Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Steve Oomittuk, Part 1

Steve Oomittuk was interviewed on June 2, 2017 by Karen Brewster at the Tuzzy Consortium Library in Utqiaġvik, Alaska (formerly known as Barrow). Steve lives in Point Hope, but was in Utqiaġvik attending the 2017 North Slope Elders/Youth Conference and was able to take time away from sessions to participate in this interview. In this first part of a two part interview, Steve talks about being raised by his grandparents and learning to hunt on the shorefast sea ice, ice conditions around Point Hope, and how things have been changing in his lifetime. He discusses the effect of wind and current on ice conditions, getting caught on drifting ice, and changes in the timing of freeze-up and how that has effected their traditional celebration of the coming of slush ice (qinu). He also mentions the importance of listening to elders and of adhering to traditional taboos to ensure whaling success.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2013-25-40_PT.1

Project: Sea Ice Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Jun 2, 2017
Narrator(s): Steve Oomittuk
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Denali Whiting
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
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

Personal and family background

Traditional lifestyle of seal hunting and needing to understand the ice and the weather

Difference between current and ice conditions on the north and south side of the point around Point Hope

Being raised by his grandparents and learning from them and their stories

Determining safe ice for walking, hunting seals at breathing holes, and technique for walking on thin ice

Rescuing yourself in moving ice by using hunting stool and a paddle

Techniques for hunting seals

Changes in the timing of freeze-up and slush ice celebration

Times when Point Hope did not catch any whales, and effect of dance performance on ice and whales

Effect of wind and current on ice conditions

Pressure ridges (ivu), and evacuating to a safe place if the ice changes

Dangers of ice coming off from underneath the shorefast ice and of ice cracks, and the importance of paying attention

Getting caught on drifting ice and being rescued

Changing ice conditions and climate change

Coming of the new ice celebration, and impact on whaling and subsistence from taboos being broken

Learning how to be safe on the ice, the effect of current, and hunting at Wrangell Island

Dangerous wind, and using wind to determine direction

Getting caught in moving ice when walrus hunting, and dangers of the current on the north side of the point in the Point Hope area

Importance of listening to the elders

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Transcript

KAREN BREWSTER: This is Karen Brewster and today is June 2nd, 2017, and I’m here in Barrow, Alaska with Steve Oomittuk who is from Point Hope. And we’re going to be talking about the sea ice and his experiences in Point Hope.

Steve, can you just start by telling me a little bit about yourself. When and where you were born, growing up, things like that.

STEVE OOMITTUK: My name is Steve Oomittuk. I was born in Point Hope, Alaska. Tikiġaq. 1962, May 8.

I was -- I was born in my grandmother’s sod house. And I was born sick and -- and they thought I wouldn’t make it.

And my grandmother -- you know, they were worried 'cause so many babies were dying in that year.

In the -- you know, from the late '50s to early '60s of Iodine 131 that was going on and the Project Chariot and everything that was there.

And the people of Point Hope, you know, depended on the ocean for the food.

But my grandmother’s -- my grandmother was adopted out to Attungana's family. And, you know, he -- they thought I wasn’t gonna make it, so she went to see her biological father to ask if she can come over and name me.

And she to me -- to give me these names to make me stronger so I can live. And so he came over, ‘cause he was a -- she didn’t wanna go see him ‘cause he was a aŋatkuq (shaman).

And -- but he came over and he gave me these three names: Sitchaqruq, Atungan, Innauqvik (spellings per Steve Oomittuk), and -- to make me stronger so I can live.

And, you know -- and, you know, I am here today. You know, there’s many times that I thought I wouldn’t make it, but I’m still here.

You know, I’ve been in several accidents and, you know -- and the knowledge I know of Point Hope and the history and the culture.

You know, I -- I came to Barrow in ’72 with my father when he helped form the borough, and he moved us here from Point Hope. Tikiġaq. But I lived with my grandparents.

My -- my -- my grandfather on my dad’s side was born in 1900, and my dad’s mom was born in 1903. Those are the guess -- the years they were born.

Sometimes they say they were older than that -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: They didn’t have a -- a year, you know -- KAREN BREWSTER: No birth certificates. STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. Or -- yeah. Or what month. They knew -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- they knew they were born in spring. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, they could say, "Oh, five springs ago or -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- ten winters ago." KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: Or Falls, you know. It was -- it was like that.

On my mom’s side, my mom’s parents was born in 1913 and 1917. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: My mom was the oldest of -- of them, and my dad was the youngest on his family. The youngest male.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what were your parent's names? STEVE OOMITTUK: Othneil and Georgianne Oomittuk. KAREN BREWSTER: Othneil, okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: Othneil, yeah.

And my -- my dad’s parents were Guy and Daisy Oomittuk. And -- and Barbara and Jacob Lane.

And they whaled all their life. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: Always been out on the ice. It was a daily thing.

Every day when -- when they went -- went out of the house in the morning when they woke up, they looked at the sky, they looked towards the mountains to see, you know, ‘cause they knew what the weather was gonna be like.

If it was a good day to go hunting or is it a good day just to stay home and work on your tools, or you know, do stuff. You know, ‘cause it was a daily thing. To go out on the ice.

They -- they didn’t take their dogteams out on the ice to hunt seals. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: They only -- they would just bring a little sled. They would bring their -- walk and they had a little -- drag -- drag, you know. They had a backpack, like, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And their manaqtuun (seal retrieving hook) and their chair and everything. Their unaaq (ice testing staff). KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, you always had the -- you had these certain things that they used. But they walked. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: They -- they never -- and they -- they knew the ice. You know, and it was -- they some -- you know, a lot of Tikiġagmiis, women -- the wives -- have lost their husbands. ‘Cause they never came back home. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: From the ice. Some of them have been married twice, three times, you know. And some of them never remarried. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause, you know, in the old days they -- when -- when their husband didn’t go home, they used to hang their mukluks up. And they would swing. If they were swinging, they knew that their husband was still moving. The other pair of mukluks. They knew that he was still alive out on the ice.

And -- and -- you know, they -- they hunted at the -- Nuvuk. Most of everybody hunted at Nuvuk. When there’s too many people at Nuvuk, they went elsewhere.

These were during the dark months when -- when seal -- you know, you had to have seal for your seal oil lamp or your stove or, you know -- it was their food. Your dogs, your meat.

Certain parts of the seal went to the -- The ocean is our garden. It -- it -- it fed us, clothed us, sheltered us. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, even though we’d -- you know, we live out on a point. We have the -- we have the north side and we have the south side, the Chukchi Sea. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: And the Bering. And the Bering Strait is straight out, you know.

