Friday, July 6, 2007

A lot has happened since I last posted a blog, and it is always my intention to post a blog right after an event, but I'm usually so tired that I head straight to bed or I talk to Joe on the phone for a little bit.
I should start with the visit from the NSF (National Science Foundation) representatives to our Biocomplexity site, which is located at the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO). The arrived on the evening if the 27th, and left early on the 29th. Since they were the ones that funded a couple of million dollars to do this experiment, you can imagine the rush to put together presentations, talks, clean up, etc. The senior scientist sent all of the researchers an e-mail with the schedule for the NSF visit, and to my surprise, my name is on there. Crap, I was giving the field talk about the hydrology component of the experiment and I wasn't sure if I was prepared, or rather, I wasn't. But Craig and Dave did a good job and went over everything with me until I was comfortable with what I knew. Needless to say, the talk went really well for me, but more importantly for UTEP; we came out as a very strong team :-)
So on the same day I gave the talk, Lewis had his nalukataq going on, and it was the last one of the season. I found out that these celebrations are held for every whaling crew that is successful at catching a whale during the season. Lewis is the main manager here at BASC part in a lot of the community's eventsą„¤ So during the day they have the Nalukataq, which as I have mentioned, consists mainly of the blanket toss and people throwing candy everywhere. There is a part in ceremony during which the whaling captain (Lewis in this case) says a prayer and some words. Then they start passing out the maktak to all the families present. It's such a beautiful gesture that I love from their culture;, and he really loves it when his researchers go out there and take one crew will go out to hunt a whale or seal and they share the meat with family and friends.
So one of our team members had the courage to actually get on the blanket that evening, and I managed to capture a pretty good picture of him in the air. Way to go Alex!

So right after the nalukataq we went straight to the gym to get good seats for the Eskimo dancing that takes place afterwards. Nobody was there yet and we were the first to arrive, so Amorita, Perry, Adrian, and Alex thought they could sneak in some climbing time...but alas, they were told not to.
The dancing came later after we waited for a while. They first set the blanket made out of seal skin in the middle of the gym and the drummers and singers sat next to it. The drums make very impressive and loud sounds, and they are made out of the liver of a whale. Herman, one of the assistants at BASC, told us they make one drum per whale liver. Soon the gym was packed with people and the dancing started. really fun to watch the natives dance, they have a lot of fun with it and they always try to encourage us to go up there. The different whale crews would take turns and go up to dance a so It'sng, but then it's a free-for-all. So all the researchers finally worked up the courage to go up there, and we did! It was a lot of fun and the drums are so loud that they give you a rush. Our song ended and we tried to go back to our seats, but they yelled at us to get back up there and dance one more :) The dancing continues for much of the night, but we ended up leaving around midnight after a very nice Eskimo lady was telling us about their jackets and the different skins that they use. Some of the common furs they use are from wolverine, timber wolf, polar bear, seal, and sea otter.

So I was very happy that I danced with Eskimos, it was an experience that I will never forget! All of this happened on Thursday, the 28th of June.

Meanwhile, summer can definitely be seen all over the tundra, so I leave you with a nice picture of Ranuculus nivalis, otherwise known as snow buttercups. This is the first flower to appear in the tundra, and they are everywhere right now :-)


At August 17, 2007 at 4:04 PM , Blogger TuliPaN said...

I love the beach!! And your pic is really cool!! contrats cousin!! xoxo


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