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Roy Nageak, Sr., Part 1

Roy Nageak, Sr. was interviewed on November 13, 2013 by Karen Brewster and Dyre "Oliver" Dammann at his Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in Barrow, Alaska . In this first part of a two part interview, Roy talks about going whaling as a boy and learning about sea ice conditions and safety, and how current, wind and weather effect ice conditions. He also discusses the unusual conditions during the Spring 2013 whaling season, and observations about climate change.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2013-25-05_PT.1

Project: Sea Ice in Northern Alaska
Date of Interview: Nov 13, 2013
Narrator(s): Roy Nageak, Sr.
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster, Dyre Oliver Dammann
Videographer: Dyre Oliver Dammann
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Coastal Marine Institute, North Pacific Research Board
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


Childhood and family background

Learning to go whaling

Early memories of being out on the sea ice

Learning about traveling and being safe on the sea ice

Current strength and ice movement

Inupiaq terms for ice types and preferred whale camp location

Connection between whaling and sea ice knowledge

Changes in the whaling season and the ice conditions

Teaching the young generation ice knowledge and safety, and climate change

Changes in the ice and the weather

Whaling season of Spring 2013

Personal experience with climate change

Climate change effect on future whaling and hunting

Teaching the young generation about the environment and being safe in a changing world

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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


KAREN BREWSTER: Today is November 13, 2013 and this is Karen Brewster, here in Barrow, Alaska with Roy Nageak and Oliver --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Senior.

KAREN BREWSTER: Senior and Oliver Dammann helping with the video camera work for the Sea Ice Project. Quyanaqpak, Roy.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Thank you. Thank you for giving me time to explain some of the issues that are locally affecting some of our Inupiaq people.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. So just to get us started, I know you, but people listening to this might not know you so tell me a little bit about when you were born, when you started whaling and hunting, and your family background.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: I was born July 22, 1951 in a summer camp by Oliktok on the North Slope like just a little bit west from the Nuiqsut channel -- Nuiqsut area. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: The Colville channel area. In a summer camp. And the story is that my mom -- while my dad was there, he was helping the DEW Line Sites back in -- after World War II they started the DEW Line Sites with the radar system.

And my dad happened to be working at POW II they call it DEW Line Site.

And my mom, while she was pregnant with me right around March or April took the whole family with a dog team and went to Oliktok from Kaktovik.

And my brother -- older brothers always know the journey.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. And you were number what in the family?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: At that time I believe I was number 11 or 12th, but then there was like 15 of us. I was number 13.

KAREN BREWSTER: That’s a lot of kids.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: I was one of the younger ones.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Can I interrupt with one thing? Is it possible for you to talk without tapping on the table?

I know it's a habit that you probably don’t even notice you do.


KAREN BREWSTER: And your parents were Vincent and --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Rhoda Nageak. Vincent Nageak, Sr. and Rhoda Akootchook Nageak. She was from the Akootchook family -- the Akootchook clan.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: From Kaktovik. And my father grew up in the Barrow area.

KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. And so when did you start going out hunting and whaling and learning about that?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: For some reason that the time I started whaling was contentious in my family. I had wanted to go whaling at a younger age, but my father being one of the younger -- youngest sons said that he didn’t want to worry about me being out on the edge of the ice, because --

We live in a really harsh environment, but we do a lot of subsistence hunting,

and my father knows this and the weather changing real quick didn’t want me to be out where it was dangerous.

But then I had a cousin, uncle -- uncle like figure to me who was -- who took -- who took me under his wings when my mom told my dad I think your son is ready to go whaling, but my dad said no, he’s still too young.

Then I had an uncle named Hoover Koonaloak said this to my dad and I was there.

And he told my dad, don’t worry about him I’ll take care of him and that’s when my education about whaling, the conditions, the ice, started at that time I started whaling at a young age of nine, ten year old.

KAREN BREWSTER: And when did you guys move into Barrow?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: When I was like five years old. I remember my dad running the BIA Trading Post in Kaktovik for many years and,

I remember being five years old and moving to Barrow from Kaktovik.

