People

The Arctic climate is changing rapidly, and this change will have profound effects on the Arctic landscape, its people and wildlife. Perhaps most importantly, Arctic Ocean sea ice is melting, and changing its nature, from a thicker multi-year ice pack, to an ice cover that is characterized mostly by first-year ice, that is thinner, and much smaller in areal extent in summer.  Here scientists and Arctic dwellers talk about climate change in the Arctic.

Featured Characters

Barrow resident from Acuitzio del Canje, Mexico

Proprieter NARL Hotel, Barrow, Alaska

Assistant Logistics Coordinator, BASC, Barrow, Alaska

Senior Wildlife Biologist (Bowhead Whales)

Seabird Biologist studying in Arctic Alaska since 1970

Executive Director, BASC

Inupiaq Elder from Wainright, Alaska

Inupiaq Elder & Whaling Captain

Owner of Pepe’s North of the Border Mexican Restaurant

Areas Wildlife Biologist, Alaska’s Department of Fish & Game

Newbery-winning author of Julie of the Wolves

Helicopter Pilot, Polar Bear Project

Polar Bear Photographer

Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s Executive Vice President of Lands and Natural Resources.

Cristobal Granados

Cristobal Granados

Barrow resident from Acuitzio del Canje, Mexico

Cristobal, from Acuitzio del Canje, Michoacán, Mexico, worked in the Arctic for many years, including working at Pepes North of the Border, and describes here a little about the life he led in the North before moving back to warmer climates.

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From Mexico to the Arctic

From Acuitzio del Canje, Mexico, Cistobal worked in the Arctic for many years. Here he speaks about that life

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Dario Levia

Dario Levia

Proprietor NARL Hotel, Barrow, Alaska

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From Chile to the Arctic

Proprietor of the Narl Hotel, Barrow, Alaska, talks about his journey from Chile to Prudhoe Bay to the Narl Hotel in Barrow

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Donald "Nok" Nokinba Acker

Donald "Nok" Nokinba Acker

Assistant Logistics Coordinator, BASC, Barrow, Alaska

Donald “Nok” Acker from Allakaket, AK, now lives in Barrow, AK. “Nok” is short for Nokinba, which in Athabascan means “Snowy Owl,” a name his parents gave him at birth. Nok never thought he’d come north to Barrow but when did, he fell in love, with his wife to be and with the high Arctic. Here he talks about his love for the cold and especially for the ice. Coordinating logistics for the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, BASC, he helps scientists stay safe on the ice. Here he talks about polar bears and the knowledge you have to have in order to go out on the ice safely. Nok also has put some nice video clips up on Youtube that show what it’s like to break trail and to be out there, a place he loves so much.

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Meet Donald Nokinba "Nok" Acker

Nok talks about his love of the Arctic and how he helps keep researchers safe out on the ice.

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Dr. Anne Jensen

Dr. Anne Jensen

General Manager and Senior Scientist for UIC Science LLC

Anne Jensen’s anthropological fieldwork in Alaska extends back 28 years. Anne has worked in villages throughout the state and been principal investigator on numerous archaeology projects, including ones at Point Barrow, Point Franklin, and at Ukkuqsi, where she recovered the little frozen girl who died 800 years ago. She is General Manager and Senior Scientist for UIC Science LLC, where she runs operations and support contracts for the U.S. Department of Energy and conducts a variety of environmental projects. Anne holds grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation. She has written dozens of professional reports and has published on resource use and zooarchaeology. Her current research focuses on human adaptation in Arctic and subarctic environments, paleoeconomy and paleoenvironments and Traditional Knowledge of Iñupiat peoples. Anne’s blog on Arctic Archaeology can be found at iceandtime.wordpress.com and her Gardening in the Arctic blog at tundragarden.wordpress.com.

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Meet Anne Jensen Arctic Archaeologist

Anne talks about how she began work on Nuvuk an Iñupiaq settlement at Point Barrow, Alaska.

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Why Live in the Arctic?