The elders talked about, you know, that we'd never -- they never go hunt on the north side. Towards the north. It’s always on the south side from Nuvuk all the way -- all through there from Nuvuk.

That’s where the channels and the seals. And you know, you could -- you could hunt seals, you know, in breathing holes, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: There’s no current on the north side. KAREN BREWSTER: There’s no current? STEVE OOMITTUK: No current.

The current -- the current goes this way. And around. It used to be -- it used to be a hook like this. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. STEVE OOMITTUK: Of land. There was like a big bay.

You know, they -- they talked about -- My grandmother talked -- ‘cause her grandmother talked about it. When -- when -- when Tikiġaq was like this, see, there’s Cape Lisburne. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: There’s Cape Thompson.

Tikiġaq, when you point, you make the map of Point Hope. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: There’s Tikiġaq, that’s your -- KAREN BREWSTER: That’s your finger. STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, your pointer finger. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Tikiġaq is your -- KAREN BREWSTER: Your pointer finger. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- your -- the -- the fingernail. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh huh, okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And Tikiġaq is out here. But in the old days, they said that it was like this.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, and it’s all eroded away? STEVE OOMITTUK: There was a hook. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and from the point, you could see Cape Lisburne. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: Almost straight across. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, that makes sense.

STEVE OOMITTUK: But the houses -- See, the current goes this way. When -- when it ivu, when the ice comes in -- KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: When it ivu, it hits that -- that shallow part, that land that used to be land. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And it -- and it -- and it always, you know, the high ridges are always the same spot. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Always the same spot. ‘Cause it’s shallow there. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and -- and it was like a bay. You know, and the -- the men long ago used to hunt at the Nuvuk, at the very point.

But the sod houses were over here, where the land -- there were sharp. There was a lot of rocks. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And a lot of the rocks used to be sharp, you know, sharp like a -- like from the cliffs. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: (phone ringing) I think that’s mine -- okay -- KAREN BREWSTER: Is that your phone? Oh, I forgot that --

STEVE OOMITTUK: It -- yeah. You know, my grandmother -- You know, I was raised with my grandparents. I was the -- I was my dad’s oldest son. And my mom’s oldest son.

And their -- my dad’s parents were born, like I said, in 1900 and 1903. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: And they were very elderly in the '60s.

And -- and they -- and I used to have to water and feed dogs. So I would -- I stayed with my grandparents. I slept by their feet. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: As I was growing up. And I -- I -- we had no electricity and we had to get water and wood. And that was my daily chore. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And to follow my grandfather to go fishing and do stuff around, you know, ‘cause I was his oldest grandson. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and they would -- and my grandfather was an elderly man in their 60s. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: And my grandmother.

And they used to tell stories and -- and the men would gather at the house sometimes and they would talk about the old days.

And my grandmother, you know, who was married twice, you know. How dangerous -- they used to talk about how dangerous the ice is 'cause my grandmother’s first husband -- they lived at Cape Lisburne.

My -- you know, ‘cause there was so many hunters at Point Hope they had houses at Cape Lisburne and Cape Thompson. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: The population of Point Hope at the high peak was around four thousand people. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STEVE OOMITTUK: In 1823, there was a big war and then -- there was about a thousand or so were killed. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And the population never came back. But they out -- they had the outskirts of Point Hope, the Cape Lisburne area.

'Cause there was too many hunters at Nuvuk at Point Hope, so they have lot of sod houses over here that -- the Tikiġagmiut people -- KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: And they always go back to Point Hope to go whaling. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: But they hunted, like I said, the daily thing was to hunt the seal. They had to know the ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: The thickness. What is safe to walk on.

Fresh water ice is not the same as salt water ice. There’s a difference. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: How flexible. Fresh -- fresh water ice is not flexible. You break through that stuff. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: Very easily.

Salt water ice you can -- you can walk on it. 'Cause it -- it -- it’s -- it's flexible.

KAREN BREWSTER: So how thin can you -- ? STEVE OOMITTUK: Oh, you could walk on -- You know, when you’re walking, you could walk on thin ice.

When you watch a polar bear, when -- you know, when -- ‘cause, you know, in the old days when -- when you used to -- when they hunted the seal every day, they act like the seal, too, you know. To catch up with.

You know, they -- not everybody had rifles and everything, or so many bullets. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: You know.

And then they -- some of them still used the spears.

And -- and, you know, how they used to lay down, they had a skin and they’d act like a seal. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: To get as close as they could to the seal. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and act like -- and it will rest -- and, you know, the seal, when they -- they call them qakumaruks (seals basking on the ice). You know, they have a breathing hole. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And they’re laying on the ice. But they’re on -- they’re on sikuliaq. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: They’re on thin ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And, you know, you have to spread out your weight to walk, you know, on those. And it was a -- it was a dangerous thing to do, you know, that they -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Not the heavy people would be out there. There was thin people, you know, the -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- only, you know, at a certain weight, you know, you could withstand that ice and -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: The -- the polar bears did the same thing, too. When you watch a polar bear out on the ice when he’s sneaking on a seal, he -- when he wants to cross a sikuliaq.

You know, I watch polar bears come across from, you know, and I could see the ice going like this, you know, waving.

'Cause he’s -- when -- when they’re walking and as he -- as he gets further out he starts spreading and -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: You know just --

In the old days, they, you know, they talk about, you know, if you -- when you anaq (poop) in your pants and how you walk, your legs spread, you know.

And that’s how the polar bear’s do. They spread and they're like they -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- they anaq in their pants, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And they would spread their legs and as the ice gets thinner, then they lay down and they spread their arms out this way and their -- then make it flat.

And they use their claws -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, right. STEVE OOMITTUK: And they could -- and you could see the ice going like this, you know, like a wave. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh, yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And still withstanding them, you know. And that’s, you know, when they want to cross.

But on the thicker ice, they can go slow and they move slowly, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh huh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And they could go up to the seal. They -- you have to know the wind direction, you know, ‘cause they can smell.

And -- and it was dangerous for -- ‘cause -- ‘cause the polar bear and -- and the people, the Tikiġagmiuts, they hunted the same animal. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and -- and the men would act like a seal. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Polar bears have bad eyesight. But they have a good nose. And -- and sometimes they would mistake a man for a seal -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: -- and go after him, you know. And sometimes they get him, but -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, really? STEVE OOMITTUK: -- you know, and there’s been --

But, you know, you have to know the ice conditions. And -- and how far you had -- they walked. And their unaaq, you always had to have your unaaq.

