Roy Ashenfelter was interviewed on February 4, 2020 by Leslie McCartney and Katie Cullen at the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve offices in Nome, Alaska. In this interview, Roy talks about growing up following a seasonal subsistence lifestyle and his observations of environmental change throughout his lifetime in the region. He discusses changes in sea ice, seals, seasonal timing, moose, caribou, vegetation, beavers, fish, permafrost, and pollution. He also talks about problems of accessing resources as the environment changes.
Digital Asset Information
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Personal background, education and work history
Village life and growing up in White Mountain
Seasonal round of the subsistence lifestyle
Maintaining and using a dog team
Falltime activities, including gathering firewood, hunting waterfowl, and ice fishing
Storing and preserving fish over the winter
Going to school and dad running a trapline in the winter
Springtime activities, including egg gathering
Excitement when an airplane arrived, and barges bringing in supplies for the village store
Attending boarding school in Anchorage
Winter travel to Serpentine Hot Springs
Observations of change in sea ice
Observations of change in seals
Observations of change in seasons and snowfall
Observations of change in nearshore sea ice
Observations of change in moose and caribou populations
Observations of change in willows
Learning to hunt as a boy, and hunting and use of rabbits
Observations of change in beaver populations
Trapping and use of squirrels
More about beavers and their effect on the landscape
Observations of change in fish and fishing
His family upbringing, speaking Iñupiaq, and learning the importance of hard work
Observations of change in transportation and travel knowledge
Observations of change in permafrost
Observations of change in trees
Change in use of underground cellars versus freezers to store food
Effect of permafrost melting on travel and access
Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.
After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Today is February the 4th, 2020. I am Leslie McCartney, and we’re here with Katie Cullen and Roy Ashenfelter at the National Park Service Bering Land Bridge National Preserve offices in Nome, Alaska. And I want to thank you, Roy, so much for coming in today and speaking with you. And for Katie for -- for hosting us. So if you just want to introduce yourselves, too, just to be on the record. Katie?
KATIE CULLEN: Sure. Um, I’m Katie Cullen. I’m the interpretation and education program manager here at Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, headquartered in Nome, Alaska.
ROY ASHENFELTER: I’m Roy Ashenfelter, born and raised in White Mountain. I live in Nome, been living in Nome since ’82. Married and two girls. Um, and -- and here to participate in this program.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And thank you so much, Roy, for coming in. We’ll just start off with a little biographical information. You said you were born in the White Mountains. When was that?
ROY ASHENFELTER: I was born in 1955 in White Mountain. And my parents are Alex and Annie Ashenfelter. I'm one of ten children. I’m the baby of the group. Um, I’ve -- in that village, it was maybe 150 people at the time, at the most, so I’m a real villager.
Um, and went to school at White Mountain. Went to junior high and high school in Anchorage. Went to UAF in Fairbanks. Moved here to Nome in ’82. Been living here ever since.
I work at Kawerak. I’ve worked several places, but I’ve been working at Kawerak for over twenty years. And um, so just enjoy living here.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So just go back to UAF. What did you study at UAF, Roy?
ROY ASHENFELTER: At UAF when I was going to school, I studied business administration. I just stuck with that, and then got my AA degree. I didn’t get my bachelor’s, but got my AA degree. And then, after that I moved back to Anchorage. And from Anchorage moved up to here.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Mm. And so, you said you’ve been at Kawerak for over twenty years. What do you do there?
ROY ASHENFELTER: My first role at Kawerak was doing, um, helping with Native allotments. And those are individual Alaska Natives that fill out a form and receive a parcel of land when they qualify.
And so, Kawerak’s role -- it used to be BIA, but Kawerak’s role was to take over the program and provide that service. And that service included sales, transaction, gift deeds, probates, a number of different things that individual landowners owned that Kawerak provided services for.
And then lately, the last seven years, I transitioned into a natural resource advocate. And what that mainly entails is dealing with subsistence issues, fisheries, game and fish, involved in shipping, involved in a lot of more land-based type things and/or management of fish and -- fish and game.
Trying to go into the North Pacific Fish(ery) Manage(ment) Council meetings to have them reduce their bycatch of salmon. Go to Board of Fish meetings to participate in fisheries for chum, pink, and kings. And then also to the new one, which is the Federal Subsistence Board, which also provides the same type of issues for both fish and game.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. So I just want to go back before we go forward, you had said you were a real villager when you were growing up. ROY ASHENFELTER: Oh, yeah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: What do you mean -- what do you mean by that?
ROY ASHENFELTER: So having been raised in the village, lived in Anchorage, lived in Fairbanks, lived in Nome. Um, you grow up, you know, you just get these natural traits, I think, from the village life that, you know, that I think are unique to a village. Like education, you know, just village education in itself is different, I think.
Maybe our -- our speaking skills aren’t as good, and you know, just a -- just a way of life that I have learned since that time is real unique, too. The living skills that you grow up in a village versus an urban area.
Um, it’s not bad or not good for either one, but I’m just saying, that having been born a villager, um, that that’s what I learned without having to have a choice, really. You know, this is where you're born and raised, and so you grew up with that understanding and --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Describe some of the skills or understandings that you just naturally grew up with.
ROY ASHENFELTER: So in a village in ’55 through the '70’s, um -- it’s not unique to any village in our region. Um, there was no water and sewer, so you had to have an outhouse. You had to pack your own water. You had to chop your own wood. You had to walk to school every day. There was no such thing as storms to keep kids home. We just went to school every day.
Um, and then the other part about village life is, you know, you get to know everybody in the village. You just, you know, you have to go get your own food, whether it’s berries, greens, fish, sea mammals, animals, trapping, you know. You know, you -- it’s a -- the -- the -- the lifestyle growing up in that, those are the things you had to do and learn to understand and participate in even at a young age.
We had a dog team. My dad had a dog team, and everyday we’d have to water and feed the dogs. You know, my dad did a little bit, but us kids, that was our job. Everyday, go home and water and feed the dogs. Um, so that was part of -- part of growing up, too.
And then, every morning, believe it or not, there was no electricity, no hot water. Every morning, someone would have to start the fire in the woodstove to warm up the house. So that was kinda -- I forgot about that lifestyle a little bit.
But it was fun, you know, it’s just what you -- the environment you were in. You didn’t know other people were living in nice, warm houses 24/7. You know, growing up in the village, you got -- I got to experience that, and I, you know, really enjoyed those learning experiences and nuances that can’t be or couldn’t be taught anywhere else.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Mm. And the subsistence lifestyle. ROY ASHENFELTER: Oh, yeah. Yep. Really enjoyed that. I carry the subsistence lifestyle activities today. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So what do you do today for subsistence, then?
ROY ASHENFELTER: So I do just about everything I grew up doing. It depends on the season. Um, I could start off with summer. Summer is salmon fishing time.
When I was growing up, we used to cut -- the river that White Mountain’s on is Fish River. That’s the name of the river. It’s the only inland village left in our region. It’s five miles up the river, literally on a river.
All the other villages have been vacated, like Council, Mary’s Igloo. Those are true inland villages that once existed and had populations. But White Mountain’s the only one maintaining a village on the in-river system.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So what happened with the other villages? ROY ASHENFELTER: They -- Council, I think just moved to Nome. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. ROY ASHENFELTER: And then Mary’s Igloo got moved to Teller.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Is that because of erosion or there was problems with the road? ROY ASHENFELTER: I -- you’d have to ask them. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. ROY ASHENFELTER: But my understanding, education and hard to get to that village. That was some of the reasons.
And that -- that may have been the same way with the King Islanders moving off the island, but you have to ask them. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. ROY ASHENFELTER: I’m pretty sure there was pressure for that reason for both villages to move because of their difficulty in access. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: But, you know. Ask those people that question, and they’ll verify more clearly what happened.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So summer, you had the river right there so you could fish? ROY ASHENFELTER: Oh, yeah. And so that lifestyle, being born on a raise -- being born and raised on a river --
I think Koyuk and a few other villages may do what we do, maybe Unalakleet, too. And some in Teller, maybe Mary’s Igloo.
