Jacob Martin was interviewed on April 16, 2019 by Leslie McCartney and Katie Cullen at the offices of Bering Land Bridge National Preserve in Nome, Alaska. In this interview, Jacob talks about his observations of changes in the local environment, animal and fish populations, weather patterns, vegetation, and sea ice and comments on how these changes are effecting people and their subsistence lifestyle. He also talks about human adaptation and the development of Nome's Climate Adaptation Plan, and the need to create awareness about environmental change in the north to a broader audience.
Digital Asset Information
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Education and employment
Observations of changes in things washing up on the beach in Nome and of the beach receding
Climate Adaptation Plan for Nome
Changes in sea ice
Effect of sea ice changes on animal populations and marine mammal hunting
Putting together the Climate Adaptation Plan
Changes in fish populations
Changes in moose and caribou populations on the Seward Peninsula
Changes in the vegetation
Changes in the permafrost and fall storms, and efforts to protect the community from high seas
Recommendations for adaptive actions and changes in hunting and fishing regulations
Effect of change on marine mammal populations and people's access to them
Adaptation of traditional knowledge
Changes in willows and lichens, and effect of freezing rain events
Changes in the amount of snowfall
Changes in the wildfire pattern, and presence of thunder and lightening storms
Changes in subsistence in response to changing resources
Changes in dredging activity, and effect on crab populations
Observations of rising temperatures, and changes in hunting lifestyle
Changes in berries
Creating awareness about climate change
Funding adaptive responses
Love of being out on the sea ice
Tracking changes on a local level
Changes in bird populations
Changes in food preparation and storage
Effect of combining traditional subsistence activities with having a full-time job
Serving on the Eskimo Walrus Commission
Changes in road conditions
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LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So good afternoon. I’m Leslie McCartney. Today is Tuesday, April the 16th, 2019. We’re in the National Park Service offices in Nome, Alaska.
And I’m with -- here with Jacob Martin. Thank you very much for coming in. And Katie Cullen. Thank you.
Could you both introduce yourselves, just so we can have it on the record? KATIE CULLEN: Sure. My name is Katie Cullen. I’m the interpretation and education program manager at Bering Land National Preserve in -- based in -- headquartered in Nome, Alaska.
JACOB MARTIN: I’m Jacob Martin, the tribal resource director at the Nome Eskimo Community, the tribe for Nome, Alaska.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Great. So thanks, Jacob, for coming in. We really appreciate that you -- um, we’re first gonna just do a little bit of biographical information, if that’s ok.
So can you tell me where you were born? JACOB MARTIN: I was born here in Nome.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And so your parents are from here, too? JACOB MARTIN: Yep. Both my parents were born and mostly raised here. They had a little bit of Outside experience, outside of Nome, but they both ended up back here, and so.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So both sets of grandparents are from here, too? JACOB MARTIN: Um, yes. My grandparents ended up living here, but on my mother’s side, they were from King Island. So I have heritage from King Island and further more in that area from both.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And what were the names of your grandparents? JACOB MARTIN: Uh, on my mother’s side, my grandpa was John Taxac, and my grandma was Lucy Koyuk. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. And that was on your mom’s side. JACOB MARTIN: Yes.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And on your dad’s side? JACOB MARTIN: And on my dad’s side, let’s see, I don’t quite recall this one. There’s -- there's an extensive family tree. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
And then your parents’ names? JACOB MARTIN: Arthur Martin, also known as Guy Martin, and my mother is Blue, also known as -- uh, Mildred Martin, also known as Blue Martin.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. So you went to school here in Nome? JACOB MARTIN: Yep. I went to the elementary and the junior and senior high school. Graduated in 2012.
I attended two summers of summer college, pre-college education, and I also attended a year in Fairbanks. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh, did you? JACOB MARTIN: UAF. And then I came back to Nome and found employment, stayed, and had a family.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So what did you study in Fairbanks? JACOB MARTIN: I think the main emphasis out of everything was geology and geologic engineering.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So when you came back to Nome in which year? JACOB MARTIN: I came back in the summer of 2013.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok, and then what employment did you find? JACOB MARTIN: I actually was an intern for Sitnasuak Native Corporation throughout their administration and their land department.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And so how did you transition to where you are now? JACOB MARTIN: I worked a few years at Sitnasuak filling in different roles that they -- that they needed. And when I saw the opportunity to work as a subsistence specialist in early 2015, I took it and started in May of 2015. And within a year and a half, I filled in the role of Tribal Resource Director at Nome Eskimo.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Wow. So did you and your family live -- some of your, um, subsistence lifestyle? JACOB MARTIN: Absolutely. I actually grew up with -- my -- my family would visit my aunt and uncle who lived in Koyuk, and we would go boating in the spring and summer. And I remember spending a winter or two there.
And coming back to Nome after -- after my aunt and uncle moved here, we started subsisting more so here, fishing and the same activities we conducted in Koyuk.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And you still practice today subsistence? JACOB MARTIN: We still -- usually I’m out there spring hunting this time of the year, but I have work to do, and I'm injured -- injury, so.
And I’m -- but usually there is, um, a spring subsistence hunt, summer fishing, fall moose, caribou winter. And kinda winter’s working and some caribou hunting are available.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So tell us more about your -- your actual job, then, what you’re responsible for.
JACOB MARTIN: So as the tribal resource director, my main source of funding comes from the EPA Indian General Assistance Program, in which I run -- oversee environmental -- different portions of environmental work, of which is water quality baseline data. Research that we conduct at seven streams at eight locations.
We -- I also oversee a beach clean-up, as to say, where we have an employee or two going up and down the local beaches here to find any scrap material that washes up, because there are some -- some materials that wash up from historic Nome.
Any -- any garbage or plastics or disposables that have washed up. And just to keep the areas that are mainly recreated on clean.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. Have you noticed a greater increase in any of that of the last few years? JACOB MARTIN: Um, I feel like I have seen a slight increase in maybe what would be considered scrap metal, and it just comes up, and it’s just some rusted old material that’s washing up either through the sand or getting washed up on the beach.
Historically, there was a site off of East Beach that was considered like a dumping site for waste material, and scrap metals were dumped there.
Sometimes you find stuff that might have fallen off someone’s dredge or boat. And sometimes it’s just a fishing buoy or some rope or anything like that.
Sometimes we find things that might have been buried thirty, forty years ago and that are just washing up. Frames of some vehicles or trailers that didn’t make it off the beach. KATIE CULLEN: (Whisper) Wow.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Has the beach receded then? JACOB MARTIN: Um, that’s a tough question. In some places, it -- it seems like it is receding, but it also seems like there’s a slight deposit here at Nome because of our causeway and port as we do have that sand being deposited right in front of Nome.
And that’s considered now Middle Beach, between East Beach, which is a huge recreational zone for everyone from kids to people taking walks and their dogs, and West Beach, which was considerably mined out and continuing to be mined out by miners, recreational miners, occupational miners, and also the large vessel dredges that you see.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. Interesting. Well, as you know, we’re here to talk about environmental or climate change that you’ve maybe seen or experienced over your lifetime or from what you’ve heard from your parents, so we’ll kind of jump into that right now.
Um, and you were just saying that you were going to be writing a new -- a new -- JACOB MARTIN: We were gonna update our Climate Adaptation Plan. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
JACOB MARTIN: That has -- there are four tribes based in Nome and their corresponding corporation -- Native corp -- or village Native corporations, and we worked together on that from 2015 to 2017 with our technical writer out of UAF Alaska Climate Center for Assessment and Policy, Nathan Kettle.
And now that the plan was published in 2017, we’re going to be following up on different aspects of it or different initiatives that were taken while it was being written.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So what initiatives were in the original? I take it that this was the first adaptation plan that you had? JACOB MARTIN: Yes. From our records, it is the first official adaptation plan. That doesn’t mean there have been people who’ve been planning to adapt to different climate -- climate -- climate changes or anything that’s happened over the years.
Um, so I think the main, um, thing that we’ve seen recently is the sea ice and lack thereof and thinning. This year is the earliest the sea ice has broken up and gone out, and it has come back in and refrozen, but it’s also broken up and gone out. It’s the earliest on, um, I believe our recorded history here.
And it happened the day -- later on the day of the Nome-Golovin race in early -- early March. Which, we haven’t seen it broken off that early with the Bering Strait and the Bering Sea being ice-free, I believe, the earliest in recorded history here, in over ninety years of that information.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: What’s the usual date of -- I know every year is different, but normally would it be, like, in April or -- ? JACOB MARTIN: I’ve seen it in April. It’s been more so in April in the past few years, but I remember being when I was younger, extremely younger, I was hunting on shorefast, like ice, until May, 'til late May.
And then it would kinda go near mid-to-late May. But in the last probably ten years, it’s probably been edging up into April, so --
KATIE CULLEN: For this year’s spring hunting, I haven’t really heard yet, kind of how the early ice, um, shifting has kind of impacted things, but I imagine it’s been a big impact.
Or I know, I remember, I guess, hearing around Iditarod time that crab pots were, like, moving around big-time, and people were losing crab pots, and like -- but I hadn’t heard really, kind of, what was up -- what was going on with spring hunting. JACOB MARTIN: So --
KATIE CULLEN: And how that was changing. JACOB MARTIN: For spring hunting, in other locations, I’ve seen that they’re seeing marine mammals migrating now. KATIE CULLEN: Mm. JACOB MARTIN: They’re taking their opportunity to go with the ice leaving.