Anne talks about her love of the Arctic, everythin about itg, the long summer days, the sky, the plants, the people, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The most interesting puzzle for her is why and how did people migrate when they did, what set it off, how then did people change into who they are today across the Arctic, and what can that tell us about climate change which happened during that time and still does. You can’t take climate change out of an understanding of cultural change. So why do some people adapt to change and some don’t?

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Archaeology Across the Arctic

Ann talks about the interior of the North Slope not being explored archaeologically. Evidence of people on the North Slope over 10,000 years old. The coast has changed and been lost so we don’t have coastal sites before 4000 BC. Not a lot of sites found and dated. People have been attracted to large coastal villages.

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Conducting Research at the Cemetery at Nuvuk

With Inupiaq elder approval, ancient and modern dna analysis of North Slope peoples. They’ll finish the ancient DNA and then follow up with the modern DNA analysis and correlate the findings.

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Dating Ancient Sites on the North Slope

Anne talks about dating of ancient sites in the Arctic and the relationship of ancient peoples across the Arctic, how people can communicate in their own language across 4 thousand miles of territory

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Eskimo Whaling Today & in Ancient Times

Anne talks about the whaling of the Inupiaq Eskimos today and thousands of years ago and how the transition was made from traditional whaling to Yankee whaling tools in the early 1900s, which is still being used today. She also talks about how bowhead whales may live a few hundred years; ivory and stone points pre 1880 have been found in recently caught whales. She also talks about an elder who once saw an 80-foot whale!

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Dr. Craig George

Dr. Craig George

Senior Wildlife Biologist, North Slope Borough, Dept. of Wildlife Management, Barrow, AK: Bowhead Whales

Craig George has worked as a Wildlife Biologist with the North Slope Department of Wildlife Management in Barrow, Alaska for 25 years. Craig earned a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the Utah State University in 1976 and recently completed his Ph.D. in bowhead whale energetics, age estimation and morphology (comprehensive exams 2001). Beginning in 1982, Craig worked on and later coordinated the bowhead whale ice-based population assessment project on the sea ice near Point Barrow for nearly two decades. He also has conducted many postmortem exams on bowheads harvested by Alaskan Eskimos (since 1980) and published a number of papers on this work ranging from evidence of killer whale predation to structural anatomy to population biology. Craig has attended IWC meetings since 1987 focusing mainly on aboriginal whaling management procedures and assessments and population estimation. He has also participated in Eskimo traditional knowledge studies on the North Slope. Craig has lived in Barrow since 1977 and is married to Cyd Hanns, a wildlife technician. Together they enjoy community and outdoor activities with their two sons Luke and Sam.

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Meet John Craighead (Craig) George, whale scientist

Craig , is now Senior Wildlife Biologist for the North Slope Borough. Here he talks about how he came to Barrow in 1977 and then to his bowhead whale research and the bowhead census that helped him and other researchers quantify the bowhead population in the Arctic

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Retreating Ice, Bowhead Whales, and the Inupiat

Craig talks about the incredible changes he’s seen in the decades since he got to Barrow: the retreat of the ice pack in the summer, the warmer winters. September never used to be an open-water month. Craig is aware of warming periods over the last 10,000 years, but if the predictions are correct, it might not swing back this time because there is a definite human factor in this recent warming trend.

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Beautiful sea ice, amazing Bowhead Whales, Eskimo Culture, and Whale Harvest

The bowhead is one of the most unusual mammals, with so many unique and extraordinary characteristics, its massive size (up to 60 feet with some reports up to 80 feet), has the thickest blubber of any whale, the longest baleen, some plates reaching 15 feet. They have the largest head in the animal kingdom in proportion to their body, a third of their body size. They may also live 150 years or more

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The Increasing Bowhead Whale Population

Craig talks about adopting the Eskimo techniques for safety on the ice during the whale census. Here he talks about polar bears in camp out on the ice and other difficulties….

