Trading Skins & Oil

I’ve been working on talks for the session on the Connected Arctic at next week’s Alaska Anthropological Association meeting in Seattle. My family was in Juneau lobbying, so I had some free time.  I’m almost done with the one about the trade networks  which moved large quantities of oil, blubber & baleen from the coast to be exchanged for caribou & sheep products from the interior.  By volume, this greatly exceeded  the amount of metal, jade and similar items that also moved through these networks.  For some reason, the skin & oil trade has received less attention from archaeologists, although it has been documented ethnographically.  In fact, it seems to have been a necessity for sustained interior occupation.  I’ve been trying to make a good visual presentation, which takes a bit of doing.  I think it should be done tomorrow.

I would have been done earlier if I hadn’t had to spend some time on sorting out some safety issues. The local phone company is installing a microwave link to carry  internet for science, and the best spot is on the BARC, apparently on the tower where the radar is.  For some reason, they didn’t think the FOUR signs on the locked door to the tower warning of possible radiation hazards and giving the numbers to contact someone who could  make sure the radar was disabled before they went up on the tower meant THEM.  The locked gate at the bottom of the tower deck stairway didn’t faze them either.  Fortunately the radar was off, so no one got hurt.  However, the radar can be activated remotely, so going up on the tower, even if you think you saw the radar was off when you went by the controls, is a really STUPID idea.  Since they presumably will need to go up there again to finish the setup and for periodic maintenance, it was necessary to impress on them (management, not just the crew) that they need to call and get an OK every time.  The excuse was that they’d talked to the building owner (who I’m sure approved putting stuff up there in concept, but never told them it was OK to ignore warning signs while doing it!)  If people would just read and think….

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