And a lot of them are ice-based. They rest on ice floes that flow north.
This last week was the first time I noticed people -- more than one person going out, or more than one vessel. And they were going out, and there were walruses and bearded seal, or ugruks, and other seals out there that they were harvesting. KATIE CULLEN: Mm. Um-hm.
JACOB MARTIN: So, and they were within thirty-ish miles. Twenty miles is the closest for the walrus that they’ve seen.
But there is some ice as you head east, and that’s where it’s breaking off, and they’re finding those ice floes as they’re non-existent here in front of Nome.
But I remember in the past, I used to go also east because the ice would stay around there longer into -- further into May. That’s where I would hunt on the ice, looking for seal holes.
But as I got older, and I acquired a boat, I was able to go out in end of April -- or mid to end of April. Even though the harbor was frozen, we’d pull our boats up on the ice there, and pull it to where if the ice broke off, we knew it wasn’t going to drift away.
But with that, with the shore, shorefast ice going down west, it would always be thinner, rotten, and probably dangerous to go over.
And we would hunt there, if it was safe and we could successfully hunt. Not lose anything and have loss of life of our crew members, so this is --
if you don’t have a boat, it’s becoming harder and harder. If you don’t have a snowmobile, it’s also becoming harder, because now you can’t travel as far on the ice. So --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yes, it was on the radio yesterday about seal pups actually coming on shore here. KATIE CULLEN: Mm. Um-hm.
JACOB MARTIN: And that is the -- that is more of an occurrence happening that in -- since -- in the early -- or the late 2000’s or even earlier, that there -- people have noticed more and more seal pups coming to shore.
Some people know that their moms will leave them and go out and feed and a lot of the time their moms will abandon them to start their own lives.
But a lot of times, people see it and they think there’s a poor, you know, abandoned animal on the beach when it’s resting. It can’t swim for days like its mothers, some of its family members. And since there is no ice that it can take refuge on, they come to shore where it’s ideally safer for ’em.
So, but there are now people noticing more seal pups and reporting it.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Just going back to the climate change adaptation plan that you were first involved with, and you said the years went up to 2015 to 2017? JACOB MARTIN: Yeah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So it's a two-year plan? JACOB MARTIN: Those were the years that they were researching and writing it. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
JACOB MARTIN: But it’s gone -- there are multiple -- there were multiple sources of information that led from historical data to recent data from hunters and different workshops and groups that are -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. JACOB MARTIN: Groups we’ve had.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So I’m just interested. So there wasn’t an official plan before, but then there was, so what was the impetus of saying, we’ve got to do something, or we have to have a plan in place?
JACOB MARTIN: It was to look at what’s all happening and how it’s changing, so that we can figure out what we’re going to do or what we want to do. Which steps we want to take that would make the most sense and that we have it documented that this is all happening so that in five years, ten years, we can say we had it written down. And these were what we were planning to do.
And it’s up to us to keep it going, to say, this -- here’s how we’re changing and adapting to this so we have it recorded.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. So from that time to this new planning time that you’re doing, is there different things that you think you’re going to put in for adaptations that you’ve already noticed? It’s a very short period of time. JACOB MARTIN: Yeah.
So in, I think, just for an example, this -- in this last year, we’ve heard that the cold -- I believe it’s considered, like the cold wall, that separates the southern from the northern Bering Sea has disappeared, and so walleye, pollock, and cod are moving north.
And those are commercial fish that are harvested by commercial fisheries. Where up here we rarely see them, if any, and we haven’t heard of any subsistence uses for ’em yet, or anyone how they -- they’re fishing for ’em.
But if they’re here, it’s been shown that if something’s here, we’re going to harvest it and utilize it, from moose and caribou, and if they have any change in migrations, or even reindeer.
KATIE CULLEN: Yeah, I heard that they were traveling super far north this past summer, right? The pollock and -- all the way up into the Beaufort Sea, from what I understood. JACOB MARTIN: Yeah, they’re finding -- KATIE CULLEN: It’s amazing.
JACOB MARTIN: They’re finding them up there and finding them in large masses, and they were out-competing the locals up there for food, such as the migratory birds and shorebirds.
And then they were finding that possibly since they were starving that they were being beaten to their food by the cod and pollock.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Wow. And so you mentioned moose and caribou. I’m --
JACOB MARTIN: So for what I recall reading is that in the early 1900’s, you would see a moose or two on the Seward Peninsula. You wouldn’t see ’em in, you know, herds of cows and a bull.
You’d see a few here and there, but as time came on, and I believe it started around the 1930’s, they started to notice that more moose were moving into the Seward Peninsula, and recorded.
And they noticed that, too, they were following willows, lowbush willows that -- that seem to pop up after you disturb the land.
If you, in the summer, if you go out for drives, you’ll notice the lush greenery from the willows close to the road and onto mountainsides, and especially where railroad tracks or waterways were dug for the old mines. You’ll notice they’re sprouting up there due to the disturbed land.
And they believe that because of that, the moose were able to move in, and since they will eat the lowbush willows that are now becoming taller and larger than the roads.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. And the caribou?
JACOB MARTIN: And caribou. So they found that the Western Arctic Caribou Herd that’ll migrate partially through this part of the Seward Peninsula will fluctuate with population in that it was on a low.
And they’ve noticed that some of the populations will dip lower or higher depending on what’s happening. And they found that the portion coming through here was lower than usual with the population curve.
They also -- we here have noticed that they’re not coming through in -- in -- at certain times they were before the migrating season to the fall and winter times.
So going out hunting was kind of a waste of resources if you didn’t catch anything, and you were having to travel further and farther and using more resources to harvest caribou.
And that they are waiting in certain spots that are warmer than others. They don’t want -- you wouldn’t want to go into a snowy mountain range where you still have food below you.
And they’re waiting until they’re getting pushed out by weather and snow and ice. Because at that point they would start their migration route.
But they -- from other hunters, too, is that they haven’t been seeing as many go through in certain spots, or their timing has changed to a later date when the weather is pushing them out, when winter’s coming later and later throughout the fall. KATIE CULLEN: Right.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So you talked about the willows. So that’s the vegetation. I mean, and you said it’s mostly on disturbed lands.
Are the willows just even coming further north because they’re able to grow further? JACOB MARTIN: It -- it would seem that. I don’t believe we’ve covered too much into that in our climate adaptation plan. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
JACOB MARTIN: That -- but it is noted that more and more trees and plants are moving further north as the permafrost is melting.
And there’s the permafrost that would melt, that would thaw and then refreeze with seasons. And with our winters becoming shorter and a hotter spring, summer, and fall, is that that permafrost, some of that is disappearing so more plants are able to move further north and live in the different environments up here.
And since some of it is not as harsh, they’re able to winter it out and then bloom in the next year.
So there are -- I recall the last time they looked, four invasive species. They didn’t find anything that was too bad. That was a little bit before my time from a previous environmental director.
But it is noticed that there are more plants, and the growing season is earlier and later, and that it is changing some of the times people harvest, like, some of the -- or the willows.
In the spring, they would harvest ’em. They were just the Felt Leaf Willows, the young ones, and they call that sura (actually is Diamond Leaf Willow). LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
JACOB MARTIN: And that’s a source of, um, greens. And others that they’re finding out after the snow and ice melts, you could harvest, so --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So you mentioned the -- the thawing of the permafrost. Are you finding slumping is happening a lot with that? JACOB MARTIN: Yes. As -- since the -- if there’s slumping out -- we’ve seen it in the tundra. We see it in, mainly places where buildings are put up because of the pressure of the buildings, and the planet addresses --
Solomon’s, their -- what used to be their school is now a B&B and they're -- they're somewhat of an office out there.
And it -- they’ve noticed that they’re having to level it more often because of the -- the permafrost melt and slumping that would cause damage to the structure.
And so they’re needing to try and level it and keep it level as everything freezes and thaws as it frost heaves.
It happens here in town, too. It’s twice a year in the spring and the fall. But this, when you’re out of town and kind of in a location where you’d think you built on permafrost, it’s starting to melt and go.
KATIE CULLEN: So in the climate adaptation plan, like, you mentioned it kind of addresses certain changes that are being seen in permafrost, and some coastal, like with sea ice changes, are there like, I don’t know, like five main, or -- or like a number of main, kind of like, focuses that the plan --
I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so I’m curious to hear, like, yeah, kind of what are the -- like, yeah, main different things?
'Cause I’m like, wow, there's -- You know, there’s so much, right, to like --
JACOB MARTIN: We do cover main aspects, and they do -- under the different portions that -- which have included the, um, sea ice, the permafrost melt, but also the storms that we’ve been having. KATIE CULLEN: Mmmm, um-hm.
JACOB MARTIN: It mainly addressed fall storms, and their occur -- like, their frequency and also their -- how power -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Intensity? JACOB MARTIN: Intensity, thank you. Their intensity without the sea ice to -- to -- to protect the coast.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So can you talk about that? What’s -- what -- what -- how is that process happening?
JACOB MARTIN: So, in the fall, we get -- the Bering Sea has massive storms, as we’ve seen. And these storms, you know, will cause flooding and start eroding away.
Nome has the -- the seawall breakwater, and that was put up previously so -- in the 50’s and 60’s, and it would stand and that would help protect the town from eroding off, since it is right on the ocean or the Bering Sea.
And that over the years, that’s slowly been dropping in height and kind of probably going out into the sea and into the sand, but it’s also due to how many storms you receive.