KAREN BREWSTER: So, you whaled with Hoover for a while?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: No, Hoover Koonaloak was in my father’s whaling crew.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, I see. So he watched out for you?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes. My dad Nageak had his own whaling crew because his father Qiŋaqtaq, in the earlier years in the early 1900’s was real --

from what I heard he had like two or three whaling crews and could afford to sponsor two or three whaling crews at that time when the Yankee whalers were around.

And they found out that if they wanted baleen they could catch a lot during the time when it was -- when there was a lot of ice during their season.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: The season that they know when whales are going through channels of water.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And that’s when they catch a lot of whales. And I started early.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. Do you have a first memory of being out on the ice?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Lots of memories. It just so happened I was one of those kids that sleep walk a lot.

And then when they’d go out and chase whales or when we used to go out boating at times looking for whales I --

I remember one of the earliest times that I started whaling it was hard to go to sleep, so you stay awake for like two -- two days, try to make it three days trying to get all that you can, especially when the whales were -- were moving.

It was very hard to sleep, so when I went to sleep at very odd places like right in the bottom of a whale boat.

One of the things I remember was they were waking me up because we were going back to our camp and then I try to get up I was tied down.

And I said what happened. You were trying to sleepwalk on top of the boat steps, and that’s when they tied me down.

I remember going back and forth with the dog team. I was old enough to go back and forth with a dog team -- my dad’s dogs, but usually they travel on their own.

They were my dad’s dogs and they were purposely not doing what I tell them, but then I used to run the dog teams at that young age. I was the one that went back and forth.

Because everybody else they were all able to -- men were busy trying to catch whales at that time.

And at that time the way our lives were -- where we were living off the sea and off the land and it was very hard to afford any kind of store bought food,

but they were just basic -- basic food like rice, flour where they could mix.

At a young age, we learned to love caribou meat with rice, caribou meat with flour. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Turn into soup, basics of salt and pepper and that's all you needed -- coffee and tea. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: At the most. And crackers. So it was all basic and whatever -- whatever you catch out in the harsh environment is what you try to get together for summertime.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Summertime we hunt basically most of the time for what we need for the hard winter. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And whaling provided a lot of that.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And there were years that we never catch any whales or whaling season was poor where the next year in the wintertime it was kind of hard, I mean.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: A lot of men went out seal hunting and Victor -- not Victor but Hoover Koonaloak did a lot of that for my -- for our family even my dad.

And stories that my mom told in the past was that our dad was a real good hunter, polar bear hunter and seal hunter and then people would come and once they heard that my dad come down -- come back from hunting with seals,

and before you know it my mom would say that most of the time the catch that he had was spread out into the village already, especially with polar bears.

And then the seals they'd usually end up with just about a seal meat just for that day, and then that way that they constantly were out there hunting.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. I'm going to take a pause for a second.

One last question about from when you were a boy that when you were sent out with the dog team across the ice to come back home by yourself.

Did your dad or Hoover or somebody tell you anything specific about what to do to be safe and what to watch for?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Usually cracks in the ice. If there any to notify and come back and notify them.

Polar bears was the common -- common thing to watch for, and we didn’t have that many rifles either at that time, but

I usually took my father’s .257 Roberts.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: One of the first rifles I ever used for hunting.

But there was always people going back and forth.

Once you get along the edge of land then it was more -- more safer.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But it was well-traveled areas and we -- when we -- when I was younger that we had to -- it was basically safe.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So what were some of the things that Hoover and your dad taught you that were important for being safe on the ice?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: The current. The current and which way the ice was moving, whether to the south or to the north, and which was -- which way the current is on a daily basis.

We used to drop a lead ball into the current with like a long rope or twine -- twine at that time -- strong twine, and see which way the current was coming in.

Towards our campsite was safe and then going out towards the ocean is what we consider unsafe, and to be careful if we’re on thin ice.