And what we do different in those villages, especially in White Mountain, is we get our fish from the river, which is different than the ocean. It’s the same fish, but it’s different. Different in that it’s lost its -- lost its fat content. KATE CULLEN: Hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: And so, the fish that we cut and hang, in our opinion, dry and preserve better throughout the winter than fish that are cut and hung on the ocean. The fat content is the difference, or lack of fat content in our rivers.
So when I was a kid, we um, hung about two to three thousand salmon, both pink and chum. And that was mainly to feed ourselves and the dog team. There was no dog food back then. You had to -- you had to make it, create it, get it, to feed your dogs.
So the abundance of salmon in the river was that link to making sure you had a good food source for your dogs throughout the winter.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And each family would harvest that much, too, Roy? ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, several families would. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Not all of them.
Um, it’s just that, you know, some -- some families made a real concerted effort and understood the effort behind trying to -- to put food away, dog food away and people food away, for consumption. So that’s summer, and that was --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Berries, too? Do you pick berries? ROY ASHENFELTER: Uh, toward the end of July, early Septem -- early August is berry time. Um, so that’s salmonberries, blueberries. Mainly -- mainly salmonberries, and blueberries would come a little bit later. Uh, cranberries and blackberries just a little bit later in August.
But salmonberries, we would pick first because they were available first, in -- in -- toward the end of July. So that was part of, you know, part of camping, July and August.
And then in August, you would switch to hunting birds. We would switch to hunting birds and seals, marine mammals. Uh, moose hunting would start maybe beginning of September.
But mainly in August, it was -- it was trying to get birds. There was some -- a late fall run of silvers. Um, so that type of activity. And still trying to gather --
Oh, the other thing I remember, too. We used to have mukluks. And because you had dogs, what I remember in the fall time was cutting grass. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Uh, lots of grass. Um, and -- and we would store it in the shed.
And the purpose behind the grass was to put inside our mukluks. And then the other main purpose was to put bedding for the dogs, um, inside the dog houses. So that was the reason for collecting grass.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: How many dogs would you have usually? ROY ASHENFELTER: My dad kept a string of about sixteen, between sixteen and twenty, literally. He didn’t try to have more than that, if I --
When I remember, and if he did, if a dog had puppies, he would just cull ’em out. That was just the way it was. It was -- you couldn’t afford to -- to maintain a large dog kennel, so you kept that size dog team for -- for what he needs, what he knew to keep. So that was it, that was maybe sixteen to twenty dogs at the most.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And the purpose of the dog team was for travel? ROY ASHENFELTER: Food -- yep, food, gathering wood, food, and hunting in the winter time. Uh, that was, yeah.
And so, our winter months, wintertime's, still today is quite long. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: So you’re able to do quite a bit.
And that was the only way to get around if you wanted to get around in a timely way. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. ROY ASHENFELTER: Other people walked, but if you had a dog team, you can do a lot. Um, so that was the reason why we cut grass, I remember right.
And then, being born in White Mountain, believe it or not, we had trees. And there’s still trees over there. And I -- I didn’t know that other villages living on the coast didn’t have access to the trees that we had everyday.
You’d have to go out in the trees and find a dead tree hanging up and then cut it down and bring it home, cut it up and burn it. So that was a different lifestyle from other villages in our region.
Maybe back to the villages that did have trees around them is White Mountain, Koyuk, and I think Unalakleet, are the only tree villages, villages with access to trees within a reasonable distance. Shaktolik, I think, too, but um -- and Elim, I keep -- don’t miss out Elim there.
But anyway, so that, being around trees was a -- was a -- what I thought was a great thing because you had access to firewood.
And so, in late fall, we would -- my dad would take us boys up the river, and we’d go cut trees for the winter. We’d haul ’em down to the -- cut a whole bunch of trees and just -- and we had a long, skinny boat. It was a riverboat. And it was only maybe three feet wide at the bottom and maybe two foot high on the sides, but it was like, uh, sixteen or eighteen feet long. And it had a square front and a square back.
And by the time I grew up, we had an outboard motor. My brothers and sisters that were older than me, um, used dogs to -- to move the boat up the river. Um, and then -- so that was -- by the time I grew up, there was a small outboard on the back of our boat.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And they were flat-bottom boats? ROY ASHENFELTER: Flat-bottom boats. And every shallow, you’d pull the bot -- you’d pull the boat over the shallow. Being born and raised on the river, and that was just the way it was. You’d just get out and pull the boat over the shallow. And then you’d push it into the deeper water and motor up the river some more. That was the way -- that was the way we traveled. Now it’s just jet boat, and you don’t have to worry about any of that.
Um, so that was maybe the biggest thing in the fall was -- was -- was trying to get your -- trying to get as many ducks and geese and cranes and swans as possible. Um, trying to get food, like seals. And then, gathering wood.
And then, early winter was kind of like waiting for the winter to happen. Um, you still got out and did things, but I remember ice fishing through the ice when it was not too thick and not -- but safe to be on.
We’d ice fish for whitefish, for grayling, for trout (local term for Dolly Varden). Uh, we used to get those by the sackfuls.
The other thing back a little bit in late fall is, there was a fall run of what we call "skipjack." I think the -- I forgot the Native word for the skipjack, but used to seine for ’em late in the fall.
And we used to fill those -- we used to have gunnysacks, and we used to fill ’em up with the -- fill the gunnysacks up with the skipjacks and try to get as many fish as we can through the ice.
Um, we had no freezers, so we had a shed on the back of our house. We had a regular pitched house, log cabin house, and on the front of it was a shed. And the shed was only maybe eight feet high and had a slight slope to it. We put all our food up there.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And it would just naturally freeze. ROY ASHENFELTER: It would just naturally freeze and thaw up there on the roof.
Um, and would be out of -- out of reach from any loose dogs, anything else.
Um, and that was -- that was actually kind of fun, uh, because -- I still try to do it today. As your fish freeze and thaw, it gets tainted. It has a -- because of the freezing and thawing, it has a -- the tastes change. KATIE CULLEN: Hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: The best way to describe it, it has a natural ferment. But it’s not -- it wasn’t -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: It’s not rotten? ROY ASHENFELTER: It’s not rotten.
You just knew -- you just -- that’s just the way it was, you know. You just went up to the roof and ate your -- they would send me up to the roof or one of us boys up there and those gunnysacks, and we’d have to empty the gunnysack out and chop off some pieces because they’d be frozen solid. And then, bring ’em in the house.
And then, if you can get ’em a whole and/or get a piece big enough so when it brought -- was brought in the house, it would thaw out, and then you’d have most of your whole fish that way to cook.
But at the end of the day, what I remember right -- I mean, I tried to do it again, and it’s -- I was trying to remember what I was missing. I wanted that tainted fish taste again. And I’ve been trying to do that, and try to, you know, maintain that effort. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, and then, as winter come on, uh, you know, it was education. Back then, for me, it was -- you started school in September. Um, so you’d -- I’d run home.
Believe it or not, my -- my parents provided three meals a day, which is -- which I thought everybody did in the village, but found out later that wasn’t true.
And then, you just did your thing. In the village, growing up visiting every -- visiting your friends, um, yeah, it was a real wonderful lifestyle.
Winter time was -- my dad would go out and go hunting, trapping, um, yeah. That was --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So he still ran the trap line in the '60’s, then, did he? ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah, um, he wasn’t like a prolific trapper.
There was some village -- there was some village men in our village that really made a super-duper effort at catching lots of land animals, lots of fur animals.
My dad was a minimal trapper. He didn’t spend a lot of time trapping. But other men did. There was not a lot, but there was several men that really made a concerted effort to -- to get furs for sale.
Um, and then, uh -- so that’s, you know, winter time is just, you know, doing the winter stuff.
Um, and then, as springtime rolled around, marine mammal, birds come back. Wild birds come back. So it was, you know, you start the cycle again.
Um, yeah, the biggest thing was -- was hunting as much wild birds that was coming in and then gathering their eggs. Uh, we used to get seagull eggs, all the eggs we could think of except for certain birds, but just about every wild bird, including seagulls. We’d go out and go collect their eggs.
