Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Wesley Aiken, Part 2

This is the continuation of an interview with Wesley Uġiaqtaq Aiken on June 3, 2017 by Karen Brewster and Craig George at his home in Utqiaġvik, Alaska (formerly known as Barrow). In this second part of a two part interview, Wesley continues to share his knowledge of and experiences on the shorefast ice near Barrow. He talks about various ice phenomena, including: pressure ridges (ivuniq), ice shearing (agiukpak), floating ice chunks (puktallak), ice add-on (iiguaq), and rotten ice (aunniq). He also discusses ice conditions during recent years of whaling, the importance of watching the current and checking for cracks, his personal experience with drifting out on the ice, and what young people today should know when traveling on the sea ice.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2013-25-42_PT.2

Project: Sea Ice Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Jun 3, 2017
Narrator(s): Wesley "Uġiaqtaq" Aiken
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster, Craig George
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

Running and jumping through piling ice during the 1957 Ivu Event

Effect of wind and current on ice conditions, and creation of pressure ridges

Ice shearing along edge of shorefast ice (agiukpak), ice formation, and ice piling up

Ice chunks coming out from underneath the edge of shorefast ice (puktallak)

Add-on of newly formed young ice (iiguaq)

Ice conditions during 2016 and 2017 spring whaling seasons

Selection of good spots for whaling

Importance of checking the current

Keeping an eye out for new cracks in the ice, and story about people being drifted out when a new crack formed

Assessing holes in the ice when it is starting to become rotten ice (aunniq)

Drifting out on the ice

Serving in the Alaska Territorial Guard and Alaska National Guard, and working for Arctic Contractors

Becoming head of the Lands Department at Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC)

Changes in ice conditions during his lifetime, and importance of ice safety

Passing on knowledge to the next generation

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Transcript

KAREN BREWSTER: You said you almost lost Ahkivgak on that time. How come you almost lost him? WESLEY AIKEN: I didn’t wanna argue. I was young. He was about fifties or something like that. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: So I never argue with the elders myself. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

WESLEY AIKEN: So I didn’t wanna argue with him. So I just have to stay with him. That’s how we lose all of our whaling equipment.

KAREN BREWSTER: Was he able to run and be safe? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, he was the last one.

That ice was about eight, nine feet thick. He went on top of that ice. It was about ten feet high.

Couple of guys go in there to tell him to jump out of that big ice. Standing up, keep going slow. CRAIG GEORGE: Hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: Went on top of that ice and jump right down to the -- right where the couple of guys are. Until they just grab him and run right -- right back. And after that, that ice just flat down. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

WESLEY AIKEN: He almost got in that ivu. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: Hm.

KAREN BREWSTER: I can’t imagine -- I can’t imagine being in that ivu, ice moving, and running through it and climbing up it. WESLEY AIKEN: I don’t know how he climb -- climb on top of that ice. He was behind it. But nobody help him from -- from the back.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did you have to climb? Did you go up and over, too? WESLEY AIKEN: No. Not -- not me. But -- but we’re in close to them. Close to him. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. CRAIG GEORGE: Hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: So couple of guys tell them to go catch him. They hollered at him to jump before he get too high. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: So he must’ve been over ten feet when he jumped. CRAIG GEORGE: Wow. WESLEY AIKEN: Finally, when he jumped. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: Iiqinii (scary).

WESLEY AIKEN: And these couple of guys just catch him, stand up, and start running out of there.

KAREN BREWSTER: You said it was very windy. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Did the wind come up fast? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, wind come up fast from the west. It was blowing about ten -- ten, fifteen miles from the south.

All of a sudden the wind start blowing from the west. You know, strong. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm. WESLEY AIKEN: That’s why. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Current and the wind start blowing together and -- and the ice -- that heavy ice comes in. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. WESLEY AIKEN: Everything pile up.

KAREN BREWSTER: It sounds like it happened fast. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Very fast. WESLEY AIKEN: Always when it come in fast. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

CRAIG GEORGE: And like you said, Wesley, I’ve noticed it comes in fast and it moves and then stops. And then moves and stops. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: It -- WESLEY AIKEN: That’s how it comes in. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah. It builds --

WESLEY AIKEN: That’s why when those ridges out here -- CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: -- got grounded, stop for a while, and pressure comes in. Start moving, start piling up. That’s how it comes in.