Sometimes we had to pull back when the current started getting strong -- pull back to the main -- the main shore ice, which was really attached to the land.

One of the things now I’m teaching about the ice is -- to look out this time of the year, especially October, November

where the ice is attached first to the mainland where it gets grounded.

And how it keeps opening up from October until January or February where that time which is main shore -- shore ice and ice attached to the shore.

And I am teaching this to my son. That you look at where the ice first gets attached to in the early winters and remember where it is.

'Cause at anytime the ice tends to detach itself from the main shore ice where it was first solid is usually that -- that's where it will break up if it gets any stronger.

KAREN BREWSTER: Wait, explain that again to me. I'm not sure I got that -- where it’s -- where it attaches first --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Usually the ice started getting attached to the main shoreline. Watch when they were strong west wind or northwest wind. Prefer northwest wind.

And that's when the big pieces of ice floe. At that time we used to have this mile long, thick ten foot ice floes, flat, that used to flow around out in the Arctic Ocean with big ice -- pile-ups on them.

And they were solid. They never used to melt on a yearly basis.

They used to just sit there and as each snow gathers and they become bigger, bigger ice floes 10, 15, 20 feet ice floes, and when those get grounded a lot of them were flat ice.

Back then when we had a lot of ice -- flat ice miles long used to just kind of get attached to the shore.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And then northwest wind would come in and get them super attached. Get -- pushed them up.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Ivu. There was Ivu, but usually the Ivu happened about a mile or two miles away from where the ice first attached.

That's where that -- when it opens up and the ice come back then it would Ivu because the ice that was already attached was stronger.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And then you could see lvu further out like a mile away and that's when it started piling up a lot and make it safer.

But there was also bigger, flatter pieces of ice that get attached through that lvu.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: So always there were places where there was a lot of flat pieces of ice like 10, 15, 20 feet deep just being attached and it was safe.

Safe ice and the leads would open a little bit further out.

And knowing that where the first attachment of ice that goes to the shore you get behind that, the first lead that ever opened up you'll be safe.

Because ice is solid, being pushed in by northwest wind. It's secure and safe.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you know that's where you put your safe camp?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes, put your safe -- Naŋiaqtuq, we call it. The place where it's safe and real solid where the ice won’t be drifting away.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: I always remember the time I was young and at that time solid ice never came in.

There was a lot of icebergs, but the way that my dad told about the stories that further west from Barrow from the Point there was big icebergs all right, but in between there was a lot of young ice.

And not that much from -- not much ice -- safe ice was grounded along the shore.

And the stories said great a northwest wind came in, surprised everybody.

And the solid ice started coming in -- the more solid ice that was drifting around but never grounded came in with a vengeance and all that young ice that was between the icebergs that were grounded but the frozen soft ice they said that it was -- it started Ivu'ing.

The ice started breaking up and piling up while all that young ice was so -- all the whaling captains that were like west of in front of Barrow.

My father knowing the conditions of the ice preferred to stay further up north.

Where it was a little bit more solid, but they said the ice broke up too.

But they were on solid ice that was thicker, and when they broke off -- there's a certain area that you -- that my dad taught me where in front of Barrow when the ice comes in that's where it tends to Ivu.

The pressure because we're in the point of land, and when the ice starts coming in where it hits the most and costs more Ivu is in front of Barrow like all the way up to NARL.

And from NARL further north -- north it's just rolling ice. It starts sliding through instead of it Ivu'ing a lot.

It starts rolling with the current or with the wind and it don’t Ivu as much.

So when he taught me he says being in front of Barrow and there's a lot northwest wind is not preferable.

Either you'll be out -- out by the Point where it just slides along.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Where the bigger pieces just kind of roll along instead of directly hitting --


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Solid into the main shore ice.

So those are the things that I learned and my dad taught a lot of captains and sometimes they prefer being up north until such a time that the ice starts melting and the currents get stronger.

It gets stronger faster up north around the Point.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And then that's when we start moving towards -- in front of Nunivak.