The other place we gathered eggs was with -- was from murre eggs. We call ’em "atpa." (common murre) And that's the cliffs off a bluff. We used to walk over there, and you can get as many eggs as you can. You can get thousands of eggs.
And the way we preserved ’em was, we had a cellar across the river. And back then, it was permafrost underneath, and so all the wild birds that we -- my dad would get, we would get, we’d put down in there. Anything we needed to keep frozen, we’d put down in that cellar. Um, uh, eggs, everything. You know, everything, whatever we can do to preserve food, that was -- that was where we kept our frozen -- tried to keep frozen stuff.
Um, and then, as time went on, motors and everything got advanced. Electricity came to the village. Airport was there. We only had --
Back in the day, when I remember, a plane would come once a week. The whole village would run down to the -- because that airplane there, they would land on the ice in the winter. They couldn’t land on the airport in the winter because the airport, there was no maintenance for the airport.
So summertime, the airport would work, and in wintertime, they would only land on the -- on the ice in front of the village. But it was a big event.
I still remember many, many, many times running down and meeting the plane. Or even in the summertime, running up the hill just to go see what kind of plane come in, and, you know, visit.
And then springtime, the barge would come up the river to fill our store up with groceries. And people -- the men and a few women would unload the barge. It was all hand unload, and then fill the store up with, you know, whatever the store had ordered for us to have or buy during the winter. Lots of canned foods, of course. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Sugar, milk, those kinds of things. So anyway, that’s where I grew up.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah, sounds idyllic. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. It must've been a big change to go to Anchorage to go to school. ROY ASHENFELTER: Ah. So it was not unique. Um, all the grades -- all the schools in the villages went up to eighth grade. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Mm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: So junior high and high school was outside of every village in all of Western Alaska. We were traveling to different places, and I ended up in Anchorage ’cause that’s where my other brothers went. So I just followed them.
If they would’ve went to Mt. Edgecumbe like my older brothers and sisters, I would’ve gone there, too. But it was just that they came back and said, "Hey, Dad, uh, Mom. Going to school in Anchorage is real good."
Well, they had no -- no experience of going to Mt. Edgecumbe like they went to three different places. Like you would go choose a college for your -- for your education. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: You know, nowadays you do that, but back then, you just went wherever the school system sent you. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
ROY ASHENFELTER: But anyway, they came back. My older brothers and sisters came back and said, "Anchorage is good." So that’s where I went. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: So. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Great.
ROY ASHENFELTER: But it was that way for all the kids. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. ROY ASHENFELTER: There was choices for several of us. It was Anchorage at the time. In Anchorage, we stayed at -- in people’s homes. Called Boarding Home Program.
And at -- and at -- Mt. Edgecumbe was a boarding school and several other ones in the Lower 48, like Chemawa, Chilocco, and a few other Native American boarding schools that was for them but also included educating Alaskan kids.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. Well, interesting childhood. ROY ASHENFELTER: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yep.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So what we were talking about in these interviews is biographical information like what you’ve just provided, Roy, but then we’re going to kind of switch to, um, changes that perhaps you’ve noticed over your lifetime in different areas, especially with the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve area or areas in around there.
Um, can you talk about things that you’ve seen that are perhaps different from your childhood to today?
ROY ASHENFELTER: So, first of all, I go to the Bering Land Bridge every year. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Do you. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yes, every -- every March or April, we go up to the Serpentine Hot Springs. Every year.
The lady we brought from the National Park Service was Leah Knight. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: She went with us. We took her up there.
But we -- so I have a lot of personal experience. Really enjoy going to the springs there.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And how do you get up there, Roy? ROY ASHENFELTER: Snowmobile. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Huh. ROY ASHENFELTER: Snowmobile up there.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: How long of a trip is that? ROY ASHENFELTER: It’s -- it’s about 120 miles one way. It takes about six -- six hours. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Sometimes we’re breaking trail. And then, they have a cabin, too, at Pilgrim River Bridge, that we stop there, and we always turn on the oil stove and keep it on so when we come back, it’s warm.
It’s like a little refrigerator when you first open the door. And it takes -- it takes about six to eight hours for the oil stove to heat up the place to make it livable.
But at the end of the day, once you get the oil stove in there going for more than six hours, you’re -- the temperature’s back to normal living conditions and stuff, so it’s not -- it -- anyway, so we leave it on real low so when we come back through, it’s sometimes even up to eighty degrees inside the cabin. Um, but so that’s my little thing on --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So you’ve been going up there every year since when? ROY ASHENFELTER: About the last ten to twelve years. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh, ok.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, so as far as subsistence activities and the changes, I think the biggest change is sea ice. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: That’s the biggest change. Um --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: How has it changed? ROY ASHENFELTER: Less sea ice. Um, and it goes out earlier.
So as a sea mammal hunter, um, which I do every year and been doing since I was a little boy, um, you go out on the ice when it first starts to break off from shore.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And when would that be? ROY ASHENFELTER: That would normally be, like, toward the end of April through May. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
ROY ASHENFELTER: And then, lately we’ve been going, beginning of April. Lately meaning the last three or four years.
So that -- what that -- by trying to go out there during the ice breaking events, there’s lots of pan ice out in the ocean right, you know, near Nome here, and lots of seals. Mainly -- that’s mainly what we hunt here, both ringed and bearded seals.
Um, we try to get those, and what they do is they like to rest on the ice and use the ice to forage off, or excuse me, rest, and then go in the water to forage or do whatever they do as seals.
So access to them during that time of the year is preferred, because if you get one, you just tow it back up on the ice, and then you butcher it there and bring it home.
So that’s -- that was -- hunting on pan ice is -- provides that opportunity. If it’s open ocean, you could still do it, but you gotta take your game long ways to take care of it. But -- so we time it so that when the ice breaks off, we’re out there.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So you’re saying that the ice is breaking off earlier? ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So instead of going up at your usual time, you’d have to accelerate that and go a couple weeks earlier, then? ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And are you finding that the ice is the same thickness or thinner or different? ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, no, it’s maybe less abundant. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: But the thickness is there. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, I’ll put it this way, safe enough to get on to butcher. That’s what we’re looking for.
Um, so but -- and then the other thing is, freeze-up is a lot later, too. That’s real obvious. So those are the wintering conditions.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So a lot later like a couple weeks, a month? ROY ASHENFELTER: Like -- like a month. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Wow.
ROY ASHENFELTER: We had people boating in January, what, two years ago? Which is crazy. But you could still boat in November, late November, early December.
Uh, and that's -- has changed. To that event. Uh, and you just -- with those conditions, you just have to be more careful.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: I heard on the radio this morning, they were talking about seals losing a lot of weight and not being as healthy. Have you -- have you heard of that? ROY ASHENFELTER: Not yet. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, there was an unusual, what’s it called, you know what I mean, unusual -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: It said they didn’t have as much fat on them. Yes, they were called something unusual when they sink. ROY ASHENFELTER: No, they had a -- there was a unusual something event. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
KATIE CULLEN: It was a unusual mortality event, was it? LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Mortality event, yes ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. Quite a few years ago, maybe six-eight years ago. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
ROY ASHENFELTER: And that -- what that en -- what that -- what that entailed for the sea mammals that we’re hunting, mainly the seals, they ended up lesions on 'em, red -- red lesions, or their hair loss, you know. We were sending those in whenever we could for necropsy and those kinds of things to help figure out what’s causing that. There hadn’t been any solutions yet for that.
But back to -- back to whether or not seals are skinny or whatever, I haven’t witnessed that yet. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. ROY ASHENFELTER: That doesn’t mean, you know, there are not a few that you run into that aren’t healthy. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: You know, it could be because they got hunted by another sea mammal like killer whale or those kind of things, so.
Uh, but as far as healthy, I haven’t experienced the blubber thickness being not thick enough and/or not having healthy food to eat. So for me it hasn’t changed yet to the point where that’s the norm. And people are experiencing that. I haven’t personally, haven’t done that.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So for you, it’s just basically the seasons are -- are being accelerated? ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah, on both ends. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah.