CRAIG GEORGE: It’s so scary. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: It’s -- it sounds like a -- sounds like a thunder storm or a freight train. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: It’s very loud? CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: I -- I have a question about when the ice comes along the side, grinding. What do you call that? WESLEY AIKEN: Agiukpak? KAREN BREWSTER: Ii, agiukpak. CRAIG GEORGE: Agiukpak. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Sometimes that thin ice starts coming in. Always have a thin ice out there. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.

WESLEY AIKEN: Way out there. On the other side -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: -- of that open water. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: When that comes in, it start going through like this. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Out here. It start going like this and pile up some. That young ice make agiukpak. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. That’s how it's formed. Like, I’ve seen them -- I’ve seen it lots of times right almost in front of Camp. KAREN BREWSTER: In front of Narl out there? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. Narl. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: All the way out to Nuvuk. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: That’s always pretty high.

KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. Is that agiukpak, is that dangerous to be out there when that’s happening? WESLEY AIKEN: No, it’s not -- it’s not gonna -- You know, another pile right in, not where agiukpak is. You know, it’s safe. KAREN BREWSTER: It’s safe?

WESLEY AIKEN: When you -- But sometimes, some ice underneath go up real fast. That’s dangerous. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: When it’s starting to melt.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, is that the muġałłiq? That? WESLEY AIKEN: From underneath. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: When that ice started to melt. When the warm water comes in from the west, they starting to melt. CRAIG GEORGE: Mm.

WESLEY AIKEN: Sometimes they -- the ones are grounded, left out there, too. Never did come out all -- all summer long. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: I’ve seen them out there on the other side of the Nuvuk. CRAIG GEORGE: Mm. WESLEY AIKEN: In the summer. Never did move out.

KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. And that’s piqaluyak? WESLEY AIKEN: No. KAREN BREWSTER: No? WESLEY AIKEN: They’re not piqaluyak once it make ridges. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. WESLEY AIKEN: So --

KAREN BREWSTER: So that ice coming out from underneath, that’s muġałłiq? Is that what you mean? WESLEY AIKEN: No. CRAIG GEORGE: No.

WESLEY AIKEN: When the ice -- water coming through underneath and then that ice lift up. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, when it lift up, yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Floats. Start floating. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay, yeah, yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.. WESLEY AIKEN: Floating out. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

CRAIG GEORGE: So you can be at the ice edge and all of a sudden, ooh, a big, huge -- WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: -- boulder comes up and --

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, not from underneath you, but out in the lead? CRAIG GEORGE: No, no, from underneath you, yeah. Right from -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, right.

CRAIG GEORGE: That’s when you know it’s time. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: Yup. WESLEY AIKEN: It melted from the top. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. WESLEY AIKEN: And -- CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: What do you call -- what do you call that in Iñupiaq when that happens?

WESLEY AIKEN: Puktallak (to float to the surface). CRAIG GEORGE: Puktanllak? WESLEY AIKEN: Ii, puktaallaktuq. That big floating ice (puktaaq = floating mass of ice).

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay, that’s a new one for me. Good. Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: Huh.

KAREN BREWSTER: What about igu -- iiguaq? The -- WESLEY AIKEN: Iiguaq? KAREN BREWSTER: Ii. WESLEY AIKEN: That’s -- Iiguaq, they -- when there’s young ice stuck in the shoreline. Shoreline of the ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: Of the lead? WESLEY AIKEN: And it all covers the -- the -- when it was open and stuck in there. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm. Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Stuck into the shore ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: Is that dangerous to be there? WESLEY AIKEN: Some of it always dangerous. It’s newly formed ice. It’s some of -- always broken up whenever the waves are little bigger.

KAREN BREWSTER: Mm. So how do you know it’s okay to go out on that iiguaq? WESLEY AIKEN: They can check it with their -- KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. WESLEY AIKEN: -- unaaqpauraq (ice testing stick). It -- some of it is thick, about that much. KAREN BREWSTER: Six inches, yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: But when it’s not rough out there, they just go out with a boat and try to catch a whale. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm. WESLEY AIKEN: Sometimes. When it’s not too far away. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

WESLEY AIKEN: So, that’s how the spring whaling always go about. Right now this year -- The other year, when a big whale starting -- last -- this -- I'm going to talk about last year. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: It was right near about mile, mile and a half. Some of it. It was real close.

