Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
John Goodwin, Part 1

John Goodwin was interviewed on May 17, 2017 by Karen Brewster and Andy Mahoney at his home in Kotzebue, Alaska. His wife, Pearl, also participated in parts of the interview. In this first part of a two part interview, John talks about growing up in traditional susistence lifestyle and moving between seasonal camps, running a dogteam, hunting ringed seals in the winter on the landfast ice, traveling by boat in the early summer through the scattered ice floes to hunt bearded seal (ugruk), and how to stay safe on the ice. He also talks about getting caught in moving ice and drifting out, and the importance of paying attention to the weather, wind, and current. John discusses changing sea ice conditions in Kotzebue Sound, including thinning ice and timing of freeze-up and break-up.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2013-25-36_PT.1

Project: Sea Ice Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: May 17, 2017
Narrator(s): John Goodwin, Pearl Goodwin
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster, Andrew "Andy" Mahoney
Transcriber: Denali Whiting
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

Growing up in a traditional subsistence lifestyle moving between seasonal camps

Living at Iluviaq in the summer, fishing, and caring for a dog team

Learning about hard work

Growing up in Noatak and going to spring camp at Ivik, and importance of seals and seal oil to coastal people

Hunting bearded seal at Seal Point with kayaks

Understanding ice movement when seal hunting

Early days of caribou hunting when groups of men traveled together and spent a month hunting in the mountains

Memories of first seal hunts by boat and dogteam, and learning how to hunt

Camping on the ice when seal hunting, and learning about ice conditions from his uncles

Boundary between landfast and moving ice in Kotzebue Sound, and how it has changed

Traveling between Kotzebue and Cape Espenberg

Being out on the ice in fall and early winter, and early caribou hunting method

Seal hunting in Kotzebue Sound, water salinity, and retrieving shot seals

Presence and origin of blue colored ice

Freeze-up in Kotzebue Sound, and the effect of current and wind on ice conditions

Getting caught on the wrong side of a crack in the ice and drifting out

Watching for cracks in the ice, and waiting for no wind before going out on the ice

Story about Doc Harris getting caught on moving ice

Breaking through the ice, and running an 18-dog dogteam

Finding one's way through jumbled ice, and importance of communication with others in your group

Ice pile-ups (ivu) in Kotzebue Sound, and story about getting caught in and escaping from moving ice piling up

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Transcript

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay, this is Karen Brewster, today is May 17th 2017 and I’m here with John Goodwin and his wife Pearl at their home in Kotzebue, Alaska.

And also joined by Andy Mahoney, and this is for the Sea Ice Project Jukebox. Quyanaqpak for letting us come visit you this evening.

Why -- to get started, John, can you tell me a little bit about your growing up? You were born here in Kotzebue?

JOHN GOODWIN: I -- Yeah, I was born and raised here in Kotzebue. Actually, I was born between here and Noatak in -- in camp.

So my recording offices -- my registration -- when they put -- it's No -- Noatak.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

JOHN GOODWIN: But I -- when -- that’s why where all our people at the time, you know, we didn’t live in Kotzebue. We spent lot of winters all over. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. And --

JOHN GOODWIN: Four seasons.

KAREN BREWSTER: May I ask what year -- when you were born?

JOHN GOODWIN: I born in 1942. December 8, 1942.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. And so did you grow up going out at camp and --

JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. ‘Til we start -- ‘til I started school and start --

When the older ones started school, we had to move to town. And that’s where my parents are really -- my -- my mom especially wanted education. Us to have education.

There’s no but's or if's about it. So we had to move to town.

But in springtime, like in May, they’d take -- we’d go out spring camp ‘til, you know -- and -- But fall time, we’d be here.

KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. So you -- before the ice broke up, you’d go back out to spring camp? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: By dog team? JOHN GOODWIN: Yup.

KAREN BREWSTER: And then you wait? JOHN GOODWIN: By dog team, yup.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And then you spend the summer at camp and -- JOHN GOODWIN: At camp. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. JOHN GOODWIN: Yup.

KAREN BREWSTER: And then in the fall, would you wait for freeze-up? Or you come back by boat?

JOHN GOODWIN: No, it would be come back with boat here. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: Our -- our camp is only about three miles out of here, so that’s our summer camp and we did set netting salmon for -- for the whole season.

And there was only probably one, maybe three families or four families that did that for -- you know, for their income.

‘Cause we would dry salmon by how many thousands. Every day cutting salmon and then put them away and sell the salmon to the mushers in the winter time who have dogs.

‘Cause lot of times, you know, if we have a harsh winter, you know that’s -- they have to have dog food, so they did go to us and buy.

So that was our -- our income there.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. And you -- you said the camp was three miles, was it down the coast? JOHN GOODWIN: No, up. KAREN BREWSTER: Up?

JOHN GOODWIN: East -- east. It’s Iluviaq over here. Right around the bay. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. PEARL GOODWIN: East of just --

KAREN BREWSTER: No -- PEARL GOODWIN: You could see it from -- KAREN BREWSTER: So Sis -- PEARL GOODWIN: Probably the hotel.

KAREN BREWSTER: Sisualik side? PEARL GOODWIN: No. JOHN GOODWIN: No. PEARL GOODWIN: Sisualik is --

JOHN GOODWIN: It’s just on -- on this land here. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: You're around the other side of the lagoon. PEARL GOODWIN: Just around the corner right there. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. PEARL GOODWIN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Like Lockhardt Point. Or that -- PEARL GOODWIN: Just before Lockhardt Point, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Well, all that salmon you caught, didn’t you have to feed your dogs, too?

JOHN GOODWIN: Oh yeah, we -- we’d -- so we -- having that camp we were able to have more dogs than a normal person can have.

A normal family can only afford probably eight or ten dogs. You know, other than with their family.

‘Cause without dogs you -- you’re on a standstill. So the dogs were used for hunting, getting ice, getting wood, you know, transportation.

And so they -- everybody had to have dogs.

So -- and that’s how we -- we was -- I mean, we -- as growing up as little kid, I remember sitting there by hours and hours cutting fish and looking at net.

And there was some couple of things I might want to bring that -- it’s just like when you -- as --

As I got older and I see these farm boys, you know, how they work, get up 4 o’clock, 5 o'clock and work all day. And then go to bed 11 o’clock and don’t even bother to get up at 4 o’clock. And that’s what I was doing.

My dad would get me up 4:30, 5 o’clock and that’s when my time start. All day, and by the time 11 o’clock, you know. Go to bed. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

JOHN GOODWIN: And it’s something that we had to do while the fish were running. And there’s no -- no playtime. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

JOHN GOODWIN: It is constant. Last ‘til that’s all over. So, we -- we cut fish by the hundreds.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, well, you learned what it means to work hard, and a good work ethic.