We do receive storms in the summer, but they’re never as intense as a fall or a winter storm, where it’ll be fifty-mile-per-hour winds, sixty-mile-per-hour winds.
And that will cause, you know, waves and high tides, and that’ll erode away at riverbanks and coastal areas if the water reaches it.
And without the ice there to stop that, the wave action or the tides rising, that’s increasing the amount of erosion or loss of coastal areas.
One that we thought we had was located right off the Port of Nome at West Beach, but due to the port being put out, we actually, there was a net accumulation of sand. KATIE CULLEN: Hm. JACOB MARTIN: Which was actually protecting what was considered the Sea View Cemetery and now known as Eskimo Cemetery Track A for the influenza victims of 1917-1918.
That was the location, looking at historical pictures and maps, was you know, further out. To what extent you can’t quite exactly say, but you know it’s been eroding, and there were stories from people that would go for a walk down the beach or a ride down the beach, and they would see coffins and different items and crosses washing up. Or sticking -- sticking right out of the tundra.
So after the port was put up, there became the net accumulation which allowed for the water to be pushed farther back, and so it’s not hitting as hard with storms. It’s not getting eroded as much, and now that some protection has been put up as it’s being recognized as a cultural site, that it’s being protected more.
And before it was believed that that action was still happening with these more intense storms, but the sand and the stuff that’s getting washed up. Some of the debris has caused more of a sea wall for it. KATIE CULLEN: Hm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. Are there plans in Nome to extend the sea wall or rebuild it to help protect the town from these more powerful storms?
JACOB MARTIN: They -- in the past few years, with some of these storms that have washed -- that have even washed out the road, the Nome-Council Highway out at Safety, they call it Safety Lagoon.
There have been improvements in our sea wall, especially going down the beach, down East Beach, to build it back up because it, especially in some of the storms where it’s lobbing boulders onto the highway and rocks and huge logs, that they realize that they need to keep building that wall back up to protect the structures and the people here.
They have done improvements in the past. I don’t recall in this last year, they haven’t done any big improvements here in town, but along the roadway to Solomon and Council, along the Safety Lagoon, they have improved that as that gets hit every year.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And you do think that -- or you’ve seen that the storms are actually becoming more intense, but like you say, it’s the sea ice that’s not there.
So is the storm’s more intense, or is it the lack of the sea ice, or is it a combination of both? JACOB MARTIN: I think it is a combination of both, especially since you’re going to have stronger winds right on the coast, and that’ll blow some of those waves up.
We will be watching -- watch waves hit the sea wall, and it’ll just splash over and get all of Front Street wet and coated.
KATIE CULLEN: When was it, 2011, there was a really big fall storm, right? JACOB MARTIN: Yeah.
KATIE CULLEN: I wasn’t here for that, but it was, like, major flooding down Front Street from what I’ve heard.
JACOB MARTIN: You had to wear boots on Front Street, or you would get soaked. KATIE CULLEN: Yeah. JACOB MARTIN: And there were probably rocks as big as my head kinda just rolling onto the road. KATIE CULLEN: Wow.
JACOB MARTIN: Between the buildings, and especially further down where Front Street just becomes a residential zone, there was things, you know, logs showing up in people’s yards and people’s windows getting damaged. KATIE CULLEN: Wow.
JACOB MARTIN: So it is -- I feel it is -- there is -- without the sea -- sea ice there to protect us, and it adds to the intensity of the storm for -- for the wave action. KATIE CULLEN: Right.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So in your next plan that you’re thinking of doing, or that you are going to be embarking on shortly, what different things do you think should be included in that plan, if any?
JACOB MARTIN: Um, I think it’ll -- right now we’ll be following up on what we have in there, and we will ask the people that were listed two years ago when it was published, how far they’ve come with some of their -- their plans or their actual programs or activities that they were doing.
Since they include the environmental programs from other tribes, and climate adaptation has been a hot topic in the last few years, especially with some of the accelerated climate change that we’re seeing.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: What were a few of the suggestions in the first plan? I mean, what were some of the tasks people were to carry out?
JACOB MARTIN: Um, from what I can recall is that we were looking at, um, for the -- how to adapt to the sea ice. Not just physically getting our boats ready earlier, hauling our equipment to where we can launch our boats or go hunting, but also regulatory.
Is that if there’s any regulat -- or if there's any regulations with subsistence hunting or your hunting, in general, that we look at how we can change the regulations to be more in time with seasons.
Because before there was no season to hunt. It was when they showed up. And that could be any time of the year.
And that was when you harvested or had your resources, whether it was berry picking or green picking, agriculture and like harvesting.
And for that, we’ve seen with the caribou, that was actually one regulation that was brought up in the past before with opening the season a little bit or extending the season when the caribou show up.
And also for bears, because bears are coming out of hibernation earlier. As we’ve seen, there have been bears coming out since the end of March and April. And if they’re out, now would be the time people prefer to harvest them while they have a hearty coat and they’re not scavenging for anything and starting to get kinda, not ruddy, but where their hide’s not going to be as nice, or the meat’s not going be what you want.
You don’t want to find an animal that’s been scavenging for a month, compared to an animal that just came out of hibernation that was set because that hide is used, you know, can be used for multiple different things, from a blanket to, like a rug to keep your floor warm, or even just putting up on the wall, and that’ll help insulate.
And not many people will eat bear meat, but if you can -- I know people that have, and they turn it into different meals, but if it doesn’t smell right, because you don’t have to harvest that meat, they’re not going to, but if it’s, you know, still what they consider edible, and they want it, so --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. So did -- did the regulations get changed then? JACOB MARTIN: Yes, the actual for the bear hunting, it did open up. They did open up the seasons after there was a big push from seeing not only the bears coming out earlier and staying out later, but also more bears and more cow, uh, sows having cubs.
So the bear population was believing to be increasing and competition for resources, moose, caribou, fish.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So if the bear population was increasing, obviously they were finding enough to eat and to reproduce. JACOB MARTIN: Yes. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yes.
KATIE CULLEN: Was that noted, um, throughout, like the Seward Peninsula, or was it like an even bigger range for that? I don’t know, yeah, how big it was. JACOB MARTIN: I remember, I think it was in 2013 that I recall that it started because of seeing more bears and them breaking into cabins also because of their population. KATIE CULLEN: Mm, mm.
JACOB MARTIN: But seeing more of them was about 2013, and everyon -- then there was different organizations that came together and said, these regulations need to be changed.
It doesn’t make sense to just have it during one period of time when nobody really wants to hunt that animal for any particular reason, their hide or the meat.
So, um, there were regulations written with letters of support, strong letters of support from multiple organizations, and they were submitted to the Board of Game, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
And the regulations were changed, because there was enough given information to show a reason to.
And that’s one thing that we’re looking at for other resources, such as caribou, which I mentioned, but if it changes even more, then it would be asked to be written so that it reflects the time to harvest them correctly and anything that wouldn’t damage, like, the population. It’s kind of like that for fishing, too. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Is it?
JACOB MARTIN: In summer, the fish are showing up earlier, a lot earlier. And before a certain date, they don’t even have permits from Fish and Game to subsistence fish.
It’s kind of like, if you caught it, then you get to keep it because there’s only a few, but when the main runs start coming in, you have to have -- after a certain date, you need to have your fishing permit or license from Fish and Game.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So will you be trying to change those dates, too, then? JACOB MARTIN: Those -- I don’t think there’s a real problem with those dates. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. JACOB MARTIN: Because people know to get it, and it’s more for, um, the information so that they realize how much is harvested and utilized.
There have been multiple studies by different organizations and consortiums about how much of a certain type of food, whether it’s fish, marine mammal, or a land mammal and vegetation, and there’s --
it varies from household to household. You’ve got the general numbers of how much each family eats, and fishing is a big portion. People, you know, can do almost anything with fish, so -- KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And a high source of protein. JACOB MARTIN: Absolutely. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. Yeah. Um.
KATIE CULLEN: Do you have, like, when you go out hunting or fishing, is -- is -- is there one that you like to harvest the most, or have like your -- like I don’t know, even like your favorite food that -- JACOB MARTIN: That’s a tough question. I've -- KATIE CULLEN: Yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: I -- I’ve certainly do like hunting and getting seals and ugruks.
That's -- that was a big part of growing up, especially with my grandparents, you know, always having -- I consider Native food or Eskimo food around and fish.
And seal oil is a delight and my daughters love seal oil, and they love all sorts of different foods. They love walrus. KATIE CULLEN: Hm. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm.
JACOB MARTIN: That’s -- I know before when the sea ice was breaking off earlier, in the earlier 2013, 2014, 2015, um, there was concern for marine mammals, but it was found that it wasn’t the marine mammals that were struggling for their populations. It was our access to that marine mammal to hunt as conditions were -- were tough, so --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So the marine animal numbers were the same, it was just your ability to be able to harvest like you have been, that was the issue? JACOB MARTIN: Yes. It was -- the --
as we see, animals will adapt and continue to adapt to survive. And it’s when -- it’s when you stay stagnant is that when you’re going to start to see changes from your own.
So that -- that’s kind of what we’ve noticed was that their populations were, you know, probably were changing, depending on how they were adapting to that certain instance.
Especially without sea ice, I know some animals would struggle to have their young stay afloat, because they can’t float as long or swim as long.
But they're -- like right now, they’re going through now, through the Bering Strait and up into the northern Bering Sea and Beaufort Sea, and the Chukchi.
