Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Nathaniel Olemaun, Jr.

Nathaniel "Nate" Olemaun, Jr. was interviewed on June 26, 2009 by Matthew Druckenmiller in Barrow, Alaska. This interview was part of Matthew's research for a Ph.D. in Snow, Ice and Permafrost Geophysics from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. For his project, he mapped the trails built by whalers to their camps at the edge of the sea ice and talked with local residents about ice conditions, whale camps, and trail building. Results of his research can be found in his dissertation Alaska Shorefast Ice: Interfacing Geophysics With Local Sea Ice Knowledge and Use (2011). In this interview, Nate talks about the ice conditions, trails, camp locations and whaling in Barrow during the 2009 spring season.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2013-25-18

Project: Sea Ice Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Jun 26, 2009
Narrator(s): Nathaniel "Nate" Olemaun, Jr.
Interviewer(s): Matthew Druckenmiller
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Coastal Marine Institute, North Pacific Research Board
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
Slideshow
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Sections

Building trails on the sea ice and selecting location for trails and whaling camp

Ice conditions, thin ice and pressure ridges off of Hollywood south of Barrow

Ice on trails melting from below, flat ice, and thin ice

Slush ice and effect of wind

Ice conditions effecting whaling and butchering

Variation in ice behavior at different locations around Barrow

Deciding when the ice is safe or unsafe

Inupiaq place names along the coast at Barrow

Trail construction, and multi-year ice (Piqaluyak)

Unusual ice conditions making for bad year for whaling

Selecting location for whaling camp, and ice shearing off

Effect of wind and current on ice movement and breaking off

Knowing Inupiaq terminology for wind and current

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Transcript

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: I had just a list of questions that I was asking a range of hunters just so I could -- I could compare --

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Okay.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: A lot of the answers. So you said you guys built these three trails.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Through -- yeah.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: So when did you guys start working out there?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: April is when they usually start. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: And Little Kupaaq and Eugene had started over here.

8, yeah over here. We helped them. That's why it's split three ways here. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: And then Jake , they started kind of late. We helped them also cause that’s Thomas, my oldest son's, father-in-law. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: We always end up helping them.

And then we started this with Panigeo and Ahkivgak.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. So you said this trail eventually got extended out?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: So --

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: As you could see there's a trail that went to the last one we worked on. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: It was flat so they just extended it coming all the way ashore.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. And why did you guys decide to hunt down here?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: We always hunt in front of Sikłukqaq , which you call Hollywood now. It's a feeding area.

My father-in-law Roxie Oyagak been a whaling captain from early 50’s -- late 40’s or early 50’s, and he always go over here. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: That’s where the feeding area is. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: And we still go there every year. Except this year the ice never cooperated.

It was too thin so we end up in front of the gravel pit -- try to anyway. We stayed there. Never went out. The lead never opened.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: So you guys used this trail or did you guys build another?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: They had one trail this year. Is this this year’s?

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah, this is this year.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Okay. They had one trail that went out. We used that one. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But we were in -- our boat was -- after this rotted out our boat was over here. And we never went out in front of the gravel pit.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. What -- what did you say the correct name for Hollywood is or the --

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Sikłukqaq .

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: I'm going to write that on there. I don’t know how to spell it, but -- do you know how it's spelled?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: You should ask my wife.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah, well I can’t spell.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: I can’t spell either.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Well, I’ll figure it out later.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh, what’s her name? Who's that Executive Director for Science at --

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Taqulik?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: The BASC .

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Oh, Glenn Sheehan.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Glenn -- Glenn’s wife got --

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Oh, Anne .

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Anne got all the names. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Oh, so, okay.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: I got help to her get the names in front of Barrow. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But she's got a map with all the names. She would be helpful. Hello. No. And mom’s got the truck. Achu.

Anyway, I have one upstairs maybe, but Anne would be the one if it says Hollywood. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Monument. They -- She’s got -- she’s got all those names. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Okay.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But I’m supposed to help her for the creeks in front of Barrow. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Later this year.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah, I know Anne. I can -- I can ask her.

And so you said the ice down here was too thin?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah, it was too thin. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Sikvayungaks were there. And you could see the black streak where it was -- the water shows through the ice.