JOHN GOODWIN: Yup. I did. I did. And there was lot of --

See, at them days, our parents taught each and every one of us, you know, how to live out in the country. And had -- we had to learn in order to survive. ‘Cause that’s how our people before us all went on -- on the cycle. You know, it’s survival.

Basically, our life, the way I see it and how I can, you know, interpret it, is survival. That’s all it is, it’s survival.

We’re not working for money. We’re not working for something to help us. But it was all survival.

The four different seasons, a lot of camps move in four different places. In four different seasons.

KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. So that camp where you did the salmon was your summer camp?

JOHN GOODWIN: This was summer camp, yup.

KAREN BREWSTER: And where did you go in the wintertime? JOHN GOODWIN: Well, here in Kotzebue. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, you -- JOHN GOODWIN: Schooling.

KAREN BREWSTER: But before you went to school.

JOHN GOODWIN: I -- I remember -- I mean, until I was old enough to go to school we stayed mostly in Noatak.

Our -- our parents were -- they had to get some kind of income, so what they were doing was trapping fur and selling, you know, in order to get --

By that time, things were being sold, you know. Like flour and a lot of stuff that we need to have so you have to work for it by doing -- getting fur. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

JOHN GOODWIN: Back then we got no jobs. Nobody had jobs. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

JOHN GOODWIN: I mean, few. But not that many.

KAREN BREWSTER: And then what about spring and fall?

JOHN GOODWIN: In springtime, normally -- 'Cause we were coastal people, we either go on Sisualik side, Krusenstern.

And I remember going to Krusenstern twice, and how many times down Sadie Creek and Cape Blossom.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. JOHN GOODWIN: On the other side -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. JOHN GOODWIN: You know, Riley Wreck.

PEARL GOODWIN: Ivik. Ivik. KAREN BREWSTER: Ivik? PEARL GOODWIN: Ivik.

JOHN GOODWIN: Oh, Ivik? I mean, that’s spring. Oh, that’s later -- way later. But --

KAREN BREWSTER: Where is -- where’s Ivik?

JOHN GOODWIN: Okay. Our -- we spend one -- one spring up there with my grandparents. Up there in Ivik. It’s about 30 miles up in the -- in the bay.

But originally every -- as coastal people you go on the coast in springtime to hunt seal. Bearded seal and beluga to harvest them and put away.

And in turn, you know, we'd -- what we get, we save and then able to barter and trade with the whitefish and the fur that inland people have. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

JOHN GOODWIN: 'Cause seal oil was one of the main resources that everybody pretty much had to have or liked to have or if they can afford they have it.

And to us, you know, it was easy. So we -- out in seal hunt --

And when we’re out seal hunting in springtime, what they do, you know, before there's all these boats, there’s dog team.

And then when the ice gets bad, they start pushing their sled, you know, going out to -- getting seal.

The seal itself is a -- was one of the real important resources that lived out in the -- you know, in the coast.

And they’d -- depends on what kind of ice or how it is, they’d be closer.

So the real thick ice, they stay kinda far out in the open. But when it’s thinner or get warmer, they move in closer to the bay. So the seals there, they use them for poke.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, right. JOHN GOODWIN: Use them for containers. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: Like, use them for -- for berries. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: Use them for seal oil, sour dock. Anything that we put away, we put away in the poke. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

JOHN GOODWIN: And that’s one of the really important things about the seal.

So they get that and then they start hunting bearded seal. When we were up in the Krusenstern area, Sealing Point, they hunt them with kayak.

They didn’t have an out -- I mean, nobody had hardly any outboards, you know. My dad had one but -- Excuse me. They -- with skin boat and kayak there.

Go out there and shoot a ugruk. And when they shoot one, wherever the bullet goes into, they plug it with a stick.

And then make an incision right here on the brisket. Right where the plate, that soft part is. They'd poke a hole about that long with their knife and they'd cut underneath the blubber right in the -- where the sinew is.

Right between the meat and the blubber. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: Cut it up open like that and sit there -- And then blow -- blow air into it. Blow lot of -- as much as they can. Then plug it with a stick.

So that make -- was able to make that bearded seal, ugruk float. Otherwise they sink right to the bottom.

And when they float, they’re able to put 'em right next to the kayak, and take ‘em home.

KAREN BREWSTER: Easier to bring home that way. JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

ANDY MAHONEY: And then when they bring it home, do they butcher it at home? Or do they just go back to the ice edge?

JOHN GOODWIN: No, they take it home. ANDY MAHONEY: Take it home.

JOHN GOODWIN: They take it home, and the ladies do the butchering. ANDY MAHONEY: Okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: ‘Cause they -- when you’re out in the coast like that, you know, they’re right near you anyhow.

As soon as the ice starts breaking up, you know, they’re easy to get out -- out in Krusenstern.

ANDY MAHONEY: There’s somebody at the door. PEARL GOODWIN: Open it.

JOHN GOODWIN: And -- so when -- when -- (pause and break in recording) Everybody interrupting, but -- KAREN BREWSTER: That’s okay.

So when they’re out ugruk hunting with the kayak, the ice is breaking up? Or are they --

Do they go on the solid ice to the lead edge?

JOHN GOODWIN: No, the ice is breaking up then. Then they just go to the edge, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: So they start --

JOHN GOODWIN: Steer the kayak through the ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: They start at the beach? JOHN GOODWIN: Uh-huh. KAREN BREWSTER: And go out. JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So their families are camped on the beach? JOHN GOODWIN: Mm-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: Waiting for them. JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And then they bring the ugruk back to camp? JOHN GOODWIN: Yup. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: So there again, you know, since you’re -- the subject is ice, it’s gotta be -- the ice conditions got to be pretty, you know -- and good --

I mean, they got to understand the ice. 'Cause the ice is coming in, sometimes real big chunks.

And if it don’t disperse and start breaking, come in big chunks, you know, they can’t hardly get out. They have to kinda wait ‘til it disperses.

But that’s how they hunt the bearded seal in springtime.

And summertime was our summer camp, and wintertime was school.

Falltime -- falltime we, basically, I don’t know. In our camp, we stayed ‘til falltime and come for school. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: But lot of people -- different people still go out in falltime to hunt seals on the, you know, coast if they -- if they have to.

KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hmm. What about hunting of caribou, does that happen in the -- at fall camp?

JOHN GOODWIN: My days we -- we didn’t hunt them. A -- my dad --

I mean, the village itself here in Kotzebue, they’d get about maybe 8, 9, 10 or -- maybe 10 or 12 teams.

Pretty much a half of the village would go out all together and go north over to Noatak, way up and hunt caribou. While the other half stay in here in town trying to help each other, you know, like make sure the families don’t run out of wood. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: And all this, you know, helping each other. And so in turn, when they come back, they share the meat.

But the caribou was way out. It’s -- it was not a ten minute ride. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

JOHN GOODWIN: About three weeks to a month hunt.

KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. So people used seal more than they ate caribou? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah, here. KAREN BREWSTER: Here. Back then. JOHN GOODWIN: Back then. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Right.

JOHN GOODWIN: Back then. Lot of fish and seal.

KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. Do you remember how old you were when you first went out hunting on the ice for seals? JOHN GOODWIN: 8 years old. KAREN BREWSTER: 8 years old.?

JOHN GOODWIN: I -- I -- our -- our boats at that time were made out of plank, you know, not plywood. Not fiberglass.

So the planks would have to be caulked and put tar on it so they can -- they don’t want to leak. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: So, at that time, you know, basically, I think I -- I was little -- my grandfather let me follow to teach me, let me get experience, but also -- I was the person to bail the boat.

I can’t -- I was so small, I couldn’t lift up a five gallon can. When I fill it up, I had to call them over and they’d dump it for me.

You know, I was too small, I couldn’t lift it up. ANDY MAHONEY: Hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: So that’s when I first started going out, and I get lot of experience then.

KAREN BREWSTER: That was in a boat to go ugruk hunting? JOHN GOODWIN: Yup, in the boat.

KAREN BREWSTER: What about out on the solid ice? The sh -- on the -- for natchiq.

JOHN GOODWIN: Oh, yeah. I mean, I -- we had to wait ‘til -- I mean, I just started doing it when I was a teenager after high school and everything.

You know, but I -- when we dog team we'd go out, they wouldn’t let me shoot. I -- I was -- you had to be a crack shot, you know, somebody experienced who will crawl up to the seal and make sure they get it.

Or, you know, when they get them when there’s open water they -- the people who were real dependable shooters do the shooting ‘til we pretty much get everything and then they were -- "Go ahead, try."

And when I try, I don’t think I miss. 'Cause that’s the only chance I’m ever gonna get.

So I went. It’s -- it's not like today anybody shoot.

But at the time, even when we were caribou hunting. When I went caribou hunting with -- with my people -- I had to stay home and take care of the dogs and make, you know, make sure -- I mean, I was camp boy. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: So I never did go out and do the hunting. It -- it was something that -- like an apprentice on anything.

You know, you start from the bottom but climb up. They just don’t let you go out hunting just like that. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: Had to be -- they were so scarce, so hard to get. It had to be an expert to pretty much be the one to, you know, to harvest them.

KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. So when you went out with dog team for natchiq, did you guys camp out on the ice?

JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. We camped on the ice. But my uncles were kinda afraid ‘cause I was a young man and they’re -- I was always the younger guy, you know. They wouldn’t wanna stay out in the ice with me in -- for a fear that the ice could take us out.

So, basically, sometime we were close to shore or -- When we were on the fast ice, so it’s not going to break. Or when we get that close, we would normally just go to shore.

So there wasn't anything to worry about. And the next day we just go right back out.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did you notice what they were looking at at the ice? If they decided, "Oh, this isn’t good, we need to go back?"

Did they explain to you, "Oh, we -- we can’t go out we have to go back" and why?

JOHN GOODWIN: At -- when -- when we’re -- there are two -- two hunts. Two different hunts. Different ways we hunt.

We hunt them on top the ice and then we hunt them when the -- the ice goes out and there’s open water. So when it breaks in, it breaks right into where it's solid ice anyhow.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. At like the edge of the lead? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: Yup, right there. And that’s where it breaks. So only thing there that, you know, we kind of have to go around all the icebergs and -- and there’s a lot of that, going through icebergs.

But as far as, you know, going and looking for seals and the solid ice, you know, for what you call qakiruaq going on top of the sea ice.

There was no particular -- I mean, it’s always solid ice. Out of their lairs or something like that, you know, that late in the spring is when we get them.

And there’s no -- no fear on ice here in our Sound. Not like other different areas. We don’t have the current -- the ice that moves all the time. And our bay is just solid.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Yeah, so with -- once the ice is landfast and it’s attached to the beach, that’s good all winter? That’s solid?

JOHN GOODWIN: Yup. Solid. All -- up until -- In wintertime, you know, when it breaks, it breaks in pretty much the same place.

And the colder it get, this ice here gonna somewhere add on, add on.

But once it breaks off from east wind -- See east wind blows the ice off, not the current. Give us an open water.

So it gives us -- give us a chance for one day hunt. So sometimes we just hitch up the dogs, take off real early, and catch one before it freezes over.

But sometimes we -- I mean, it’s too far and it don’t happen, but sometimes if it’s gonna be warm for a couple days -- people know. If it’s going to be warm for a couple, two, three days, we do go out.

KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. You -- you said it always kinda breaks at the same place. Where is that? How far out?

JOHN GOODWIN: I -- you know, to tell you the truth I -- I can’t give you pretty much the distance. But I -- I got a map over here.

There -- there -- there’s -- we got Espenberg on one end and Krusenstern on the other end. So right between -- straight across from Krusensturn to -- to --

PEARL GOODWIN: Espenberg. KAREN BREWSTER: Espenberg?

JOHN GOODWIN: Espenberg. It normally breaks. Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: That -- that’s a very bad general map. These are more detailed.

JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. I -- I -- I seen it lot of times on -- on this side over about here.

And here, here’s Krusenstern. It -- it normally goes either right to it or out to it. It depends on what kinda season we got.

If it’s out this way or, you know, or it comes in further. So it’s from here to here. Between here and here is pretty much where the ice -- it’s not -- not way over here. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: Here’s the current right here. The current goes this way. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: So that’s where it breaks right here. I mean, you know, it goes straight across right here. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

JOHN GOODWIN: But between -- like I say, between this here and this here is where the line normally happen. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

ANDY MAHONEY: Have you seen this change at all over time? Have you ever seen a year when the -- the ice didn’t -- this lead didn’t form here. Like, the -- the ice wasn’t solid in the Sound?

JOHN GOODWIN: This is always solid. ANDY MAHONEY: It’s all -- you’ve never seen it -- so that’s --

JOHN GOODWIN: I’ve never -- we never see it --

Well, at the time, still the last twenty years or so, you couldn’t -- you couldn’t tell. There’s lot of holes. There's cracks, stuff like that. But in the ‘60s and early ‘70s when I hunt. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: This is always solid. It’s not to worry about. Nothing. ANDY MAHONEY: But now -- JOHN GOODWIN: Now --

ANDY MAHONEY: In -- in recent years is there something to worry about?

JOHN GOODWIN: Sometimes there’s cracks. ANDY MAHONEY: Okay, yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: And it’s getting warmer and it stay open. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: And -- I haven’t been out there from, I don’t know, a lot of years. And that’s why I couldn’t tell right now, because I wouldn’t go out with snowmachine anyhow I guess. ANDY MAHONEY: Okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: It’s kind of a dangerous thing. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: Unless you know exactly where, you know, fast ice is.

You know, and normally you can see it too when you go out there. The fast ice.