You always had this, your tri -- a little -- a little triangular seat with three -- KAREN BREWSTER: A little stool. STEVE OOMITTUK: A stool. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And you had your manaqtuun in there to retrieve.

And you had a rope around it, and you had it on your back in a little backpack. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And your unaaq. ‘Cause if you uit (to break away from shorefast ice), if the ice broke off -- KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: -- you could use that little seat and put your unaaq in through there. It had a little triangular hole in the center. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah, yeah. I’ve seen that, yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and -- and they could make a aŋuaq. They could make an oar. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: They could put their unaaq through there and there’s a little string that goes -- and they’d put the other part in so that it -- like a paddle. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And they could get on a little piece -- if -- if the lead is not that close when they uit and they could get on a piece of ice and they could paddle -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- over to the ice. To the other side. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. And -- and, you know, with their manaqtuun -- they have a manaqtuun, you know, a ball. KAREN BREWSTER: With -- with the hooks on it? STEVE OOMITTUK: With the hooks on it, yeah. They -- they call it. And they have one as a sinker.

You know, when -- when they invent -- when they learned the -- when the rifles started coming in, they could start shooting seals from further -- KAREN BREWSTER: Mm. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- away.

So they invented the manaqtuuns in the 1800s when the commercial whalers came 'cause they started getting into rifle.

In the old days, they had the harpoons and they go by the breathing holes and wait for the seals.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, right. Then they didn’t need the manaqtuun? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, they didn’t need the manaqtuuns and then -- and -- and -- you know, ‘cause they could --

You could hear when a seal is coming to the breathing hole, you know. And -- and you could hear it coming. And they wait for it when it gets real loud. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause the first -- when you hear it first, they’re -- they're still kinda down. You don’t know how thick the ice is -- some -- there're certain parts where the ice is real four or five feet thick. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: In certain areas.

But seals have breathing holes ‘cause when -- when a seal makes a breathing hole he keeps it open as the ice gets thicker and thicker. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And he keeps it open all winter. Certain areas. And that’s when you find the certain one, when they’re coming into these tunnel, you know --KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- to go up to go get the fresh breath -- you know, air.

If -- the seals that stay all winter. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: In the ice --

In the old days, the ice used to -- they didn’t open that much. It only, you know, once the ice qiqit (to freeze up), when it freeze, you know, when it qinu (forms a thin layer of slush ice). KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause when we celebrate the born of the ice and we bring the whale’s tail out, when the first slush ice is formed.

Used to be in October, you know. First part of October, late September sometimes, in the old days. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And it start -- you know, it’s going further and further. This year, first time we had it in November.

KAREN BREWSTER: That was 2016? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, just -- yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, this last year. STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, yeah, this last November. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: We celebrate the born of the ice in November. Like November 10. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, right before -- KAREN BREWSTER: Thanksgiving? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, right before Thanksgiving.

KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. So Point Hope is one place that still does that celebrating the ice -- ? STEVE OOMITTUK: Oh, yeah, it’s the only place that does that. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. And --

STEVE OOMITTUK: When we bring the whale’s tail out, the aŋirruk (base of the whale’s tail) -- KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: We -- you catch a whale, you, you know --

There’s two times in my lifetime when Point Hope didn’t catch a whale. ‘Cause the ice didn’t go out.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, the lead never opened? STEVE OOMITTUK: The lead never opened.

And then when it opened, it got real windy and strong and all the ice left.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you had no shorefast ice either? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, no shorefast ice and -- and we didn’t have no ugruk. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: We didn’t have no seals. It was a -- no belugas.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Do you remember what years that was? Or approximately what decade, maybe? STEVE OOMITTUK: 1990. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: Around 1990. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: See there’s -- we do these old custom dances. They had a Kivgiq in February. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: I’m trying to remember, was it in 1990. They had a Kivgiq and Barrow revived their kalukaq. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: Their box drum dance. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Some of the Tikiġagmiis. The older, not the older ones, the middle aged ones at that time -- KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: They wanted to show what they had. So they wanted to do the utuqqaqtuuti's, the old custom dances. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: These old custom dances are rituals that predict our hunting season. If we’re gonna have a good --

Certain things have to fall in place, if we’re going to have a good hunting for the animals. The animals know these things.

And Patrick Attungana, who was one of the oldest elders at that time, said, "You can’t do it." He stood up front in the crowd.

You know, they -- they said, you know, Point Hope people gonna do the utuqqaqtuuti's. And -- but they’re not gonna allow no photographs or no filming.

KAREN BREWSTER: Recording, yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: Recording.

And -- and -- the -- the place just filled up, you know. In the gym. It was the new gym at the time. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And Patrick -- Right before they started, Patrick Attungana spoke in his -- in Iñupiaq. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And talking about these utuqqaqtuuti's. That these songs and dances were meant to stay in Tikiġaq.

If you want to see them, you have to go to Tikiġaq. You have to see them with your own eyes. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You have to hear them with your own ears. They can’t be taken out of the village or it’s going to bring bad luck to us.

You -- you -- you can’t do them. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: You’re -- you’re not in Tikiġaq. We can’t do them in Utqiaġvik. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Utqiaġvimiis wanna see ‘em, they got to go to Tikiġaq. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And he walked out. And I -- I walked out with him, too, you know, and --

And, but they did them. But they didn’t do -- you know, they didn’t have the curtain, they didn’t have the -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right, they didn’t have all the --

STEVE OOMITTUK: -- puppet. They didn’t have everything. They just sang some of the songs and they did the dances.

And -- and this was February. Come April when it was time to whale, everybody was, you know, the Mar --

You know, when we'd go home, we'd start getting ready in March. You know, the ice. And we had, you know -- we had a lot of --

Back then the ice was always thick. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh huh. STEVE OOMITTUK: It -- so it wasn’t opened very often. Not like today, you know. Thick ice.

And, you know, they talked about these big ivuniqs (pressure ridges) and you could see the big -- You know, out in that certain ridge the ices were always, you know, big.

KAREN BREWSTER: Like hundreds of feet tall? STEVE OOMITTUK: Oh, yeah. Big. Real big.

You could go, you could see 'em from long ways. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: You know.

You'd climb up and you could see all around. You know, on towards Nuvuk on that side. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: On the -- or the hook, right there. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Where -- And the ice stayed in. We had south wind. South wind. Never opened.

We need north wind to open our lead so we can hunt. We need east wind so the ice can blow to the west further south to let the animals come up north.

