Sunday, March 30, 2008


We have dogs in Emmonak, AK. Here is the policy on dogs: If a dog is not on a leash, it can be shot. Even if a dog is in a fenced yard but not on a leash, it can be shot.
A person can then turn the tail into authorities and get $10.00.

A local hunter craftsman came over to see our neighbors and saw the little bulldog. He petted the dog and said, 'nice fur' in the slow Yupik tone. We chucked because now I think of people who see fur as a means of making gloves, boots or clothing items.
Today is about 30 degrees outside - warm by Emmonak standards.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Animal Skinning

The Yupiks would not survive without the salmon, moose, seal, Beluga Whales and Walrus. They hunt these animals and use the meat and skins to survive the -30 degree winters. We do not have huge trees here so they must also use the blubber to heat the homes if they do not have money for stove oil.

Respect the soul of the animal: Yupiks do not skin an animal inside a house out of respect for the animal. They Yupik also do not get more animals that they can realistically use during the fall and winter. They do not have a great stock pile of salmon or seal around in the spring to throw away. They strive to kill only that which they need to survive.

It was -13 degrees the past two mornings. I walked home from the restaurant last evening at about 7 PM and it was - 10 and I did not have on a warm cap. My ears froze. A teacher got the school van stuck in a burm of snow. He was taking teachers home from the dinner. It is almost April and the picture shows what I see.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Emmonak Fish

I just talked to a fisherman and he filled me in on the Salmon which run on the Yukon River here in Emmonak. These fish are some of the fattest fish in the world. Some have 30% fat on them and here is why. I am about 7 miles from Bristol Bay. The Yukon River is over 2000 miles long and ends up in Canada. These fish start out here in Emo but end up 2000 miles up river. They do not eat once they get in the Yukon so they make the run on body fat alone.

The Emo fish have more body fat than the Copper River Fish that you hear about. The Yukon Fish are also stronger than Copper River fish too. Marketing, Copper River ice breaks sooner than the Yukon so the fish start running sooner. The Copper River is not nearly as long either Also, on the Yukon, they let the first run or two go through before nets can be put out. They want to let the first fish go upriver and make it all the way to Canada.

The story I was told is that Emmonak (Yukon) River fish are much better than Copper River fish or any other fish. I eat some every other week or so and I must say that they are good. Last weekend, at the Potluck, I had some smoked salmon made by my Yupik guests and it was very greasy. I asked why it was so greasy and was told that it is just natural juices from the fish. It was good.

Hunting Seals, whales and other animals

The Yupik People with whom I live amongst, hunt to survive in a very dangerous environment. They fish Salmon, hunt seal, whale and walrus as well as caribou and moose which provides them food during the year. Without hunting, these people could not live. They use the skins and hides for making clothing as well. They live a simple life and are simply trying to take care of their family members. I have had the opportunity to buy some crafts and meet the people who make them. With heating oil costs at $6.00 a gallon it costs a lot to heat a home in this environment, it is expensive to live. They have a quiet respect for the animals that sustain them.

I had people tell me about the Beluga whales that come up the Yukon River to Emmonak.
the Belugas come upriver feasting on the salmon. They talk of seeing baby Belugas along with adult Belugas. They know the babies because they shoot a little stream of water from their spout. That is during the summer.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ivory carvings

These ivory carvings are done locally. The Ivory comes from Walrus. The Yupik hunt the Walrus and eat the meat. They then use the teeth and tusks for carving. They even use the hide and blubber.

Traditional Yupik Masks

I am going to show some traditional Yupik crafts. Here you have two masks made out of wood. They cost $80.00 each.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My knee

I went to the clinic and had my knee checked out. The PA saw it and said, "You really did get hit hard." I got hit with a chair 8 days ago and my knee is just now feeling better. I then looked at my left knee and saw the bruising. It was super bruised on the inside of my knee. The bruise was very big and I had not even noticed it.