And that -- When the big whales starting to come in, that all broken ice from north starting to cover the shoreline -- shore ice. It all broken up.

It was about -- some of it was about two miles. All broken up in pieces. Got stuck in there. All the way to the Point. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: And -- and it stopped. Never did move out.

And then it opens up way out there. Leave that broken ice, leave it along the shoreline of ice. And never did move out. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: That’s when they stop whaling. And then this spring, it’s all different again.

CRAIG GEORGE: It sure is. KAREN BREWSTER: Yup.

WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. For -- When that ice was open, it -- it was newly formed ice. It was open in April. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Last year? WESLEY AIKEN: This year. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, this year? Oh, okay.

WESLEY AIKEN: I’m talking about this year now. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. WESLEY AIKEN: It’s open way out there. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: And then it spread down to Franklin, they call Franklin Point (Point Franklin). KAREN BREWSTER: Ii.

WESLEY AIKEN: From there it looks like it go right straight down there. Straight. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm CRAIG GEORGE: Yup.

WESLEY AIKEN: It was new -- new ice form. Never did broken up by past the Ualiqpaa (Walakpa). And they said it was fifteen miles out. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. WESLEY AIKEN: From -- CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah. That big iiguaq? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, it was a big iiguaq? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: It never went out.

KAREN BREWSTER: And it -- The wind and the current never took it out, huh? WESLEY AIKEN: Never pull out. KAREN BREWSTER: You know why? WESLEY AIKEN: I don’t know why. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I didn't know if --

WESLEY AIKEN: Not me. But, you know, wind was really blowing from the east. But it never broken out. It stays the way it is. So I don’t know why. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Usually pull out, but maybe -- I don’t know why. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. WESLEY AIKEN: Maybe it was -- it won’t broke.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, well I know -- as you said -- with the last few years there was open water right in front of Barrow very close. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And ice went out. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And people were on it. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: That was iiguaq? Or new ice? WESLEY AIKEN: No. It broken up and it wasn’t newly formed. But it’s all broken up. CRAIG GEORGE: It just wasn't mature. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: But it was really, really surprise for me when that ice never pull out. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: It's still on now. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, it’s still there.

So when you were younger and whaling, did it have open water like that right in front of Barrow? WESLEY AIKEN: Right -- right. I was, you know, even -- even it was six or seven feet thick, always have a open water right there. KAREN BREWSTER: Right in front of Barrow? WESLEY AIKEN: Right close. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

CRAIG GEORGE: How close? One mile or -- WESLEY AIKEN: Maybe a mile, two. CRAIG GEORGE: Okay.

WESLEY AIKEN: Somewhere around there you can see those people once they’re staying in that kaŋiqłuk (indentation in sea ice that forms a bay). CRAIG GEORGE: Hm. WESLEY AIKEN: We call it kaŋiqłuk. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah, the -- KAREN BREWSTER: The -- Oh, the -- WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Those bays? CRAIG GEORGE: Kaŋiqłuk is a bay. WESLEY AIKEN: Like a bay.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, yeah. Those are good places, huh? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. Good place to stay -- safe place to hunt.

CRAIG GEORGE: And the iŋutuqs like ‘em. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: That’s where those iŋu -- whales come up? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: That’s what I've heard. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: Wow.

KAREN BREWSTER: What’s the Iñupiaq word for the peninsula? The points of ice? You know, you have the bay -- CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And then you have the -- the whales go under. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, what’s that called? CRAIG GEORGE: It's a nuvuluaq? WESLEY AIKEN: Nuvuġaq (small promontory of ice). KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, okay. CRAIG GEORGE: Nuvuġaq? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Nuv -- say it again. WESLEY AIKEN: Nuvuġaq. KAREN BREWSTER: Nuvuġaq. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Like a point? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Is that a good place to be? WESLEY AIKEN: Right in front of from -- You know, when you can stay in that nuvuġaq on the other side or the -- right behind it. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, right. WESLEY AIKEN: That’s a good place to stay.

KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. So when you’re out there, you’re checking the current all the time, right? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So --

WESLEY AIKEN: We can see it when there are small ice or we just throw a piece of ice where -- which way the current start going.

Sometime it’s going towards the north, sometime going towards the south, you know. And -- for -- you can check ‘em. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: But you can check ‘em with a line. Some part of it goes towards the south, some part of it going toward underneath to the north. That’s the way the currents always.

KAREN BREWSTER: And when do you decide it’s time to move? WESLEY AIKEN: When you’re a safe place, thick ice, I don’t get -- you know, I know when to move.

KAREN BREWSTER: What does the current have to do? WESLEY AIKEN: I let Jacob -- I went back to -- when I going back to whaling, I go with Jacob (Adams). KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.

WESLEY AIKEN: So it’s not -- it's not much current -- not strong. So we can stay here. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. WESLEY AIKEN: We still can stay here. It’s lot of open water out there. I -- I showed Jacob. Billy was a small guy.

KAREN BREWSTER: It’s Jacob Adams and Billy Adams, yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. Brother, youngest brothers.

KAREN BREWSTER: Ii. So what does the current have to do for you to come -- come off? WESLEY AIKEN: Even there’s no wind, current comes in from east is strong. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: One time after we haul the whale -- our whale, I went up. There was a new crack about that wide. Right near by here. Our boat was on the other side.

I went up fast with a snow machine, I showed Jacob. "Jacob, we have to pull the boat up here. There’s a new crack right on this side of our boat."

So he went out there and pick up that boat and our gear and everything. Later on, people are start moving. They try to get up where that crack was in the middle of ice. The one they try to hunt whales out there. CRAIG GEORGE: Hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: Some little further down the coast, they didn’t cross that new crack. So they got drifted out.

They haul to -- they had to haul them by helicopters. And they took some of their boats. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. WESLEY AIKEN: Left their boats out there. CRAIG GEORGE: Hm.

KAREN BREWSTER: But you -- you saw the crack? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: I saw the crack. I report it. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: It was newly, never -- never I seen it. It was still no ice in it. Was about that wide. KAREN BREWSTER: Foot wide.

CRAIG GEORGE: Which way was the current? WESLEY AIKEN: Current was from the -- CRAIG GEORGE: Piruġaġnaq? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. Piruġaġnaq. KAREN BREWSTER: From the east. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And what about the wind? Was it windy? WESLEY AIKEN: No. KAREN BREWSTER: No wind. WESLEY AIKEN: It wasn’t windy. CRAIG GEORGE: No wind.

WESLEY AIKEN: And after maybe after I report it, that’s -- it starting to move. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, wow. WESLEY AIKEN: Maybe after three, four hours. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. WESLEY AIKEN: Starting to move. Pull away.

KAREN BREWSTER: Have you ever heard the ice crack and know time to go? You hear it? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, sometime when I’m staying out there. When some people always hear the ice cracking. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And that tells you time to go home? WESLEY AIKEN: It’s time to pull out of that shore -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: -- ice. To where safe -- safe place.

KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. Yeah, your story about seeing that new crack, that tells me how important it is that your pay attention. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: You were watching and you knew it was different. WESLEY AIKEN: I was just crossing it with my snowmachine. I went back to turn around -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. WESLEY AIKEN: To see if it was moving. But it wasn’t moving. It was just a crack. New crack. CRAIG GEORGE: New one.

KAREN BREWSTER: New one. Yeah, but you see, you noticed it was new. You knew it wasn’t there before because you were paying attention. WESLEY AIKEN: No, it wasn’t. When I went out, peop -- people never seen it before. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: They didn’t report it. I was the one that reported first.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. It sounds like it’s important to pay attention. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. For all the whaling crews out there.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. That you notice new cracks is important. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. It’s dangerous. You have to get up on the -- cross that crack. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm. WESLEY AIKEN: And wait.

That’s how the spring whale hunt always important.

KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. In the springtime, like now, there’s a lot of water on the ice. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Snow melting.