KAREN BREWSTER: So does that timing -- it matters during the season? Like does the current change as the month of whaling goes on?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes, it tends to go -- come faster when the ice started receding.

KAREN BREWSTER: So later in the season it gets faster?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Later in the season the currents tend to make the ice go faster.

Where when there is a lot of ice that is solid, then the currents are being impacted by the larger ice floes where it becomes -- where it is slow.

But with a northwest wind and the current coming from the west is a combination my dad always tell me just get out of there.

No use messing with the northwest wind or westerly wind together.

You check the current and it's a northwesterly get out of there. It's not worth trying to be "the man."

KAREN BREWSTER: What's the ice going to do with that? It's going to come in? It's going --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It's going to come in with a vengeance. It's just going to crack up anything that's not solid or solid to the land

KAREN BREWSTER: You're talking about how up north though you get these -- this kind of rolling effect of the ice moving around.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right. Where it hits first around Barrow and then as it -- as the main ice starts coming in it tends to roll around closer to the Point.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Or slide -- slide.

KAREN BREWSTER: Is there a term in Inupiaq for that phenomena of the ice rolling, where you describe it in Inupiaq?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Where in front of Barrow they call it Ivu. And where up north it's Saliaq.

Where it's Saliaq it just kind of push along the main shore ice.

Saliaguruq Utqiagvigmu saŋani ivusuruq agalaan nuvum piani saliaguruq . It just kind of slides along.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Call that Saliaq. A lot of times it doesn’t matter when the ice starts moving and it don’t want to Ivu it's just Saliaq.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And then it creates these sites of ice that are straight down.

KAREN BREWSTER: Like a cliff thing?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Like a cliff. And my dad at a young age, too, told me that the whales prefer being in places where the Saliaq’s are.

And that's what I used to look for is places where even with smaller icebergs, especially with small icebergs and pieces of flat land or flat ice behind it and there's a place where it's Saliaq, then I like to find those.

And if it's low, then just set it down because many times where -- when I catch whales that's where they tend to just pop up right in front of the boat.

KAREN BREWSTER: I was thinking that that Saliaq creating that sharp edge.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Uh-huh.

KAREN BREWSTER: Would be too high. It's a big drop off from the ice to the water.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: There is. There are some -- some that are high, but then there are some that are close to flat ice and then it's created.

If it's like -- like an eight foot and you could just shove the ice off where it's Saliaq because it's just thin ice where it Ivu and then the Saliaq would wear if off into where it's like a cliff.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And then if it's like eight foot and you're in a flat area you could just push it off and then the --

especially if you're at the end where there's Ivuniq's or there's a good Ivuniq and that's what my dad used to tell me that if you see a big flat area and there's like big ice --

pressure ice ridges in the back and then they curve right out into the lead, then you want to be at the end of those Ivuniq’s because the whales would follow where the big ice -- pressure ridges are where it's flat.

And that's where a lot of their food tend to congregate is where the pressure ridges are. So --

KAREN BREWSTER: So they're going to come along the edge and then come out to that point?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: To that point where the pressure ridges are and they tend to just float right on top, right under there --

And I've seen a lot of people -- whaling captains that know that.

When they go out they always wait, see where the pressure ridges are and where it's flat right in front.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Then they want to stay at the end where the ridge goes out into the open lead.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh Well the --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Those are things that are best on the knowledge of the ice and the current, and what are the areas just by looking where the i -- whales pop up.

And he says if there's flat line where they keep popping up, then you want to be right in the perpendicular to where the whales pop up.

'Cause if they start going along the edge of the ice then that's where -- if you start seeing whales further out.

In certain areas they like to go up for breath.

And if you see -- whales tend to be together -- follow each other and then that's where you want to be.

Where all the whales are popping up and then when they start going alongside the ice and the bigger herd start coming in then that's where they'll keep popping up or going up.