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Raising a family in Barrow, Alaska

Craig talks about the uniqueness of raising a family in the high Arctic with its vibrant whaling culture, dog mushing, good friends. His two sons, Luke and Sam, got to take part in Eskimo festivals; they ran rivers and hunted and fished in pristine places; polar bears wandered through town. Perhaps it was an America that has been lost to many.

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Dr. George Divoky

Dr. George Divoky

Seabird Biologist studying in Arctic Alaska since 1970.

Dr George Divoky has been studying seabirds in arctic Alaska since 1970 and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is the founder of Friends of Cooper Island, a nonprofit scientific/education organization that maintains the long-term study of seabirds on Cooper Island and preserves and distributes Cooper Island data for use by current and future researchers studying climate change and other Arctic phenomena. Divoky also has an active outreach program speaking to conservation organizations and school groups.

Studying the Black Guillemots of Cooper Island has largely been a solitary venture for George. While the discovery and initial years of the study were part of governmental research related to oil development in northern Alaska, for the past two decades the work has been conducted with occasional grants and personal dedication.

Divoky’s research on Cooper Island was featured in a January 6, 2002 cover story in the New York Times Magazine entitled “George Divoky’s Planet,” written by Darcy Frey.

 

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Meet Arctic Seabird Biologist George Divoky

Divoky conducts annual observations of Black Guillemots breeding on Cooper Island in the Arctic Ocean, 20 miles east of Point Barrow, Alaska. He stays on the wind-swept island every summer for the full breeding season of 100 days. His long-term study has allowed him to make startling observations about climate change.

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Date of Egg Laying changes in response to Climate Change

Working on Coopers Island all summer for more than 3 decades, Divoky talks about the tolerance of the Guillemots, about the energy he gets from the Midnight Sun, and how decades of research on these Arctic seabirds has led to surprising findings about global warming.

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Polar Bears invade Coopers Island as the summer ice pack retreats looking for food.

George talks about how he prepares for a summer on the island, connecting with local Inupiats and scientists, who have become his friends. He also talks about how hard it is for the Guillemots to feed their young with the pack ice so far away

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Dr. Glenn Sheehan

Dr. Glenn Sheehan

Founding Executive Director of BASC (Barrow Arctic Science Consortium)

Dr. Sheehan is the founding Executive Director of the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC), which started in 1996. BASC provides scientists with field logistical support, including serving as the ashore contact for U.S. and foreign science icebreaker missions. In a recent year over 626 visiting researchers were assisted.Prior to BASC’s creation Dr. Sheehan was principal investigator for the three year NSF-funded Point Franklin Archaeology project on the North Slope.

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Why the Arctic is a Great Place to Live

“What I love about the Arctic is the people. If it wasn’t for the people, the Arctic would be a nice place to visit. The people here make it a great place to live.”

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Working as an Archaeologist and then Director of BASC

The Barrow Arctic Science Consortium is centered in the old Navy Arctic Research Lab in Barrow, Alaska

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Eddie Bodfish

Eddie Bodfish

Iñupiaq Elder from Wainwright, AK, descendant of a Boston whaler

Eddie grew up in Wainright, Alaska, a small Inupiaq village south of Barrow. Here he talks about what it was like to grow up out at fish camp for three months of the year and then start whaling for his father’s crew until he went to high school in Sitka, Alaska.

He talks about how whaling crews had to walk 9-15 miles out on the ice to get the whales because Wainright, unlike Barrow, is tucked into a bay, and to get the whales, the whalers have to walk out to the open sea where the whales pass during migrations

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Being a Whaler

Eddie grew up in Wainright, Alaska, a small Inupiaq village south of Barrow. Here he talks about what it was like to grow up out at fish camp for three months of the year and then start whaling for his father’s crew until he went to high school in Sitka, Alaska.

He talks about how whaling crews had to walk 9-15 miles out on the ice to get the whales because Wainright, unlike Barrow, is tucked into a bay, and to get the whales, the whalers have to walk out to the open sea where the whales pass during migrations

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Stories of Whaling

Eddie talks about his role as project manager for the DEW line (Distant Early Warning) and for building airports in the Arctic, which he did for 24 years. He also talks about missing the whaling because he misses the stories of the old whalers that are told in whale camp.