KATIE CULLEN: I saw some really cool video the other day. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Well, it brings me to just -- KATIE CULLEN: -- of St. Lawrence Island with the -- of walruses. Yeah, it was really neat.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: I was just thinking something interesting about human adaptation. So animal adaptation and human adaptation, so, the traditional knowledge and the things that your grandfather would've probably taught you and your father taught you when you were going out hunting, how have you had to adapt to that knowledge?
JACOB MARTIN: I think the best knowledge was when they were giving to us younger generation about the ice, the sea ice, when it’s safe to be on and go out.
Because they were worried, especially when they noticed it was going out earlier and it was thinner. It was --
I remember going out once, walking on the ice with my cousin, and we took his dog, too, just to go out. And we could hear something underneath us, and we could feel it slightly that the ice was starting to -- we could feel the waves and the action underneath.
And we didn’t feel that was safe. And it was pretty thick ice. This was -- I -- we don't -- we weren’t able to test how thick it was, but we didn’t want to be out there if anything happened. So we -- we learned that.
And also in the later years, when we were having a harder time accessing some of our, um, animals, seals were going on the inside of ice pans that were rotten, and they considered themselves, you know, to be safe there because nothing can -- is going to go over that to reach ’em and they’re protected from any marine mammals that are coming after them under.
And harvesting those became a challenge because we didn’t want to go through and break and you were stuck in the middle of an ice pan.
And sometimes we would utilize what we had. We’d find, you know, sometimes we’d find wood or logs floating, and we used those as bridges.
We would row and try to do what we could to carry the boat across some of that, and taking risks that were probably otherwise warranted if there were other, if we were able to harvest other animals.
So, but probably how sea ice is and the conditions and, um, not quite ice hopping. ’Cause kids are getting in trouble for it now. Because of the situation, we’ve had two cases in the past two weeks of kids getting stuck ice hopping.
But, out hunting, we weren’t -- I don’t think we would be considered kids at our age, in our teens, late teens hunting, but we were taking some of those risks that probably would seem highly dangerous, and if you fell in, that would be pretty bad, especially if you were twenty miles out in a boat, or fifteen miles out in a boat in the middle of an ice -- ice pack.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. KATIE CULLEN: Wow. Scary.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um, just to go back to the willows. You were talking about it’s where land has been uprooted or changed that the willows are growing up. What about just even along shallow rivers or waterways, and hasn't -- that hasn’t happened. Have you noticed anything there?
JACOB MARTIN: Some, somewhat. They -- it does seem that the willows are growing there, more so. It -- they are growing --
You can tell they are growing, but not at the rate if the land would have been disturbed for ’em, but they are starting to set root. It's probably with the thaw, the thaw-melt cycle, and freeze.
Willows are hardy plants. I mean, they’ll get mowed down by bunnies and moose and everything in between and then come back the next year. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. KATIE CULLEN: It’s amazing, yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: They are. Like the Eveready Bunny. And what about then if the caribou are changing, the change in lichen? Have you seen changes in lichen at all? JACOB MARTIN: I cannot speak to that personally. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: No? Ok.
JACOB MARTIN: But I have talked to some people looking into it, and they’re -- they're researching into that, and that, um, maybe the lichen might not be changing they’re seeing. Or it might be the access to the lichen since we have had freezing rain events in the middle -- in the middle of winter, December -- December and January.
I can speak to having that happen to where, with the freezing rain, it coats everything, and then it turns into a layer of ice. And with the low snowfall year, that freezing rain makes it harder for everything that is using the lichen.
They have to dig for lichen to survive. Or even any animals that live on the tundra on that top surface and hibernate there. That causes issues for them.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. I was aware that you were getting freezing rain, but I didn’t realize it was that much.
JACOB MARTIN: Um, and for awhile, we were having rain maybe, April, or every March, and then it started freezing. It’s been kinda cold these last few days, and you can see where everything’s refreezing. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yes.
JACOB MARTIN: We’ve been in that cycle since late March.
KATIE CULLEN: And it seems like, um, a friend of mine lives in St. Michael, and she was saying that this past winter, like, they -- they haven’t really had snow.
Like we got a ton of snow here, but they had more, like, they had that kind of a continual freezing rain for most of their winter, it seemed.
I was like, wow. Yeah, I thought -- I was like, we’ve got so much snow here, but -- but, yeah, in other parts of the -- the region, it seemed like there was, yeah, kind of more of that -- that happening, too.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Are you finding you had more snow because the winters were a little bit milder? Or just -- KATIE CULLEN: Kind of like, warmer -- warmer, wetter winters, I think, in general, from what I’m understanding. Yeah. JACOB MARTIN: That -- KATIE CULLEN: It seems.
JACOB MARTIN: That makes a lot of sense to me. Because with my one year in Fairbanks, and the one last year it was negative -- almost negative fifty before it wasn’t.
Is that you didn’t -- you don’t see a lot of precipitation when it’s negative thirty, negative forty out. Just the moisture in the air doesn’t turn into precipitation.
But when it starts to warm up into the negative -- negative single digits and the single digits and the twenties, you’ll start to -- and thirties, you’ll definitely start to see more snow.
And then once you get up into the mid-to-high thirties, it starts raining. And that freezing rain, that’s kind of where that comes from with those temperatures.
KATIE CULLEN: And we had like all of -- all of February was just one snowstorm after the next, and it -- yeah, it seemed to be kind of hovering in the, you know, like the low thirties, mid thirties, and then, I think we had some rain.
Yeah, it was a mixture of very interesting weather.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Do you get an increase in fires, then, if you’re getting later -- or earlier springs, later falls? Have you noticed any changes in -- not too much in fire pattern?
JACOB MARTIN: Um, maybe what -- like I know we -- some people have noted that some parts of the Seward Peninsula are a little more wet and humid.
And, of course, the only place I’ve really seen lightning and thunder before -- before in Nome, was as a kid, up, you know, where they had big, wide rivers. When I was in Koyuk, I remember lightning and thunderstorms.
And the interior part of the peninsula, the Kougarok High -- or Kougarok Road near Cottonwood and Pilgrim is you would see, sometimes you'd see lightning striking mountains in the far distance once in a while, and you’d hear it, and there’d be more rain.
But I feel like we’ve had more thunder and lightning here in Nome the past, five, six years then.
And that, at one point, there was a few tundra fires by, you know, up by Dexter. Maybe twelve miles up inland from Dexter, and then by Salmon Lake I’ve heard there were small fires where it was extremely dry from the storms rolling, um, rolling in. And out at Kougaruk way, Kuzitrin area, there was a large fire.
KATIE CULLEN: That’s right. Yeah, just a couple of years ago, right? There was one -- the first one, I think, that you mentioned, or maybe we’re thinking about that one. JACOB MARTIN: Yeah, it’s big. It cros -- it jumped the road. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm. Um-hm.
JACOB MARTIN: And that kinda -- it wasn’t spreading, like, far and wide, like some fires do. This kinda just went with -- where the wind was pushing it at that time.
And as we -- most people think tundra is a bog, and it is. It’s wet. Most people don’t go out there without boots.
And this was just dry, dry times. And then when it would get really wet and that hot weather would mix, we’d get these tundra fires.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. Interesting. So we -- we talked about the sea ice, especially not being shorefast, and you talked about some of the thickness and the timing. I mean, this year, it’s gone out so early.
How is this -- we were talking a little bit about changes to natural resources. So, what are you gonna be looking at for your future adaptation plans?
JACOB MARTIN: Probably getting -- having resources ready earlier would be my best guess.
Some people’s boats are still frozen. My boat is still frozen in my parent -- parent-in-law’s backyard.
And some people mentioned that they spent four hours digging out their boat, and that’s quite a bit of time.
You know, I’m relatively young, I can -- I could do it, but with a broken finger, it would be harder.
And even more so, I think their boat was out at camp where they could launch it easily, where mine is on a trailer. I would have to dig the trailer out, too, and that’s more time. KATIE CULLEN: Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So basically, putting things up in the fall has to be a little bit -- as change, so that when it’s -- when it’s time to go out, you have your equipment ready to go out? JACOB MARTIN: Yes. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Is what you’re saying? Ok. I understand.
JACOB MARTIN: Is having it ready at -- ready there, you know, probably covered with a tarp, and moved once or twice after the snow falls.
Kind of like, if you don’t -- if you -- I remember, if you wanted something, you put it away for the winter. If you didn’t, like, you had some other stuff and you left ’em out, you wouldn’t see ’em until, you know, May, June. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
JACOB MARTIN: That’s kind of how it is with some items, especially with this -- the amount of snow we’ve received.
KATIE CULLEN: Is there like -- if someone doesn’t have space necessarily where they live to store a boat, is there, like, a public space? I’m not -- I’ve never heard of one, I guess. JACOB MARTIN: You can lease -- KATIE CULLEN: Oh.
JACOB MARTIN: It’s mainly for the port and harbor, if you have a larger vessel, you can always -- KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm. I see.
JACOB MARTIN: -- and but there’s that one location that they call the small boat harbor that’s right there off Belmont. Right before -- or, yeah, right before the bridge, and that was --
KATIE CULLEN: Where you see all the dredges in summertime? JACOB MARTIN: Was -- was supposed to be subsistence. KATIE CULLEN: Hm.
JACOB MARTIN: And they were -- they were the ones if it was mainly a subsistence -- if it was only a subsistence vessel, if you only use that to go out hunting or fishing, then you wouldn’t need registration or anything.