ROY ASHENFELTER: The winter season is shorter. Winter seasons is taking longer to occur and happening earlier.
The snow events, believe it or not, when I was a kid we used to have snowstorms all the time. We used to have -- we used to make these giant snow caves, and yeah. So the last few years when we’ve gotten lots of snow, I just thought that was normal, you know.
Um, maybe climate change -- for a few years there was a lot less snow. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: But I remember coming to Nome, and there was snow drifts on houses all the way around their houses. People even had to tunnel their way in and out, and that was a normal thing, these snowstorms. And to me, that’s exciting to see them back again in that way.
Uh, so anyway, I -- there was a period of time, maybe in the late '70’s, early '80’s, when they weren’t as severe. Maybe we had some real bad ones in there, but as far as consistency throughout the winter, to me they’re -- it's somewhat back to normal. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: But every year’s different, right? The last two years, we had tons of snow. This year, there’s hardly any snow. So anyway, go figure. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And this year, what’s the ice like? Is the -- ROY ASHENFELTER: Oh, very good question. It’s busted up. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: It’s froze really bad. What we call really bad.
In real cold winters, normal winters, we call it that. You’d have some places where there'd be long pieces of frozen, flat ice.
And what that comes from is when the -- when the temperature drops cold really fast, the surface of the ice freezes. And it freezes thick enough to where -- where uh, as the winter freeze continues, because it’s thick enough, it’s able to maintain its -- its -- its place despite the changes that are occurring that are natural.
Um, like ivus (pressure ridges) and stuff that occur when the ice breaks off out in the ocean and the current change, wind change, they just force the ice up -- up again -- into the shore.
This year and the last year, um, the freezing was not as intense. So you have lots of pockets of little pieces of chunks of ice here and there. And it’s what we call "busted-up ice that froze."
At least in front of Nome. I haven’t been down the coast yet to see what that looks like, but just between -- the stretch between thirteen miles out of Nome, both west and east, and then just a little bit offshore, that’s busted-up ice, so.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. Yeah, ’cause when I flew in, it looked really busted up. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And it -- and the actual Bering Sea, I call it flat-pancake kind of ice. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um, it looked -- there was a lot of that. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So it doesn’t look like it’s really frozen very far out. ROY ASHENFELTER: No. Uh, the other thing is the distance, too, is shorter, as far as, um -- oh, the cold weather. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: The cold weather we had in January made the sea ice back to a little bit more -- little bit more normal in my opinion. Meaning -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: In distance? ROY ASHENFELTER: -- freezing farther offshore. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
ROY ASHENFELTER: It’s still -- back in the normal days, we used to have shore ice even up to a mile offshore. Um, that you can access before you get -- had to get in the water, if you wanted to do something in the winter.
But now, it's -- I think it’s just a quarter mile, maybe half a mile, depends. So it’s a little bit shorter. But, still, with the cold weather we had in January, uh, the shore ice was created. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: So what that means for those that want to ice fish for crab, they can do it, so.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. So do you normally go up to the preserve then mostly in the wintertime, then, Roy? ROY ASHENFELTER: Um. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Because you said you went up to Serpentine Hot Springs.
ROY ASHENFELTER: So you can’t hunt on -- in the preserve when there’s no snow. Well, you can, but you got to walk. Who the heck’s going to walk?
So I’ll hunt on the edge of the preserve for moose and caribou. There’s lots of trails, mainly from previous mining activity in that area.
And there’s still mining, um, pockets, if you will. And the way those guys got in, or ladies, whomever was out there mining, um, created lots of trails. Not that you can’t create a new one, but it just provides access to that -- to the Bering -- edge of the Bering Land Bridge Preserve that you can parallel the -- the line, if you will, and -- and -- and hunt there. But um, so my main access to the preserve is wintertime.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. Any changes that you’ve noticed in the -- in the moose or the animals that you hunt for subsistence? No? ROY ASHENFELTER: No, not yet.
There’s still thousands of caribou always around the -- always around the Serpentine Hot Springs. There’s a few moose, but as far as abundance, it just depends on the migration of the caribou, and that’s unpredictable.
You can’t say that climate change affected them, and/or the preserve in that way. At least animal-wise. Maybe later on, but right now today, there’s just -- depends on when the caribou come in.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. And which caribou herd is it? ROY ASHENFELTER: It’s the Western Arctic Caribou Herd. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
ROY ASHENFELTER: There is a -- there is a year-round abundance of caribou in that area. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh, so they don’t migrate? ROY ASHENFELTER: Not all of ’em. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh. I did not know that. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah.
No, we’ve been hunting caribou there for the last twenty years. Uh, yeah. Not in the Preserve, but the caribou that are -- that are in the mountains. They prefer to be in the mountains in the summer and falltime, and their -- their -- their survivability is run. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, so they like to see what’s coming toward ’em, and then they -- they run. Mooses hide. Caribou stand still. Excuse me, muskoxes stand still.
You know, each one has its own way of surviving. And muskox's got short legs, and can’t run anything, so their instinct is to -- is to stand in a circle. Form a circle, and then they get nervous and try to run away, and then you can -- so their -- anyway. So each -- each animal has its own, um, own way of trying to survive, and caribou’s is running. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
KATIE CULLEN: When you’ve been out at Serpentine in the winter, do you sometimes see, like, thousands of caribou right in that area? ROY ASHENFELTER: Every year. KATIE CULLEN: Wow. ROY ASHENFELTER: Every year, depending on abundance. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, I’ve seen maybe ten thousand. KATIE CULLEN: Oh, wow. ROY ASHENFELTER: And I’ve seen maybe a thousand. So it just depends on the migration into that area.
But what Serpentine Hot Springs area provides is an invaluable food source. ’Cause it’s really -- it’s really rocky, and it -- and the -- the snow’s not that thick on the mountain tops. So yeah, so eating for them, foraging for them, is much easier up in the mountains.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm, and I’m wondering with the hot springs, get a little bit temperature change, more lichens grow? ROY ASHENFELTER: I -- maybe on the drainage system. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Maybe. I’m not a -- I’m not a lichen-knowledgeable person except that the mountaintop -- I don’t seem them feeding so much in the -- in the -- in the drainage areas. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh.
ROY ASHENFELTER: I see them mainly feeding up high, hanging out up high. Um, yeah. No, so the mountaintops around Serpentine Hot Springs is a food source for caribou, so. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm.
KATIE CULLEN: I’ve been out in the summertime, and you’ll see certain areas -- ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. KATIE CULLEN: -- along the -- that mountain where -- where you can see evidence of where the caribou have been kind of digging for lichen. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
KATIE CULLEN: And, you know, different patterns in that lichen from what caribou have been -- their activity. Which is kind of neat to see the -- the way that -- yeah, that lichen grows in that area.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah, amazing. Huh. So have you noticed any vegetation changes around the area then at all, Roy?
ROY ASHENFELTER: I think the biggest one is abundance of willow growth. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh.
ROY ASHENFELTER: I don’t know if that’s a natural thing, ’cause I grew up in the village, and you go back home and the trees are taller.
But I think the -- the way I understand it, the willow growth is expanding in the world because of climate change. And that’s not -- and that’s a, you know, uh -- so the -- the willows also provide a food resource for moose. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: So yeah, so the biggest change, I think, is just growth of willows. Um, I think that’s the biggest change I see.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Are the willows growing further, um -- ROY ASHENFELTER: They’re expanding. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Expanding? ROY ASHENFELTER: So they’re both growing taller and expanding out. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. Um, so that’s -- I -- I don’t know. Seems to me that’s been happening since millennia, right? Thousands of years, whatever that -- however you say that correctly.