And there was a lot of that down here and it just got rotten early.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Was that just the water melting the ice from beneath? NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah. From underneath.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. Did you guys have any trouble with -- with cracks down there?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: There -- there was some cracks, but like in the past it never broke off. We were hoping it would break off, but it never did.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. What about -- was this area down here well grounded?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yes. Down here. It's still grounded. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: You could see this kind of thick ice. It's not really thick it's -- and then the Ivu is down here.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. Yeah. I think they show up a little bit. NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh. Yeah.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Is that typical in this area since you've been hunting down here for a while to have it -- to have it be well grounded?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh. It's been in the past. We used to leave our boats out here in back of these Ivu’s in the past. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But this year they were along the coastline. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: There was two or three Ivu’s in front, okay, but the ice was thin so we stayed close to the shoreline when we left our boats.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. I notice a few -- cause I was out here a couple times this year and I saw these -- these ridges that were kind of coming in towards the -- NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: The coast. Is that -- I haven’t seen that before. I was wondering if -- if that’s common to have these ridges that are kind of perpendicular to the coast?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: No, not really. It's usually to the north. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But uh -- apparently this was an open area and then it Ivu here.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Oh, okay.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: And then got kind of solid for each Ivu down here finally.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. That makes sense, yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: We were at -- yeah --

We took the truck to Nunavaaq and then they came and picked up the supplies.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. Is that common to -- to have your trails be melted from beneath like that -- like you had this year?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: No. The ice never got thick this year even in front here.

There was some Ivu here. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: It never got thick. This was -- especially this one it was real thin ice.

You could tell from the photo how thin -- how white this is.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: At Nuvuk it's solid. This is flat ice.

That indicate there's going to be a lot of black spots. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Cause it's so flat like at now -- right now. Now going to Nuvuk. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: You could see how flat it's at -- in front of Niksiuraq. Here. Really flat over here.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. So when did that happen this year that that the -- that the ice got black?

Was that mid-May or after?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: It was flat from January on. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: It -- it never went out this year. We thought it would get thick. It never got thick. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: It just came in with young flat ice. And it's not the ice that we get in December, January. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: It just stayed, cause it -- Ivu in the front solid where it couldn’t move out. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But it was still a young ice and then this thinner ice came in right here. It never went out either. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Slush ice.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah, I heard a lot of people talk about the -- the Muġałłiq. NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Slush ice that was kind of a problem off Barrow and off NARL. NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Did you guys have --

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: We had it over there, too. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: We had a lot of slush ice where it just go against the ice. We were hoping it would break off. It never break this ice here. It just sheared along the side. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: And it never built up.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. Is that -- is that common to encounter that type of ice or --

cause I -- I saw it a few times when I was out on these trails. I could tell there was a wall of slush moving -- NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: On the edge.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: It usually goes out when the wind is right. The wind never got right.

It was from the southwest wind. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Nigiqpaq. We had that all springtime where it -- it brings the ice in. And this year it keeped it in. It never opened up.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: There was so much ice out here, as you could see, where it couldn’t move out.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. So when was it that you guys moved to this area? NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: We move --

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Which week was that, do you recall?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: We all move here first or second week of May -- must have been second week of May, but we stayed out there late.

And when we move, we never went out in front of the gravel pit, but here we never went out. Our boat was there -- our Lund boat was there, but we never went out.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. So then when did you actually stop hunting?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: We came up about the third week of May, somewhere around there.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: But was that because the ice conditions were bad or --

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yep. To show you how bad it's -- MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: We built a new umiaq and also had a new skin on it. It never went in the water. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Um.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: That’s how bad it was.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: So this was one of -- I’ve seen it in the past where we only get three or four, like this year, landed whales. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But this year is different from the past. The ice is so thin all over here. You couldn’t pull up the whale and the head had to be removed. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: To butcher the whale and it took so long.

I think only one whale -- the first whale was the only one that was able to get the meat and the inside of the whale. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: The heart and intestine and whatnot. The others took so long to pull it up because of young ice.

They end up cutting the head through. The head was never retrieved. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: And Ahkivgak’s whale, waiting to be pulled up.

We never pull it up cause the ice came in too when they were towing it to thicker ice around here. They were trying to get it to thicker ice.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Did they -- they got that whale down here somewhere and then they pulled it up? NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh. So did they have to butcher that in the water?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: That had happened with -- we have to take the -- to be counted as landed we have to take the fins and flippers out and part of the maktak. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: To be considered a landed whale. And they do that in water.