You’d just have to, you know, let the harbormaster or the port director know, and say, that’s how my vessel is, is I don’t use it for any commercial use. It’s only for subsistence, spring hunting and going out and setting a subsistence fishing net.
So mine wouldn’t require that -- the registration or info. But as that’s kinda getting crowded out by other vessels, mining vessels appear and some commercial vessels, it became harder to just leave your subsistence resources out.
KATIE CULLEN: Hm. Interesting. Yeah, ’cause I guess I’ve -- yeah, in the summertime I’ll see a lot of the dredging vessels throughout the summer, right? And it’s -- yeah, that would be really tricky to -- yeah, I don’t know.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: How’s that going to change the dredging then? I mean, will they be able to start earlier and go later now? KATIE CULLEN: There’s -- I’ve seen dredges already out there. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Already? JACOB MARTIN: They're out there. KATIE CULLEN: Yeah. Which I was super surprised, yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: Two or three dredges, and usually those are people who are pretty serious about it and can have their -- have their -- their stuff can be pulled out in an instant if the ice came back in.
Or they could leave it there for weeks, 'cause I main -- if you maintain your equipment correctly, and it goes with subsistence vessels, too.
Because sometimes you’d go out, and you’d be gone for a week or two, and if you especially got stuck in an ice pack.
Now I’ve heard of it, once or twice the people getting stuck, and they have a satellite phone or a two-way communication, and they’ll call in to work.
But before it would be you’d go out, and you’d have a little Coleman stove, and you’d melt -- and you’d like just have Pilot Bread and some longer-term rations, not just a couple home-cooked meals ready. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Interesting. Huh. So I was -- just been thinking that if they’re dredging longer in the season, what’s that going to do to the ocean floor, and how is that going to change things? Or is that not a reasonable question?
JACOB MARTIN: I -- I think it’s reasonable. It’s just, some of the studies they’ve seen is that I think that mainly would affect our crab. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. JACOB MARTIN: Baby -- you know, baby little crabs that come in closer to shore.
But there was one study by a commercial outfit that was doing due diligence and doing their research on the area that wanted to mine on a large scale, especially put their dredge out in the water as soon as possible in there.
But what they found earlier in the season is that, conventionally the crab would go out little -- little after some of that ice would go out, and they’d go -- they’d go offshore, further offshore, and then they would just miss, um, whenever -- something would happen -- whatever dredger, there’d be some near-shore disturbance from weather.
That because sometimes you’ll see that there’s ice -- er, it’ll be pretty shallow going out. Bering Sea’s fairly shallow throughout. There are a couple deep spots, but -- that -- they -- they get out, and then very, very few people end up sucking up crabs, from what I understand -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
JACOB MARTIN: -- in their dredging operations. But with everything changing, I don’t think that that research has been updated in six, eight years.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So was it affecting also then how many -- how much the people crabbing are getting, if they don’t have as much ice to go out with? Ice, you know?
JACOB MARTIN: That’s a very good question. There was, actually, on the radio they were mentioning -- some people were being interviewed, crabbers, because we do have some hardy long-term crabbers that’ll handle the last piece of ice, and they will, um --
Right now, where the subsistence crabbing area was, was right in front of Nome. And without that, there’s no subsistence crabbing through the ice.
You can’t go out and set a pot from a boat until summer crabbing starts. You need a -- that goes with the fishing permits.
But there are people going to where the ice is holding on up and down the beach and setting their pots there, and for the commercial crabbing season, you know, that’s probably going thirty miles, forty miles in each direction. KATIE CULLEN: Mm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. Interesting. Interesting.
KATIE CULLEN: When you think, Jacob, of all the changes that are happening, does one -- I don’t know, does one of -- kind of the things that you’ve observed, is it of most concern to you, or like --
I know all of, or I imagine, you know, like all of them, there’s just so much happening. But do you have one that you’re, like, perhaps most concerned, I guess, about?
JACOB MARTIN: I can’t just say I’m mainly concerned about one. I mean, I think -- KATIE CULLEN: It’s all interconnected. JACOB MARTIN: Yeah. KATIE CULLEN: Yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: It’s a lot of the -- a lot of what we are taught is we’re all connected, and that there’s, you know, there’s an environmental ecosystem, but growing up here, you’re -- you’re in the environmental ecosystem.
You’re along that food chain. You’re not the big -- the big guy on top. You’re slightly below the brown bear most of the time.
So, that’s -- that’s how we grew up here, and I can’t say just one. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm. Um-hm.
JACOB MARTIN: Because it -- I think, the main -- one of the big factors is rising temperatures throughout the year. KATIE CULLEN: Mm-mm.
JACOB MARTIN: There are less days where it’s very cold to where your heater needs to kick on. Some people tell me they have -- their system that they just put in tells them how many hours their system is on per month, and it chang -- like it’ll compare last month, or this month to last month.
And I mean, it’s great if you’re trying to save money on fuel oil, which is a pain here, the price, but for everything else, it’s kind of a trade-off. KATIE CULLEN: Mm-mm..
JACOB MARTIN: Especially since subsistence resources are a major factor of people living here.
I mean, 120 years ago, you couldn’t live here without subsistence resources. Now it’s becoming more grocery-based. KATIE CULLEN: Hm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah, grocery-based at a very high price. Is that because people are not doing as much subsistence work harvesting anymore? Or is it just a change in life?
JACOB MARTIN: I feel like it’s a little bit of both.
There are people who definitely subsist, who, you know, they’ll subsist 'til the end. I have family like that, and I hope to be like that.
But there are just -- especially with more people, and eventually it becomes a competition of resource, like moose.
Even though there are moose here, there’s not enough for every family. You know, one moose is plenty for probably three families for a winter.
But with the population increasing from people moving here, and more -- people having more children and larger families, is it becomes harder because of -- especially when the hunt count goes down. Or the subsistence quota goes down here. Or the quota -- there's, you know, subsistence tier hunt here in Nome.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So like, you’re allowed to take so many moose per year or caribou per year? Is that what you mean by a quota?
JACOB MARTIN: Yeah. For moose, they're -- the quota is based on their -- how many they see in their analysis they did at Fish and Game.
Where caribou, they also have that, but the quota was implemented to twenty per unit per calendar year, ten per calendar year. It varies between general management unit, but it is, like, five per day.
And some people hunt for -- proxy-hunt for multiple families, and, you know, they’ll fill out a ticket with someone else’s name.
But for moose, it’s only one per hunter, and it’s usually you group up and hunt for that with your, you know, friends or family. And people are coming to Nome and also harvesting that resource.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So do you get like trophy hunters, you mean, coming, or just people coming from other parts of Alaska wanting to -- for that for their subsistence? JACOB MARTIN: Both. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Both.
JACOB MARTIN: There are people that live in other places, mainly populated urban areas, Anchorage, and they come here and they hunt.
And they’re hunting with their friends that live here. Maybe they used to live here, and they just come back. But it is a competition at that point, of resources, of who gets one, who doesn’t.
And you know, everyone does share. I mean, you’re always going to get food, moose or caribou from somebody, or if someone has a reindeer herd and gets some meat there.
But it just becomes a little harder, and then that takes it out that that family has less subsistence resource, and that’s -- you make up one res -- you try to make up one resource with another by fishing or gathering.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm-mm. You mentioned reindeer. Um, people still using reindeer? JACOB MARTIN: There are very -- there’s a small population here. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yes.
JACOB MARTIN: The Davis herd and the Kakaruk herd out of Teller is the main ones here in Nome.
There are -- if you go farther out, sometimes you will see some herds kind of wandering to -- into where you’d see 'em from, maybe the northern Seward Peninsula. But there are still managed herds on -- St. Michael has a herd. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm. Um-hm.
JACOB MARTIN: And they -- they have a large enough herd that they can sell to a butcher, and then we see the meat here at the market, here at Nome.
KATIE CULLEN: I just saw it in the grocery store yesterday. It was, yeah. I always love to see it.
'Cause I don’t -- I -- I don't recall, and maybe I just hadn’t picked it up, but a couple years ago I don’t recall seeing it in the store. Am I -- ? JACOB MARTIN: It -- it -- it -- KATIE CULLEN: Maybe I just didn’t see it at that time.
JACOB MARTIN: It -- You -- they have it once. You know, they have it for a while and then they’ll sell out and then you have to wait at market.
'Cause there are some commercial places that’ll buy, you know, couple hundred pounds of reindeer to mix it in with other meat. And that’s how you kinda -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Go further. Yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: So we -- we’ll see it here at the -- at the -- at the store once in awhile. Usually it’s like one steak or caribou. Or not caribou, I mean stew, sorry. Reindeer -- you’ll see it in stew chunks, and that’s -- just and then --
I mean, some people buy it from a herd owner, and you pay a varying price from herd to herd on their -- their deer.
And then usually they’ll tell you, you know, it’s their mating season, only shoot this or that. They have, you know, there’s a specific ratio of bulls to cows they’d like, so if they feel like they have too many in either category. Or they’ll say, these ones are better this time of the year, and we do have enough to harvest it.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So we’ve talked about harvesting land mammals and sea mammals and fish. What about berries?
Has there been much of a change on -- with the changing vegetation and temperatures? The berry numbers? JACOB MARTIN: I do feel the berries have increased. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh, that’s a good thing.
JACOB MARTIN: Yeah. It's -- it's good. How much they’ve increased, I can’t remember too much as a kid. I’d just run around and eat them.
And at this point, I don’t pick ’em. I do pick ’em. My family picks them, but I’m watching out for predators.
