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Roy Nageak, Sr., Part 2

This is the continuation of an interview with Roy Nageak, Sr. on November 13, 2013 by Karen Brewster and Dyre "Oliver" Dammann  at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in Barrow, Alaska. In this second part of a two part interview, Roy talks about the unusual ice conditions during the Spring 2013 whaling season, and changes in the prevailing winds and ice conditions. He also talks about building trails across the ice to whale camp, understanding the ice and safety, and the use of satellite imagery and technology.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2013-25-05_Pt.2

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.


Wind, current and ice conditions in Spring 2013

Effect of southeast wind

Slush ice


Effect of south wind

Changes in prevailing winds

Changes in ice conditions

Trail building and decisions about where to locate trails

Trails during Spring 2013 whaling season

Camaraderie of trail building and whaling

Being aware of safety and knowing when it's too dangerous to go out

Observing ice all winter to predict spring conditions

Applicability of old knowledge to current conditions

Starting his own whaling crew

Use of satellite imagery and technology

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.


KAREN BREWSTER: So one of the things about last spring, you know, we know the ice didn’t open.

Can you talk about the -- what was happening with the winds and the currents? You said it was young ice, but what was happening with the wind and current last spring?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It was sporadic. There was really no solid leads.

It opened up, but not open up where it would allow the whales to go through.

Where that thing said I have learned we used to look at the shadow of the clouds and the steam from the ice.

And on a cloudy day you could see how far the leads go just by the shadow of the clouds that rise from the open lead because it's still cool and it creates a lot of steam.

Not steam, but water vapors that show up as dark clouds where the leads are.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Qisu. Qisuk. Qisu, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Qisu.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And what I saw is that the leads would open. You could see where the dark clouds south, but the ones that my dad taught me on how to look at the Qisu or the dark clouds that show where the open leads are,

it never opened all the way south and kept disappear over the horizon.

And the Qisu’s were just all over the place. It wasn’t solid.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Solid open leads. And even when we had wider open leads there was ice that was attached that wasn’t solid.

There was a lot of open places -- open patches of water -- open patches of thin ice where snowmachines or whether you're walking or not you couldn’t traverse through those kind of ice.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It was too dangerous.

And at that time I -- I think making the choice just looking at how the ice conditions are reflected on making a wise choice.

Not to brag, but to know that what I've learned from my dad as a knowledge base and making those choices because of the conditions of the ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. So how early did you -- were you able to look at the ice and make that decision?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: First part of April. Usually people will start hunting in March for seals.

And then when it opened up, it opened up in March right 100 yards from the shore.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And I went out and I'm going -- odd that it opened up. If I go out -- if I try to go out on the safe ice it's 50 yards from shore.

That ain’t going to cut it. That ain’t going to cut it.

It's -- if -- if it became solid ice maybe two miles away there's so many places where the young ice is that it could be critical that you'd be caught on the other side.

And I think when it opened up one time where there were people already on the shore, where the leads opening, it opened up behind them and they -- I think this year was where some boats barely make it back.

About five or six of them. But that's -- just show you what I mean that if you feel that in your knowledge base of what the ice is then making the right choices of not going out.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And the safety of the crew comes first. The safety of the people hunting with me comes first.

KAREN BREWSTER: So when that ice went out in March and then is it just this --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It -- it came back, but it --

KAREN BREWSTER: It came back --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But it froze. A lot of areas around that it froze and it was dark ice. Dark ice is bad.

That means it's young ice -- shallow -- shallow ice.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Thin ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, so it just didn’t have enough time to get --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Frozen solid



KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And then, you know, I’ve heard, you know, east wind pushes ice out, west wind pushes it in.

What does a southeast wind do to the ice?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Southeast is it pushes it out more -- at more at an angle. Tends to open it up more.

East wind it tends to let it slush or let it at a different angle.

When you have the southeast it's straightening -- it's pushing it straight out. Easterly it's pushing it sideways.

The way that the winds are. Northeast it's letting it slush or just go alongside. It don’t really push it out.

So the angle of the wind we prefer southeast which straight -- pushes out straight out.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, so southeast is -- ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right off the shore. KAREN BREWSTER: -- is good?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Southeast is good.

KAREN BREWSTER: What about at this time of year? Or I mean does it matter what time of year when the wind is considered good versus --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Well, this time of the year when the ice first starts freezing, we prefer that there'll be bigger icebergs out there.

That will be grounded in or solid piece of ice will be grounded in alongside the shore in spots.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And then -- and then it would freeze over alongside them and they become thicker.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: More flat spots.

But lately we've been having this kind of ice that is just like crushed ice all over the place.

In places in springtime crushed ice to me is like mush my dad would say. I've seen it when it starts breaking up and the ice starts hitting was there's like crushed ice.

It's just like all ice that is like what you put in a drink swirl or whatever you put on crushed ice.

When the ice is with many patches of that any kind of ice that pushes it in will make it into slush.

KAREN BREWSTER: And that slush --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: That is very dangerous.

KAREN BREWSTER: That crushed ice mush --


KAREN BREWSTER: Slush. What -- what's your Inupiaq term to describe -- for that?


DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: So, isn’t that how the ice usually form around here? It starts with slush or not?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yeah, it does, but this is a different form of slush ice.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: This is ice that where ice rubs together. It forms that and there's a lot of crushed ice in there. And then there's small pieces of ice floating all over.