I went back to school and did my job after getting a knee brace. After school, my knee ached and I went home and fell asleep. I woke up at 8:30 and watched BUSH'S WAR, which showed the ineptness of Bush and his administration in handling Iraq. I hope a lot of people saw that show - it really is great.

I am hoping my knee will allow me to make it through the whole week of teaching.

Monday, March 24, 2008

sideways mukluks - full view

These are real, Yupik Eskimo Mukluks made by hand in Emmonak, AK by a Yupik Great Grandma that speaks little or no English. They are made out of cow hide, beaver and moose leather for the bottoms. New ones are slippery when wet at first, they have to be broken in. I also was given hand knitted knee socks to go with them.

Toes of the Mukluks

The workmanship is pretty amazing. The workmanship shows in the toes and everywhere too.

Mukluk bottoms

Made in the traditional Yupik way.

Mukluk tops

hand stitched

Ashley's Mukluks

just got them today

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Teachers were invited to a Potluck for a local family. About 70 people were there. It was really interesting. It was kind of like going to the Indian Church back in the early 50s. I had dried King Salmon, Moose and Eskimo Ice Cream. The Eskimo ice Cream is made out of Crisco Lard, fish pieces, berries and sugar. I would rather have regular ice cream myself. Eating lard with berries was not my cup of tea I liked the Moose stew - like regular stew.

I have been out of school for a week. I saw a local at the Potluck and she laughed at my hair. She said I was looking like the guys in the village. (I need a haircut in other words.)


Wish all well on this Easter Sunday! It is 5 degrees above zero and sunny! I have been on two walks and my leg is holding up pretty well! My shooting pains only happened once today, improvement!

I am supposed to go to a potluck and they say I can try seal and probably whale. Both meats are normal eating for the Yupik people.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


It is beautiful today with brilliant sun and no clouds. It should be a good Red Sky night. I will see. IT IS ZERO DEBREES AT 2:45 PM. It gets dark about 10:30 PM now. See the Snowmobile? That snowmobile is riding on the frozen Yukon River.

Zero degrees at Noon

I cannot get a picture up again. Zero degrees outside - Super sunny though. Leg is getting better! I have not had any shooting pains all morning, just a low grade aches at times. I went to the Post office earlier and I will be going to the store in a few minutes. I will get pictures up when this machine allows me to do so.

Have a good Saturday!

GOOD NEWS! Ashley's Mukluks are done. I would have picked them up earlier but I have NOT been at school because of being hit with a chair. I am excited to see them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Yukon River

The frozen Yukon River. A hot day is 10 above zero.
At 10:00 PM, it is just starting to get dark. Zero degrees.

The Yukon River

The Yukon River is frozen! This is my hiking place. No hills here!

The Yukon River

Snow everywhere! Frozen River!

red sky

Here is another red sky photo. Hope you like it.

Boat and snow in March

This boat is about 50 feet from my apartment. Boats are everywhere in Emo.

Finally Back!

I could not get pictures up over the weekend. I can today though. Update: I am at hone because I got hit with 2 chairs by a mad student. I am trying to get my leg so it feels better. Standing on it and walking on it causes shooting pains and steady pain, so I went home again today. It feels better as long as I am not putting pressure on my my knee.

I walked home from school today without gloves about 9:30 AM and my hands froze! It was only about 7 minutes outside. The sun was shining and it was so warm looking - but it is still COLD. It was 5 above zero.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I met a famous explorer/ Scientist

His name is Keni Yoshikawa. He is a Japanese explorer/ scientist that has skied to the North Pole, the South Pole, explored the Amazon for a short list. It was explained to me that he is the true Japanese warrior heritage in the modern world. He is doing perma frost studies in the Yukon. He is a permafrost scientist working out of the Univ of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK.

he was in my school and trying to set up the perma frost guages around town. He and his two sidekicks have no guide to lead them from town to town. They are wandering through this frozen country with a GPS and 3 snow mobiles.

He was talking about permafrost in alaska and how much of the perma-frost in the yukon River delta is getting soft. We are gradually losing perma frost because the temperatures are rising. One Yupik lady that I work with said that 20 years ago the temperatures were generally -40 to -60. We are now in the -30 range in the dead of winter. The perma frost studies show a warming going on..... That is what I learned today!