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Eugene Brower

Eugene Brower

President of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association, Whaling Captain, and Iñupiaq Elder 

Inupiaq Eskimo elder and whaling captain Eugene Brower knows the ice in the Chukchi Sea off Barrow, Alaska, through many thousands of hours hunting the bowhead whale. Out there, he has seen some amazing things.

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Alaska in the Early Days: Part One

Iñupiaq Eskimo elder Eugene Brower talks about living outside Barrow, Alaska, in the early days. Sod houses, stoves they used, dog sleds, ice skates they made.

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Alaska In the Early Days: Part Two

Sod houses, fish storage, bone runners…

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Breaking Trail & Finding Whales

Breaking trails to the open water during the spring bowhead whale hunt and finding whales

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President of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association, Alaska

Eugene talks about being mayor of the city of Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in the United States. And about being president of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association for more than three decades.

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Whaling Part One: Brower talks about growing up whaling

As a young boy Iñupiaq Eskimo elder Eugene Brower from Barrow, Alaska, moved up the ranks to Harpooner and finally to whaling captain. On a Sunday in March 2009, he took some time out to talk about whaling

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Whaling Part Two: Growing up hunting for the bowhead

As a young boy Iñupiaq Eskimo elder Eugene Brower from Barrow, Alaska, moved up the ranks to Harpooner and finally to whaling captain. On a Sunday in March 2009, he took some time out to talk about whaling

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Whaling Part Three: From Harpooner to Whaling Captain
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Whaling Part Four: 1970s from subsistence to cash economy

Changes have come to the Iñupiaq Eskimo community after oil was struck. From dog sleds to snow machines. The expense of continuing the Eskimo tradition

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Amazing Story of a Polar Bear on the Ice

An amazing polar bear story, something Eugene saw with his father, Harry Brower, Sr. (1924-1992), out on the ice.

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Story of a White Whale

Off the coast of Barrow, Alaska, in the Chukchi Sea, whaling captain Eugene Brower has seen one white whale, and he’s seen it multiple times. He knows it by its markings..

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Amazing Bowhead Whale Stories

Eugene tells some amazing stories about bowhead whales that he has witnessed when out hunting in the Chukchi Sea, off Barrow, Alaska.

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The Whaling Camp & What the Whales know and See

Whaling camps and what the whales see and know and how the whalers must learn to keep quiet and undetected if there is to be a successful hunt.

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The Story of a Rogue Walrus

A story about confronting a massive rogue walrus out on the ice while hunting whales, Barrow, Alaska

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Iñupiaq Eskimo Elder talks about ice fishing with his father

Eugene’s father was Harry Brower, Sr. (1924-1992), out on the ice.

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Fran Tate

Fran Tate

Owner of Pepe’s North of the Border Mexican Restaurant

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Fran: Part 1

Fran Tate of Pepe’s North of the Border Mexican Restaurant talks about opening up in Barrow, Alaska

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Fran: Part 2

Fran Tate of Pepe’s talks about being an electrical engineer and coming to Barrow in the 1970s and the community spirit of the Arctic

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Fran: Part 3

Fran’s compares growing up in the lower 48 to living here in the Arctic

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Fran: Part 4

Fran gives her take on goose poop..

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Fran: Part 5

Fren speaks about recent changes in Barrow, Alaska

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Fran: Part 6

Fran talks about growing up poor and coming to Barrow decades ago where she ran a sewage and water business while opening her Mexican restaurant.

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Geoff Carroll

Geoff Carroll

Areas Wildlife Biologist, Alaska’s Department of Fish & Game

Geoff Carroll, Area Wildlife Biologist for Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game looks after the animals in a 56,000 sq mile region on the North Slope. He talks about his love of the Arctic, the sea ice, and his passion for sled dogs, and his early work with on the bowhead whale census. He also tells a few tales about polar bears and muskox. In 1986, he accompanied Will Steger on a National Geographic sponsored 56-day dog sled expedition to the North Pole.