But with the climate change and warmer temperatures, it’s just they’re able to grow faster and longer and maintain -- maintain their growth and then absorb the cold winter better, and then be ready to go again, soon as spring thaw happens.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And I always think of them as a great food source, you know, so if you’ve got the willows and the moose follow, and then you have the rabbits. ROY ASHENFELTER: Ah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And then, you have the prey on the rabbits.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. So anyway, when I was growing up, that was the other thing I grew up, we did all the time, was hunt rabbits. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: I used to trap rabbits, hunt rabbits.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Snares? ROY ASHENFELTER: I wasn’t a good snare-er. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. ROY ASHENFELTER: I did mostly traps. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, ’cause I learned that.
I didn’t -- didn’t do the snare that much, but I did -- did do the trapping. I got really good at it. Um, and then, hunting, too, hunting for rabbits.
Even as a little boy, that was the other thing, that you can’t -- I guess the rules are now different. Um, because of dangers that humans provide to each other.
But at the end of the day, when I was growing up as a boy, soon as you could lift a gun and shoot, that’s what you were doing. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: I mean, that was just the way it was. It wasn’t -- there was the idea behind safety and those kinds of things, which is a good focus today. You just had to learn how to hunt ’cause that’s the way you got your food.
And so, I remember soon as I can get a gun up to my shoulder -- my grandma had a -- had a real small .22, a real small one. Um, and uh, so I got to learn how to use that one.
You know, I’m not a big guy to begin with, but growing up with the small rifle, I was able to use that one. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Mm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Learn how to shoot with that one. So anyway, I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s just the way it was. Yeah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. Hm.
KATIE CULLEN: Have you noticed, um, differences in beaver populations or expansion over time? ROY ASHENFELTER: Absolutely. KATIE CULLEN: Just thinking of different animals.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. When I was growing up, there was no beavers. KATIE CULLEN: Mm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Literally. In our -- in our drainage system.
I remember when I was a little boy, someone shot a beaver, and we thought that was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now they’re so prolific that they’re bad. I joke. (Laughter)
Ah, yeah. No, the beavers have moved in, and they’re everywhere. Yeah. It -- that’s -- that’s the real big thing.
I don’t know if it’s just a natural progression in life for the -- you know, because the area that they live in and growing in our region provides a resource for them. That -- that as those move in, it’s so unique and special and no danger to ’em other than humans and maybe being eaten by other things, but as far as -- as far as one animal that has really proliferated in our region, it’s beavers.
KATIE CULLEN: Hm. Um-hm. Interesting.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: I wonder, with the willows moving further -- ’cause is willow one of their food sources? ROY ASHENFELTER: Absolutely. Yep. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah, so they’re gonna follow their food source.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah, you know, you watch them in the falltime, they’re really busy. Busy as a beaver.
They’re cutting willows, and they cut the willows upstream from their -- from their home. They soon float ’em down, and then as soon as they get to their house, they dive with the willow underneath the water and stick it in the bottom of the river. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Wow.
ROY ASHENFELTER: You know, they figure out how to do that. Um, it’s always interesting.
Some beavers make beaver castles, and some beavers make beaver houses. The beaver castles are the ones that are really big, and it’s kinda neat to see. And then there’s regular beaver houses.
So I was just wondering if those guys that make the castles are kings and queens. And they just, you know, they just live there longer and have more access to a better resource and are more able to make a better home. Hence the reason, beaver castle.
And then there’s the ones that -- that make houses on the river, riverbanks. And some of them aren’t very bright, ’cause they make a river house on a riverbank where the ice busts up their house.
And then others -- others have figured out on the leeward side of the river, they put their house on, and it doesn't -- when the river ice goes out, it doesn’t affect their house. KATIE CULLEN: Hm. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: I don’t think they plan it that way, but anyway. You just see all that activity. But the beavers have really proliferated our region.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Have muskrat come in, then, too, at all, Roy? ROY ASHENFELTER: When I was a kid, they’ve always been here. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. They’ve always been -- we’ve always had muskrat. Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: But beaver wasn’t -- ROY ASHENFELTER: Beaver wasn’t there.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So are people hunting beaver at all then today, or -- ? ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, believe it or not, no. When I look at us compared to the Interior. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Where the beavers have been there umpteen years. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And a big food source there. ROY ASHENFELTER: It’s a good food source for them, and it’s maybe a hide for us. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. ROY ASHENFELTER: It’s not a real food source for us. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah.
ROY ASHENFELTER: No. Um, so, when I get a beaver, if I get one, and I bring it to my buddy and he skins it. Gets the hide tanned and stuff. But I’m not much of a beaver hunter person. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah.
ROY ASHENFELTER: I take my friends out to do it in the springtime, because the hides are really good in the spring.
And if you wait just a few -- few weeks into spring thaw, they end up not having good hides. Just like squirrels and stuff, they end up fighting. You know, biting each other, making holes in their hides, and so they’re not healthy as far as a hide -- hide source. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
ROY ASHENFELTER: The other thing I forgot to mention was squirrel. Well, we used to call it squirreling. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Growing up in the village of White Mountain in the mountains and stuff, we used to have -- there used to be spring migrations of people and fall migrations of people going out and trapping and getting squirrels.
My folks used to get ’em by the hundreds. And um, it was not only a good food source, but also the -- the hide on a squirrel, because it’s real soft and supple and really, really light.
But believe it or not, we had squirrel-skin parkas, we had squirrel-skin pants, we had squirrel-skin gloves. The -- the -- the suppleness, the lightness of it. The warmth it provided for us.
In comparison to other warm hides, the biggest comparison is the lightness of a squirrel parka and still having that warmth. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Mm. ROY ASHENFELTER: That was -- that’s the difference.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Even compared to caribou? ROY ASHENFELTER: Uh, hides we had -- the caribou hides, we mainly used them for sleeping on. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Mm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: And the thickness of the hide made it a little bit -- the hair wouldn’t stay too good. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. ROY ASHENFELTER: Compared to -- and the squirrel hide, fur stayed on. You’d literally have to grab it, get tweezers to pull of the hair, even after -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. ROY ASHENFELTER: -- even after a while.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And what about rabbit skin? No? ROY ASHENFELTER: Rabbit skin was too -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Too rough? ROY ASHENFELTER: No, it was too thin. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Too thin, ok.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Uh, you could do things with it, but it wasn’t for -- it wasn’t for, like a garment or anything. You can do rabbit skin mitts. You can do rabbit skin things. But rabbit hide would tear real easy, so you had to make different choices with that.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So it must've taken quite a few squirrels to make a parka? ROY ASHENFELTER: Oh, yeah. I think, believe it or not, my mother-in-law was the last squirreler in the whole region. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ah.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, she maintained that lifestyle even in the 2000’s, 'til she passed away. Not kidding, she was literally the last person that I know of that made an effort to trap squirrels in the fall, so.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. So it’s not so much done anymore? ROY ASHENFELTER: Not that I know of. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Wow. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. Yep, so.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Just getting back to the beaver, you were saying that there’s so many beaver, and, of course, they dam things up, and they re-create the landscape. Have you -- has that happened in the area, or is it mostly on the rivers? ’Cause if they start damming up and create lakes and the lakes drain.
ROY ASHENFELTER: So the answer is yes, and it doesn’t matter where there are. I’ve seen ’em in the Imuruk Basin. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Which is a salinity, salt-water fresh-water mix. They hang out there. As long as there’s willows and food and things to do whatever.
They mainly hang out in the freshwater, but at the end of the day, I see ’em hanging out where there’s salinity level. Not total saltwater, but there’s a salinity level of -- in that water that you don’t want to get a bucket over and try to boil it and cook with it ’cause it’s gonna -- you know, it’s not gonna taste good. So I've seen ’em there, but yeah.
They -- they dam up rivers really -- not -- streams is what they mainly hang out on. Make a change to. Um, yeah. So yeah.
The beavers are wherever they can make a home and find a tributary that they can hang out in that won’t be affected by the spring run-off.
Um, plus, when they make their dams, too, you know, they create that barrier. So when the spring run-off is -- happens, it doesn’t happen. It has to go over the dam. It’s not as like a flow. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. ROY ASHENFELTER: Normal flow would be. But yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And then, do you fish still? ROY ASHENFELTER: Absolutely.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So have you noticed any changes in the fishing? You talked about seals, but --
ROY ASHENFELTER: Uh, abundance of salmon is the same. Depends on where you were. We had a chum crash here in -- in the Nome region and in Elim region back in the early days, and that was in our opinion, due to the high seas fishery.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And when would that have been? ROY ASHENFELTER: In the '80’s. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh. ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So the fisheries were harvesting too much to let the chum come up? ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah, absolutely.