By the way, I got assaulted at school. A boy threw 2 chairs at me. He almost hit a little child but I caught the chair. (Hurt my thumb and wrist though.) I got the 2nd chair on the knee. Home until it heals. the boy has done this before. I filed a police report and said I want to file assault charges against the young man.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

For Skyler

Here is the picture you asked for. Pappi

Sunday, March 9, 2008

sun at Alakanuk

This picture is Alakanuk at the airport, just before I flew out.

Today at Emo: It is 15 degrees but with the wind chill factor, it is 10 below zero.
Cloudy here with a fresh 1/2 inch of snow. We also have a wind today.

Emo Transport Plane

This Transport is bigger and it landed just before us at Emo. We had to kill time waiting for this one to land and get off the icy runway. The pilot just put the plane I was in on its side and we went around in circles so I could see a moose. He then did a series of s shaped maneuvers until the transport was at the hangar. I never did see a moose on this trip. The Emo Transport was much bigger than the one at Pilot Station.

It was a fun trip. Alaska folks fly when they go places or they take snow machines which takes them hours for the trip.

Road to the Emo Airport.

I walk down this weekly and usually see foxes here.

Flying to Emo

There are moose down there, but I did not see them. (Advice I got: To see a Moose you just look. It is the dot that is moving.)

Transport coming in!

We dropped off two people at Pilot Station and this transport came in just after us. It was about 20 below and the wind was blowing. These planes bring in all of the supplies for the towns after the river freezes.

As we flew out, I saw about 5 snow mobiles with sleds, moving to the transport plane to pick up all of the supplies dropped off. In Emo, We get the transport 3 days a week. If you want fresh vegetables or fruit, go to the store on Wednesday because the Tuesday transport has the fresh stuff. Freezer burn can be a problem. NOTICE THE ICE WHICH IS ON THE RUNWAY - We landed on this. The winds were about 30+ MPH too.

More field trip pictures

Gong back to Emo. There was another plane flying people off in another direction.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Been at School

We have had the regional HS basketball tournament since Wednesday and I have been spending lots of time at school. No pictures up. I hope to get some up tomorrow but no guarantees - my computer died. I still have the school computer but it does not have all the pictures on it.

At the game today I asked kids who just came into the school. "Is it warm outside?" they would say, "Yes, very hot." IT WAS 20 degrees outside - WARM!

Friday, March 7, 2008

30 degrees

We have had 30 degrees for 2 days! The snow is melting. Spring is coming to Alaska.
I found some cross country skis so I will be skiing this weekend! Hooray!!!!! Maybe I will find that moose.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

global warming & Emmonak

Emmonak is a place that has cold winters but they have been getting warmer. It is noticably warmer according to the locals that I spoke with. The lady I spoke with today said the summers have gotten weird too. She said, Emmonak never got above 75 degrees in the summer. She said in recent years the summers have been hot. Last year, it even reached 100 degrees. 80 degrees was hot here and this 100 degree summer days is crazy. She said she thinks it is part of global warming. She said that new bugs have been seen here in recent years. For a people that rely on the land, wild animals and water to provide for bulk of their food, changes in weather can be devastating.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

sunset/ snowmobiles-why?

Why snowmobiles? Most Transportation here is snowmobiles! Why?

For 7 months out of the year, there is snow and ice. Snowmobiles are the fastest and smoothest means of travel from community to community. You can cruise at 80 MPH on a snowmobile and a lot of people actually do.
For 5 months, you can see the ground. However, the second most common way of travel is boat. When the River thaws, people get in their boats and make the trip from community to community and to the fish camps to fish. Cars and trucks are rare, usually used by businesses. You have to barge in cars and trucks.