And these are -- this is common knowledge that always being passed down.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, it's very clear to me that there's a very deep connection between what you know about the ice and how to be on the ice and whaling.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes, the conditions of ice ever since I was young. It's not like how it is today.

Back then after the whaling season was over we tend to stay on the ice to try to catch more animals when the main whaling -- the main whaling -- whales herds past.

There's -- the earlier ones that come early in the seasons are big whales.

Those are the ones that are breaking the trail for the big herds of whales.

They're the ones that start from middle part of April or lone whales that tend to go check see how the whale conditions are -- the ice conditions are.

And then when the weather starts getting warmer first part of May -- second part of -- second week of May into the area where the whales that we tend to call

the Qitiqłiit -- the middle part of the whale herds. And those are the ones that are so many.

When we were younger that we never had time to drink our coffee -- never had time to eat, because the whales would keep popping up.

Where people lose sleep, two days, when they start moving. Becomes real hectic. And those are the days that where I -- at a young age you don’t want to sleep while there's action like that.

I've seen my dad sleeping inside the boat. My dad sleeping. Never inside the tent when the big herds started coming through -- the smaller herds or the smaller whales.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Basically. And the latter part are the bigger whales with their young ones.


And when the ice is close -- and my dad also told me that the females, when the ice started coming in, where in the latter part the ice starts coming in closer and there's more current, stronger current is pushing the ice and where the bigger whales -- the bigger whales -- the bigger females tend to leave their young ones.

And my dad would tell me where the young whales -- the bigger whales tend to -- the female whales tend to leave behind, and they congregate further south.

And one year I remember going further south and my nephew Joe and my crew we were the first ones out there.

And there were tons of whales and everybody else -- the ice was just like a -- just recent years like six, seven years ago or much closer.

And the ice conditions around Barrow were so bad -- so rough that everybody went around where we were. It was so flat. And the iceberg -- the ice that we were on was thick and there was a lot of small whales that were just popping up.

And I think that was the area where the big females would leave their young ones and they were just all over the place left and right, and that's where they got a lot of whales.

So those are in different seasons where the whales -- the first ones slow, and the Qitiqłiit where you can't even sleep or eat sometimes.

And then the latter part is the big whales and the latter is the part that I like to be out on the ice.

Because the best harpooners, the gunners, love to go geese hunting and that's when the snow started melting around up inland and that's when the geese started flying further inland.

And that gave us opportunities to be where the harpooners were -- gave us more opportunities to be at the harpoon.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But then the slow has considerably slowed down at that time too, but just sitting in the front hoping a whale would come up was one of the best things.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So nowadays can you still stay out late after the season, you know, the main whaling --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: No. KAREN BREWSTER: -- season has ended?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: No. It's different now. The ice is not solid anymore.

I remember my dad telling me that in the event I get caught on the other side where the lead opens up and it has opened up considerably, start running further away from the lead to the more solid ice where it hardly ever moves.

Where it moves a lot is along the shore, and there's like two or three currents my dad would say.

Along the shore -- along the land it moves a whole lot faster.

But as you go further out the currents used to tend to move slower and there was that bigger ice.

When I was younger there was -- they were so big -- the ice floes that they stay solid and then they move slow.

There was so much ice like on top of the world that they hardly move, but at a slower rate.

And I think back in the early years when Naval Arctic Research Lab had ice islands, they stayed in those big solid ice islands and hardly ever move.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: You could see where -- through that you could see how the ice was.

But now with the way the ice is -- the ice is fast everywhere. And in fact, there's no ice.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But I always remember when we were younger ice was always close by all the way through summer.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: We’d go out hunting. It was often that when we go ice -- hunting like in July when all the ice broke away from the shore, there was still so much ice that if we go out and then we get caught by the northwest wind

it gets so solid -- so compacted that you can’t even ride your skin boats back to Barrow.

And how many times I’ve walked to Barrow because of the ice pack unable to be open.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you left your boat out and walked back?



