It has pretty much been overcast all week. The sun is not visible, although at times the clouds have thinned enough that it was fairly bright. Coupled with constant strong wind, and mixing in fog, rain showers, and a half-day of snow squalls, the weather has been unfortunate, to say the least. Despite all that, we managed to completely excavate two more burials, and start a third, as well as dig a whole bunch of STPs.
On Thursday, I stayed in town in the morning to take part in a call-in radio show on KBRW, the local public (in the best way) radio station, about the graves at Nuvuk, ancient and modern, and the issues about vehicle traffic and erosion, as well as some broader discussion of similar issues in the other North Slope villages. Delbert Rexford, UIC Land Chief, some of whose ancestors lived and are buried at Nuvuk, organized the show, which went in a time slot normally used by the North Slope Borough Health Department. They had a cancellation, so we filled in. We also had Wesley Aiken, a respected local elder, Patuk Glenn, from IHLC (the Inupiat History Language and Culture Commission), Vera Williams from NVB (the Native Village of Barrow–the local tribal government) realty department, and Heather Dingman from the Health Department. It went well, and we got several callers, including one who called to say they appreciated the work the NAP has been doing with the students, which was nice to hear. Thanks to Seismic Isaac Tuckfield for engineering, and letting us run over the time slot a bit.
Once we were done, I headed back home to put on the warm gear, and Dennis O’Rourke (who’d been catching up on manuscripts since no burial excavation that might require sampling was happening when I wasn’t there) and I headed out to Nuvuk. On the way, we ran into Mike and Patsy Aamodt. Mike has a set net near the site, and he and Patsy often stop and see how things are going. One of their nieces, Jackie, worked on the project for several years. Anyway, Mike has finally been getting fish (they’re late here like everywhere else in Alaska this year) and he asked if I would like one. Of course, yes, so he said he’d drop it off in my qanitchat (Arctic entryway, or stoop for those of you from upstate NY). When I got home, there were 3 lovely fresh chum salmon in a bag, so they needed to be taken care of right away.
Friday was still somewhat windy, with fairly serious rain for Barrow. Since the wind had changed direction, we would have had to move the windbreak before we could even start work, and our crew was very small. Flora left for firefighter training in Fairbanks (yeah, Flora!) and a couple of others were out for the day for various reasons, so we decided it was more sensible to do a lab day. That was a good thing, since I was having a minor freezer space crisis at home, and so I invited the non-local project members (AKA the grown-ups) plus Laura (& her husband Bryan and baby Violet) over to eat one of the fish for dinner. Jenny Raff contributed a fine salad, and beverages were provided by Laura & Bryan & Dennis. A fine time was had by all.
Today I went to the BASC Saturday Schoolyard talk, which featured a NOAA LTjg talking about hydrography (actually a very interesting talk) and then added all the week’s transit data to the catalog, updated the lab computer, and spent some time plotting the data and checking IDs for the radiocarbon dates I got in this week. After I finished that, I was going to head home and get the pictures ready to post on the week’s progress int he field. I’ve fallen a bit behind since standing in the cold wind at the transit for much of the day does take it out of you a bit, and then one tends to get really sleepy when one gets back into a warm building. However, I got a call from an archaeologist friend from Anchorage who brought her 17-year-old son to Barrow as a field trip for his Alaska Studies class (very cool), so I met them for dinner at Osaka, the local sushi restaurant (which is quite good). Just got back, as they are heading for Nuvuk on the Aarigaa Tours van tour. I’ll have to get the pictures ready for a descriptive post tomorrow.