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Area Wildlife Biologist

Geoff Carroll, Area Wildlife Biologist for Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game, talks about his job looking after all the animals, especially caribou, in a 56,000 sq mile region.

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Geoff's Polar Bear Story

Geoff Carroll tells the story of an early morning polar bear in a whale census tent out on the ice.

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Love of the Arctic, the Sea Ice & the Freedom of Open Spaces but Big Changes Afoot

Geoff talks about the freedom of the open spaces but also about the changes that have come and are coming to the Arctic

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Moving to the Arctic & a Bowhead Whale Census

Wildlife biologist Geoff Carroll in Barrow, Alaska, talks about the extirpation and reintroduction of muskox on the North Slope.

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Muskox on the North Slope

Wildlife biologist Geoff Carroll in Barrow, Alaska, talks about the extirpation and reintroduction of muskox on the North Slope.

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Sled Dogs

Geoff Carroll, area wildlife biologist for Alaska’s Dept of Fish and Game, hitches up his sled dogs. After taking his sled out onto the ocean ice, Geoff talks a little about Greenland Huskies like the ones he took to the North Pole with Will Steger in 1986.

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To the North Pole

In 1986 Geoff helped Will Steger and others reach the North Pole by sled. In the first month they had only gone 100 miles and soon had to shed a great amount of gear in order to reach the pole. From years of working with the Inupiaq Eskimos Geoff knew the ice conditions and helped read the changing ice so that the expedition could make it a successful trip.

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Jean Craighead George

Jean Craighead George

Newbery-winning author of Julie of the Wolves

Jean Craighead George was born in a family of naturalists. Her father, mother, brothers, aunts and uncles were students of nature. On weekends they camped in the woods near their Washington, D.C. home, climbed trees to study owls, gathered edible plants and made fish hooks from twigs. Her first pet was a turkey vulture. In third grade she began writing and hasn’t stopped yet. She has written over 100 books.

Her book, Julie of the Wolves won the prestigious Newbery Medal, the American Julie of the Wolves Library Association’s award for the most distinguished contribution to literature for children, 1973. My Side of the Mountain, the story of a boy and a falcon surviving on a mountain together, was a 1960 Newbery Honor Book. She has also received 20 other awards.

She attended Penn State University graduating with a degree in Science and Literature. In the 1940s she was a reporter for The Washington Post and a member of the White House Press Corps. After her children were born she returned to her love of nature and brought owls, robins, mink, sea gulls, tarantulas – 173 wild animals into their home and backyard. These became characters in her books and, although always free to go, they would stay with the family until the sun changed their behavior and they migrated or went off to seek partners of their own kind.

When her children, Twig, Craig and Luke, were old enough to carry their own backpacks, they all went to the animals. They climbed mountains, canoed rivers, hiked deserts. Her children learned about nature and Jean came home and to write books. Craig and Luke are now environmental scientists andTwig writes children’s books, too.

One summer Jean learned that the wolves were friendly, lived in a well-run society and communicated with each other in wolf talk — sound, sight, posture, scent and coloration. Excited to learn more, she took Luke and went to the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory in Barrow, Alaska, where scientists were studying this remarkable animal. She even talked to the wolves in their own language. With that, Julie of the Wolves was born. A little girl walking on the vast lonesome tundra outside Barrow, and a magnificent alpha male wolf, leader of a pack in Denali National Park were the inspiration for the characters in the book. Years later, after many requests from her readers, she wrote the sequels,Julie and Julie’s Wolf Pack

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Meet Jean Craighead George

Jean went to the Arctic to study wolves and came back with the story of Julie of the Wolves

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How Jean came to write and research Julie of the Wolves
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How Jean came to write and research Julie of the Wolves

Craig took his mom out on the ice and helped her with the science of whales so she could work on her most recent book, Ice Whale

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Jean's Home: Part One

Jean raised her children, Luke, Craig and Twig in this wonderful old house in Chappaqua, NY.