So the North Pacific Fishery fleet mainly goes after pollock. The Alaska fishery, Area M fishery, mainly goes after red salmon. That’s their money -- that’s their money fish.
They by-catch chum, mainly chum, in their -- in their -- in their fishery. Both fisheries.
And depending -- depending on the abundance of chum that they catch, we think they affected the runs into our rivers. So we’ve attended many meetings trying to ask them to reduce the by-catch and/or interception of chum.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And how has that -- ROY ASHENFELTER: We’ve made some inroads. Baby inroads.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: What do they do with the chum when they catch it as by-catch? ROY ASHENFELTER: They -- the -- so the pollock fishery dumps them overboard. Um, they have a justification for that.
And then, the -- I think the Area M fishery, which is along the Aleutians, I think they have to -- they have to retain those salmon. KATIE CULLEN: Hm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And they process them for something? ROY ASHENFELTER: I don’t -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Don’t -- ROY ASHENFELTER: I -- I -- yeah. The answer is, you have to ask them. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right, ok.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Or maybe even the Fish and -- the local Fish and Game guy will tell you what they do with them. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. ROY ASHENFELTER: Or what do they end up doing with them. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. ROY ASHENFELTER: They have to count ’em, though.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So has the chum numbers returned for you? ROY ASHENFELTER: Absolutely.
So the -- so the salmon has returned, um, in all our streams except for Solomon. Um, but I don’t fish down there for salmon.
So the other thing, we -- we -- so I go to my mom’s -- I call it my mom’s place. Michuk (sp?), that’s the name of our camp, where we cut and hang fish there.
And then, we go hang out at Pilgrim River Bridge for reds. Um, abundance of reds has -- has, I guess, increased lots. And that’s due to fertilizing Salmon Lake. Yeah, it’s due to man-made efforts. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh. ROY ASHENFELTER: To create a greater abundance of red salmon. So that’s happened within the last fifteen years or so.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So how have they done that? I don’t -- can you explain it to me? ROY ASHENFELTER: So they studied the red salmon source there, tried to figure out why is it that this lake maintains this number of reds.
Is it -- is it -- is it due to no food? Is it due to poor run-off, you know? So they studied the river and did this or that.
At the end of the day, I believe they -- they, meaning fish biologist people, figured out that the Salmon Lake didn’t have enough nutrients in it for the baby fry. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
ROY ASHENFELTER: So that was the reason why they figured that there wasn’t enough red salmon. So they added a food nutrient every summer and spring, and voilà.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: It’s gone up? ROY ASHENFELTER: It’s gone up. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Huh.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. So anyway. Red salmon are excellent, um, for smoking. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: They stay better. They preserve better when you make a filet. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: And I think it’s due to their fat content, and their quality of fish flesh is a little bit different than chum and pink.
It’s not that you can’t freeze ’em, but for some reason reds preserve better. KATIE CULLEN: Hm. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. Well, that’s good news. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yep, so.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So any other -- any other observations of anything else that sort of changed in the fishery, Roy? ROY ASHENFELTER: Not that I know of. Um, still get whitefish, grayling. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Trout? ROY ASHENFELTER: Trout.
Um, no, I don’t see much change there. You know, every year’s different, though. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: I mean, springtime fishing for trout. Just it’s the normal thing, I think, where sometimes it’s more prolific than others. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Abundance has greater days than others. Whitefish, grayling fishing, fish -- um, pike fishing. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Is normal, um, so yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Interesting. Can you think of anything else, Katie?
KATIE CULLEN: I was wondering, when you were growing up in White Mountain and you were sharing a little bit about different seasons, did you as a kid have a favorite -- like what was your favorite season?
ROY ASHENFELTER: I think springtime is my favorite. I hated picking berries. Not to sound racist or biased or anything, but that’s a woman’s job. (Laughter) At least I thought so. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: You were saying -- you said you were -- ROY ASHENFELTER: But I love eating berries, so.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: You said you were one of ten children, and you were the youngest. How many brothers and sisters? ROY ASHENFELTER: I had -- I had -- there were six, six of us boys and um -- my mom and dad had three biological ladies, and then they adopted my sister, so.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. Ok. I was just wondering if -- ROY ASHENFELTER: My sister was -- was from my oldest sister. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ah. ROY ASHENFELTER: And that was just a natural thing. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yep.
ROY ASHENFELTER: You know, you just took in -- it was not, we were no(t) unique or anything like that. My oldest sister, at the time, I don’t know any of the circumstances. All I know is, my dad came to Nome, picked her up, brought her home, and she’s six months older than me. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: So that was just the way it was, so. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. I just wondered if it was all boys. That’s why you had to pick berries ’cause there was no girls?
ROY ASHENFELTER: Uh, no. You know it’s -- preserving food, collecting food, was a real serious thing. And, you know, being -- kids being kids, you know, we were told, you have to go pick berries. That was -- there was no ifs, ands, or buts. You had to do it.
I didn’t like it, but I wasn’t the greatest berry-picker, either. At least I didn’t concentrate that hard. At least I didn’t think so.
Um, plus my brother thinks -- my brothers and sisters thinks I got away with everything. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: ’Cause you were the baby? ROY ASHENFELTER: I don’t think that’s true. (Laughter) Didn’t get spanked very often, whatever. Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: All those experiences, Roy, and growing up that way, how's that -- um, how does that affect the way you work at Kawerak today?
ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, believe it or not, my mom and dad -- my mom was a happy person. You know, I didn’t -- don’t speak my language. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: We didn’t speak our language in our home.
My mom and dad, I listened to ’em. And my older brothers and sisters, you know, they all conversed in our Native language. But it was just a natural thing. It was -- I don’t know, natural’s not the right word.
Maybe just observation kind of thing where they weren’t teaching you, but they were just speaking it themselves, and it wasn’t like I was the only family in the village my age not learning our language. That was just the normal thing.
I didn’t know 'til later why that happened, but that being said, I grew up -- my mom was a happy person, so what that -- so hard work.
Uh, just being, you know, I think just -- just a human thing. You know, there’s human people. We all know this.
There’s people out there that, no matter what race or whatever, have issues in their life. Not that none of us don’t, but some people just have made it harder for themselves to be here with us.
But my mom was a good person. She was really happy. And so, I got to see that as part of how I grew up. Hard work. Work every day.
She would -- you know, I guess maybe feeding boys is much harder than feeding girls in that we eat lots. So she would make -- when I was growing up, she would make seven loaves of bread, and they were gone by -- by the week.
Every week, she’d be making breads, baking -- making -- baking bread. Making rolls. Everyday, cooking dinner. Um, so I just got to see that part of it.
Um, and my dad was a hunter. A hunter and a fisher. A very good one. I’m not bragging or anything, but he made a real concerted effort to -- to put food on the table. He was very good at it. He really made an effort that we went up the river and cut and hang fish.
When you asked earlier about lots of families doing it, not every family did it. But we did it, and that was -- that was making sure that we had food for our dogs.
And that -- that takes effort, you know. That takes consistency. That takes -- you might not like doing it. You might not like cutting five hundred fish a day, um, but you’re gonna do it. And that’s, you know, that’s how -- that’s the household I grew up in.
So what it did for me now is that I think I have a good attitude. I think I work hard at Kawerak. I think I contribute, and I still enjoy life. So voilà.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Wonderful. Did -- how -- so after everybody grew up and kids left home, what happened with your mom and dad? Did they stay there? ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: They did. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. They both lived in -- and -- and passed away in White Mountain.
Um, my mom lived to be ninety-six. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Wow. ROY ASHENFELTER: But what was really special about her is that, um, she had her physical abilities 'til she passed away. KATIE CULLEN: Wow. ROY ASHENFELTER: No cane, nothing.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Eyes were good, hearing good? ROY ASHENFELTER: Eyes were -- Well, no, she had -- she had macular -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Oh, degenerative, macular, yeah. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah, macular degenerative (macular degeneration). Her hearing wasn’t that good.