WESLEY AIKEN: It - it opened out there. Still open since April. But they -- They telling us no place to pull the whale up. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, too rough out there. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

CRAIG GEORGE: Utuk -- Uutukuu (small). The ammuaq (place for pulling up whale) was -- KAREN BREWSTER: It was -- WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Small? CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: There's one place they've been pulling out those eight whales. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard. WESLEY AIKEN: And -- CRAIG GEORGE: One.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. But I was wondering in -- this time of year, there’s a lot of water pool -- puddles. WESLEY AIKEN: There’s open water out there, they know. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, but -- WESLEY AIKEN: It’s all open.

KAREN BREWSTER: But when you go on the trail, you see water. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, they -- some are telling me there’s some -- some holes. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Right on the trail.

KAREN BREWSTER: So how do you -- WESLEY AIKEN: It’s getting dangerous. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

How do you tell that that hole goes all the way through? WESLEY AIKEN: They can throw it. They -- you don’t see any ice on -- on the bottom. You can open -- even if you know, you know, it’s -- that new formed ice out there, it’s danger. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: Some of it you don’t notice it. It just comes down with the snowmachine. With a load.

That’s why they pull out on maybe almost all the whaling crews. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Pulling out from out -- from out there. It’s dangerous out there now.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So does that hole that goes all the way through, is that a different color than just -- WESLEY AIKEN: It’s all blue and black. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

And if it’s just water it’s -- WESLEY AIKEN: It’s just water. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. It’s a different color.

CRAIG GEORGE: No, it -- Well, when the -- when the crack doesn’t have a bottom it’s black. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. No bottom, it’s black. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

CRAIG GEORGE: And you could see a current in it. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

CRAIG GEORGE: Sometimes you can see it swirling. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: It’s like, okay. WESLEY AIKEN: He knows.

KAREN BREWSTER: I know, but I wanted you to tell me, not him. CRAIG GEORGE: No, this is good for me. Good review.

KAREN BREWSTER: I wanna hear what you say. What do you call those holes in Iñupiaq? WESLEY AIKEN: Aunniq (rotten ice). You know, we call them au -- aunniq. CRAIG GEORGE: Amniq? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. That rot -- it get rot and -- CRAIG GEORGE: Amniq?

KAREN BREWSTER: Aunniq. Say it again. WESLEY AIKEN: Aunniq. KAREN BREWSTER: Aunniq. Sounds like. I’ll get the spelling later. Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, that's what we call them. When those things right aft -- you know, they’re getting dangerous. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: Melt. Some snowmachines -- I don’t know how many snowmachines they lost out there sometime. They ran into those aunniq and sink right under the ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Some might jump out of their snowmachine and be safe.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So how do you tell when there is snow on the ice, lots of snow -- WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: How do you tell it’s okay underneath? WESLEY AIKEN: Some cracks maybe it's just covered with snow. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: And when you go with a snowmachine, you just fell in. That snow doesn’t blow, that’s why.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So how do you -- how do you be safe out there then? WESLEY AIKEN: Well, when your snowmachine (motions it dropping), you gotta jump out of that.

KAREN BREWSTER: You just can’t see it? No way to -- WESLEY AIKEN: Just can’t see the -- just snow. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

WESLEY AIKEN: Just have to jump to the ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did that happen with dogteams, too? WESLEY AIKEN: No. Dogteam always in front of you. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

WESLEY AIKEN: Some dogs fell in. Right into that snow. Snow covered. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm.

WESLEY AIKEN: And they just have to stop and pull them out. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah, you had warning. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, you saw it coming. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. That’s how it is.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ‘Cause I’ve -- I’ve heard a story of somebody walking with their unaaq, and the -- WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, some people -- KAREN BREWSTER: Snow covered --

WESLEY AIKEN: Some people have to check that snow. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, no, but somebody just walking and didn’t see -- WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- the hole ‘cause there was snow over it and they katak (fall). WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did that used to happen? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, sometime some happen. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. WESLEY AIKEN: Some happen before.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So have you ever drifted out yourself? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, I got drifted out with a boat. We were way out there. But it was -- this with a dogteam.

In the spring, in last part of April. We were trying to go out to the open water way out there. Almost front of Nunavak.