ROY NAGEAK, SR.: How many times -- one year I remember my brother-in-law, my sister Martha, and my brother-in-law and their whole family.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Sakkaaluk. Walking all the way from -- we tried to push our boat along where it was kind of open, but it was --

then right in front of the Monument it was so packed solid, because like I said the current further north was stronger and where it hits it packed in the ice more.

And you could hardly take your boat alongside the shore. And I remember walking back and carrying some of the younger kids to Barrow from Hollywood.

KAREN BREWSTER: Did you walk on the beach or the --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right along where it's gravel.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Very hard.

KAREN BREWSTER: It's hard work. So I -- I -- it's interesting what your dad told you that if you're out on the ice and it breaks away --


KAREN BREWSTER: -- and there's open water between you and shore, go the other way.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Go up -- start --

KAREN BREWSTER: It's safer? ROY NAGEAK, SR.: -- running towards -- 'cause there's a lot of flat ice.

And the further away you get away from the lead the slower the current.

And if you know where you at you run to the west, and as you keep running to the west you'll still be in front of Barrow because the current is so slow.

It might be fast and so many times that was inputted into me that further away -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: From the lead where the ice was more solid is where it's slower.

The bigger ice packs where it's like --


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: From the top.

KAREN BREWSTER: But now you said that kind of ice isn’t there anymore.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: That kind of ice is not there anymore -- it's not most of --

KAREN BREWSTER: What do you tell -- ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It is not most --

KAREN BREWSTER: What do you tell the young guys on your crew then, for safety?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Stay home. Lately. I mean this last year was bad.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Through technology and how the recession of the ice. It's a political thing. It's --

People say that it's not -- there's no global warming. We see that in the media.

There's a dispute or saying that it's not caused by global warming, but for us that are not what would I say this -- the media is so powerful that what they say a lot of people believe politically.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: You can either believe in the Fox Station or you believe in MSNBC.

When I look at the differences between the two stations.

So anything that is in the media to me it's -- my knowledge base is what I depend on -- what I see. What I see out in the ocean.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: What I see in my land. What I see in our weather.

That's my knowledge base of what the changes are.

And if they want to argue with me about global warming, I could argue with them that within my lifetime where I would be safe by running towards the bigger -- the more solid slow moving ice I would say right now, if I tried to do that I'll be running away from my lifeline.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Which is to make sure you get on that shore ice because right now there's -- there's no safe ice.

Even our shorefast ice -- it's almost the middle of November and we got no ice that's frozen out in the ocean.

And the question that's being debated about global warming, I see it compared to what it was when I first started whaling at a young age.

That's my knowledge base. Everybody else depends on media or what other people say politically.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Or to their liking.

KAREN BREWSTER: Are there other changes that you've seen with the ice and the weather?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: The weather's more what do -- angry I would say. The weather's more angry.

The ocean more angry. The currents are stronger.

And the opportunity to teach our young people on the way that I was taught is not there.

There's no more ice basically. But this year was one of the fewer years that the ice stayed around where my boys could go out and catch walrus.

Before they never did how many years back.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yeah, stayed 'till almost the last part of July.

Which gave us an opportunity to catch walrus and more bearded seals and seals.

But before then, once it took off it was gone like the last part of June.

And once it was gone there was nothing solid to stop it from going further away -- nothing solid like the ice that we had before.

It tend to just go to the other side, to the other lands.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I remember even when I lived here, in July with breakup and start to get --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes, middle part of July. KAREN BREWSTER: the channel from --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Last part of July would be the time that the ice would break away from solid.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, and you'd have a channel of water and you guys would launch your boats and there'd be broken ice --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right. KAREN BREWSTER: -- farther out you would be ugruk hunting in between all that -- ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: -- floating ice and walrus hunting.


KAREN BREWSTER: That doesn’t happen so much any more?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Not any more. KAREN BREWSTER: It's either in or out?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It goes out -- it goes out -- it stays out. But this year -- last year it was a little bit different we had a cooler summer.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. So speaking of last year, let's talk about spring whaling 2013.