But all the aging factors for an elder person that I see that I’ve witnessed in life, she had her physical abilities with her right 'til she passed away. And that to me is -- is good because I remember going over for her funeral and stuff, and the health aides, you know, that take care of our village people. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Said your mom’s medical records are just thin.
Meaning -- meaning that she was just a healthy person. Um, and rarely ever went up to the clinic. Maybe, you know, for flu shots or whatever the normal things that people go through that, um, need health assistance for. Um, she didn’t need a lot for her. Yeah, so.
My dad was a different way. He binge-drank, and so that was where I experienced that. But other than that, he was real focused on making sure we had food on the table. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Wonderful. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Is there anything that we haven’t talked about today that you want to share with us?
ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, maybe the difference between moving around today and um, back when I was growing up. I got all the toys, and I think when you die with all your toys, you did pretty good. (Laughter)
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: What are your toys? ROY ASHENFELTER: Ok, snowmachines, boats, motors, all the equipment. You don’t have to put that in there, but anyway, I think that’s true. But it’s an investment, right?
And the -- and the mode of transportation has really, really changed. The equipment has -- has been much more durable.
You can go out in the -- you know, when we talked about going up, uh, seventy, eighty miles near the Preserve? We’re using four-wheelers and side-by-sides now that can handle that terrain that weren’t able to just as recently as ten years ago.
Um, you still had four-wheelers, but they weren’t, you know, they weren’t what they are today. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: All the unique things that come with the suspension, with shocks, with engine durability, maintenance, all that has really changed.
So outboard motors are now down to using four-stroke outboard motors, and you can go twice as far as when I was a kid. Um, the noise level on these engines are quieter. The reliability’s much better.
So yeah. The mode of transportation has -- has -- has expanded opportunity that -- that you can plan out today than before. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Just --
ROY ASHENFELTER: I got GPS. I use the GPS all the time. I’m a real believer in that.
I have inReach (by Garmin). I don’t know if you know what that means. It’s a -- it’s a device that -- both GPS and inReach operate off of satellite. InReach in that it’s text only, but you can text anywhere you have an inReach to anybody. KATIE CULLEN: Um-hm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So if you’re in trouble somewhere, you can call for help immediately? ROY ASHENFELTER: Believe it or not, I got stuck with a snowmachine this weekend. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Out at Cape Nome. And I just took out my inReach, and there’s this thing called an Earth -- Earth map on your cell phone, and it’s Bluetooth-connected.
The inReach window’s like this. You could -- you could -- you could type in whatever you want, but it’d take you a day. Uh, with the Bluetooth and on your cell phone, you can type whatever message you want.
KATIE CULLEN: That’s amazing, yeah. ROY ASHENFELTER: And you can -- and I could -- with inReach, I’m able to text my daughter in Honolulu, my wife in Mesa, Arizona, anybody on my cell phone. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right there?
ROY ASHENFELTER: And anybody else that’s not on my cell phone, I could add. ’Cause you could add anybody on your cell phone. Um, and you can text ’em.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So the -- just the way of being safe? ROY ASHENFELTER: Oh, yeah. GPS, I -- I -- I’ve been using a GPS now for over ten years, twelve years. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: The first ones come out were like, dumb. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: At least -- at least, it just had lat and long.
Now the GPS’s that come out that I just updated a little while ago has a map, has roads, has wherever you travel with your GPS that day, you just get on there and do a back-track and it'll literally -- it’ll leave like a bread crumb trail on your GPS.
You could literally follow right down to within a few feet of the trail you took that day. Um, so the -- the electronics, the communication efforts have changed that we all know about, too.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: How has that changed, then Roy, on how you know the land? ROY ASHENFELTER: Oh, it made it, um, made it easier.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: But in memory? Like, if you didn’t have those, before, you would know your trail because of landmarks and things. So how has this -- how has that changed the way you -- you know the land?
ROY ASHENFELTER: Ok, so in traveling and going out and stuff, it -- you learn land features. Um, you learn -- when you’re traveling down the road, you see a log sticking out. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: You don’t think much of it, right. You see a log sticking out. You go down a trail some more, you see grass.
You go down the trail some more, you see an abandoned cabin. You go down the trail some more, you go up a hill, down the hill, and you see a little valley.
Um, where all that comes in without a GPS, when you’re traveling in a storm, your mind uh -- from seeing those nuances on the trail, gives you a perspective where you’re at. You learn -- this is what I learned before GPS. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: You learn your feat -- you just without thinking about it, what you’re trying to remember as you’re coming back through a storm or something is what to look for next.
You know, what -- first of all, is it safe to move? And then, two, you know, are you doing the right thing in your mind?
And as you see different things that you remember passing, then you know you're -- where you’re at in relation to -- to distance from Nome, distance from a cabin, distance from anything. So those things still are with me. Um, yeah. I -- I -- you know.
Like for example, hunting. Um, when you’re out hunting for animals in the falltime, if I got a muskox permit in the back of my pocket and I’m hunting moose, but you can’t shoot a muskox, but I got a permit for one -- when you see ’em in the falltime, believe it or not, at the most they’ll be a mile or two away from where you saw them in the falltime. KATIE CULLEN: Hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: At the most.
You know, they’re -- they’re -- they’re germane to that area. It’s safe for them, you know, food, whatever. Whatever they’re doing. But they don’t move very far. At least the herd itself pretty much stays in that area.
So as far as using things without a GPS, that’s how I traveled. It’s not, you know, nothing special or anything. I think you just try to remember where you’re at, how things are going, features to look for.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Do you think the next generation, using more -- is going to rely more on GPS than your way of knowing? ROY ASHENFELTER: I -- I -- I don’t -- probably the answer is yes.
Um, the other thing is, I’ve invested in that. I made a real personal effort to use it. And I know a lot of guys don’t use it yet. Um, so it’s been my personal preference. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: To use the GPS? ROY ASHENFELTER: To use the GPS. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Uh, there was several times last year, coming back from Serpentine Hot Springs, where it was a total white-out. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: You couldn't see maybe five feet past the front of your snowmachine. It wasn’t -- it was just foggy. It wasn’t storming or anything, it was just fog. Thick, thick, soupy fog.
I just looked at my GPS and I just made sure my wife was behind me. I could see the snowmachine headlight behind me.
And just traveled at ten miles an hour, fifteen miles an hour, and just followed the line on my GPS. And you’ll get to a point where you kinda close up little things, you know, little bit, and then you’re back to -- you’re back to re-programming your mind where you’re at. How far you’re from cabin, how far you need to go. You know, names in your mind for different places.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So a combination of the traditional way of knowing -- ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: -- plus the technological has actually improved your mobility? ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Interesting. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yep. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Wow.
ROY ASHENFELTER: And inReach has tracking. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: I can do tracking. Tracking means that -- that you share that with anybody, and anybody could see where you’re at. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Wow. ROY ASHENFELTER: Every ten minutes. You can make the signal shorter, but I just left it with the ten-minute interval.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So if you were in an accident or your snowmobile broke down, somebody can find you just like -- just like that? ROY ASHENFELTER: Yep. And it also has SOS on it. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. ROY ASHENFELTER: It also has the EPIRB. What do they call that? Emergency something. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. KATIE CULLEN: Personal locator beacon. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yep. KATIE CULLEN: Or the -- ROY ASHENFELTER: It has the SOS feature on it. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
ROY ASHENFELTER: So if you press that, it’ll hit the, um -- wherever the EPIRB SOS signal is. KATIE CULLEN: Mm. ROY ASHENFELTER: For airlines. It’s the same one. I think it’s the same one. KATIE CULLEN: Wow. ROY ASHENFELTER: And it’ll -- it’ll do an SOS alarm, and it’ll give that location of where that thing -- where that thing was set off at.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So there’s no such thing as being out and alone anymore? ROY ASHENFELTER: You hope not.
