Cyrus Harris was born in 1957 in Kotzebue, Alaska, and grew up at Sisualik, a small camp located fifteen miles to the north across Kotzebue Sound. His parents were Doc and Elizabeth Harris, and he learned to hunt and fish from his father and his uncles. He attended school in Kotzebue, although he often started late in the fall, having to wait for the ice to be safe and thick enough to travel across from Sisualik. Cyrus worked in construction, commercial fishing, was a part-time trapper, and in 1993 established the Hunter Support Program with Maniilaq Association that provides traditional foods to elders. He continues to work for the Hunter Support Program, but also works for Maniilaq’s Natural Resources Program. He also is one of the few dog mushers still left in Kotzebue. As a lifelong hunter, Cyrus is a keen observer and navigator with deep knowledge of the ice, currents, winds, and animals. He is often called into service to guide researchers and assist with scientific projects.
In addition to being interviewed for the Northern Alaska Sea Ice Project Jukebox, Cyrus escorted the scientific team of Dr. Andy Mahoney of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and his graduate student, Rebecca Rolph, out onto the ice of Kotzebue Sound, near Sisualik, on March 28, 2016. They made ice observations, recorded measurements, and took ice core samples, which were later analyzed for their salinity.