And tell me what happened with the ice and starting, you know, back in the winter and the fall with freeze up.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: That was the year I really -- my sons and my nephews, but I call them my sons anyway, keep an eye on the ice.

See where it is solid. See where it froze first is the way that my dad always taught me is see where it freezes first.

And see which ice is the thickest where it freezes first and it stayed all year.

'Cause the more that the ice stayed it freeze more solid.

And up north it froze more solid.

But last year it was different. There were so many patches of young ice in between.

And the way that it froze, I had such an eerie feeling about it that when my nephew and -- we talked about it I said I think this might be the year that we don’t go out.

And we did not go out. We didn’t go spring whaling.

Knowing how the ice was where there were patches of ice that was just partly frozen.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And there was big ice ridges -- pressure ice that built out further out and was solid.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But in between there -- there were places that basically dark ice all spring.

And from a technical or technology wise how we are, there was a sequence that showed up on the satellite imagery of ice on top and this starting in January.

And through NOAA or through those satellite images where starting in January the ice broke up from Barrow all the way across to the other side.

And I don’t know what the other side or whatever country is off -- like perpendicular.

KAREN BREWSTER: Like Russia? Other side Russia?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Wherever perpendicular from Barrow north -- not magnetic north -- straight north.

There was a lead that opened perpendicular all the way to the other side. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow!

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And then as the months followed then you could see the ice opening perpendicular all the way to the other side.

Within the month of January, or February or March, and I don’t know what part -- the last part was opening all the ice being detached all the way from Greenland all the way through Canada. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And all that ice went towards the west.

And I think because of that there was no open leads. The ice was so packed to the west side of -- from the pack of the ice.

The main ice pack was so crushed into the west side because of the detachment from land on the east side from Greenland within a three month span -- January, February and March.

That even with good west winds or good east winds nothing never really moved to open leads.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. And was there a time in was it February or something where there was a big lead that developed -- a big area that moved out right in front of Barrow?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It did.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: To the edge. It opened up and cracked up along the edge of our land. That never has happened before.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right away -- all the way up to the beach?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It went all the way up to the beach almost all the way down south, but it stopped right around the gravel pit, and --


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It opened up right along the beach.

KAREN BREWSTER: Like between NARL and the gravel pit?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right and even before they started whaling it cracked up again right along the beach.

It was just like in some places 50 yards and some places 10 yards right along the shore.

That never has happened before in my lifetime until last year.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And that to me, like I say the changes in how the ice is and the changes that are our land is my common knowledge.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: I don’t have to look at or debate what they debate on global warming.

That to me shouldn’t be there. To us we already accepted it.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: That the changes in the world, they could call it global warming. They could call it anything they want, but the earth have aged to the point that the changes are drastic.

Because I remember at a young age, too, some of the older people saying our land is drying up more.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Our land is changing already. And I always wondered what the heck are they saying.

What are they saying? And they'd be saying our earth is getting older too quick, from their lifetime from like 1850’s or early 1900’s.

That the earth is growing older. And to me I believe that.

In fact, through my local knowledge anyway that my dad taught me about the ice.

And now it's almost middle part of November. We used to have solid ice come up and create the safe.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Safe shore ice that we depend on to live where to our whaling it's not there.

KAREN BREWSTER: Is there any way to predict what might happen this spring with this ice being late -- this late?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: I think the whales are going to be here. Usually they go south to get away from the ice packs.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But then I saw some comments about seeing ducks leaving last week or this week.

So if the ice don’t form, why bother going back from solid ice that the Arctic Ocean used to become or was.

KAREN BREWSTER: So what will you do in the spring if the -- will the ice be solid enough in the spring to go whaling?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: What if there's no ice?

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, what if there's no ice?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But the whales will still be there.

KAREN BREWSTER: So what do you guys do?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: I always wanted to get a sailboat. Now's the time I might be able to get a sailboat so you could go -- get closer to a whale rather than paddle.

Be interesting. It'll be an interesting -- but like the animals they're adapting quickly.