Uh, but you know, you -- you -- you listen to news yesterday. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yes. ROY ASHENFELTER: And there’s four kids missing in -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yep. ROY ASHENFELTER: -- in Nunam Iqua? LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. ROY ASHENFELTER: I hope they found ’em. KATIE CULLEN: They did. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: I heard on the radio this morning, they did find them. ROY ASHENFELTER: And they’re all ok? LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And they’re all ok. ROY ASHENFELTER: Aw, great. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. ROY ASHENFELTER: ’Cause I heard a two-year-old was among them. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah.
And, I mean, they were only going, what, five hundred feet somewhere on the snowmachine, but this -- you know, blizzard hit, and they’re lost. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yep. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So, you know. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. It’s not that -- five hund -- you don’t need a GPS to go five hundred feet. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah. ROY ASHENFELTER: But yeah, that’s the story that’s -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: That’s right. ROY ASHENFELTER: And I’m glad for the good news. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yes, I am, too. ROY ASHENFELTER: Uh, so.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Anything else, then, Roy, that you think of that you want to share that we haven’t touched on? It’s been wonderful. You want to just go through that? ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah, if you could turn it off. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Just to see if we -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yep. I can pause it just for a second. (Pause)
Ok, we’re back with Roy, and we’re going to talk a little bit about permafrost, observations of permafrost.
ROY ASHENFELTER: So when I was growing up, I mentioned earlier how we used to preserve food because we didn’t have freezers and/or electricity. We used permafrost to preserve our food. It has really changed. That is definitely a climate effect.
Permafrost is less. The ground is not as frozen as long in the winter time. It is not -- in my opinion, not as intense, either.
So the ground underneath in many areas on Seward Peninsula is changing. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Mm. ROY ASHENFELTER: The permafrost isn’t there in certain areas. Maybe it’s in there for other areas that have maybe a harsher conn -- permafrost can stay there because the access from the warm weather isn’t affecting that area.
But there are certain pockets within our region that I’ve observed where permafrost is -- is totally being affected, especially along riverbanks that have high riverbanks, and there’s mud underneath.
And as the -- as the winter -- spring run-off and the ice goes down the river, it gouges the rivers because it’s hitting the side of the -- it’s forcing the -- forcing the ice against the riverbank that’s exposed to the outflow of the river. Those have changed.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And so then, so the ice is coming down, and it’s hitting the riverbank, which isn’t as frozen as it used to be? ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: And so it's -- ROY ASHENFELTER: Yep. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: -- it’s actually slumping or making -- or pushing it off? ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. Pushing it off, and then, also, during the summer when that area’s exposed, whatever permafrost is there is melting.
Um, the other thing is, it seems to me like the rivers are, um, have bigger sandbars. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Mm. KATIE CULLEN: Hm.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So there’s more sediment coming into the rivers? ROY ASHENFELTER: More sediment. Um, yeah. That has changed.
So permafrost, it has been affected by climate change in that it’s melting, and it’s exposing certain areas more readily than others because of the warm weather.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Are you noticing where there are trees, we call them drunken trees. The trees are all starting to kinda -- because the ground is thawing, that the trees are kinda going like that (trees are leaning). Have you noticed that -- ROY ASHENFELTER: Uh. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: -- in this area at all? ROY ASHENFELTER: Not so much. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, in fact, if anything, the trees are growing stronger. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Mm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Because of the warmer weather.
There might be areas where maybe there was a lot of permafrost in there, and that’s happening. But I’m looking at Pilgrim Hot Springs. I’m looking at the river drainage there. I’m looking at White Mountain, where I grew up. No. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok. ROY ASHENFELTER: If anything, it’s expanding. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right.
ROY ASHENFELTER: And the trees, in my mind, in my opinion, whether it’s cottonwood, alder wood, or spruce trees, because the winters aren’t so severe, they’re able to withstand and be sturdier and grow longer and bigger and thicker because of the warmer weather. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Hm. Interesting.
ROY ASHENFELTER: That’s just my personal observation. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yep. ROY ASHENFELTER: Maybe other people have different opinions, but I -- you know, I spend a lot of time out in the country, so I think I could -- LESLIE MCCARTNEY: You know. ROY ASHENFELTER: Could -- could qualify that.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Do people still use the ground for -- for keeping things cool? ROY ASHENFELTER: Good question. The answer is no. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: No.
ROY ASHENFELTER: ’Cause the problem there is that you have to go back and un-dig what you put in there, and then you just -- with a freezer, you just open the door and "pffft."
So that electricity’s there, you know, you’re paying for the bill and stuff, so the lifestyle for that has really changed that way.
Access, convenience, those kinds of things, you know, have -- have made freezers much more practical. They’re easier to maintain, clean, put food in. You know where things are. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: More stable. ROY ASHENFELTER: And they’re right next to your house. They’re literally in your house, so you just gotta go open the door up and get out what you need. So that’s --
I don’t know anyone, at least in our village, that maintains any permafrost pits for over forty, fifty years. Yeah, it’s been a long time since anybody’s done that. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Yeah.
ROY ASHENFELTER: And the problem is maintenance. Um, you have to put ice down in there. KATIE CULLEN: Oh. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: You know, the permafrost is there, but you still, you put ice to keep it frozen better. But no, the conveniences outweigh using one of those.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So you were saying that you have ATV’s. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yeah. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: So when -- have you noticed that, um, when you’re riding on them and the permafrost is thawing or it’s not as thick, how is that going for mobility? ROY ASHENFELTER: You still are careful. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, I guess the easy ones are where the permafrost has melted and you could avoid it. That’s the easy one.
The hard one is where what’s underneath it is there permafrost melting to when you go through or over it, will it endanger you. That’s the hard one, and those aren’t too prolific or too abundant. I’m sure they’re out there.
Um, no, it’s not -- the way you travel, if you’re on roads, too -- if you’re already traveling on a road, then you know. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: I guess that -- that question comes in if you have to go off the road and then you’re going in a different area that you’re not used to being in, you just be more careful. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
ROY ASHENFELTER: I think you’re just more careful just trying to traverse regardless if there’s permafrost or not ’cause the willow growth and the trail growth kinda -- and the direction you’re going in is dependent on the terrain. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm.
ROY ASHENFELTER: So, and experience and learn how to trav -- you know, move through that. I think that’s more of a concern than just whether permafrost is there or not. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Right. ROY ASHENFELTER: So. KATIE CULLEN: Interesting.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Anything else, Roy, that you saw in there that might jog your memory at all of anything?
ROY ASHENFELTER: Pollution. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ah. ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, I -- obviously, things have changed. There’s more pollution in the air. And that’s just human thing, I think.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: How can you tell there’s more pollution in the air? ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, maybe a smell, maybe a -- not so much immediate effects, but you can see, like when you’re coming to Nome. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Like a big old dust cloud in the summertime, you can see -- in the villages, you know, like White Mountain in the wintertime ’cause it has hardly any wind, you can see the engines, you know, the smoke hanging out in the -- from the generator.
Um, pollution in general, I think, it’s just a man-made thing. Trash. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Um-hm. ROY ASHENFELTER: Plastics. Everything. You know, we all use these things, but we sure discard ’em poorly.
But pollution in that way. I don’t know so much about air yet. I know it’s there, but you know, um --
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: You haven’t seen any problems in the waters, like with fish? ROY ASHENFELTER: Not really. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Not really? ROY ASHENFELTER: Um, no. No. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Ok.
ROY ASHENFELTER: I can’t think of hardly anything else.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: I think you’ve covered a lot. We're so grateful. Thank you. ROY ASHENFELTER: Oh, yeah. KATIE CULLEN: Yeah, thank you.
ROY ASHENFELTER: Oh, you’re welcome. I’m glad to do this, now I’ve gotten older, grayer hair.
LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Well, I’m going to say, thank you so much, Roy, for all your time and sharing your knowledge with us. We really, really appreciate it. KATIE CULLEN: Yeah. Thank you. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Thank you. ROY ASHENFELTER: Yes. LESLIE MCCARTNEY: Thank you.