

Fish netting, ulu training, gas delivery

(Attn Boyd Staff: Hello! and notice Heidi's t-shirt below.)

A couple of days ago I helped set up this elaborate fish netting system. The result has been about twenty-five fish a day. It's great! Every evening at 5:30 a few of us (whoever can make it) meet on the beach, pull in the net, and untangle the fish (as shown below). Today we caught twenty-four. You can see Neffy in the background trying to help.

After we gather all of the fish, we set the net again to catch fish for the next night and day. Usually we use fillet knives, but today we received a special treat from one of our future students, ulu lessons. Below is a picture of the ulu that we used to cut today's haul. This traditional knife is still preferred by all the native peoples in this region.

Most of the our fish preparation so far has been done by men, but it is Yupik tradition that the women do all of the meat preparation. In fact, little Yupik kids always laugh at Nick and me when we are filleting. Heidi has …

Went fishing

Caught a pile of fish yesterday. My principal, a couple other teachers, and I boated out to a nearby river. It was incredible. The river was so thick with salmon that the river would just boil when they made their runs. It wasn't so much a school of fish as a herd of fish stampeding. We caught close to seventy fish in three hours.

Above: Just a few of the fish we caught.
Below: I caught the largest fish of the day, 13 pounds. It was a little red, but it still had sea lice and the filets were perfect. It the background you can see some buildings. They are native fish camps where the Eskimos fish all summer to stock up for the winter. There were other people around, but the entire time that we were there we only saw one other boat on the river and one other person fishing a long way up river.

Below: Here we are working hard cleaning the fish. Those are some Eskimo kids in the foreground and backgrounds. They were excited to see our haul. It took four hours to clean and vacuum seal al…

Stebbins...Home Sweet Home

We've made it all the way! We've been in Stebbins for a few days now, busily unpacking, organizing, and generally getting settled. When we stepped off of the plane last Friday we were met by our principal and about half a dozen smiling kids. It was almost like Hawaii, but no leis.

Yesterday and today have been beautiful. Here are some pictures that I took while berry picking with some new friends.

Above: That's Stebbins in the background.
Below: It was a lot of hard work, but man are those blueberrys good.
Above: Beach picture of "the cliff" and of Stebbins.
Below: Taken on top of the hill south of Stebbins looking south across the tundra.

Just a thought...

My high school graduation speaker was retired President Dr. William R. Wood from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The topic of his speech has remained with me to this day. To my graduating class of fifteen students, in Tok, Alaska, he spoke at length about how many great and powerful historical people have come from small towns and villages. I remember him giving many examples.

In my own words, he was saying, "Great people come from the small places."

A Real Alaskan

It's official, Heidi is now an Alaskan, and here's the proof.

Surprisingly, Heidi had to take a written test to gain her Alaska driver license. No problem though, she passed.