2 July, 2001
Wagaa Greetings (Yupik and Cu'pik)
We started off today by carrying the bags of fill from last year to the inlet to be screened. I worked with Jon screening. You can see how thick the permafrost is when we were done on the embankment. Veco is the company through TEA that helped outfit me for this expedition. I thank them for the rain pants, rainjacket, and boots. These three arcticles of wear are my best friends (along with my trowel T3, of course). Standing in Arctic water is cold (Brrrr.). We collected mostly wood, but we did find some bones, flint, and a piece of ivory (walrus). In the afternoon, I worked on the North trench mound (TEL 079), helping with the excavation. I had to work around two walrus skulls. During excavations you have to trowel around large posts, bones, etc., until you are almost finished with the unit. For example, the walrus skulls then have to be measured in and drawn in on graph paper for later analysis. Everything has to be mapped before we take it up and continue excavating. Once an object is drawn in, simply pick it up and continue. We also continued to bale out water from the trench. We were able to finally take out the rest of the bags, through the permafrost. We also had to re-measure the levels of the mound.
Bowhead whales: The Bowhead whale is vital to the people of Wales. These whales have been hunted for centuries and are part of subsistence life for the Inupiaq people of Wales.The Bowheads spend the winter in the Bring Sea and Strait. They migrate into the Chuckchi and Beaufort seas during the summer. A Bowhead is an enormous whale, with 1/3 of the whale being the head. There may be as much as a ton of baleen. Baleen is the area (like plates) that strains the food into the whale's mouth. The food is mainly krill, a re shrimp like crustacean. Bowheads can have as much as 30 tons of blubber. They can weigh as much as 50 tons. The blubber can be as thick as six feet. This is how they are able to survive the temperatures of the Arctic waters. The thick blubber also helps the hunters bring the whale to shore. Hunters can see a Bowhead from a distance away because of the spouts.
The Orca whale is the only known enemy of the Bowhead, except for humans. The Bowhead will swim to waters that contain abundant ice. Orcas try to avoid these waters because the ice damages their dorsal fins. People are another story. The Bowhead whale is an integral part of Inupiaq history. The whales became endangered when the Yankee whaling fleet came into Arctic waters. Originally the Yankee whaling fleets fished off of the East Coast of the U.S. and up into the Arctic region from Greenland. When they depleted the whales, they looked to the Arctic Sea, from Alaska. Yankee whaling used the blubber for oil for lamps. They did not use any other part of the whale. The Arctic peoples, Inupiaq especially, used the entire whale. They did waste. So, once again the Bowhead is an integral part of Inupiaq history, a vital part of their subsistence living.
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