And I do feel like there are a lot more berries. I’ve seen people picking more berries, but their timing hasn’t changed.
Um, especially with the amount of water we’ll receive from spring break-up and spring melt. And also how much rain we receive over the summer.
I know I feel like it’s -- it's getting earlier and earlier in the year that people are finding ripe berries in different locations.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So are we talking blueberries and cranberries? JACOB MARTIN: Mainly blueberries. And cranberries do come a little bit later. Blackberries.
KATIE CULLEN: Salmonberries. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Salmonberries? KATIE CULLEN: Hm-mm. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. KATIE CULLEN: They’re always very good. It seems to be pretty early, right, this past summer? JACOB MARTIN: Yeah. KATIE CULLEN: I think.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And also with berries, the bears love berries. JACOB MARTIN: Oh, yeah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So, again, another food source for the bears. Yeah. KATIE CULLEN: Mm-mm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um, we talked about permafrost melts, and shifts in -- I guess one interesting question that we talked with Tahzay in our -- our last one was, so all this is happening. This is affecting people here, animals here, how do we make other people aware, and why is that important?
JACOB MARTIN: I feel like the first way that people become aware is when they first come here and realize it firsthand.
When -- I think a big thing would be is like, hey, can I come and do this? And they're like -- ’Cause they see it, and they’re like, no, the season opens then. Then they kinda get open-eyed that maybe it always -- it hasn’t always been that way.
Or in comparison to previous years, and they’re -- I've seen pictures of, you know, hundred years ago of some places with glaciers and how much they’ve melted down. Or how coastal erosion has happened.
And that kind of opens people’s eyes, when -- If you see it, like, right in front of someone’s hab -- their habitat, their home, their camp.
There are people’s camps that are right on the bank of a river right now because it snaked over so much. It’s at an accelerated rate. And that -- that’s kind of how you bring it to people.
You don’t realize that it can happen to anyone here. It’s -- it’s kind of like an occupational hazard to live here and do that.
From "How to Train A Dragon," they mention that. That anything can happen at any time here, especially, and that’s kind of the scary part is some things you don’t -- that you can plan for, you can’t plan for anymore because they just happen.
And it’s important because our population up here is definitely increasing, and with human population increasing, we’re going to see the effect on the environment around us.
Coastal -- part of the coastal management is shipping and ports. Nome is possibly going to have a deep-draft port in the next five or so years, depending on how it all goes between the city and the Army Corps of Engineers.
And in which, you know, a deep-draft port would be good for economic and national security here in Nome. We can -- We’ll be able to launch an icebreaker or a Coast Guard vessel, or anything to conduct a rescue. Or shipping.
If we can get resources in and out. I mean, it’s all -- these all are gonna have effects, especially on subsistence resources that people here do rely on.
And changing -- those adverse changes will just make it a lot tougher for people to adapt faster.
I mean, it’s one thing to say, yeah, we can head out earlier, a week earlier next year hunting, but sometimes you’re not always thinking of that. You’re thinking, I have a giant puddle under my house causing -- my house might get swallowed by a sinkhole, which is very real here in Nome. There are houses that need fill year after year.
And, you know, you can’t always worry about other sec -- food security, in a sense.
Or you know, you don’t -- you want to, but you just don’t have the resources and time to worry, like, if a vessel -- if something happened to a vessel, and it’s stuck here and it needs other oil spill response or something taken care of.
So it’s very real because sooner or later, things are going to change, and they’re going to change so fast people can’t adapt. It’s kind of been seen before.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Are you going to be addressing that in your adaptation plans, these new ones that you’re coming up with? These, not just two years, but five years, ten years, twenty-five years, fifty years?
JACOB MARTIN: Yeah, that’s, you know, that’s in the plan that we’re going to continue to look at and keep going with the organizations, and how -- how we’re planning to adapt.
And a lot of them, you know, there’s -- there’s a lot of great ideas, just the funding for it, and not -- Looking at the funding for all of this, sometimes you can’t cover it even when there is an abundance. It’s just what can you do on a small scale, your small steps?
Um, you know, if your water goes out, and your circ -- you don’t want to burn up your circulation pump, and then have all your pipes freeze that next time it happens.
And just small steps like that, that you’re monitoring some certain aspects or if you have water under your house, you get it pumped out or have fill put in when it’s needed. Even a couple, you know, handfuls at a time. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm-mm.
JACOB MARTIN: And for, like, erosion purposes, the same thing there is, you keep an eye on that. Maybe you just put a few things, a few stakes up, or you put some small barriers down every time. A couple rocks here, a couple rocks there. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
JACOB MARTIN: And it's -- it’s not just the big -- not just the big project that’ll solve it. It’s continual work and effort into it.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: It’s an ongoing effort. JACOB MARTIN: Yes.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So thinking back from when you were younger to today, just thinking back to some of the favorite places that you liked to go to, can you describe what they looked like then and what they look like now?
JACOB MARTIN: Well, one of my favorite places as a young teen was out on the ice. It was quiet. You could walk around and work on a tan.
And now it’s harder. You can do it on the ocean, but you’re not on the ice. You’re in a boat. And, um, you got a motor. It’s loud. Generally, you’re with more than one person.
But when you’re on the ice, you know, you can take some of those risks and not worry that you’re going to fall in. Um, I think that’s -- that would be my favorite.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And Katie, you wanted to ask some questions to help you with some education curriculum, perhaps?
KATIE CULLEN: Well, it was kind of the question that you asked, um, kind of answered. Or was a different way of asking the same -- the same question that I had.
Yeah, I guess I was thinking about, like, my niece and two nephews live in Chicago. And how can I best kind of, you know, like share what --
And -- and they’re definitely seeing things, but it’s very different what they’re seeing, what they’re observing and like, changes that they’re perceiving.
And, yeah, how can I best kind of -- what message can I share with them about -- about all that is happening here to potentially encourage different sorts of, like, thinking about, you know, our daily actions and -- and things like that. So, yeah, like it’s -- it's -- they just need to come visit as well.
No, but like -- you know, like, how -- yeah, what -- what type of messaging for kids that live far away and kind of don’t -- don’t quite -- aren’t quite able to kinda really get a sense of like, things are happening fast, you know?
And, but -- but you -- but, I heard a little bit of -- of that. But, yeah, I don’t know, if you have other kind of additional thoughts.
JACOB MARTIN: I know that before -- that there’s the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) their local environmental observer application. KATIE CULLEN: Yeah. JACOB MARTIN: That’s on mobile now and on the web. You can see what’s happening, and people are tracking more changes than I can tell you about here.
You know, people seeing bugs in the middle of winter, or bugs moving farther north, such as ticks or even plants, the invasive species.
Um, some of those just people that are out and about that have -- or have a phone and take a picture of it with their mobile -- smartphone and put it up, and they can get in contact with, um, professor, someone who specializes in it.
And that -- just seeing that, like -- usually, you only see that in magazines growing up, National Geographic and Reader’s Digest. People asking, like, you’re seeing the letters to the editor or like, what’s this about? And someone -- and now it can happen almost in real time. KATIE CULLEN: Yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: That, you know, you can ask a question, and it gets answered.
And if the person has done work here before, you know, people come up here to do studies on different animals, seabirds, migratory birds, marine mammals.
If you post that, just because, you know, a hunter like me might see something, and I’ll ask my buddies and they haven’t seen it, maybe I’ll put it up there. And someone says, well, we haven’t seen that in Nome. We might’ve seen it in X/Y location before, and it’s because of this.
And then we -- we’d know that something happened. Or maybe there’s a cause -- potential cause and effect with a lot of that. Mostly for invasive species, it’s the -- their environment’s changing, and they’re able to adapt into it or move up into a warmer place. Or it’s getting too hot, and they have to move further north where it’s colder, so it's --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And even with migratory birds, the first sighting of whatever bird. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: I certainly know the geese were earlier in Fairbanks this year than they’ve -- they've ever been, so are you seeing the bird migrations changing? JACOB MARTIN: Before, yes. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yes?
JACOB MARTIN: We’ve seen birds showing up earlier. We’ve seen black brant.
And we’ve seen it before, where there’s an open lead, and someone out there just looking for seals, marine mammals, saw a brant flying up, and then, you know, in another day they saw them flying down. And they’re just kind of waiting to go further north, or further south, depending on what season it was.
But we -- there have been sightings of birds showing up earlier in some places, or even staying in one location a little bit longer because they’re waiting for the weather to change where they’re planning to go.
I know someone heard a seagull the other day and said, "I just heard a seagull." KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm. JACOB MARTIN: I listened really quietly, living at the west end of town near the port, I could swear I heard one, too. And you know, hearing a seagull here in April, it’s a little early.
Sometimes you’d hear some migratory birds that would follow herds of walrus or other animals, and they’d clean up after them. Or if there's anything, they’d pick through waste or different stuff, so.
Now those are the only animals we’d hear. We wouldn’t hear exactly gulls or anything like that. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. Interesting.
KATIE CULLEN: That’s another cool, um, like the Leo app. There’s also the, um -- I get “rare bird” alerts for iBird, that -- that, you know, people have been like, "Wait a minute."
There’s -- there was a bald eagle that was spotted just recently in Unalakleet that was posted, and -- and I’m guessing that was probably earlier.