And then we were using two dogteams, you know, going out to the open water. We seen some whales.

And in the morning, we were going out there, we got reach that open water out there by midnight that time.

And then in the morning around eleven o’clock or something like that. After ten. We can see the tower over here used to be for school. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, that tower.

WESLEY AIKEN: When one of us going out there, we -- he tell us we better get out of the -- out to -- up to shoreline. We -- we're start moving.

Somebody told us it was -- just have to load everything up and start going up with a dogteam, with the boat.

And then when we reach the open water, we never even see shore ice out there. CRAIG GEORGE: Oh. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-oh.

WESLEY AIKEN: We were way out. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

WESLEY AIKEN: It was not even twelve hours. There was no wind. It opened by current.

So when we have to get on the boat, we load up our things and then put our dogs. I had seven of them. My own dogs.

The other guy had about maybe eight or nine, so he had to leave -- We have to leave some of our dogs. CRAIG GEORGE: Oh.

WESLEY AIKEN: But we have a couple of natchiq. We open them up, open the meat, and everything to those dogs. Leave those three, three, four dogs out there.

So we got no room for us. There was only -- I think we were seven of us and the other crew got only four guys to aŋuaq (to paddle). KAREN BREWSTER: Mm. CRAIG GEORGE: Mm.

WESLEY AIKEN: We got no motors. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

WESLEY AIKEN: So we have to leave one of our crew to the other boat. So we started to aŋuaq. CRAIG GEORGE: Mm.

WESLEY AIKEN: But they’re -- when we get out of slush ice to open water, it doesn’t -- we can move, we have our sled on top of the load, and -- CRAIG GEORGE: Oh, my gosh.

WESLEY AIKEN: -- our sled, we can move those just all the way out of the boat.

And we got to the rough ice, but there’s not much wind. That guy steering the boat named Mukalik (sp?) CRAIG GEORGE: Mukalik?

WESLEY AIKEN: Started to following those waves on top of -- we never -- It's just going down that way. And then finally we can -- after couple hours maybe, we could see shore ice.

When we get closer, there’s no smooth water, you know. Place to pull up, find a place to pull out. We just hit on that safe ice.

CRAIG GEORGE: Hallelujah. Wow. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

CRAIG GEORGE: Wesley, and the dogs behaved well? They just sat? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, after almost a week, they spotted the dogs.

When the ice is formed right in that open water, formed, you know, new ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Sikuliaq?

WESLEY AIKEN: And they saw a dog out there. They go get it. And then it was my dog that I left. CRAIG GEORGE: Hm. WESLEY AIKEN: You know. They found that dog. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: He was safe. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. CRAIG GEORGE: That’s great.

WESLEY AIKEN: I don’t know about the other one. They -- I think they got fell in the water or something.

CRAIG GEORGE: Went to another village. WESLEY AIKEN: Huh? CRAIG GEORGE: They went to another village.

WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. Yeah, they must’ve fell in the young ice and never did come back.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you had umiaq with you? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Not kayak? WESLEY AIKEN: Not kayak.

KAREN BREWSTER: That was for -- You went out to go whaling or for seal -- WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Or for seal hunting? WESLEY AIKEN: This is whaling. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, during whaling. Okay. Okay. Wow.

CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah, I was asking about how the dogs traveled in the boat. So they’re -- they don’t -- they’re not on the -- WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, we just tie them up. CRAIG GEORGE: Oh, you tie them up good? Okay.

WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, so they wouldn’t move for nothing. CRAIG GEORGE: Okay.

KAREN BREWSTER: That’s a big laod. CRAIG GEORGE: That’s a big load. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Lots of dogs, people, and sled. WESLEY AIKEN: Stay there, they stay there. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

CRAIG GEORGE: But how many people? WESLEY AIKEN: Six of us. CRAIG GEORGE: Six people, seven dogs, and a sled. WESLEY AIKEN: More than seven dogs. They’re -- KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. And a sled? WESLEY AIKEN: And a sled. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. That’s -- WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

CRAIG GEORGE: You must’ve been low in the water. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, it was about that (shows with his hands), you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, iiqinii.