You know, ‘cause through the Bering, through the channel, you know, when they had it further south they need to have east wind to open it up so that they can come up the channel.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay, so you need east wind south of you to open a chan -- a pathway? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and -- and then we need north wind to open the ch -- on the south, ‘cause we don’t hunt on the north side. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: We got no current. The animals come through here. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: The first current starts about ten to fourteen miles out from town. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: From the point and maybe seven, ten miles. You know, but -- KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, towards the later part of April, first of May, the currents come closer. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, five miles out to two miles out by the point. And then -- then right on the edge come June, you know, June. When it’s time to hunt ugruks. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And the ice coming out, you know, and breaking up. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Currents get stronger. It -- it eats -- the currents eat away. You know, the ivuniqs, what’s on top, there’s three quarter below. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: Of the ice, you know, the wake. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And once the currents get stronger you have to, you know, when it starts they call it muġaala (chunks of slushy ice). When ice is coming from under -- under the ice. Ice is coming out. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: It’s muġaalaqing. It’s vomit -- vomiting. The ice is -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: The ice from underneath.

KAREN BREWSTER: So it’s coming from underneath? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. ‘Cause the current is eating the bottom. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And you have to watch out for that ‘cause once the -- once it gets too light down below, on top, above, gonna katak (fall). KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: It’s gonna pheow.

KAREN BREWSTER: Fall through, yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: Gonna get too heavy. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause it's three quarters is below. Once it starts eating the bottom and when they start to see that muġaala, they know it’s gonna get dangerous. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: The current is getting strong under there. The ice is coming out -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- from underneath. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: It -- it’s muġaala.

KAREN BREWSTER: That’s a dangerous thing? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, that’s a dangerous thing.

KAREN BREWSTER: So if you’re at the lead edge and you see that? STEVE OOMITTUK: Oh, yeah, yeah. Sometimes we -- you know, that’s why when we’re out whaling we have to have everything close to the boat.

When -- when we’re in -- when we’re in a bad ivuniqs or we -- we try to go to qaiqsuaq (smooth ice between areas of rough ice). Qaiqsuaq is a flat ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And it’s thick, you know. But when -- there’s some years when it ivu -- KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: There’s so many ivuniqs when it’s too rough. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: We get a lot of south wind and it ivu and -- and all that qaiqsuaq is -- is gone. There’s no place for us --

Some years we, you know, we have no choice but we have to carve these deep things for our boat, for our ammuq (place at ice edge for whaling boat and camp). KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. For watching.

STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause we have no -- yeah -- to -- to go out, you know, after a whale. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: We have to carve into the ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and -- but we have to -- we have to leave our -- They used to have to leave -- our tents are a mile back. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, on the flat ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. You -- you call that Naŋiaqtuġvik? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, the -- KAREN BREWSTER: Same thing, yeah? Your safe camp? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, that’s -- that's where, yeah, they -- Yeah, around here, yeah. They use that.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, that’s what they call it here. What do they call it in Point Hope? STEVE OOMITTUK: Uh, they -- You know, they never used to. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: They never had -- they never had tents out there. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: They never made fire. They never cook out there. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, that’s right. That’s right. STEVE OOMITTUK: They never -- KAREN BREWSTER: It's bad. STEVE OOMITTUK: There were certain -- Yeah, it’d bring bad luck. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: What they brought out, you know, they never cooked. They eat everything frozen. KAREN BREWSTER: Right, right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: In those day. What they brought on their boats. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: And the uquuttaq.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, the windbreak. STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, the windbreak. So that when -- when it was in an emergency, you just throw everything in the boat, phoew, and you go. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You could tie your skin onto your boat if you have time. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: And you could go in the water with it. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, I see. STEVE OOMITTUK: With your boat tied. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: With -- I’ve done it before. KAREN BREWSTER: On -- on the sled underneath the boat? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. Underneath the boat. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And you tie it and you put stuff and you know, you get --and we’ve done that a few times. I barely made it out a few times where the ice was breaking and just pushed us out, you know. We --

There’s several times in my lifetime out on the ice where it’s happened. Barely made it. And we paddled and we went to the good ice further south. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: Further north. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And to the qaiqsuaq and pulled up on other people’s ammuq.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you -- you evacuated by umiaq? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, by umiaq. KAREN BREWSTER: Instead of going back by snowmachine? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, instead of going back 'cause it was -- yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause our -- the machines were a good two, three hundred yards -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- over there. We had no time to -- KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STEVE OOMITTUK: We had no time. We just had time to throw things in the boat and --

KAREN BREWSTER: So can you tell me more about when those times happened? Like what were the conditions and what caused it? STEVE OOMITTUK: It was -- you know, ‘cause -- ‘cause there was no qaiqsuaq. There was no flat ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: We -- when -- when we umiaq -- when we're on -- we had somewhat south wind that it ivu. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Strong south wind that it broke up -- it broke up the --

KAREN BREWSTER: So was ice coming in and hitting where you were? STEVE OOMITTUK: No. KAREN BREWSTER: Or it was just -- it was breaking -- STEVE OOMITTUK: No, no, no. It was breaking off from underneath. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay, oh. Okay. Right, right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: It was later, you know, later in the -- KAREN BREWSTER: It was muġa -- muġala? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, muġaala. KAREN BREWSTER: Muġaala.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, it was -- It's -- It was muġaala. Once it start muġaaling from one side, and it’s a chain reaction. It goes -- they -- they -- there might be a -- a -- you know, a crack in that. Quppaq (open ice crack). KAREN BREWSTER: Mmh-mm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, once -- once that current starts eating, that’s why you have to be ready. You know, and pay attention.

You see -- we've seen -- we notice the other crews next door really, you know, we didn’t have much CB’s and -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- in those, you know. They wave the oar.

But they were really moving fast and throwing stuff on the -- and we, oh man, and so we start getting out. Then we barely -- KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- made it. So you have to pay attention.

You have to, you know, when you’re out on the ice, you know, the younger people have to understand that this is dangerous out there. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You have to know the ice conditions, you have to pay attention.

Nowadays, they have so much distractions, you know. You have to be quiet. You know, they’re all on their cell phones, and da, da, da. You know, texting or playing games. You know, you -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: In the old days, we used to have to sit there and watch. Listen. Be quiet. Pay attention to the wind direction. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Watch -- watch the ice. Check the cracks, you know. Take the -- you know, things are slow, we take a walk and go look how the cracks are. See if they’re getting any wider.

KAREN BREWSTER: So has that happened that you went and checked the crack and it was getting wider? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. It was, yeah. You got to keep checking.