But, yeah, these different kind of, like, ways of sharing that out, it’s really -- it’s really neat to think of how that is kind of growing and then sharing out to -- to people all over, so it’s pretty awesome.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: You said it’s in real time. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm. Yeah. JACOB MARTIN: Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Just not only the speed of change, but the speed of technology, and how to connect is really quite amazing. Yeah. KATIE CULLEN: Yeah. It’s cool.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. Jacob, anything that you wanted to talk about that we haven’t talked about, about changes, and especially something that might help you as you go through on this new planning process? JACOB MARTIN: I think, um, food preparation was something, part of the plan -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
JACOB MARTIN: -- we can bring up here. And before, people had kind of a underground food -- food shelter place.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Like a cache underground? JACOB MARTIN: Yeah.
And those were used before. I remember my great-uncles having one at where they used to live, out of town.
And they would be like, "Don’t go in there." You know, it’s deep. It’s cold. I’d see it, and even in the summers, they’d have it covered, and that was where they would put, you know, certain things. You know, cans or jars of stuff they wanted to preserve long-term. Or meat, um, saved.
And that used to be -- I remember family telling me about it, and even school teachers saying, yeah, we had one in our village. We’d carve out a big hole or cave, and we’d bring snow and ice in there, line the walls, and that’s where we kept our food and preserved it.
And here I know of some -- places -- if you plan to live there long-term, you’d have one, so -- But as Nome became more of a permanent settlement, people lived here, you couldn’t quite just dig a hole in your front yard, so you wouldn’t see it here in Nome.
But then, you know, you have people’s sheds or qanitchats and they’d keep a freezer in there, and that’s where they’d keep all their frozen foods and other materials. And that became the norm, so we’re kinda seeing that change.
But, possibly, like, is -- are there other ways to preserve foods, other than now the norm is vacuum sealing. We see tons of vacuum sealing.
And you don’t see it quite as much being dried as much, or even some dried foods are vacuum sealed, like jerky. And -- or preserved.
Still people still preserve a lot of vegetables and seal oil. Canning it, and fish, and you know, more moist, wet foods like fish and oils, anything like that you’d -- you’d jar or preserve it in something.
And you don’t quite see that too much. You see -- you do see canning and jarring. You don’t see it as much as -- I used to remember my parents canning and jarring fish for days and preserving all sorts of other food in seal oil here in Nome.
I remember, you know, every time you’d go have Eskimo feed, have an Eskimo feed at our relatives, you’d have a big jar of seal oil, and there’d always be greens, sura (young willow leaves), beach greens, tukaiyuks (sea lovage) and other -- other stuff, just preserved in seal oil. And that’s -- you know, you can get a lot of nutrients from that.
But when you kinda vacuum seal and freeze-dry stuff, that’s more of a convenience food there and --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So why -- so -- I guess, so people just aren’t collecting the seal oil as much anymore, or the drying is just an easier and faster way of preserving the meat?
JACOB MARTIN: Yeah. I see more meats dried in that sense, or just ground up and put away or just chopped up and put away in -- in that sense.
But it used to be more common. And salting. You know, having layers of salted. KATIE CULLEN: Mm. JACOB MARTIN: Or even just, um, some dried meat with salt over it to keep it from rotting. KATIE CULLEN: Rotting.
JACOB MARTIN: You don’t see that too much in that people are moving towards, you know, vacuum sealing and containing stuff.
I'm worry, I can’t think of whatever, what other methods they’re doing in that sense, but I do remember someone mentioning they changed their -- the way they are drying fish to make dry-fish.
Instead of -- you used to cut, what, horizontal slabs. They were cutting it vertical slabs like they were going to smoke ’em. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. JACOB MARTIN: Yeah, into strips. And they were drying faster and easier.
And in some places, it is becoming harder to dry. If you’re on the coast, sometimes you just get a week, two weeks, three weeks of rain. We’ve had it, and you can’t dry fish in that. It rots.
We’ve had family members get sick from eating some just to try it, and it didn’t taste right, and it made them -- you know, they went and laid down and rested a couple days and having issues like that, botulism. KATIE CULLEN: Yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: We’ve had a death and multiple sickness in the last year because of botulism and just moving away from fermentation.
Or some of the resources they're fermenting it in, to trusted resources.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So is there a different nutritional value, do you think, or is it still the same nutrition, it’s just a way of being prepared?
JACOB MARTIN: I think there is a nutritional value to having it jarred or in seal oil because you’ve contained all that in there. And where you dry it, sometimes you’ll lose moisture.
Or people will soak it in stuff. And, you know, we like flavor from time to time, but if you soak or brine something in something extremely salty, you’re going to increase blood pressure and other -- And then people have issues with that here and heart issues because of too much sodium and stuff.
You know, just a -- if you have flavor in, that’s ok, but completely going to drying it or turning it to jerky and then just putting it away like that.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So if you get a seal, and you’re not using the seal oil, maybe I’m just naïve 'cause I’ve never seen a seal. I’ve never participated in that. Caribou, moose, yes, but not in seal.
So where’s the oil going? Or how are they not rendering it down to get that oil?
JACOB MARTIN: Some people, they -- I’ve seen some people will just get it and give it to dog mushers. It can be a task, too, to render a bunch of seal oil or clean it because it takes a lot more time in refining.
And, I mean, you can make a lot of seal oil, and some people maybe aren’t eating as much. You know, they’re not using as much, so it’s just they don’t need to do that.
But I know in some places they still do it five -- in batches of five gallons, and they put everything in there, and that’s how they preserve it in their shed, and that’s where I remember is people preserving it in, like the jars -- large pickle jars and other ration jars. And now buckets. So, and that’s -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
KATIE CULLEN: Have you noticed, does the change in material, like, between a jar and the five-gallon buckets, does that change the flavor of seal oil? JACOB MARTIN: I believe it does. KATIE CULLEN: Does it?
JACOB MARTIN: In a sense. I remember when they were first issuing warnings about water bottles. KATIE CULLEN: Mmm. Um-hm. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. JACOB MARTIN: Them warming up and so it was -- and then leaching out, you know, different chemicals, and that can be --
I know it’s probably not much of a risk up here, but that’s still I feel the same as -- It’s going to leach out more out of the plastic.
It may be more convenient, but it’s -- that’s the tradeoff is that you might have chemicals and other things. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So, I’m just wondering if -- so you’re saying there’s not as much traditional canning and preservation that happens today like it did thirty years ago, perhaps. JACOB MARTIN: Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um, I could say the same for where I come from. You know, I used to can hundreds of jars of whatever, but people don’t do that anymore because people are now working. They -- they have a different lifestyle. You need a lot of time to do all of that, a lot of time, and that’s just something that doesn’t exist anymore.
So with people having multiple jobs and working, is that part of, maybe, the reason? JACOB MARTIN: I want to say, yes. That is.
People -- things are becoming more expensive, you know, to -- to just live in general. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yep. JACOB MARTIN: To afford your resources.
Gas is like $4.50 a gallon, and that’s if you drive a vehicle, like a truck, you know, that’s not very fuel-efficient.
If you’re hauling all your gear, your boat or snowmachine or anything, you have to spend more to transport it to where -- get it and then launch.
And firearms, you know, you’ll have a firearm and ammo -- or and resources and food. And then if you’re not hunting on the weekend, you’re taking time off work, and some people don’t have, you know, paid leave, or -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Or flexible jobs. JACOB MARTIN: Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: That allow for subsistence blended with Westernized work schedules.
JACOB MARTIN: Yeah. So in essence, you’re -- you're losing work money and then having to go out and make up for it hunting.
Whereas, you know, if -- if you’re not very successful, you just spend a bunch of monetary resources and with no yield or low yield. And that kind of trades off.
It’s easier to go buy a steak for whatever a pound, $6.99 a pound, and call that good.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Mm. Hm-mm. So just change in sedentary lifestyles. JACOB MARTIN: Yes.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. Combined with changes on climate and environment and everything else, and all of this having a cumulative effect. JACOB MARTIN: Yes.
That’s what we’re -- I feel like we’re seeing that more, that people are working more and subsisting less.
And it’s just harder -- it’s becoming harder to subsist if you’re working, in a sense, because then you're -- the two days a week that you would go hunting and sometimes it doesn’t always pan out, especially weather-wise.
If, you know, it’s good, Wednesday, Thursday, and you’re looking out your office window and wishing you were out there, and then Thursday, Friday come along and it’s raining, and then it starts snowing. And then it starts storming. KATIE CULLEN: Right.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. So what about a cultural change? I mean, what about, you know, employers and working environments that are flexible to that. JACOB MARTIN: It -- I believe, it’s --
KATIE CULLEN: There’s -- there’s some movement, I think, in that, in that -- at least, I’ve heard recently. Like, here in our office, we’re trying to -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
KATIE CULLEN: -- to do a little bit more of, like say, "Wow! You know, this could be a great opportunity to go out and get berries."
And kind of like being able to use some of that time for -- but other, you don’t know -- I feel like I’ve heard of other places locally that are doing that as well.
JACOB MARTIN: Um. Yeah, my employer allows subsistence leave. They value that. Especially if I can advocate for it in what they’re doing.
It’s nice because some people will all take beautiful pictures, and then people’ll be like, yeah, I’m gonna -- I'm gonna take leave next week to go out and do that. Or at least get out and try to.
And, I mean, it was a cultural thing, you’d go have a picnic, whatever. You go drive the family sedan, and you’d stop off somewhere. People like to go to Salmon Lake and -- or to a bridge, and there’s little firepits, and you’d go do that, and then you can go pick berries right off, or you can go fish.
That was kind of, culturally, if you didn’t have a boat, you could go upriver, and we used to picnic all the time, and we were looking -- We’d go fishing near my uncle would look for moose and caribou and anything else.