CRAIG GEORGE: And there’s iŋiulik (wave or swell in the ocean)? KAREN BREWSTER: Waves? WESLEY AIKEN: Not -- not big ones. CRAIG GEORGE: Oh, okay. Lucky. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: But they pitched their stuff.

WESLEY AIKEN: But they were about that high. CRAIG GEORGE: Ah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: But they got me wet. I was on the other -- on the wind side in front.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And you said it took couple hours to paddle back to shorefast (ice)? WESLEY AIKEN: More than couple hours. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. WESLEY AIKEN: Probably.

CRAIG GEORGE: They didn’t see land for two hours. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Wow.

So do you know why it drifted out? Just the current? WESLEY AIKEN: Just the current maybe. It was no wind. KAREN BREWSTER: It caught you by sur -- WESLEY AIKEN: We didn’t even know, you know. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. It caught you by surprise. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Somebody watching up to the little, high ice and -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Saw that we were moving and not -- from that tower. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: Mm.

KAREN BREWSTER: Do -- do you know what year that was? Or about? WESLEY AIKEN: It was 1947. CRAIG GEORGE: Wow. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

WESLEY AIKEN: I was -- I just got married about three, four weeks ago that time. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, that time. WESLEY AIKEN: My wife went to Wainwright. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm. WESLEY AIKEN: By plane to go see, check her parents. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. WESLEY AIKEN: So I -- I went out with the crew.

KAREN BREWSTER: And now you were in the military? Did you go in the military, the army? WESLEY AIKEN: No. KAREN BREWSTER: No? National Guard?

WESLEY AIKEN: I went to Alaska Territorial Guard. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, Territorial Guard, right. WESLEY AIKEN: I’m a World War II veteran.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I knew you were a veteran. It was Territorial Guard. WESLEY AIKEN: When I got my discharge paper from the Territorial Guard -- KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. WESLEY AIKEN: -- they make me a -- a World War II veteran. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, you are. Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And then what kind of work did you do? WESLEY AIKEN: Here? KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: With those ATG I just had my rifle. KAREN BREWSTER: No, no. Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: No uniform. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: But I can shoot that airplane or everything, you know, when it comes in. Try to fight me. I’ll fight -- I’ll fight back, too. You know.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Aft -- After that, what kind -- what jobs did you do? WESLEY AIKEN: Oh, after that. KAREN BREWSTER: You were a carpenter? WESLEY AIKEN: Arctic Contractors. KAREN BREWSTER: Arctic Contractors. WESLEY AIKEN: For Navy out here.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, at Narl? WESLEY AIKEN: That’s the first job I get. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm. WESLEY AIKEN: From reindeer herding.

KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. And what did you do for Arctic Contractors? WESLEY AIKEN: I was a laborer. KAREN BREWSTER: Laborer, okay. WESLEY AIKEN: That’s -- I never trained anything else. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. WESLEY AIKEN: But to work labor.

While I’m working out there, I learned almost everything. I can operate heavy equipment. I can drive a truck. I driving a weasel or something. CRAIG GEORGE: Hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: You know, I learned those while I’m working out there. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: Hm. KAREN BREWSTER: So --

WESLEY AIKEN: That’s how I work for them for maybe three years or so.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Was that a good job? You liked that? WESLEY AIKEN: It’s to me, you know, get me a new house. You know, it doesn’t pay much, but it was nine hours a day. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. WESLEY AIKEN: Seven days a week. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.

WESLEY AIKEN: That’s how I first start job I got.

KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. And what other jobs did you do? WESLEY AIKEN: I can build a house. I’m a heavy and light duty mechanic. CRAIG GEORGE: Hm. WESLEY AIKEN: I’m a little bit of everything.

KAREN BREWSTER: You did a little bit of everything. WESLEY AIKEN: So I learn how to navigate a map. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm. WESLEY AIKEN: When I was in the Alaska Army National Guard. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: I was a squad leader. I have to use that compass, how to go about. Follow that trail or -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: -- how to moving -- from my squad. I’m a squad leader I -- They put me to sergeant first class when I -- when I got out of Alaska Army National Guard. KAREN BREWSTER: Mm-hm.

