Monday, August 22, 2016

The Beauty of the Tundra

The River

  As I told you yesterday, we went out by boat to a site near the older locations of this village.  Out here, the rivers function as the roads for these people.  The only "roads" are just dirt in town.  They do not cross the soft marshy land.

We left about 2 PM after loading several boats with kids and gear, including the kitchen so we could set out.  It took about 2 hours to get there due to various stops along the way.

We drove by several fish camps which are where people go in the summer to get enough fish to dry for the winter.  We went past the old village with the old church, a new fish and game building and a building open to anyone.  Due to flooding, this village only lasted 2 years before moving to its current location.

Camping location
 We camped on a lovely flat area, next to the river.  As soon as we landed, we set up tents.  Please note the lack of trees so the boys built a nice little tarp covered area for the girls off to the right.

Believe it or not, the tundra is actually quite comfortable to sleep on because the plants and ground make it rather spongy and soft.

The first priority was to get the camp set up before it got too dark.  Of course the sun didn't set till 11:30, so we had lots of time.

The Cooks Tent
Of course one of the most important tents to get up is the cooks tent.  As soon as it was up and loaded with coleman stoves, pans, and food.  The cooks began dinner.

The first two days of the event were wonderfully warm and clear.  No rain, but when the wind died down, the gnats struck in full force. 

Most people had their heads and faces covered so they didn't have to deal with them.  They really didn't bother me much.

Bucket of Sour Dock
When we went out to visit the two older town sites, we stopped at the oldest place and started collecting some great greens called Sour Dock. 

Some plants had already turned red but there were enough green ones to enjoy.

These greens are cooked in water and added to the Akutuq or Eskimo ice cream made of crisco, sugar, water, potatoes, and greens or berries.

We found a few small raspberries nestled at the base of other plants.  It was great finding them.  We tried to pick some for later but everyone wanted to eat them.

Camp set up.
The lady you see there, is one of the older ladies who came to cook for the students.  What that means is they did some of the cooking but also supervised and taught the girls native ways.

The women teach the girls and the men teach the boys.  The jobs are divided along lines such as men hunt and women take care of the catch.

The ladies also put their bedding outside every day to air it out and be fresh that night.

Star Fish

One morning we went out to dig for clams.  I learned something when we were out.  The area has small little star fish and large 6 inch across jelly fish. 

I did not know they could be found this far north.  The kids had so much fun holding the star fish and the jelly fish in their hands.

Some of the kids discovered the jelly fish stung them.  Not bad stings, just enough to know they'd been stung.

This was where they were digging clams at low tide.  We weren't there long because the tide came in rapidly.

I'll post a few more pictures tomorrow.  As soon as I get my micro SD card reader, I'll post pictures from the dance festival the other weekend.

See you tomorrow.

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