ANDY MAHONEY: Right. Have you ever travelled from Kotzebue to Espenberg across here? JOHN GOODWIN: Mm-hm. ANDY MAHONEY: Just straight? JOHN GOODWIN: Mm-hm.

ANDY MAHONEY: Did you do that often? Like, why would you do it? What --

JOHN GOODWIN: I’d go when we’re -- when we’re seal hunting. ANDY MAHONEY: Okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: I would -- you know, we'd would do it with boat. But her and I go across here and Shishmaref around here. Go pick berries with boat.

ANDY MAHONEY: Oh, did you ever do it on the ice? JOHN GOODWIN: Oh, on the ice? ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: We only go out there only when we’re seal hunting. ANDY MAHONEY: Okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: There’s nothing else out there to do. I mean, you couldn’t -- you couldn’t go out there just for-- it’s a wasted --

ANDY MAHONEY: Okay, that’s what I thought. JOHN GOODWIN: Oh, yeah. ANDY MAHONEY: That's why I wanted to ask, yeah. Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah so -- Whether you ever did that to get to Shishmaref in the wintertime, Did you ever take a trail across? But no. JOHN GOODWIN: No. KAREN BREWSTER: No.

JOHN GOODWIN: I don’t -- I don’t go there in the wintertime with snowmachine or dog team.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. But you were saying it used to freeze up all the way down there.

JOHN GOODWIN: All -- yup -- all the way -- start from -- like this from here to here, you know, be open periodically, but this is always solid. Real solid.

KAREN BREWSTER: What time of year would it freeze up? Like October, December?

JOHN GOODWIN: Back in the day, I’d say first week of October. KAREN BREWSTER: Really? JOHN GOODWIN: First week.

KAREN BREWSTER: That -- all the way down it would be solid?

JOHN GOODWIN: That river start forming. Yup. Yup.

KAREN BREWSTER: When did it get thick enough that you could be on it safely?

JOHN GOODWIN: It’d be so cold, you know. I mean, nobody goes out there, no reason to go out immediately because we --

we go out there after it’s thick anyhow. I mean, there’s -- we don’t go out there just --

We don’t hunt out there wintertime, fall time. Only springtime is when we do mostly seal hunting.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Down at the bay there there’s no seals in the wintertime. JOHN GOODWIN: Oh, there’s lots. There’s seals all the time. KAREN BREWSTER: Are there? JOHN GOODWIN: Yup. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

JOHN GOODWIN: All -- all in here. Coast right here. There’s seals always in here, right in front.

ANDY MAHONEY: So, is it normally that in that time of the early winter you have enough food from all the summertime hunting that you don’t need to hunt at that time of year? JOHN GOODWIN: Mm-hm.

ANDY MAHONEY: Or that there are easier things to hunt than seals on the ice.

JOHN GOODWIN: Like -- like for instance you know, like -- with my -- I hunt with my uncles a lot all year round, you know.

We --we’d go caribou hunting. By that time, you know -- after the caribou start taking the reindeer, the reindeer come back to where they’re born.

So they’re taking the caribou closer and closer and closer. And now they come right through the villages. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: But before, the caribou wouldn’t even be that near. You’d had to be -- getting them was really a trick. ANDY MAHONEY: Hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: You know, even getting close to them. And that’s why nobody hunted alone.

About ten or twelve, fifteen teams at a time would go. ANDY MAHONEY: Oh, that’s a big team.

JOHN GOODWIN: ‘Cause when we get to the caribou, when they know they see the caribou, they back off about five miles or a couple miles to keep their dogs from not -- hear --

Now, they see 'em on the mountain. Then they back up and we’d camp, and then the guys with snowshoes would -- would go around.

Like -- like, for instance, here’s -- they spot a caribou here or over here -- there’s a creek they’d go around this side and go around this side and come after a caribou from this side. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: And have the expert shooters about around this area over here. ANDY MAHONEY: Oh, yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: And let's them kind of drive them in, too. ANDY MAHONEY: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

JOHN GOODWIN: And these guys’ job is just to shoot the leader. Nothing else.

When the caribou start coming to you, you know, you shoot the leader and they stop or they turn.

So, and then they try to go out and there’s another person -- ‘cause they’re hidden, they can’t see them. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: They try to come through here, you got another guy see them and they shoot ‘em, they shoot the leader.

And they come over here. But they know these guys are over here 'cause they’re the ones who's scaring them. They’re the ones who's hollering. And they also got guns. You know, and when they do come back they shoot 'em.

Now all of a sudden you got a whole herd or whatever they want on a stand still. So they go down there and choose -- they don’t get the fawns or young ones or anything like that. They just get what they want, enough, and let the rest go. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm.

JOHN GOODWIN: They don’t wipe them all out, never did. ANDY MAHONEY: No, right.

JOHN GOODWIN: They -- they let them go. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: But that’s how the teamwork is right here, that’s how they hunt them.

And these young men ride along with other dog teams because they don’t have a dog team, you know. 20, 30 year old guys, you know, they’re the ones who do the snowshoeing and go around.

And that -- you got to be pretty athletic. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ANDY MAHONEY: I bet. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: You’re going through trees, you’re going through mountains, you’re going through hills.

ANDY MAHONEY: Uh-huh, when you’re chasing caribou.

JOHN GOODWIN: It’s not a -- but they try to do that, they time that to do it in one day. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. JOHN GOODWIN: The hunt. ANDY MAHONEY: Wow.

JOHN GOODWIN: So these guys here, young guys, start maybe 3, 4 o’clock in the morning snowshoeing. ANDY MAHONEY: Hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: And these guys, hunters, would be a little later. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

KAREN BREWSTER: So the seal hunting at the bottom of the bay? I’m bringing us back to ice. JOHN GOODWIN: Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: I like that, that’s very interesting. It answers another question of mine but --

So down here, you said they do hunt seals -- JOHN GOODWIN: Uh-huh. KAREN BREWSTER: -- down at the bottom. What time of year?

JOHN GOODWIN: Basically all -- springtime here -- I mean, we can only hunt here in springtime, you know, until it start warming up, then they start coming out.

But over here springtime and -- and wintertime we would -- given the chance that we know it’s gonna have two or three days opening.

‘Cause my uncles would know when it start blowing, and they know the weather. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm. JOHN GOODWIN: And they watch it.

So we’d go over here to Sisualik. Sometimes we’d camp there or be ready here and we’d take off maybe 3, 4 o’clock in the morning. Go out there and it’d still be open.

But next day, you’d have an inch of ice, but, you know, sometimes we’d be lucky to, you know, harvest 'em. But we -- but we'd do that all the time, go out there. My uncles always take me out at.