Sunset at 7 PM

A mother here has a 3 year old daughter. Her cousin died and they went to the funeral. They traveled by Snowmobile. She and the 3 year old traveled 2 1/2 hours up the river to the the town of Kotlek. IT WAS 15 BELOW ZERO! The mom said it was actually warm. They spent the night and went to the funeral. The next day they snowmobiled back to Emo. By the way, I am helping her daughter learn how to walk and the little girl actually walked today!

How many places do people travel on a frozen river for 2 !/2 hours at 15 below zero? Alaska is quite unique! These people impress me with their ability to adapt! Today it got to 30 degrees positive - it really felt warm. No gloves or hat today!

Monday, March 3, 2008

9:30 PM, also: weather change

This is a picture at Emo at 9:30 PM.

Weather changed in Emo: 20 degrees positive and snowing like crazy!!! The snow started about noon and it has been going strong since.

GARBAGE UPDATE: A sign is now at the post office asking people to take their own garbage to the dump until they get a new engine shipped in.

AIRPLANE UPDATE: They have found a new engine for the KING airplane. When it gets back into service then we can fly from Emmonak to Anchorage direct and save a hundred dollars each way. (Note_ A direct flight takes 2 hours at 200 MPH.)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Emo sun and boat

I will put up more travel pictures but am going to mix in some Emo pictures as well.
It is warming up! It is only around 5 below zero now. It is starting to snow too.

Pilot Station, AK

We had to drop off a teacher and a student here on the way back to Emo. The teacher and student loaded onto the snow mobile and sled to go into the town.

+++MOST PEOPLE SNOW MOBILE THE 8 MILES TO AUK FROM EMO. They travel on the ICY Yukon River in the winter and take a boat the rest of the year. Lots of people travel back and forth regularly.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Flying Home

My student raced and won all races! He was tired after snowshoeing for 6 races!
+++Notice the blanket on the engine.

The real story: My student's grandma lives there so he got to spend the weekend with his grandma. Also: His cousins got to see him race. He did great!

Here is the school

It was cold and windy!! The bushes are lower here so the wind blows harder here than Emo. The kids are elementary grade students from Euk. They watched and cheered for the shoe shoe kids. Some even got to be on a relay team that didn't have enough members. Emo borrowed 3 kdis for our relay team.

Alakanuk - landing

We are landing on a sheet of ice. Solid ice. The school is about a mile from the airport.

Flying into Alakanuk

This is the place! Alakanuk! No Moose were seen along our route. Do you see the houses in the picture? They are there. Emo is about twice the size of Auk, just so you know.

Emo is remote!!!

We have blasting winds so I am not getting many pictures up because of weak internet. I will keep trying to get pictures up. (The wind is shaking the apartment.)

What was amazing was how small the village of Emo is! We got in the plane and within seconds we were in open ice and snow! The yukon River is frozen and much bigger than what I see here in Emo. We are part of the Yukon Delta so there are other fingers like the one I live on. Any dark you see in the pictures is bushes. Sometimes, it is ice but there is very little dirt showing anywhere where I am presently living. There is also no open water - frozen solid.

A couple of teachers from smaller villages couldn't wait to go to a store with refrigeration, which they have in Alukanuk. Their towns have no fresh or frozen vegetables or fruit and the shelves are often bare. Whenever they go out of town, they have to buy groceries or they buy online from Anchorage.

Today's weather: I walked to the Post Office and got sand blasted by blowing snow. It feels like ice pellets hitting your face. it is also 20 below zero along with the 40+ MPH winds today!
GARBAGE UPDATE: The engine blew on the Garbage Truck. No more dumpsters until they get a new engine and get it installed. WE BORROWED THE SCHOOLS PICKUP AND TOOK A LOAD OF TEACHER'S GARBAGE TO THE DUMP!


Flying to Alukanuk from Emo. The plane is small inside.

Flying out of Emmonak

It is bouncy in this plane!

The inside of the airplane!

The runway wa solid ice but the pilot just gunned it and we were off and flying.

Airplane ride to Alukanuk

This is the plane we flew in for 8 miles to Alukanuk. There was some duct tape on the inside. This plane holds 6 people total. It was a bouncy and fun ride.