It's been done in previous years, but never this bad. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Where there wasn’t solid ice to pull it up. You could have pulled it up anywhere, but the ice was so thin you couldn’t pull up the size of the whale that they had got.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Um. One of the things that I was wondering about because the last few years that I’ve been up here I -- it seems to me that this ice down here is -- behaves a bit differently than up here off Barrow and NARL and I was wondering if -- if you see in your lifetime that this down here is -- is usually different than the ice off town?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: It usually is. At times we go to Walikpaa , as far as Walikpaa, but the ice was way out -- to even try to make a road. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: They -- we -- we went as far -- even though the -- we knew the ice was thin, but that’s where the whales would be in front of Sikłikqaq in front of Hollywood. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: So there was quite a few crews that went down there from -- No. 8 you could see eight and down there was at least Sikvayungak, four, six, seven. Maybe nine to eleven crews here. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Then we all moved this way in springtime.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. So people moved from here up north -- NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: When it started to -- NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: -- to melt from beneath it.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: In -- in front of NARL.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. So -- so would you say is there typically more -- more open water down here than -- than off town -- than off NARL?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah. Yes. It tend to be in the past. This year it just stayed solid and they had a little bit of open water up here where they got the whales. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: When it close here, it's open here. When it's open here, it's closed here.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Does it have to do with the currents or -- ?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: The current and the wind. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: This year our currents didn’t work. It didn’t control the ice. The wind did.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. Well, I had another question I had relates to how people decide when it's unsafe to be out there.

I mean you've already mentioned that the ice sometimes melts from beneath. NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: But are there other things that you typically see happen throughout the spring that leads to ice conditions that are --

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: A trail gets rotten too early, because if they have catch a whale you could work it down to young ice where it breaks through.

Cause as you know, where they break trail is the only way you could go out. If it -- if there's a blockage of open water where you have work your way through Ivu going to flat water and there's opening right here where the road is,

then you would quit using that road and make another trail or use the closest trail and make another trail.

When you can’t, you work your way. Like we did this year towards Nuvuk. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: It depends. There was only one trail for ABC and Arey's that went in front of NARL over here. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: And a lot of people end up using it, as you could see.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: When people that were already here and people like the whalers that came in from Hollywood area to here.

So it's not only the thawing out -- rotting, it's the usage of a trail.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: From the Skidoos that --

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Oh, so the more they’re used, the more they get chewed up?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah, that makes sense. You said that -- I know that there are place names for the different creeks or streams along the shore.

Are there any -- do people give names to the areas out here on the ice?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: No. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: No.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Just where they happen to be in front -- in front of Nunavaaq. The only ones we use is Nunavaaq, Sikłukqaq and Natiġiñaq is in front of -- this should be --

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: This is Napauraq.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Natiġiñaq , yeah. And then Walikpaa. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Um.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Those are the main three -- main four, Nunavaaq, Sikłukqaq , Natiġiñaq , and Walikpaa, we use.

And then over here they use the airport or in front of Browerville or in front of gravel pit, Browerville and in front of NARL or DEW-line.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: They hardly go out in front of Niksiuraq. They go to the Point , and then Nuvuk.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh. Was it a lot of work to put this trail in out here cause I --

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah. They worked on it maybe couple weeks. It took a while.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Cause you had two or three ridges to go through to break to the open water. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: The front seems flat, but there were a lot of ridges starting real close to the shoreline going out.

And a lot of ice that -- that just didn’t build up to be pressure ridge, but enough to have to be broken down to make a trail.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. Did you guys find any -- any Piqaluyak or old ice along -- down this area?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Only one this year, there was nothing down here I knew of. Only one which is still out there is in front of Barrow. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: By the -- almost by the Shop 1 and Shop 2.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Okay. Just off of like Napa? NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah, okay. I’ve seen that.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: That’s about the only one they talked about this year.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. So do people typically want to see that -- that old ice around?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: My wife been wanting some. We never got her any.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Um. Are you talking about the water?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: It’s best drinking water that we know of.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Are -- are there other benefits to having your trail or your camp near -- ?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: No. When it break up, if it hits that Piqaluyak, that fresh water ice, that Piqaluyak cracks up real easy.

It fumbles first before any winter ice does.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: They always tell us to when the ice break off not to gather at the Piqaluyak, cause it's just going to crack up real easier than winter ice would. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Or break up.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: So it's not -- it's not safe to be camped on --?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: No.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: -- that ice, okay.

Was there anything else unusual that you noticed about the ice this year that's different from how it's been in the past?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: The ice was young. And there was too much slush ice that didn’t move out.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: That was the main one.

Usually you have winter ice that comes in and the slush ice have open water to move out. It was none of that this year. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: It just was stationary, where the slush ice never move.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. Were you guys ever out here and you saw the ice coming in and you had to leave or -- ?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: No. There were not -- maybe once. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: For not even 24 hours. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Our crew never got to go to the open lead. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Other crews like Harry Brower, Panigeo, and Eugene Brower got to go out. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But there was just a small window, not even 24 hours, where they had to go back.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh. This is a tough year, huh?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: I think -- I think that was all I wanted to talk about.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah. Anne should have about this size map. She wants to work with a one about Barrow, but she's got the names starting from Nunavaaq. Of the creeks all the way here. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: And -- but she wants to do the names for in front of Barrow, like where the gravel pit is that's Atutiġuruaq . MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Where dry cleaners is that's Ukkuqsi .

