Thursday, August 25, 2011

Inupiat Heritage Center

Zero motorcycle content in this post...

I needed to come up to Barrow to show some folks the IT (Information Technology) infrastructure that I have installed as part of my grant. After a very full day going over drawings, server specs and the IT history of the facility, we had about an hour left to visit the Inupiat Heritage Center in Browerville. The folks doing the review were from out of town and had never been to Barrow before. The Heritage Center had a wonderful display on whaling showing the history, process, traditions and tools used. And why it is such an important part of their culture. I had never realized before today that this facility is part of the National Park Service.

This is the shell of a "skin boat" just like the ones outside Brower's Cafe next to the whale bone arch. Just this one is in much better shape. Here, I am sort of focused in on the harpoon. There was quite a bit of history on the tools including how the harpoons have changed over the years. Even with the advent of modern tools, the modern hunter still use many of the traditional tools and methods for hunting including human-powered "skin" boats.

There was a roughly life size model of a whale suspended from the ceiling in this beautiful facility. In addition to the whaling exhibit, there were bird exhibits, art and carving samples, and a whole section where individual villages on the North Slope got to show who they were and what did they consider significant. Even with all of the visits I've made to Barrow, I never spent any time going through this facility. For the grand opening of the BARC science building 5 years ago, the Heritage Center was rented to host the dinner and eskimo dancing. But I never had a chance to look around at the exhibits.

The weather here is feeling pretty fall-like and the locals say that it isn't too early for the shallower ponds to start freezing. This evening, the Alaska Airlines jet barely made it in due to the fog. At 5PM, there was blue sky then by 7PM it was like this. Fog with pretty low visibility. Yesterday, I drove out the gas line road to just past the radio tower to test out 700 MhZ wireless network and it had turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. Blue skies and temperatures all the up into the 40's (°F). I went out about a mile past the KBRW transmitter and was still getting reasonable Internet speeds. In fact, I am currently using one of the 700 MhZ clients to do this post as the cable modem doesn't seem to be working.

Friday Morning - A beautiful morning! This is taken from the north side of building 360 looking to the East. The overhead structures are the above ground utilidors carrying water, sewer and natural gas.


  1. The heritage center looks really neat. I always find it interesting how cultures have changed/evolved over the years as technology has advanced.

    Weather into the 40˚s. Brrr. I never realized the fall weather hit you so early. At least you had some sunshine.

  2. Zero motorcycle content is ok. We are, after all, first and foremost members of the human race. Good to do a little reflection now and then.

  3. I liked this post. I think I will hold in mind the first image of the folk in the boat getting ready to harpoon the whale. Sort of puts my anxiety about riding a 500mile adventure on my Symba in perspective.

    I agree with Trobairitz. It is interesting to see how cultures have adapted to different environments . . . and continue to adapt.

    And, +1 to irondad. It is good to be reminded we are first and foremost members of the human race.

    Thanks for the share.

  4. The heritage center looks interesting. I like learning about the history here in the northwest. Amazing culture, and to live in such a harsh climate. It's hard to imagine.