But we notice that the other crew -- You pay attention to your other crew. Your neighbors. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, if it -- And it was -- and then it broke and then it started coming off all the way along. ‘Cause it sets a chain reaction. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: Once it starts on one side, it sets a chain reaction.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, you said it happened to you a few times and you -- STEVE OOMITTUK: Oh, yeah. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: All the same with the mu -- mui -- muġaala.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Not, not -- no, not with muġaala. KAREN BREWSTER: No? STEVE OOMITTUK: But with the wind. KAREN BREWSTER: The wind?

STEVE OOMITTUK: When we were aġviaqing (whaling), when we were cutting and it -- you know, we were thirteen, fourteen miles out and it broke off seven miles back. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and broke up and we barely made it. We didn’t make it, we drifted out and they had to get us with helicopter. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. STEVE OOMITTUK: This was 1989.

KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. So -- so that must’ve been, if it was seven miles behind you where it broke -- STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- it must’ve been a pretty big piece that you were on that -- ?

STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, yeah, it was -- it -- it was big. There was -- there was eleven snowmachines and two three-wheelers. There were three-wheeleres at the time.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And how many people? STEVE OOMITTUK: There was -- each of us was driving, there was thirteen of us. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: There was thirteen. We were cutting up Darryl Frank(son) -- It was the first whale I caught as a harpooner. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: I caught it just with a harpoon. It came up right on the edge of the ice. And they pushed me a half a boat. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: I harpooned it like this straight down. And we were for -- we --

In the last eight, nine years, we haven’t been fourteen miles out there. KAREN BREWSTER: No, that’s a long ways out. STEVE OOMITTUK: Oh, oh yeah.

We, you know, we used to be -- you know, ‘cause our captain, Darryl, liked to be on the end of the north side or on the end of the south side. ‘Cause he -- he -- he like nanuq. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. STEVE OOMITTUK: Polar bears.

KAREN BREWSTER: Polar bears. So he wanted to be far away? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. And so polar bears, you know, we -- he like these nanuqs. And he like the skin. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and when -- In -- in those days, when you’re out on the ice, when you’re out whaling, if you catch a polar bear, the captain keeps the skin. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You just get a share of the meat. This is how things are divided in uattak (to receive a share of the whale) and how a whale is marked. How the way your first whale and everything. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: But you had to pay attention. The number one thing was pay attention to the weather. KAREN BREWSTER: So that -- STEVE OOMITTUK: And the ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: In 1989, when you guys drifted out, you were so far away from the crack, how did you know you were drifting out? STEVE OOMITTUK: Well, the people that were coming down. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And some of them didn’t make it, and they went over there. And some of them -- When you hear three shots. Tck tck tck. When you hear three shots, that’s hey, you know, that’s a warning. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: The ice is breaking off. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Three shots. You hear three rifle, tck, tck, three shots, you know. And they wait for a while. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And then they’ll do tck, tck, tck. That -- that -- that -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: It’s cracking, it’s breaking up.

KAREN BREWSTER: And you guys were too far away to get back over the crack? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: By the time you got back to the crack, -- STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, yeah, by the time we got back -- KAREN BREWSTER: It was -- STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, there -- there -- we let the -- when we hear that we let the women and children go. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And they bring the boats. And some, when they got there the crack was just about this wide. KAREN BREWSTER: Like -- STEVE OOMITTUK: And they just -- just -- KAREN BREWSTER: Ten -- ten feet across? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. And they -- they -- they put their -- they put their umiaq and people just walked -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: -- through the skin boat and -- When we got there it was like from here to Stuaqpak (AC Grocery store). KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And it was real windy. And I -- what we -- it was break -- the ice was breaking up and I had to jump. I had a big piece of muktuk on my snowmachine on my lap. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And I didn’t have a sled on my -- and we were still cutting, we were loading up. We had eleven sled loads and then -- but we made -- but the ice was cracking all up and we make it -- barely making it over a crack. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: But we just made it on this one big piece. And a boat -- a motor boat, we didn’t have very much motor boats -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: In those days. It wasn’t a very big -- we didn’t have big boats.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right, more like a Lund or something? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. A Lund, yeah. Just a motor -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And they -- they came across and they -- they tried to -- this one guy had a brand new snogo, he didn’t wanna leave it. They put it on the boat. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And they bare -- they almost tipped over. They barely made it to the other side. And so they said no, they said, "No, we’re just taking people." KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: "We’re leaving the machines, sled. We’re leaving everything." It was getting windy and rough. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: So they brought us -- we waited three, four hours before they finally came over. About three hours. And got us all over, 'cause, you know, they had to make how many trips. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And it was getting rougher and windy and -- KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. STEVE OOMITTUK: We -- we just made it. But we had to leave --

We put all our machines in the center, ‘cause the ice was breaking off. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: And we put everything in the center.

And search and rescue had this helicopter. North Slope Borough. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: And it was a big one. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: A big helicopter at that time.

And they finally came. And I flew in with them 'cause I -- and I flew with them out to the -- to show them where. And we -- we brought some extra people because we were bringing nets.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, you were gonna sling them back? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. Yeah. And we would -- and we had --

There was three of us that would go down. When we landed, we’d drive the snowmachines into the net and then they would lift them and take 'em to the lead. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: To where -- it was getting windy.

But we got all our sleds and all our snowmachines. We had -- late at night. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And Price Brower was driving and Hugh Patkotak, I think, at the time. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And they -- they didn’t have enough gas. They -- they didn’t wanna use -- ‘cause they were utilizing -- there was no gas at the -- at the -- in Point Hope for them. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: The kinda gas that they need for the -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: In those days.

And they said, "No, we -- we can’t make no more trips. We can’t even drop you off. You got to follow us to Kotzebue. We got -- we gotta go straight to Kotzebue." KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: So we flew real low. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: All the way to Kotzebue. We said, you know, they-- they -- they’re supposed to have a good half hour or so reserve. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: Flying time.

We -- we made it there with about five minutes of reserves. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. STEVE OOMITTUK: Barely. And we were flying low, just twenty feet above the ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Trying to stay aways ‘cause it was windy. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: And in a straight line. Shhh, you know as -- as straight as possible. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: Straight to Kotzebue. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and, you know, if -- if we didn’t -- we -- we would’ve crashed somewhere or we would’ve had to land.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Well, that’s why being close to the ice would’ve been safer. STEVE OOMITTUK: So, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So did you -- did you lose that whale then? You were cutting up? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, we -- we -- we had -- we had three quarters of it all cut up. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: All the body.

It was -- we were just on the head. The head part, we lost the head. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. STEVE OOMITTUK: We were cutting off the baleen and -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- stuff like that. And we lost -- we lost that part.