ANDY MAHONEY: And so you go out here by dog team, but do you also carry your kayaks for -- ? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah, we had to use kayaks. ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah, yeah. JOHN GOODWIN: To retrieve 'em. ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah, yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: And about -- getting back to, you know, maybe -- I might forget later, but, when you mentioned about getting in a kayak. Like in springtime when we’re hunting seals, if you shoot a seal and you see it -- you hit it, and you know and it go down. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: You have to go out there and go check. They won’t -- we don’t just let it sink and go.

'Cause the salinity -- because of our area here, you know, all the salt water -- fresh water coming from Selawik and Kobuk Lake, you know, going out. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: Out here. The salinity, sometimes the top is more fresh water -- ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm. JOHN GOODWIN: -- than salt.

So the seal will just go down maybe two feet, three feet and float. Stop right there soon as it get to the salt.

ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm. And then you can still retrieve it? JOHN GOODWIN: So they just hook it. ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah, hook it. Yeah. Yup.

JOHN GOODWIN: ‘Cause they're staying right under where they're -- moving either way. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: They -- they -- that’s how far they’ll sink.

And sometimes only about -- I mean, I’ve seen one drop about maybe five feet, it’s just too far to try hook it. I tried. Well, we’d take turns, we knew -- ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: We saw it, but when they’re that deep it’s pretty hard. You know, to try to get over and hook it. And you’re on a kayak.

ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah. And how long is your hook? JOHN GOODWIN: I mean, it’s one of them 90 used hook.

KAREN BREWSTER: Is it like -- like a manaq? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: A manaq with a float with the hooks on it? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. But we take the -- we take the -- put a weight on it. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, that makes sense. JOHN GOODWIN: In case anything, you know, sink under there and start gaffing. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: But that -- that’s basically because, you know, the salinity. If it’s real lot of fresh water they’ll sink real -- ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm, mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: But not all the time they do that. But when you see that, you have to go out there.

And one of the tricks of the trade that a lot of people don’t know. They think if they sink, they sink. But -- ANDY MAHONEY: Sometimes they just --

JOHN GOODWIN: A lot of times they just got to surface about a foot and stop. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm, mm-hm.

KAREN BREWSTER: Does the depth of that salinity change depending on where you are out there? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah? JOHN GOODWIN: Yup.

KAREN BREWSTER: So, where might it be deeper? More salty or less salty?

JOHN GOODWIN: Well, I can’t give you -- it’s pretty difficult for me to try to, you know, put a graphic area. Basically, because I --

As years go by I know -- I know over here, you know, we got more fresh water here. And that’s, you know, and it comes out and it’s gonna come out to here. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: You know, go out to the ocean. So that when it does, it’s still mixed with salt water. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: You can’t drink it, it’s still salty, but it’s not as -- not as -- ANDY MAHONEY: Not as salty. JOHN GOODWIN: Not as heavy salt as -- ANDY MAHONEY: Yup.

JOHN GOODWIN: Especially when we had a lot of snow. We had a lot of snow -- ANDY MAHONEY: Oh, yup. Yup. JOHN GOODWIN: -- it -- it -- it mixes right in.

And speaking of -- speaking of the ice -- of the -- of the snow, my grandpa -- we’re -- I mean, when I was hunting with him, I started at 8 years old, maybe at 8, 9, 10 years old. I asked a lot of questions. One right after another ‘cause I’m trying to learn and I --

We got ice that’s real blue. You ever seen those? ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm. JOHN GOODWIN: Appear every once in a great while. You figure out what it is? ANDY MAHONEY: The -- the blue ice? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah.

ANDY MAHONEY: Like the piqaluyak or -- KAREN BREWSTER: The multi-year ice? ANDY MAHONEY: The old -- the old ice from up north?

JOHN GOODWIN: Out -- out in the ocean. I mean, you know, springtime. People tell you guys, you know, they always see blue ice. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

KAREN BREWSTER: Like glacier ice? JOHN GOODWIN: Like glacier ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Is that what you mean? JOHN GOODWIN: But there’s no glacier.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right, but that’s what they call it. The multi-year. It keeps freezing every year. It never thaws, is that what you mean? And it’s kind of fresh.

JOHN GOODWIN: That ice here is ice free in the fall. KAREN BREWSTER: At the bottom -- JOHN GOODWIN: So you’re not gonna see no glacier ice here. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

ANDY MAHONEY: No, no. But, so you’re saying you see blue ice out here or it’s -- JOHN GOODWIN: No, we've seen it here even. ANDY MAHONEY: Oh, you see it in here?

JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah, when we’re hunting ugruk in springtime with a boat. ANDY MAHONEY: But do you -- but do you think it comes from up north? Or where do you -- So you know where it comes from?

JOHN GOODWIN: I’ll give you -- I just wanted to know, see if you know. But I’ll give you the answer from my -- what my grandpa gave me. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: He said -- ‘cause sometimes they’d be long, you know, and wide. ANDY MAHONEY: Uh-huh.

JOHN GOODWIN: And sometimes they’d be small. But they -- they come in different various sizes. They’re -- ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm. JOHN GOODWIN: They’re not all the same. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: So, he just said, you see, when I ask him he say, you know that ice there? Sometimes it’s drinkable. ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah? JOHN GOODWIN: It’s fresh ice. ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: You know, you know why? You know why it’s like that? I said no.

If -- if fresh water is traveling from a stream or whatever by itself and not getting dispersed, it instantly freezes like that. So under the ice it'll form like that. Underneath.

And, you know, ‘cause that fresh water will freeze quicker than any kind of salt water. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: So it doesn't freeze instantly. Maybe a day or how long it’s gonna take and it stays. It’s all fresh.

And don’t tell me how -- I don’t know how that ice gonna -- I mean, you know -- I -- I guess the fresh water only don’t disperse -- have a tendency, you know, to be fresh. And it -- and it freeze like that. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: But he said that sometimes you can go there and just chip it off and it’s fresh. That’s fresh water.

ANDY MAHONEY: So it comes from the rivers? It’s -- it’s the river water that’s -- JOHN GOODWIN: Had to be, yeah. ANDY MAHONEY: -- freezing underneath? Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: It -- is there an Inupiaq word for that kind of ice? Do you know? JOHN GOODWIN: No, I -- I never asked. It probably does. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. JOHN GOODWIN: But I wouldn’t remember. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm.

JOHN GOODWIN: I had names for everything. They had names from your eyeballs to -- To your gray hair so I couldn’t -- KAREN BREWSTER: That’s -- JOHN GOODWIN: Every bend -- every bend in the river had a name. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: Pretty much me -- I bet you every star in the universe had a name.

KAREN BREWSTER: It did. So, did there used to be more of that blue ice? JOHN GOODWIN: When I was young, yeah. I -- I -- I seen -- seemed to me that I think I seen it more than it is now. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm.

JOHN GOODWIN: Right now you see smaller chunks and hardly at all. ANDY MAHONEY: Right.