And what they call it? Resiliency of the people or --

KAREN BREWSTER: Resiliency, yeah?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: What they call it?


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Resilience about changing times. We could adapt to it, but how much damage can whatever causing per se global warming that it will affect.

A change that it will become so drastic that the animals that live off the cold waters.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: The cold environment and how that will impact us because we --

we live in the cold -- one of the coldest and the harshest environment that the animals that we depend on where they're also in the cold environment -- the coldest time of the year.

And how the warming of the ocean and how it reflects on their biological time frame, too.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, that's what I was wondering is -- these changes you’re seeing in the ice and the ocean and the weather, how is that changing the way you do things with whaling and seal hunting?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: When I was younger we had more time to bond with my older relatives. As I learn more.

There was a lot of time we just went hunting. Right after whaling we used to stay out longer and just hunt.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Ugruks, ducks, seals. But that time is no more.

And when the land fast ice breaks away faster and where we used to have a lot of time for me to teach my sons, my nephews, about the ice current and the ice movements.

And that gave us time to bond. To watch them growing up to be young adults. That time is not there no more.

That time to bond together as a young man and to show them facts abut life, that time is there no more.

It's really impacting a lot of our young people that really don’t have the knowledge background that I grew up on.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: With the solid ice being around.

What do you teach the young people that were my age when I first started whaling? It's not there no more.

KAREN BREWSTER: That's my question --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: In fact the knowledge -- the traditional knowledge of what was passed down for centuries about the ice, the sea current, has shifted to today where you need a bigger boat. That's for a fact.

Where I remember in the fall time back then a lot too they used to go out hunting up north with the skin boats and just a 25 horse in the back.

Because they have the safety of the ice too where they could come home, but now with the swells and the anger of the sea you need bigger boats.

Which was good because the Barrow -- like I say with the resilience of the people changing to how our ocean is changing they're buying bigger boats to catch more whales.

And this year is a perfect example of when they didn’t catch any spring whales, the whales that they got they only lost one out of twenty.

To me that improves our kill ratio to people that oversees our subsistence whaling, which is the International Whaling Commission.

But we have the -- the way that we have adapted is there, but there's going to be a point in time where we are able to adapt but will our -- the animals of the sea -- the animals of the land? Where do you see a breaking point?


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: What about their survival rates when our ocean becomes so hot and warm that whatever they feed off, what is their breaking point? Who knows?

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Who knows who's doing the research?

KAREN BREWSTER: And so when you do have time to sit with the young men in your family and your crew, what do you teach them about the ice?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It's the time that they learn firsthand how the sea and ice is.

It's the sea and the ice and the environment that teaches our young men.

I just -- I’m just there to make sure that they're safe. The safety factors of the moving currents.

The safety and the best way for them to learn is to be right in the middle of it.

It is the ocean currents. It is the sea. It is the ice through their experience.

That's what teaches them. We're just there to make sure that what we’re taught is available.

And make sure that they do not get caught up not knowing what the environment is teaching them.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It's not there no more.

KAREN BREWSTER: Those signs and features in the environment that you would point out aren’t there anymore?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: They were always there for us in the past, but now with the changes that are happening they could call it global warming.

They could call it anything they want on media, but for us the knowledge piece that I had when I was young is not there for me to present to our younger people because of the changing environment.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: So, like I say, they could adapt and they have adapt by hunting with no ice around, but it's more dangerous.

And that's the danger part, I think.

Yeah, always have to be observant and have the courage to say this is too rough for me

and not try to be the men that they are and try to hunt in an environment that is going to be too rough -- where it's going to cost lives.

They got to now start learning when to turn back because the ocean is so angry.

So angry because of the changes people are saying are being caused by environmental pollution or whatever they want to call it. It's a debate.

KAREN BREWSTER: And you're right. It takes strength -- as much strength to know what your limits are and being safe and turning around.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: That's always been the case.

Is to hunt while the opportunity is here in the manner where it won’t cost no lives.

It's a changing world. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.