KAREN BREWSTER: And did you -- you -- did you get all the snowmachines and three wheelers? STEVE OOMITTUK: Oh, yeah. We got all the snowmachines. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, you got all that, okay?

STEVE OOMITTUK: But, you know, the ice at that time was so different, seem like. And it was so much thicker. And so much safer.

And there was a lot of qaiqsuaq. A lot of flat ice in certain, how -- you know, when we go further, further east, you know, we could get on lot of flat ice over there, 'cause there’s not much current -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh huh. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- over that way. Or -- or compared to by the point where it -- where it ivu's. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: And further out on certain areas.

And there're more qaiqsuaqs, but it's -- they don’t like to go out towards that way by -- towards Thompson too much. Everything is at the point. And straight out from town or by Beacon Hill. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: In the -- in the days when they used to -- Nowadays, it’s always mainly by the point and by the -- straight out from town.

KAREN BREWSTER: So how come they didn’t wanna go out around east, you say? STEVE OOMITTUK: Too -- it’s -- it’s a lot further out. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, the lead is lot -- a lot further out.

And then, you know, ‘cause when you’re straight out from town ten, fourteen miles is still --

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, but you said now you don’t go that far. STEVE OOMITTUK: Oh, no. I mean, the last five, six years of -- this year -- this year first time, seven miles out. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. STEVE OOMITTUK: You know.

KAREN BREWSTER: And -- and so why -- ? STEVE OOMITTUK: The years before, the last five -- five years was two hundred yards out. A mile.

KAREN BREWSTER: So why the difference? STEVE OOMITTUK: The -- the ice didn’t freeze up as much. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. STEVE OOMITTUK: It stayed open throughout most of the winter.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. So the lead -- the lead is just happening closer than it used to? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, and the ice is thinner. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, like the ice not freezing like it used to. Warm up’s different. We’ve seen different types of -- more and more of different types of fish. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and like warmer waters. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: It’s not letting it freeze like it used to.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, as you said it used -- you used to have your celebration in October. STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And now it’s November.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. Late -- late September, you know. Between September and early October. And it always snows in -- and it’s raining in January. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Raining in February. These are the coldest time of the year. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, it’s supposed to be. STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. And it’s raining.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. I have a question on that celebrating the qin -- qinu coming. STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Why is that so important that you have a celebration for it? STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause you’re celebrating the born of the ice.

The ice is everything to us. The ice brings the animals. Without the ice, we have no animals.

The ice is -- is a very -- plays a very important thing in our life. Without the ice, we wouldn’t be who we are. We wouldn't be. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: When there’s no ice, there’s no animals. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: We notice that. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: When -- that one year when we did the utuqqaqtuuti's, and then the second time, 2005. 2006, we never catch a whale. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And these -- they still do their utuqqaqtuuti's again. Charlie Kinneeveauk, who was the keeper of the utuqqaqtuuti's, you know, it was passed down. And -- and -- and we only do 'em once a year.

And he was getting old. And he felt that he was losing his memory and -- and that these songs and dances are not recorded.

But he wanted somebody to come and take pictures and write the -- KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: Not -- not record them, but take pictures and write the stories of each scene.

So he invited Bill Hess. And Bill Hess came. And he said, yeah, you know, Bill Hess is a good friend of ours. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, he’s been coming up for -- and he -- he misunderstood what Charlie wanted. He -- Charlie wanted these -- this documented to have in the school library. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: To have in the City. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: To have at the Native Village for safe keeping. In Tikiġaq. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: And then nowhere else. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And he -- and he misunderstood and -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And so he came in 2005, in December, to document the utuqqaqtuuti's when we do them. We do them at the last year. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: Last day of December. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: During the dark months. Before the new year.

And we did the utuqqaqtuuti's. It deals with a curtain, it deals with masks. It deals with puppets. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Suayyaġluq, the dancing. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: The top dance of --

KAREN BREWSTER: And -- and it's -- the purpose is to help prepare for the upcoming season and -- ? STEVE OOMITTUK: It -- it -- Certain things have to happen that will predict our hunting season. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: To make us have a good season. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: The feathers of -- from the owl -- the down feathers on the top, when you pull the top, the feathers have to come out in a dome and spread.

And the animals will be in abundance. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: You know. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Certain songs. There’s the dancing with the two wives. Dancing with -- cooking with -- There’s all these stories that -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- use things. Certain things have to happen. These are the stories. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Uyalu (man dressed as a woman who dances as a woman). The woman who would not marry. The men that try to go dance, but in disguise. Uyalu is a man. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And all -- all the the woman that try to go marry -- men that try to go marry Uyalu. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: Are women in disguise. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: It’s the uiŋga -- you know, the dances, the song. The uiŋuraq (masquerade dance) is -- you know, these are the qargi -- qargis (clan or community house). KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: These are the things. And --

KAREN BREWSTER: So in 2006, you didn’t get a whale because of what had happened with the dancing? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, see what happened was Bill Hess recorded it, and took pictures and wrote the stories.

April came, we were getting ready. This Village Voices magazine came out. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh huh. STEVE OOMITTUK: He was doing stuff for the Anchorage, and there was a thing called Village Voices.

And he had that whole thing, and it went out statewide. And he had all the stories and everything in this.

And it came out first of April. When we were getting ready for -- getting ready to go out whaling. Oh man, there was a lot of people were upset. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: South wind. All -- KAREN BREWSTER: All -- STEVE OOMITTUK: It opened up, somebody -- they caught three belugas. But they were the only guys that were out there.

He -- he came back home to go get help and said, "Hey, the lead’s opening. There’s animals."

He caught three belugas. He tied them to the edge. He go get help. They all go back, the belugas are all gone.

KAREN BREWSTER: ‘Cause the ice came in? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, the ice came in. Ice closed back up. Stayed closed. Never opened again. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STEVE OOMITTUK: So I was -- then -- north wind, phoew, blow all the ice out. All the animals. No ugruks.

KAREN BREWSTER: No ugruks. STEVE OOMITTUK: No whale. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Berries, time for berries. Oh, the berries were just about ready to -- sprout. North wind, cold.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, snow? STEVE OOMITTUK: Froze them all. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: Freeze them all. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: Bad.

KAREN BREWSTER: Bad, bad.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Real bad, real bad year. And these, you know, Tikiġagmiis are one of the most traditional places. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: That keep their ways. That's how they interact amongst each other. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: How they do things. You know, when there’s -- the qargis. You know, how they interact amongst each other. The Qaġmaqtuuq's and the Uŋasiksikaat.

