Originally uploaded by qayaq

Frank Andrew built this skin boat in Kwigillingok. Another skilled craftsman. Frank passed on last year. The Yup’ik have a tradition of naming newborns after folks who have recently died. A white person without a Yupik name can also be given this name. This helps to keep the memory and spirit of the person who died alive. I met a NASA scientist, Brian Grisby, today who has spent a few weeks working with the kids at Kwig. Brian was given Frank’s name Yupik “Misaaq”.

Listening to Elders

Kayak The elders in this community have a wealth of knowledge and skills to share. I am in Kwigillingok today listening to Fredrick George speak about navigating and telling time by the stars. It was fascinating to glean the little I could from his presentation in Yupik. He told stories and talked about navigation and weather prediction too. The language teacher is going to translate his presentation for us cassuks later.  Fredrick gave me a Yup’ik star chart which I will incorporate into my lessons too.

Kwigillingok is also home to some great kayak makers. There is a kayak in the Smithsonian museum that comes from here. I hope to have a chance to see this tomorrow.


IMG_0907.JPGTom went to a Mekoryuk, a village on the Island of Nunivak last week. He went to investigate an algae bloom in the Mekoryuk River. Low water conditions were likely responsible for creating conditions to promote algae growth. Normal fall rains have raised the water levels and controlled the growth.IMG_0927.JPG

There are reindeer on Nunivak Island. Both Musk Ox and reindeer were brought to the Island in th 30’s and 40’s after the disappearance of local caribou. The reindeer are herded and harvested by the native corporation. We can order meat in the fall.


A large portion of the Island is owned by the wildlife refuge. There is a research cabin on the beach. The island is volcanic. You can see caldera lakes, old lava flows and volcanic rocks on the island.



DSC_7602.JPG Here I am with the students who take my Ecology class from Akiuk. I flew to the school on Tuesday to meet students live. I also took a short boat ride across the water from the airstrip to Akiuk. It was good to meet everyone and tour the village. The school has about 78 students. Everyone was quite welcoming but shy. I don’t think there are many visitors. I took a close up picture of each student. I am going to put these pictures on a 3 X 5 cards and use them to learn names and choose students to answer questions. I also got a chance to show the class how to use the new video controls. This was fun until we accidently hung up on Tuntutuliak, Kongiganak and Kwethluk.
The school had a fold out coach in the conference room off the principle office. Julie (my co-worker) and camped out here for the night. I got up early the next day to walk about town on the board walks. It was fun to see kids running to school and happy to start a new day. I also heard the pledge of allegiance recited in Yup’ik for the first time.DSC_7521.JPG

Our New Subaru?

subaru.jpgkilbucksOnly 50% of the citizens in Bethel have a car, but more probably have a boat? 3 weeks after selling my Subaru, we added a small boat to our vehicle list. After months of driving the~16 miles of road. Tom enjoyed our 120 mile round trip to the Kilbuck Mountains. You can travel miles on the rivers, but they are shallow and contain a lot of sand bars. So we have a jet pump motor instead of a prop. (Tom has more details) The dogs loved our Labor day weekend trip.


bearpawWe caught rainbow trout, grayling and shot 2 green winged teal. I also picked more giant blueberries. On the next trip we are going to camp overnight. In spite of the fact that we saw HUGE Grizzly tracks. Tom assured me these bears are more wary of humans here because they are hunted heavily?????