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Jean's Home: Part Two

Jean works at her desk while watching her waterfall which she loves because, like fire, “waterfalls are so alive.”

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The importance of translating the complexity of science for children
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The special beauty of the Arctic
Joe Fieldman

Joe Fieldman

Helicopter Pilot, Polar Bear Project

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Flying in the Arctic

Joe talks about flying in the ArcticHelicopter pilot Joe Fieldman talks about how he helps the scientists track polar bears and what he does when they find one on the Southern Beaufort Sea

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The Challenges and Beauty of Flying in the Arctic and of Bears

Joe captures the dynamic beaufy of the ice and the weather conditions in the Arctic, from a helicopter pilot’s perspective

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John Tidwell

John Tidwell

Polar Bear Photographer

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Meet John Tidwell

The bears begin to trust him after days and days and months and months of routine. Here he talks about how the bears can survive on land. He agrees that ice is getting thin and bears are having a hard time finding seals on the dwindling ice, but he also has what he considers evidence that there’s plenty of food on land for the bears.

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On Carrying a Camera, Not A Gun

Tidwell, “I don’t carry a gun. What right do I have to shoot a bear when I’m invading his territory.” Here Tidwell tells tales about bears, close calls, Snagglepus, a particularly large foul-mood male with a broken jaw and broken nose and teeth sticking out, coming up to Tidwell in the fog snorting as he comes.

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Tricks of the Polar Bear Photographer's Trade

Here he talks about how he “gets a bear,” ways to attract bears to his lens. Back in the early 80s when Tidwell got to Barrow you’d listen to the radio to find out when the bears were in town. What attracts bears to town? Arctic Pizza on the south side of town.

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Dr. Richard K. "Savik" Glenn

Richard K. "Savik" Glenn

Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s Executive Vice President of Lands and Natural Resources.

RICHARD K. “Savik” GLENN is Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s Executive Vice President of Lands and Natural Resources. Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (“ASRC”) is the Alaska Native-owned regional corporation representing more than eight thousand Inupiat Eskimos of Alaska’s North Slope. The shareholders of ASRC own surface and subsurface title to nearly five million acres of Alaskan North Slope lands with oil, gas, coal and mineral resources. Richard is a member of ASRC’s Board of Directors. From 1995 to 2001, Richard headed Alaska’s North Slope Borough Department of Energy Management, where he supervised the energy programs for all of the North Slope Borough villages.

Richard received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from San Jose State University in 1985 and a Master of Science degree in Geology from the University of Alaska (UAF) in 1991. Richard has special expertise in resource development in an Arctic setting, and is well-versed in on and offshore Arctic geologic processes. He is a certified professional geologist in the state of Alaska, and holds positions on many boards and commissions, most of them dedicated to education and scientific research. In addition to other postings, he has twice been appointed by the President to the United States Arctic Research Commission, is the Board President of the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, and has served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Ilisagvik College.

Richard also serves as co-captain of the Savik Ahmaogak subsistence whaling crew. He is a member of the Suurimmaaniichuat Eskimo dance group and a budding rock-and-roll keyboardist.

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Iñupiaq Knowledge, Teachers, and the Arctic

Glenn talks about the beauty of traditional Eskimo knowlege and how it works. He talks about his role as a whaler in his family crew, and he tells a harrowing story about being out on the ice hunting the bowhead when the ice broke off and he and his crew started to flow away and were rescued by helicopter.

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The intersection between Eskimo and scientific knowledge

Richard’s mother an Inupiaq Eskimo married Richard’s father who came to the Arctic to work on the DEW Line (a system of radar stations set up in the Arctic to detect incoming Soviet bombers during the Cold War) and Richard grew up in two worlds–that of San Francisco during the year and with his Inupiaq relatives in the summers, until at 20 he moved permanently to the Arctic that he loves so much

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