KAREN BREWSTER: So what did you guys do in response? So that the next year -- STEVE OOMITTUK: Oh, they -- never -- never -- Bill -- Bill felt real bad. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: He didn’t come to Point Hope while there was -- he’s been coming back. Yeah, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. But did your qargis -- did you guys do something to -- STEVE OOMITTUK: No, when you -- when we don’t catch a whale -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- nothing happened.

KAREN BREWSTER: No, but there’s nothing you could do -- STEVE OOMITTUK: Nothing you can do. KAREN BREWSTER: -- to pay your respects back to the animals to get them to come the next year? You just start over again? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause there -- there’s -- I mean, we don’t celebrate the born of the ice, we got no whale’s tail. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: We don’t have aŋirruki (whale's tail). KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: We don’t have mikigaq (mixture of fermented whale). KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: We don’t do qaqimnisaq (sp?). The only thing that happened was Barrow had caught so many whales those two times, they sent us maktak (whale skin with blubber attached) -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: To have for Thanksgiving.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, that’s nice. STEVE OOMITTUK: And maktak for Christmas. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: But, it’s not -- it’s not the same. KAREN BREWSTER: No. I’m sure.

STEVE OOMITTUK: It -- it’s not -- it -- it doesn’t -- the elders were very -- it -- it -- it was one of the saddest times in my time. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause the whale is center of everything. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: The ice is everything to us. We -- we have our ancestors have lived and hunted off the ice. They know the ice. They know the changes, they see it.

We watch it. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause we live out there. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: We, you know --

KAREN BREWSTER: What have you -- what have you learned from your ancestors that’s -- so that you’re safe out there? STEVE OOMITTUK: Well, you know, they always say travel light. You know, don’t take too much stuff out there. You know, you don’t need all that stuff.

You know, you wanna make sure you get in and get out. You know, don’t -- you know, things are changing. It’s hard to --

You can’t predict the ice like you used to, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: It -- it -- it melts, it freezes, it melts, it freezes, it rains, you know.

The currents are warmer, the currents underneath, you know. We don’t know how thick -- the ivuniqs are not so big. That means, you know, what’s down below is -- is -- is not very big either. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: But, you know, the cl -- the warmer channels -- that -- the warmer water is coming up this way. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, the old days, the elders used -- they talked about the currents. You know, in the late summers, when hunting wasn’t good, they used to go to Wrangel Island. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. STEVE OOMITTUK: They used to go hunt over there.

There’s the first current that goes and goes north. And then -- I’ve been through those rolling waves. That after the first current then there’s -- when we’re hunting walrus or ugruk straight out. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: There’s rolling waves when you’re out by Nuvuk and you go -- when you go south. You don’t go north.

The currents are too -- they’re circle. They close in on you.

But when you go out on the south side from the point and go south, and you go to -- you’re by the current -- ‘cause the animals are going, and they’re going north, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And the ice -- the ice is going, too. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: It’s all broken up.

And then -- and then there’s a part of the ocean where the waves they’re -- they’re -- they’re rolling waves. Smooth, and, you know, no -- no ice, but --

And then on the other side of that, there’s a current that goes straight out. You know, the point like this. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And then out there, there’s a current that goes straight out to Wrangel Island. On the north side of Wrangel Island. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, do you -- ? Go ahead.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And they would hunt -- if hunting wasn’t so good they -- they -- they had these umiaq -- these big umiaq, twelve-skin boats -- KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. STEVE OOMITTUK: Today we hunt with the six-skin. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: Between five and six skin.

But in the old days, they had these twelve skin boats that they used to go hunting with and they had a sail. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And -- and -- and, you know, ‘cause -- you know, popula -- You know, when hunting was bad they’d go to Wrangel Island ‘cause they know the food is in abundance. The seals are in abundance.

You know, we get the murre eggs, you know, in the first of July. You know, we have six hundred thousand murre’s nests on Lisburne. Three hundred thousand on Cape Thompson. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And the eggs are another vital thing to us. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: The walruses.

And -- and when they wanna go home in the fall. You know, back then in the -- when the -- in the early 1900s. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Late 18 -- When -- when whaling industry died, the fur industry. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: They knew there’s a lot of foxes up there.

You know, Wrangel Island area. Lot of animals always over there 'cause the food is in abundance, always. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: That island. That island is as big as St. Lawrence Island. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: Maybe bigger, wider. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And the food. And then when they wanna go home they go on the south side. They get that current and that current takes them almost by Krusenstern. Then they come home.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, right. And they come home. STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So what are the Iñupiaq names for those different currents? Do you know the --

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, saġvait, meaning the currents. And I -- I -- I don’t know -- KAREN BREWSTER: You don’t know the names. STEVE OOMITTUK: I -- I -- they -- they --

KAREN BREWSTER: ‘Cause I know around Barrow here like qaisaġnaq is coming sort of from the south, southwest. And I didn’t know if Tikiġaq has your own kinds of words.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, they -- they probably did have names for them. You know, the old names. You know, they -- they -- they stopped -- the Russians took the last Point Hope-rs off that island in around 1915. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: They didn’t allow Tikiġagmiis to go there anymore. They took ‘em off. And it took them two years to come home. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Hilda Weber was -- was a little girl at the time -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- when she was there with her mom and dad.

And they took 'em to Russia. Then from Russia, they went to Japan. And from Japan, they went to Hawaii. From Hawaii, they went to San Francisco. KAREN BREWSTER: And then --

STEVE OOMITTUK: But their -- their -- her mother died. She was telling the story and her mother died along the way, and her -- her and her father were the only ones that made it back to Point Hope.

But it took 'em two years to come back. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause the Russians said no, this is -- this is -- you know, you’re not -- you’re not -- they didn’t allow --

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, Wrangel Island became part of Russia. STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. I was wondering about -- you’ve been talking about the winds and the current. So if you’re out on the ice, is there a certain direction if the wind is coming that it’s not safe, you better come home?

STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, uŋalaq. Mainly, now they call it uŋalaq. KAREN BREWSTER: West wind. STEVE OOMITTUK: But the uŋalaq here is different here. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. That’s why I wanted you to tell me about -- STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, they -- they -- they -- they have different -- Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- Point Hope. Because it’s different. STEVE OOMITTUK: South wind, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So uŋalaq -- In Point Hope, a west wind, uŋalaq is -- STEVE OOMITTUK: Is south wind. KAREN BREWSTER: Is south wind? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Uŋalaq is south wind? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah.

And -- and -- and, you know, when you look at the stars, you know, in the old days, you know -- You know, when you wanna go home and you look at the stars, you know -- you know which stars to look at and which way is home. You know -- or -- or when, you know, like, you know, here in Barrow when they’re out there, it's so flat country. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: When they dig in the snow -- You know, ‘cause fall -- fall time, you get -- they get a lot of east wind.