WESLEY AIKEN: It was my job at the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, with maps? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah with a map.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, wait, so you were the land department? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, you were the land department? WESLEY AIKEN: I was in the land department.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, okay. I didn’t know that. Yeah. And did you -- WESLEY AIKEN: That’s how I got the, you know, retired. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, okay.

WESLEY AIKEN: When I got out of there I was sixty-five. Almost sixty-six. One of them -- you young people run that. Now it’s running by Savik (Richard Glenn). KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. What was I just gonna say about -- ? Oh, did -- what you knew about maps, did you use that with search and rescue? WESLEY AIKEN: I know where hunting places. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Fishing places.

And, you know, one land chief from each village all the way from Point Hope, Point Lay, Wainwright, Atqasuk, Anaktuvak Pass, there was somebody. There was no village at Nuiqsut. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

WESLEY AIKEN: But there was one way out there from Barter Island. All those villages.

KAREN BREWSTER: So did you help search and rescue? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, ‘cause you knew all that land? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: I was with the search and rescue. KAREN BREWSTER: That’s what I thought, yeah. Okay. CRAIG GEORGE: Mm.

KAREN BREWSTER: So anything else we wanna talk about the siku? Anything? WESLEY AIKEN: That -- that’s all. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. What --

WESLEY AIKEN: That’s just about all. The one I see right now. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: No heavy ice out there now. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Ten -- ten years ago. The ice is way -- that heavy ice is almost melt. But some places maybe way out there still got some, but it never got up to Barrow anymore.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, do you think it’s more dangerous out there now? WESLEY AIKEN: It’s dangerous. It’s newly formed ice. Sometime it broke out easy. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

CRAIG GEORGE: That’s true

KAREN BREWSTER: So are people still safe going out? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, right now. So, might start the bearded seal hunt. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. WESLEY AIKEN: Pretty soon.

KAREN BREWSTER: Pretty soon, yeah. So what would you tell the young people today about going out on that ice? WESLEY AIKEN: Oh, they can still go out, but -- but watch. Right now, we got -- whenever they going out they carry a -- the VHF.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, a radio, yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: They can radio out there. And we got helicopters to pick 'em up.

So that’s how even I told them, to bring that -- whenever go out way -- carry that whatever -- what's it -- what you call it?

CRAIG GEORGE: The PLB? WESLEY AIKEN: PLB. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Personal Locator Beacon, yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Search and rescue gives those to people? WESLEY AIKEN: Anchorage, they can pick up that -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. WESLEY AIKEN: -- PLB from Anchorage.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, but search and rescue -- WESLEY AIKEN: And call over here right away. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: That guy is in -- out there in -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Nearby.

KAREN BREWSTER: But people can get those from search and rescue? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: There’s standby out here with a helicopter. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: Twenty four hours. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

CRAIG GEORGE: But, like you said, that VHF is really handy, too. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: 'Cause you can tell ‘em what’s going on. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So do you teach those young people what you know? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah, I’m always telling them. Some of them never listen very much, because they know where to go. They think they know. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. WESLEY AIKEN: Where to go.

Whenever it’s white out, they doesn’t know where to go.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. I think if it’s white out, you stay home. WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: For me.

WESLEY AIKEN: That’s what we've been telling them. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah. WESLEY AIKEN: But they never listen. Because they know where to go. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Sometime when it’s white out, you never even see the trail. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Aarigaa. CRAIG GEORGE: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, quyanaqpak for your time and your stories.

WESLEY AIKEN: Alright. I hope you guys are satisfied with what I say. But, some of it might be help, you know. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

WESLEY AIKEN: Some might not be help. KAREN BREWSTER: No, it’s all -- WESLEY AIKEN: So --

KAREN BREWSTER: Are you satisfied? WESLEY AIKEN: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, okay.

WESLEY AIKEN: Whenever the guy wants to know something, I -- I know I can tell them what I know. What I see. What I heard. You know, that’s what I tell them. KAREN BREWSTER: That’s good. WESLEY AIKEN: That’s what I’m telling you guys.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Aarigaa, quyanaqpak. CRAIG GEORGE: Quyanapak. WESLEY AIKEN: Alright. KAREN BREWSTER: Tavra, huh?