JOHN GOODWIN: So, yeah. I mean, it’s -- it -- it’s a real good -- Oh, I took your pen, I’m sorry. ANDY MAHONEY: Oh, no, that’s okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: You know, it -- it --it’s -- it is -- it would have to take a scientist to try to figure that out, I guess. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: But he -- he just said it. And to me that made lot of sense. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ANDY MAHONEY: It makes sense to me, too.

KAREN BREWSTER: And -- and -- and you’re saying there’s less of it than there used to be, so that’s a interesting observation. JOHN GOODWIN: Yup.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Yeah. But so I -- I have to ask again about the bottom of the bay. How the bay and the Sound freeze up. The timing. Does it -- it freezes from the edge into the middle? JOHN GOODWIN: Of the ocean?

KAREN BREWSTER: No, the -- the Sound. The bay. JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah, from the beach out. Yup.

KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. And so how long does it take for it to get solid in the middle? JOHN GOODWIN: Normally -- I mean I shouldn’t say that, it freezes solid all together.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, it does. It probably changes year to year how long it -- like if it’s frozen in October or it’s frozen in January. JOHN GOODWIN: Only -- only places that are gonna be open when it freezes like -- like -- like this place will freeze overnight solid. The whole thing. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: But only place it’s going to be open is where there’s current. Or wind. If there’s a little bit of wind it’ll keep some of it open. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: Wind will always keep water open.

KAREN BREWSTER: Which -- which has more of an impact on keeping the ice open? Wind or current? JOHN GOODWIN: It could be both. Because if you’re -- if you’re on a real strong current, what has a current -- you know, a prevailing current that just don’t stop, it’ll be thin.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And you said the prevailing current is coming up the coast? JOHN GOODWIN: Yup -- KAREN BREWSTER: I mean -- JOHN GOODWIN: Always going out. KAREN BREWSTER: Going out? JOHN GOODWIN: Or in. Basically going out.

KAREN BREWSTER: So if you go out on that ice to the lead for seal hunting, what’s a good current? Or what’s a bad current, you don’t wanna go out? JOHN GOODWIN: As long as we stay on the shore ice -- shorefast ice, the current’s not gonna bother us. ANDY MAHONEY: Right.

JOHN GOODWIN: As long as it’s not windy. ‘Cause first thing that’s gonna happen, it’s gonna crack.

And you’re -- if you’re observant enough and your dog team’s slow enough, you’ll see the crack. And that’s when -- that’s when you don’t wanna go on the other side.

I did -- I was snowmachining one time and I had to -- had to make a makeshift jump to jump on the other side.

KAREN BREWSTER: How did you know you were drifting out? JOHN GOODWIN: Happened to look back.

But we -- it’s a no no. You -- you’re not supposed to go on the other side of ice when it’s cracked. But I passed -- we passed a crack about six inches wide. Real -- real -- it was real narrow, about six inches maybe. Maybe not even that. But there’s a crack.

But right in front was a lot of seals. And this was that one immediate area, there’s nothing over here, nothing over here. But right there.

And the ice was -- here’s the -- ice like that, but the crack was like this. So, it went around like that. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

JOHN GOODWIN: So we come from this side. I was the first one ‘cause I had a bigger machine, stronger, faster machine to go over there and start shooting, you know. ‘Cause the guy with the kayak was behind me and they -- we all saw it.

So I was over here and we were so busy, but we were -- we knew what -- gotta keep track of it. But we were so busy with the seals.

I decided to jump on my snogo and take a look. And I see water. ANDY MAHONEY: Oh. JOHN GOODWIN: Uh-oh, we’re going out.

So what we did was just abandoned everything. So I threw a seal in the sled. We went back over here, it was already ten, twelve, fourteen feet. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. ANDY MAHONEY: Whoa.

JOHN GOODWIN: We couldn’t -- we couldn’t go -- water skip it. So the ice is going out, straight out.

And at s -- at some point, we figured this point here will kinda twist over here or over here for us to, you know, get closer for -- to go across. So we’re watching it, nobody panicked. There’s three of us, we didn’t panic.

And we could -- we were gonna save ourselves. But what we’d do is lose our gear or lose our sle --our snowmachines. We could save our kayak, we could save our -- ourselves and the sleds. But the only thing we’re gonna lose is snowmachines.

So right -- right there when we start watching we say, "Well, when it gets closer I’m gonna try jump it." And I said, "Oh, yeah, jump it."

So I look back over here and there’s some broken ice on -- on this side over here all along the beach. So we got our sleds, we had three sleds, all of us run over there, load up chips of ice, you know, and -- and make a jump on this side over here.

By the time I jump, I think I was -- I had to jump about maybe from here to the window. KAREN BREWSTER: What is that -- ANDY MAHONEY: Wow. KAREN BREWSTER: -- fifteen feet? JOHN GOODWIN: It was that wide. That’s the closest ever we’re gonna get.

KAREN BREWSTER: Is that ten feet? JOHN GOODWIN: Huh? KAREN BREWSTER: Ten feet? Fifteen feet? JOHN GOODWIN: No, that was about twenty-some feet. KAREN BREWSTER: Twenty feet. JOHN GOODWIN: Twenty feet.

So I -- from way back here full blast I jumped that, and then they threw me the rope for the sled. And I pull them over the water, you know, to save those. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm. JOHN GOODWIN: But not the kayak and the sleds except for one.

And that other guy did the same thing, but the third guy couldn’t get across ‘til he -- he was scared.

He wanted me to -- but he was running out of time so he had to -- he had to try to save his snowmachines and so his snowmachine hit the ice but just like that and he barely made it. ANDY MAHONEY: Huh. KAREN BREWSTER: Scary.

JOHN GOODWIN: It -- it -- it was something we’re not supposed to do, go across that ice. KAREN BREWSTER: So --

JOHN GOODWIN: Learned -- I never did that again. I never did it before, anyhow.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, what happens if you go out and there’s no crack and then the crack forms behind you and you don’t know it? JOHN GOODWIN: Normally, we don’t stay out there that long. You -- we’re always traveling. So we’re not staying in one spot and we can be able -- we’ll be able to see something. We’ll see it.

We’re either going in to the open water, you know, ‘cause you don’t spend the night or, you know, all day there even. We’re always moving. So, you know, we -- we’d know the crack.

KAREN BREWSTER: ‘Cause it can change fast as you just showed. That crack can move pretty quickly.

JOHN GOODWIN: I guess, if you’re not really observant, things can happen. But a lot of us are pretty observant. We -- we’re aware of this kind of stuff that can happen.

Especially when you’re among, you know, ice bergs. Jumbled up ice, you know, they got -- sometimes get a better chance of breaking. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm.

KAREN BREWSTER: So that time that you just told about with the crack, what was the wind doing? JOHN GOODWIN: Dead calm. KAREN BREWSTER: Dead calm. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm.

JOHN GOODWIN: That’s the reason we -- we went over it. We didn’t think it was gonna move.

