19 June, 1999
June 19th 1999
Contents: Native Dancing/Searching for eiders/answering questions Guest speaker: Gennady Zelensky (vet student from Russia)
Pictures: Native Dancing/Grace being bombarded by a jaeger/Gennady
Hi everybody! This is going to be short, since I had a long day today! Last night after I wrote the journal, Michelle Reakoff (guest speaker for 6/18/99), Gennady Zelensky (who you'll meet in today's journal), and I went to watch the first night of native dancing, which happens after the naluqataks. It didn'tstart until 11:30 pm, and was finished at 12:30 am. It was very interesting!
They set out the blanket made of seal skins that is used for the blanket toss, and then call up certain groups like each whaling crew, just the whaling captains, just the harpooners, just the whaling wives, and all the people who ate muktuk (whale blubber and skin) - this, of course is everyone. They also called up all the newcomers, but I really did not want to try this kind of dancing. Michelle went up, and I got hassled enough by the people around that I said I would do it next time. I want to go back to the next one and videotape, because it is really different then anything I have ever seen before.
There are about 20 people that play drums which look like a skin over a big embroidery hoop and sing while people dance. On the way home, at 1 am, the sun was still shining brightly, althought there was also fog. It was really beautiful over the frozen ocean.
One of the men that works at the ARF (Arctic Research Facility) said that he saw a polar bear hunting a group of 5 seals today out on the ice. I am still hoping to see one - from a safe distance.
It was a long day because we went out in pairs again and looked for eider nests. I was paired with Grace Abromaitis (guest speaker from 6/17/99) and we were very lucky because we found the jackpot! Eider Utopia! We saw 49 Steller's Eiders today, when the most we were finding before were 9 or 10. We stayed out for over 8 hours and I had duct taped my boots around the ankles to keep them from slipping so much on my blisters, and now I am afraid that I have blisters on my ankles, too! For the first 6 hours I was feeling pretty good, but those last two hours were becoming painful! The best part of the day is when Grace came upon a Pomarine Jaeger nest. They are pretty bif birds, and they dive bombed her and tried to clip her on the head. I got some good pictures of that, and I was laughing hard at the same time. She was asking me for help, but what could I do? Besides, I wanted to get pictures! I had a few questions that people have emailed me. One was about the mosquitoes here. They are not a problem, because it is too COLD for them! I have hardly even seen 1 bug. I did see something that looked like a little furry cockroach on a dead lemming out in the tundra (but then, I have cockroaches on the brain since I am coming from Hawaii!), and I have seen a couple wooly caterpillars and their cocoons. I don't know what their real name is but they are the really fuzzy kind, and these are all black. Some people call them wooly bear catiperllars.
I have also had a couple of questions about Barrow. Barrow is a village of about 4,300 people, combined with the "suburb" of Browerville. Really they are adjacent to each other, and it is just the newer developments of Barrow.
They get their water from freshwater lakes and lagoons, since there is no groundwater (it is ice!). They also use multi-year sea ice, since it loses its salinity after many years, apparently.
I have written a little about the subsistence hunting that is part of Barrow's economy, but they also get money from the oil found off the coast of the North Slope. There is only one gas station, and they do not bother to advertise their prices since they have no competition! Gas is about $1.75 or so a gallon, I think. Gas has a long way to come to get up to Barrow (did I mention there are no roads to Barrow - you must fly in or come on a ship!) but Barrow does have its own supply of natural gas which they use. In fact, my rental truck (Ford 150) has a seperate tank for natural gas! You have the option of driving it using gasoline or natural gas. Natural gas is cheaper,and burns cleaner. However, apparently you need a special card to fill your tank up with it around here, so we are using plain old gas and using the natural gas tank as a reserve tank in case we get stuck without gas somewhere. That
wouldn't be too much of a tragedy, as the roads don't go very far out of town (a couple of miles) before they end! They cannot put in roads up to Barrow because of the tundra. It is a lakes and ponds and wetlands during the summer, which what I am slogging around in. When it is winter, people can travel for hundreds of miles by snowmobiles, so residents are much more mobile then.
Thanks for the questions! Let me know if you have any more. Take care, Michele Hauschulz (Teacher Exeriencing the Arctic)
Guest Speaker: Gennady Zelensky
Hello! My name is Gennady Zelensky, and I am 23 years old. I am from village of Lavrentia which is located Chukotka Region in Russia. Chukotka Region is like a state in the USA. Chukotka is about 20 minutes by small plane from St. Lawrence island of Alaska.
The educational system in Russia is different from the system of the United States. When you are 6 years old you go to elementary school for 3 years. Then you should go to "Srednyaa Shkola" which is like middle school and high school combined. There are 11 grades but you can stop going to school after the 9th grade. If you want more education after 11 grade you can go to a technical school or university.
I went to School of Veterinary Medicine of the Far East Agricultural University in 1992. The FEAU is located in the Amur Region, in the city of Blagoveshensk. The city of Blagoveshensk is famous in Russia for its location on the border of China. I graduated in 1997 and was required to serve in the Russian Army. I had the choice to go as officer or a soldier. Officers get paid, but must to serve two years. Soldiers do not get paid but serve only one year.
The first Americans came to my village in 1989 and they were from Barrow. That meeting eventually led to me coming to Barrow in 1997 for a short visit. This is my second time in Barrow.
I'll be a veterinarian in my village (for fur farms, reindeer herds, and pets) and to improve my professional skills I came to Barrow. I am working with veterinarians from the North Slope Borough Veterinary Clinic. During the hunting season, if a crew kills a whale,seal, walrus or other wild animal I'll help in a samping of tissues of those animals. The samples will be used in many scientific projects and helps me learn skills to take back to the village. I can parcticipate in similar projects in Chukotka.I have been in Barrow since March 10 and I'll go back to Russia on July 7.
If you have any questions mail them to Michele. Best wishes. Gennady.
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