Here’s a quick-turn story I worked on for the Guardian yesterday, asking Alaskans about their reaction to the news that Shell would shut down Arctic drilling…
In Alaska, nobody really cares if you went to Harvard, but if your grandmother was buried here, you should say so because it gives you cred. I think this is because there are only 700,000 people in this state and a whole lot of dangerous country, animals and weather. People from very different backgrounds tend to find themselves relying on each other, so we care most about stuff like whether you are the type to carry a tow strap in your truck and would be willing to pull us out of a ditch in a snowstorm. Politics come way second. Our loyalty to Denali over McKinley is driven by the same impulse.
The 900 people who live here hold on to a ritual that dates back 2,000 years: the spring hunt for the bowhead whale. This year, the village took three.
In Kotzebue, as temperatures and ice become increasingly unpredictable, hunters worry their children and grandchildren will no longer be able to participate in the traditional seal hunt.
Akutaq is made many ways in Alaska. In Point Hope, it starts with hot, rendered caribou fat that must be mixed by hand. It’s pretty amazing to watch how it changes.
To understand the relationship between the indigenous Gwich’in who live in this village near the edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the massive caribou herd that migrates through their land, you might start in February with a ride on the back of Charlie Swaney’s old snowmobile.