Not only is Meade River School the most prominent physical structure in the village, it's also the hub of countless community events. Although Atqasuk does have a heavily utilized community center, gatherings involving more than about fifty or sixty people usually end up taking place at the school.
The community feast at Thanksgiving, Eskimo games at Christmas, city league basketball and borough-wide meetings are all held in the gymnasium. Sadly, the gym will be the site of a funeral this weekend. In a village like ours, the school is more than just a building. It is a safe haven where innocent laughter and tears of sorrow coexist without any discernable contradiction.
The school is the center of almost everything here and while the weight of that reality can feel uncomfortably heavy at times, in the greater scheme of things, that seems like a very worthwhile place to be.
When I started looking through photos for exterior views of the school, I quickly realized that most of my shots are taken from the vantage point of the school. Rather than being the subject of my images, the school is often more like a lens through which this village is viewed and brought into focus. Whether it's the warming sun-kissed southern sky or the northern view of sleepy houses tinged by moonlight, I must admit, it all feels a lot like home.
Welcome to the Arctic! This space is dedicated to observations and experiences related to daily life in the Inupiat Eskimo village of Atqasuk. Questions and comments are invited. Thanks for visiting! Quyanaqpaq!
nuna:tundra, the land atikluk:snow shirt, parka cover
Interested in Inuit culture? Check out these films...
The Fast Runner is an excellent representation of ancient Inuit culture. The R-rating is for nudity, violence, and some language. Subtitles are utilized throughout. I do not recommend this film for children, but it's an extremely accurate portrayal of the culture. It was introduced to me by an Inupiat woman who raved about it. And I agree!
For a preview, click here.
The Snow Walker is another excellent representation of Inuit culture circa 1940's. This film is rated PG, I'm guessing for language. No subtitles that I remember. It starts a little slow, but gets much better. It will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the survival skills of this culture.
For a preview, click here.
Great For Kids!
Whale Snow by Debby Dahl Edwardson is a warm and culturally sensitive story centered on the Inupiat subsistence tradition of whaling. It is available in both English and Inupiaq translation. The illustrations, by Annie Patterson are exquisite and add to the quiet softness that the story inspires.
To order this title on Amazon.com, click here.
The Alaska Geographic series is an excellent informational resource. The edition entitled North Slope Now deals exclusively with this area and even features relatives of my students. Although it was published in 1989, it is still current enough to provide a general understanding of culture, lifestyle, and issues faced by this northern-most region.
To order this title from Alaska Geographic, click here.
More about Kaktovik Disaster of 2005 (from Dec post, "The Edge")