KAREN BREWSTER: So do you know why it moved? JOHN GOODWIN: The current. The current was going out. Bad luck, I guess.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So what is a bad wind that you don’t wanna go out on the ice if it’s that? JOHN GOODWIN: Ea -- east wind. KAREN BREWSTER: East wind. JOHN GOODWIN: Offshore wind. Any offshore wind. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. ANDY MAHONEY: So you -- JOHN GOODWIN: You gotta worry at offshore.

ANDY MAHONEY: So you -- you want the offshore wind to create the lead, but you got to wait for the wind to stop before you go out? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. We -- we got to -- we got to wait, we wait ‘til the wind dies down before we go out.

Never go out there when it’s windy. ‘Cause it’s got real good chance -- my uncle got caught out there. KAREN BREWSTER: Who’s that? JOHN GOODWIN: Doc Harris. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: He -- he’s got a story in a video. It’s a really humbling story. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. JOHN GOODWIN: He was right down to his really -- ANDY MAHONEY: Hm. JOHN GOODWIN: I think I got that tape.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, you remember what happened? How he got drifted out?

JOHN GOODWIN: Actually, when he went -- there -- there was how many hunters together. But all he had was the kayak and his grub box. But he gave his tent and all the other stuff to the other --

What they do, they share their load. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Right. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: But somehow they got separated because the icebergs going and not following each other. This person trying to go through the less icebergs in order to get out there. So when you do that you’re -- you lose track. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: So when he did that, he happened to go across the crack and the ice just took him right out. So he had to spend a couple of days out there.

KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. Did he have dogs with him? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. JOHN GOODWIN: His dogs were with him.

When he first started going out, he had a chance at coming in 'cause that ice turned to where it hit the main ice. And he got his dogs to go across it, and he was gonna go across, you know, on floating ice.

But his dog hook got caught on the ice under here. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah. JOHN GOODWIN: So he couldn’t pull it. What he could’ve done was just cut it. But he couldn’t get it out.

So by that time he tried to get it out, it open up a big gap and he didn’t wanna take a chance. It was early spring.

He didn’t want to get his dogs to get wet because they’re -- he know they’re not gonna make it. He -- he could’ve saved 'em but he was -- didn’t wanna lose his dogs. KAREN BREWSTER: No.

JOHN GOODWIN: So he turned them around and come back to the ice he was floating on. And he stayed there. Got some seal and feed the dogs, feed them, but as the ice went out it just keep breaking and keep breaking. Get smaller and smaller, and during the night even getting smaller.

He just figured, you know, that’s probably it. But he could’ve saved himself. And leave his dogs. But he didn’t want to leave his dogs.

His other option was just to go ahead and shoot all the dogs and leave. You know, he didn’t want to see his dogs suffer. But he took that chance in trying to, you know, save all of them. Him and the dogs.

So when -- in the morning it was kinda thick enough for him to go on top over and there's a lot of open holes. So he just -- he got his kayak loose, on top of the sled, get his rifle, and let his dogs go.

If they do go through, he’s just going to shoot them all and, you know, that was his last -- he knew he had to get out.

KAREN BREWSTER: So did the ice move back around to a place he could get across? JOHN GOODWIN: No, it’s frozen. About an inch. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, oh. Oh, oh. JOHN GOODWIN: Overnight. KAREN BREWSTER: So he --

JOHN GOODWIN: So, salt water overnight after about 24 hours, 20-some hours, maybe, it’s thick enough to where you can walk it. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. JOHN GOODWIN: You know, it’s rubbery. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm. Mm.

JOHN GOODWIN: It depends on the salinity. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. JOHN GOODWIN: But sometimes you got fresh water it’s not like that. It’s just like rubber.

I walked on overnight water, you know, ice. Put my snowmachine there, and it'll sink right down and I had to move it.

ANDY MAHONEY: Right. What -- what’s the thinnest ice you think that you’ve walked on? JOHN GOODWIN: I’ve walked on? ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah. JOHN GOODWIN: Probably an inch. ANDY MAHONEY: An inch. JOHN GOODWIN: Salt water. ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah. Sa -- salt water, yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: When -- I -- I wouldn’t do it on fresh water. ANDY MAHONEY: No it just shatters. JOHN GOODWIN: Fall apart. ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah, yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: Me and my -- my uncle fell through with his -- with his dog team one time. We were trying to go home -- go across the bay like that. Lot of icebergs here and he wanted to cut across.

But basically because we had to camp, you know, I had a lot of dog food, I had a lot of dog food. I -- I ran 18 dogs. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. ANDY MAHONEY: Oh, you said you had a few. JOHN GOODWIN: I was -- I was 18. ANDY MAHONEY: Oof.

JOHN GOODWIN: I was a young man. Everybody had eight dogs, ten dogs. And I got double their horsepower. And I’m home twice as -- earlier than they are.

ANDY MAHONEY: Wow. So you ran 18 at a time? JOHN GOODWIN: Then -- ANDY MAHONEY: You ran all of them? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. And it was -- it was a convenience. But lot of work. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm. JOHN GOODWIN: Lot of work. But I enjoyed it. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm.

JOHN GOODWIN: They used to call me Crazy Man. Don’t you go out with 18 dogs, they’re just gonna leave you, they’re not going to --

Okay, you think they’re going to run away with me, you watch. I took off. Go long ways and I fall off, just lay there.

So when my leader knows I was not around he took the whole team without even tangling, go all the way around. Come right up to me. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm. KAREN BREWSTER: That’s a good lead dog. ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah. JOHN GOODWIN: Mm-hm, mm-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: Good dog.

JOHN GOODWIN: And dogs, all 18 dogs didn’t crumble up. Just like somebody put the hook, they all stand at attention and stop. ANDY MAHONEY: That’s a good team.

JOHN GOODWIN: And that’s when everybody quit worrying about me. It happened -- they see that happen. ANDY MAHONEY: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

JOHN GOODWIN: I did that a lot of times, you know. When I was training them. I did -- I did that training out in the country. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm.

JOHN GOODWIN: Especially when I’m little ways from home to my camp. I’d fall off and lay down. And they wanna go home, but they gotta go get me. ANDY MAHONEY: Wow. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. JOHN GOODWIN: They turn around and go get me. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

JOHN GOODWIN: Boy, I see the dogs happy, smiling, tails wagging at first they come over to me. I wasn't really -- watching my leader and they’re really looking at my eyes, looking at me. See if I’m gonna move and I’m not moving.

They start licking me, both sides, you know. And then I'd open my eyes, holy cow their eyes just perk up, smiling. And all them other dogs are I -- I know they’re feeling happy.

KAREN BREWSTER: A snowmachine can’t do that for you. JOHN GOODWIN: No. Nope.

KAREN BREWSTER: You were talking about how -- like with Doc Harris, they all went in different directions, they don’t all follow one trail out to the lead?

JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah, I mean, when it’s jumbled ice like that, you normally they try to look for a better trail to get out there. KAREN BREWSTER: To go around the jumbled, you go --

JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. Yeah, in order to get to the open lead. And that’s what happened. Somehow they -- miscommunication and didn’t know where he went either. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: And they -- at the end of the day they thought he went home. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ANDY MAHONEY: Oh, right.

JOHN GOODWIN: You know, that’s the only thought you’re gonna have. He probably went home, ‘cause he couldn’t go through it. But --

KAREN BREWSTER: It’s -- it’s -- I find it interesting that everybody kind of finds their own way instead of just everybody follows each other. JOHN GOODWIN: I know, we -- we normally do that.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, you normally just follow? JOHN GOODWIN: Yup, we follow together. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

JOHN GOODWIN: I got that tape. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. JOHN GOODWIN: He -- he -- I think Park Service got it. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. ANDY MAHONEY: Oh, okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: The jumbled ice, those -- that ivu, is that what you’re talking about? JOHN GOODWIN: Ivu, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Did that used to be -- how -- has it changed in -- out there? JOHN GOODWIN: Oh, big time. There’s no more -- it don’t ivu as much as -- like it is -- used to before. ‘Cause we don’t have that much ice.

You know, at -- at -- I -- I guess in lot of ways, some places there’s lot of ivu. More. ‘Cause the ice is so thin.

Over here in Espenberg, you know, right there in this point over here at the end of the thing here, there’s always lot of ivu. And so is over here. KAREN BREWSTER: Hmm.

JOHN GOODWIN: Krusenstern side. Like right now you’ll see we got a lot of ivu over here. ANDY MAHONEY: Okay, yup. Yup.

JOHN GOODWIN: And it’s always a no no not to camp behind one of those. KAREN BREWSTER: Why? ANDY MAHONEY: ‘Cause of the ivu --

JOHN GOODWIN: The ice, when it moves -- this is constantly moving, springtime. ANDY MAHONEY: Hm. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: It could climb on top the ice like this here, and climb up. Keep going on -- as a big cake. ANDY MAHONEY: Uh-huh. JOHN GOODWIN: And climb up that hill over here behind it.

Me and my -- KAREN BREWSTER: And then it falls to the other side? JOHN GOODWIN: You know Siikauraq, right? ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. JOHN GOODWIN: Siikauraq’s dad and I --

I was out caribou hunting and I knew they were gonna go out but I was one day late. So he knew that I’m gonna go out so he came over and asked me if I -- he could follow. So I said okay, let’s go look for them. So we did and we went over to Espenberg and here they went up north.

But when we got over here the wind was blowing, west wind, cold. So we decided we were gonna have to spend the night here, you know, over here somewhere and just go home or try to see what happens tomorrow.

So when we got over here we go up to the ivuniqs and climb up, and we were binocular-ing, you know. Try to see if we can see anybody.

But out here was just constant ice moving. It moving really, moving north fast. ‘Cause that -- the current change north for a while and it come back, maybe two hours. Then come back. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: So the wind was pushing it. At the same time, it was moving pretty fast and we look at it, it was about a mile out maybe.

But here -- the ivuniqs are over here and we’re on the ground. But maybe couple hundred -- yeah three hundred yards maybe was the -- was the ground.

So we said let’s go to the ground and camp. Man, look how warm it is, real comfortable, no more wind on the other side of it and it’s higher than that. The ivuniqs are higher, maybe must be about 30 feet high.

And he say -- I said that ice is moving out there. He say "Yeah, we're looking and look at it. See it with binoculars." He said, "I don’t think it’s gonna come up."

So we camp on the -- on the other side where it’s warm. And about 5 o’clock in the morning, I mean, you know, we had our sleds this way and the tent between and our dogs strung out, you know, with the leader in the front. We were always prepared like that in order to -- if something happen -- ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm. JOHN GOODWIN: Anytime your leaders are on the front, pull the hook and you can take off. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: So we were there and my leader don’t bark just to be -- bark.

So it was 5 o’clock and I hear him ruff. Ruff. I knew he either see -- there’s something going on, maybe there’s a polar bear. He see something or something’s happening outside. I went to the tent and I opened it, the flap, and he looking towards me but he was looking up.

So I poked my head out the tent and I -- oh boy, that ice had climbed up and ready to drop.

And that ice was a little -- about two and a half feet thick. ANDY MAHONEY: Wow, yeah, I’ve seen that -- JOHN GOODWIN: Almost three feet -- ANDY MAHONEY: -- up in Barrow.

JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. Once it got on top the ice, that whole thing it slide right on there and went right on top the ivuniqs. ANDY MAHONEY: Wow.

JOHN GOODWIN: And climb up and then I holler at Claude, "Oh, we got to get out of here." So we jumped out and I ran out and I untied with -- I just put my boots in there. I see if hit anything -- I think -- we didn’t tie them, we just put them on any way we can. ANDY MAHONEY: Uh huh.

JOHN GOODWIN: Boy, I put everything what I can on my side on the sled, tent and all, and then he start grabbing some. Then I run over to my leaders and then unsnap the -- the hook. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: Run back and pull the hook and then get -- So I moved about 30 feet or 40 feet, I didn’t move very far. Put the hook down and run back and go help him, he was so slow. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: I grabbed his leader, unhook his leader, I grabbed him and finally got -- pulled the hook and we left and he stopped -- go -- we went over there, you know, away from that ice and then we start putting our gear on. ANDY MAHONEY: Hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: And looking at -- oh boy, I’ll say another -- about another three or four minutes we maybe -- maybe or so -- pjew -- ANDY MAHONEY: Wow.

JOHN GOODWIN: It fell down. When we looked at it, we’d been under the ice. I had 18 dogs so 10 of mine would’ve been alive. And two of his. ANDY MAHONEY: Wow. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

JOHN GOODWIN: But that was another no no. ANDY MAHONEY: Mm-hm.

JOHN GOODWIN: Happens when you’re not careful. If you’re -- you know, we did that. But that was -- I mean, I -- we were not about to tell a soul. But people found out later. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

JOHN GOODWIN: That was crazy. Boy, I’m telling you. That was --

ANDY MAHONEY: So you -- you were out here by Espenberg? JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah.

ANDY MAHONEY: And -- and then this was the -- that was fast ice, too, moving across -- JOHN GOODWIN: Yeah. Here -- here -- it -- it was right -- here’s -- here’s the point over here, it was about over here. ANDY MAHONEY: Okay, and you -- and you were seal hunting? JOHN GOODWIN: The houses -- you know the houses -- you know the houses over here, about between. ANDY MAHONEY: Okay.

And you were seal hunting? Is that why you were there? JOHN GOODWIN: Mm-hm. Yeah. We were out seal hunting. ANDY MAHONEY: Yeah.