Sod House in the Early Days in Utqiaġvik, Alaska (Eugene Brower)

Video Shot in: 2009

Iñupiaq elder Eugene Brower shares memories of his childhood and the challenging living conditions his family faced. He describes their small living space, which was about 8 by 10 or 10 by 12 feet in size, with a unique makeshift stove made from a five-gallon GI can. The stove was fueled variously by blubber, wood, and coal obtained through bartering. Eugene reminisces about their modes of transportation, from using small boats made with caribou skins and dog sleds in winter to later transitioning to snow machines. He recounts the journey they would take from their camp down the river and along the coastline to reach Browerville, a cluster of houses where his grandfather’s two-story house stood. He mentions the original trading post, which is now a restaurant, and how they would visit the store for supplies, traveling with dog teams and sleds. Eugene reflects on the isolation of their living situation and the changes they experienced over time. This narrative provides a glimpse into Eugene Brower’s upbringing in a remote area before Barrow, now Utqiaġvik, Alaska, was a bigger town, and the resourcefulness required to navigate the harsh Arctic environment.