And my previous employer also had that written in, the subsistence leave, and they valued it, too.
And then it kind of does help if eventually, you know, for two weeks out of the year, no one’s in the office and everyone has a cough, and it’s actually a hunting season, then it makes sense for the administration to realize that value there.
KATIE CULLEN: I think the school, um, schools are looking at, you know, different school calendars to be able to do that as well. You know, there’s been some good conversations.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So maybe when the time is allotted and it’s culturally valued more by employers and people, it may be a bit more returning back to that would be a feasible thing ’cause you would have the time.
JACOB MARTIN: That -- I -- I do believe that. I remember in high school that, uh, for awhile during the moose -- moose hunting season, people would -- teachers would be like, "Yeah, it’s moose season." We can’t plan anything they need during these two weeks because that’s when the regulatory season is for that, and people would go out and take their kids. Excuse me. And they could be out all two weeks.
And sometimes in the spring, there aren’t as many -- I feel like there wouldn’t be as many marine hunters going out in the spring.
And they would have to, like myself, I would dedicate every Sunday, wind, rain, or shine, and -- but during the week, I feel like in the spring there are some.
Although I feel like there’s more pressure now for the schools to realize that. And right now, especially since it’s been moving -- the ice breakup’s been moving and hunting's been moving, um, earlier and earlier, that it’s colliding with school.
You know, you can’t just pull your kid out when you’ve already missed two weeks for snow days and sick days. And then truancy becomes an issue, especially if they’re studying, you know, for college or for certain exams that are important. So it’s tough to balance it throughout the year.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. And like you say, with things changing from year to year, it’s not, well, we can mandatorily say that this is the week it’s going to happen because the ice might go out before or after that. JACOB MARTIN: Absolutely. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. Flexibility.
JACOB MARTIN: Yeah, there’s no -- there's no set date in any government, in the Marine Mammal Protection Act, of when you can or cannot harvest a marine mammal, but it’s just when it’s there.
And that’s, with being set around everything else causes, you know, complications and clashes in schedules.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. Go ahead. KATIE CULLEN: Ooh, I was gonna -- so you’re on the Walrus Commission? JACOB MARTIN: Yes. KATIE CULLEN: And that, um -- tell me a little bit more about your role on the Commission and --
JACOB MARTIN: So, I started off being appointed as the Walrus Commissioner for Nome Eskimo Community in 2015.
When I started, they asked for the commissioner to come to the meeting, and it was within my work role to go.
Personally, I mean, I’ve gone up and I’ve been, you know, from me to you to a walrus on the ice, and it was kind of like, "Ok. Well, it looks like it’s dead. I can’t tell if it was shot or someone just hit it and then it swam off." And they popped up and woke up and weren’t too happy someone was five feet, staring at ’em.
I haven’t gone out to harvest that yet, but my role actually is as Vice Chair of the Walrus Commission. And I believe that was looked on as a younger member that can be more into progression with things changing, and not having --
Or trying to work with how things are changing now especially in not just the, um, subsistence climate, but the social, economical, political climate of everything is going to change.
And that we -- that we can adapt to it, and not be stuck with policies and looking at how things were fifty years ago when some of -- some people remember it.
And that probably was the good time, when they had ice and a reasonable season they could predict with weather -- weather patterns they could predict traditionally.
But now it’s looking at there’s also a global -- a global picture involved that there’s going to be shipping from large nations wanting to go through and Alaska being at one of those focal points, how that can affect it.
So I’m kind of seeing in that, that I can work and comprehend some of these even larger pictures with some of these companies that are coming to talk about it or organizations to talk about it that see values in studying or looking at adapting to that.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So what is the mandate of the Walrus Commission? I know the Whaling Commission.
JACOB MARTIN: I’m sorry, I’m trying to --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: That’s ok. Take your time. I can see your role in it. And overall what is, what do the Commission see their mandate or role as?
JACOB MARTIN: Ok. So the official mandate of Eskimo Walrus Commission is to protect the population for future use and harvest.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. Right. And that makes sense then in how you’re in there as a key. Yeah. JACOB MARTIN: Yeah.
KATIE CULLEN: And the Commission, it’s -- the Commission collaboratively, like, works with, um -- JACOB MARTIN: US Fish and Wildlife Service. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm. Ok. JACOB MARTIN: US Geological Service, um, State of Alaska because they -- KATIE CULLEN: So there’s a number of different, kind of --
JACOB MARTIN: The main, um, regulatory bodies, the Fish and Wildlife Service under the MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act), but the Geological Service and the State of Alaska also have walrus research, um, clauses in there.
And they partner up in some places, and there’s actually a sanctuary. I think that’s where it’s more of a -- down in Southwest, there’s a little island. Not a little, but there’s an island that’s protected, and you can’t harvest or do anything, um, there. You can’t disturb it. It’s kind of --
So they have that, and they do some research on walruses there. And the US Geological Survey does it with the Fish and Wildlife Service up out of Point Lay, where the haul out site has been these last five years.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. Right. And how long have you been on the Commission? JACOB MARTIN: Since 2015.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So when you started your (inaudible). JACOB MARTIN: Yeah. KATIE CULLEN: Oh, cool. I didn’t realize it was 2015. That’s awesome, yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: So. My dad actually was one of the first people to get it going. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh.
JACOB MARTIN: And, yeah, with receiving a grant to fund it and get it going to start the cooperative agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a co-management body. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
JACOB MARTIN: So he was there, and then he -- since he had many different endeavors and working, he left that but just stayed listening and was a part of -- actually a part of the Park Service Beringian panel, he worked for.
So he -- and he told me about it, and that’s where I got a lot of my background for this understanding and how some of the politics can work.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So is your grandparents still alive? JACOB MARTIN: None of my grandparents are still alive.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh, I’m sorry about that. I was -- so your parents are still alive? JACOB MARTIN: Uh, my mother is. My father passed away two years ago.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: I’m sorry. I just was gonna ask. So, in talking with your mom, then, does she talk about how things used to look and be compared to today? JACOB MARTIN: Yeah.
My mom actually was born here on the mainland and grew up on King Island quite a bit.
So she remembers when the island would be surrounded by ice, and they would -- you know, they’d get down on the ice and they’d hop on a little dogsled and go around the island to go crabbing or go hunting around.
Or if they -- like, when they had to get on their boats and go between mainland and shore because the only way by was barge or skin boat. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: She mentions, like, when we had more ice or how certain conditions were, 'cause she could grow up subsisting, too.
She mentions it here and there, but she doesn’t bring it up too much. She’s just working on what’s happening now. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. JACOB MARTIN: It’s good to reminisce, but --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: No, no. I agree, it’s good to reminisce, but it’s just interesting, you know, when that would come up. You know, like, oh, I’ve never seen that before, or gosh, I haven’t seen storms that bad, or, you know.
JACOB MARTIN: They’ve -- she’s -- I remember my dad and her, they would talk about it or when roads would open super early when they put the roads in, ’70’s,’80’s. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: Then they’d, you know, we'd get snow for, you know, eight months, nine months of the year, ideally. Then it’d clear up and we’re getting roads opening extra early.
And they can clear roads even earlier because they’re not pushing against, you know, glaciated blocks of ice.
They’re able to move snow off the road, and they’re able to -- people are able to get out by vehicle and then, you know, take off on snowmachine or boat, depending on where they were going from different locations, which allows greater access to that whatever resource they’re harvesting. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: I remember when the road was open out to Salmon Lake and a little further up until late December, mid-December. Then it finally snowed in.
And then the next year, they were out back on the early May clearing snow.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm-mm. Yeah, and all that clearing of snow then exposes that earth, which probably absorbs more warmth, which just compounds things again.
JACOB MARTIN: Yeah, you’d see it around the road, clearing faster, but sometimes that would cause wash-out issues, and that was -- that was -- that was common before, especially when they didn’t have roads built up as much.
You’d see roads get washed out and you’d have like a five-foot dip, and no one could cross it until they filled it and repaired it. KATIE CULLEN: Yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: Or even when Hastings Creek actually washed out because it had a back -- backlog of so much ice and water, that it just took the -- the Vion (sp?) bridge they had there out.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So it was like a dam behind it that -- ? JACOB MARTIN: Yep. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh, wow.
JACOB MARTIN: It was just melting and melting. And since it’s a pretty big creek, that’s just been a big valley, so whenever that builds up, people probably get nervous, especially the people on that --
There're people that live out at Cape, and they probably get a little nervous. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah.
JACOB MARTIN: I do when I see that they put in, like, three culverts and not one big -- or a bunch of big culverts and just, you know, one big one and a couple smaller ones. KATIE CULLEN: Mm-mm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Gosh. So, I think we’ve covered almost everything we wanted to cover, but I wanted to give you the opportunity, so, you know, you had said we hadn’t talked about food preparation.
Was there anything else that you think is really important to changes that are seeing or your climate adaptation plan that you’d like to talk about?
JACOB MARTIN: Um, not that I can think of or bring out right now.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. Um, did you have any further questions at all, Katie? KATIE CULLEN: I don’t think so, no.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: I want to really thank you. I’ve learned so much. Thank you very much -- KATIE CULLEN: Yeah, thank you.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: -- for coming in today. It’s been wonderful.
And we’ll certainly give you a copy of the recording to help you with your planning. JACOB MARTIN: Oh, thank you.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And, um, thank you so much for being part of this. Ok.