And then the ones between Barrow and Browerville there's names and the one by the dumpster. The one by the camp.

There is names, so those are. I’ve seen a map I know some of the people without the map know the names. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Right to Nuvuk.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. Have you ever gone whaling up here like north of -- NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: No. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: -- Nuvuk?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: No. I caught a whale one year and Piġniq was the only place open.

We took our whale there and the ice came in shearing in. We had to pull back. And good thing we had almost finishing butchering the whale.

But we never had turn it over. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: And we lost our whale where we butcher it over here by Piġniq. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But my father-in-law, he's been, in his lifetime been taken out four or five times. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: In front of Piġniq and Nuvuk. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: So he never took us out here. I went whaling with him from ’70 to ’8 -- ’91. We never go this way. We always go right here.

And when I got my whaling crew, I was used to going here instead of Nuvuk. I'm always going by Sikłukqaq .

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh. Anyway that sounds like a good reason.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Thirty last -- thirty-nine years that’s the only place I've been whaling.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh. And so when you said it gets sheared off here, is that -- is that ice coming in from -- from the east that shears that off?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: From the north.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: From the north.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh. Cause this ice stays stable. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Somehow it always break off by Nuvuk over here and come in from the north.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

Well, thanks for taking time to talk with me. I appreciate it.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: It helps us to understand kind of, you know -- we've been studying this area and it's -- I think when you talk about the hunters’ observations we learn a lot about how -- how the ice and the currents and the winds -- NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: -- behave in this area.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: I was hoping the current at least work this year like it done in the past. It never.

If the wind don’t do it, the current will. And what we always hope for the Uŋalaq, it just stayed. The ice never moved. There was no place for the ice to go.

Cause when it's Uŋalaq like that it'll take care of the young ice -- take it out. And the slush ice never happened.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh. So you say when it's what -- Uŋalaq?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uŋalaq. The southwest wind.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Southwest wind. Huh.

And so in this area you typically want this stuff to break off closer to the beach?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. Is that typical to have the ice closer to the beach down in this area or is it generally further out?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Further out. It's always further out cause for some reason it's always winter ice down here in front of Walikpaa, all the way to Sikłukqaq , or close to it. Like this year where it was blocked right here just before it got to Sikłukqaq .

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But it start coming in closer to shoreline from Sikłukqaq towards Nuvuk. That’s the usual practice. It didn’t happen this year.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. This one's from -- I think this one here is from earlier in the year. You can see how just as you said there's that --

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh. Yeah.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Well, actually maybe that’s further down. Yeah, I think this is further down here, but this one's from March -- March 29th. NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: And this image is from May 16th.

Didn’t change a whole lot between these two days?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: No, too much. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Yeah. Yeah, it was terrible this year. Our new umiaq didn’t hit the water. But I told the boys to put it away. No, we're going to put it in the water 4th of July.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Did -- did -- is that what they’re going to do just to --

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Boat race, yeah, cause the prize is for participating. I think it's 50 gallons or 25 gallons. And placing top five you get it in drums so -- MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: That’s what --

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: So just a paddling race? NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Oh. Is that -- is that on the ocean or -- ?

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Ocean. It's always in the Arctic Ocean.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh. I haven’t heard of that before.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Depends on if there's open lead in front of Barrow.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But usually there is by July 4th.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh. Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: There is a map from IHLC with the Inupiat name of the winds -- north, south, east -- MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: West.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: I have a copy of that, although I don’t have -- I don’t have it in my mind yet. NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: But I do have a copy.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: But it tells you and the in betweens. Southwest, northwest, northeast.

It works when you have it in front and they tell you -- they’ll tell you the wind in Inupiaq most of the majority of the whaling crews.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: I -- I have to learn it again. I was born up here, but I was brought up Outside. I spent 13 years in the Lower 48. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: So when I came back in ’70, I had to pick up every -- I still have problems with the currents. MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: I have to use that map. I have it upstairs. I refresh myself every spring.

My wife tell me you learn anything? You know we have to learn again.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Well, that’s good. Uh-huh.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: I know what they’re talking about if I hear it on radio.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. Well that’s the way I am with all this stuff I’m doing, too. The science -- I have to relearn it every year cause it -- NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: Uh-huh.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: -- doesn’t -- doesn’t always stick in my mind.

NATHANIEL OLEUMAUN: So, you’re not the only one that have problem with words. Spelling I’m bad.

MATTHEW DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah. Yeah, it’s always been tough for me.