When I lived here, I was always told when I dig in the snow you’ll see the grass. The gra -- a lot of the grass is pointed like this. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know. All that grass is coming from the east. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh yeah, it’s -- STEVE OOMITTUK: Pointing to the west. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And so if you wanna know which way’s east and west, you know which way’s north. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And so if you wanna go to Barrow, you just go north and you're gonna end up in Barrow. You're gonna end up on the coast.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. But so -- in Point Hope the south wind, that uŋalaq, is dangerous because it’s bringing ice in? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, the ice is coming in. KAREN BREWSTER: It’s -- it’s gonna close in on you? STEVE OOMITTUK: It’s gonna close in on us.

You know, ‘cause, when it -- it taktunga. Like when we’re -- when we're hunting, you know, ugruks. When it get taktunga. KAREN BREWSTER: Foggy? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, foggy. Yeah.

And once you feel the wind, you have to know where you’re at and you have to know the wind. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause otherwise you’re gonna get crushed up. And you wanna know -- You know, you wanna make sure, you know, you -- the currents -- the current takes you -- the current goes this way.

You don’t wanna go too far to the point, you know, when you’re going after walruses. A few times we did and we didn’t -- we were young.

And ah, we could go on that side of the point. We're chasing these walruses. We wanted to get walrus. But the -- we had to go back. We looked back, and it was closing -- there was another boat in front of us.

We had ugruks in our boats, you know. And these walrus came up and we were going, and we wanted to take home some walrus, too.

And there was two boats. And we go out and it was, well, we said, "Man, they’re taking us past Nuvuk on this side. We can’t --" We fell behind because we -- we were having second thoughts. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: But the other boat -- ‘cause we had a wooden boat. We had a wooden boat. The other guys had a aluminum boat. One of the first aluminum boats at that time.

KAREN BREWSTER: So if you got too far around the north side, why was that scary? STEVE OOMITTUK: The currents change and the ice goes in a circle. And then goes in a circle and it closes in. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Shoop. To nothing. If you get crushed up in the ice. Strong current. I mean, it starts small. You know, when the ice -- depends on the ice and it’s gonna go --

But it started closing up. You know, we noticed it started closing behind us. But it was still had lot of water. But by the time we made it over there, it was -- and we -- we shot three times for the other guys. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: That three shots is always a warning. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: To come back. And so they came back.

There was a big, flat ice like from here to Stuaqpak. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: And we were pulling our boat and it was like as -- as wide as, you know, almost here to the post office.

KAREN BREWSTER: What -- whoa. That’s like all the way on the other side of town. STEVE OOMITTUK: I mean -- no -- no, this post office right over here. The new post office.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, the new post office. Oh, yeah. Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: Right -- right over here. KAREN BREWSTER: So. But still, that’s -- STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, that’s a -- KAREN BREWSTER: Like quarter mile, maybe?

STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s quarter mile. And we had a wooden boat. And we were dragging that boat and we had ugruk and we had, like, you know, we had on big -- and it was crushing. We could see it crushing. Crrrr. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

STEVE OOMITTUK: And those other guys made it. And then they had an aluminum boat and it was just like a sled. Scheeew.

They go pull their boat all the way to the other side of the lead. Then they came over and run and go help us and drag, 'cause we had a ugruk. We had a wooden boat.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, but so you went up onto that big piece of ice? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, that big piece. It was real flat. Qaiqsuaq. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: But that -- but the ice was coming and it was breaking it smaller and smaller. And it was getting closer to us.

KAREN BREWSTER: But you went for safety by -- STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- getting up on the ice? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, ‘cause we had to cross over. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Okay.

STEVE OOMITTUK: We had to go to the other side of the lead. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh right, right, right. Okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: To get to the other side, 'cause the ice was closing in. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, right. Okay. STEVE OOMITTUK: Getting smaller. The ice was breaking on the --

KAREN BREWSTER: You couldn’t -- you couldn’t boat around that? STEVE OOMITTUK: No, no. It was all closed in. KAREN BREWSTER: Right, you had to go over it. STEVE OOMITTUK: And it was closing like this. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, oh, oh.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, and we were on this one flat ice and trying to get to the other side of the lead where -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: -- it was open. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Because the currents was going in a circle and the water was just getting smaller and smaller and smaller. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: Until it’s like this. ‘Til there’s nothing. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You get crushed up inside that. When you go on that side of the point the way the currents are. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: They go in a circle or thing. They just, you know, beg -- and it just -- and, you know, that was -- that’s when we figured -- KAREN BREWSTER: But you guys --

STEVE OOMITTUK: That’s what they were talking about. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, so after that, you know, we always told our kids don’t ever go on that -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: When you’re hunting ugruks, when you go from Nuvuk, when you’re at Nuvuk, out this way, you go back and start again. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: Don’t go on the north side. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. STEVE OOMITTUK: That’s bad.

KAREN BREWSTER: But you guys made it out? STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, we made it out. KAREN BREWSTER: That's good. STEVE OOMITTUK: Yeah, we made it out. But we learned.

We learned never to doubt our parents, our grandparents. That they know. You know, you listen. You listen to them. Don’t -- don’t doubt them. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, the younger generation, you know, they, you know, they wanna catch this, they wanna catch that. The people, the elders know. They lived it all their lives. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: They lived off the ocean. They lived off the land. They know the animals. They know the currents. They know the wind.

You’ll -- you’ll -- you’ll have to -- we’ve been here for thousands of years hunting and gathering. They learned from their parents. From their parents before them. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: That’s why we’re still here. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: ‘Cause the animals come to us. Safety is an issue. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Back in the days, they had -- they had no choice but to go out everyday to survive. They didn’t have all this money and snowmachines and four-wheelers, and I can go to a store and buy whatever you want. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: You could order. In them -- in those days, they had no choice. They wanna survive, you have to hunt. Subsistence was a totally way of life for us. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

STEVE OOMITTUK: We -- we saw that change when the borough was formed. When ASRC was incorporated.

When money started coming in to our way. You know, a lot of these, you know, elders when they were talking in the last -- how a quarter meant so much to us. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

STEVE OOMITTUK: Five cents, ten cents. You find them on the floor, yeah. An elevator my other half oh, she found thirty-five cents on the floor, and she was picking them up. Oh, man, you know.

Back in the days when a quarter was so much money. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. STEVE OOMITTUK: You know, you thought you were so rich when we were young. Twenty-five sauraq, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I -- I just have a --