Whether we like it or not, the carefree fun of summer is just about played out. But don't despair! The cold winds of autumn have blown a new game into town.
Okay, not such a new game. Most of the U.S., of course, has had a long-standing and intimate relationship with American football for many decades. But, here in the Arctic, that hasn't always been the case.
Arctic football was instituted on the North Slope about two or three years ago amid the rumble of an extremely controversial storm. Even today, sensible points of view on either side of the argument still elicit heated discussion within certain circles across the Slope.
Yet, the games play on.
In Barrow, the teams are average-sized, in most respects, with plenty of players to fill each position on the field, but the village teams are smaller, in both size and number, and tend to be less typical in other ways as well.
Village schools play "eight-man football," a version with slightly different rules, making play more feasible and fun for the smaller teams. Even before the official first day of school for students, our local team has been practicing. A jamboree is on the horizon and our Eagles hope to soar.
In spite of temperatures in the thirties and cold mist chilling most faces, an enthusiastic desire to learn and improve keeps bodies moving while the dirt flies.
Nothing special or unique in any of that, I guess. Football teams across the country are all doing much the same thing.
The cool thing is, on our team, about a third of the guys...
It seems to have slipped behind the clouds while attention was trained on a recent thunderstorm. As I write this, our ambient temperature is 34 (F) with a windchill of 24 degrees. After the last two or three days' rain and wind, the cotton grass around the village now more closely resembles the wet, matted fur of a freshly-bathed cat than the fluffy balls of cotton in the photograph above.
The sun dips progressively lower in the sky as if weary from months of radiating around the clock. Two weeks ago we had a string of pleasant, though windy, blue-sky days and anyone with a four-wheeler got outside and made the most of it.
Hunters went hunting. Fishers went fishing. Pickers went picking. And big brothers took little sisters for rides around the village, enjoying the fresh scent of wet summer grass and the warm caress of sun on their cheeks that will be a memory all too soon.
Quiet moments of sun-splashed Summer grow shorter and fainter every day...
while Autumn slips in a silent finger and does some doodling in the sand.
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")