Like we had a big storm like two or three days ago -- Monday, Sunday, there was slush ice. And that's what kind of saved our shore.

Because that slush ice from the waves piled up and make a big barrier and you could see it out there.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: You could see the big barrier of slush ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: That froze together. But if a bigger storm comes with more water, that stuff will disappear right away.

And then when it freezes it can’t -- it's -- the texture of the ice don’t allow more solid ice to be frozen underneath it.

It don’t crack. So it stays like slush ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: It doesn’t solidify.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It freeze -- it doesn’t really solidify in the bottom. It solidify like one or two feet on top.

But once it gets hit and it's in between another iceberg and that other icebergs start moving.

I've seen it where we had that kind of slush ice like 50 feet, and then the whale was caught and it got -- the tow line got stuck and there's like 50 yards of this slush ice.

Not Qiŋugaq. Its -- There's another term. Qiŋugaq is slush ice that moves alongside the edge of -- right now. That's Qiŋugaq.

KAREN BREWSTER: It's not Muġałłiq?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Muġałłiq. Almost.

KAREN BREWSTER: I have it here. Muġałłiq.



ROY NAGEAK, SR.: I'm having a senior moment now.

KAREN BREWSTER: And I don’t know it well enough.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But anyway the size that is formed between the rubbing of major icebergs.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Muġałłiq. Muġałłiq, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: That's what you're -- that's --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And that's what one time -- again by watching it, there was a whale that was caught, but it's tow -- tow line got caught underneath.

And the whale was out in the open, but the tow line -- and these boats started pulling it on the tow line and we were on top of this Muġałłiq -- the slush ice.

And there must have been like 20 or 30 of us trying to get this whale from underneath the ice or --

the tow line that was stuck underneath the ice apparently it was stuck and being hold by -- by a little bigger iceberg attached to the Muġałłiq and when the boats and us started pulling away and then when we jerked ice that was along the edge all of a sudden just like that all that Muġałłiq start disbursing.

And everybody starting running to shore. All except one guy.

And he just found a big iceberg to stand on. Jacob Adams.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And then the boat -- aluminum boat that they were on -- and he was calling for help.

It didn’t matter what they were going through they went to him right away because it was very dangerous.

What we thought was solid -- that Muġałłiq -- my dad always say that's one of the dangerous ice that once something started disbursing, it doesn’t take too long for it to become mush.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. It doesn’t sound like it would be safe to go out on. You guys went out anyway.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right. And there was a lot of it in between icebergs out there.

When I saw that too, when it was time for whaling I saw that too and there was a lot of Muġałłiq all over the place.

It's like my comfort level to be in a lot of that area where there was Muġałłiq or slush ice frozen.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It's like I wouldn’t want to be out there.

KAREN BREWSTER: No. So I want to go back to what you just said about the last couple days, because when we got here on Monday there were the big waves and you could see that band of slush ice between the shore -- you could see that.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Where it was building up.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Then that was Monday. Tuesday, yesterday, there was no wind -- calm -- it seemed like the wind had died down. The ocean wasn’t all angry and there was chunks of ice.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right. KAREN BREWSTER: Starting to form.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Freezing together.

KAREN BREWSTER: And today there's no ice. It's all open water.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: South -- south -- KAREN BREWSTER: Why?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Southeast wind. Push it away.

KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: The complexity of our land and the winds and the ocean current.

Wind and ocean current control the way that the ice is and the way that it is formed.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: I prefer that the Muġałłiq is pushed away, and then that we get a big freeze and then the water gets calm.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And then the freezing start.

KAREN BREWSTER: Just freezes in place?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It freezes in place attached to the ice.

And as it freezes more, northwest wind or northwest current try to push it away it's going to freeze flat. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Until such a time that all the ice that is forming out in the Arctic Ocean will start piling up on it and making it more solid.

KAREN BREWSTER: So the fact that the wind turned southeast today and pushed that --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Slush away.

KAREN BREWSTER: -- slush ice away was a good thing?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: That to me is good. So that we could have more solid piece of ice freezing.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Not with slush ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. And when you're out whaling, is the southeast wind -- that's good?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Preferable. Very preferable.

Another thing my dad taught me is the south wind.

Don’t be expecting no leads to open on the south wind. In fact, south wind and it's warm, south wind coming off the land there's a tendency for the tide to go up.

And that's one of the things that when the tide starts going up it tends to crack up a lot of ice away.

My dad always told me if there's a good south wind and it's warm, it doesn’t matter how much water is out there, and whales are moving -- south wind, go back in.

And when a lot of people that have the knowledge base and about the ice, even though the people south wind come up they go back to solid ice right away.

The tides always come up when the ice cracks away. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: With the south wind.

KAREN BREWSTER: Have you noticed it changing in the -- what the prevailing winds are now in Barrow?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: More northwest, more westerly. And that's what happened in the springtime, too.

KAREN BREWSTER: And you think that's more all year round?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: We used to -- KAREN BREWSTER: Or just in the spring?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: -- get like a northwesterly winds after late whaling season, but now they're more common.

We used to have prevailing south wind. I bet you if you check within the years that they saw what they say global warming, you'll see the breakdown of the prevailing winds.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: In all those years, we've always had southeasterly winds, but now during the time of whaling it's more westerly.

Whether that's a pattern change of our winds because of the per se global warming, but the winds have changed, too. It's not more prevalent southeast or easterly winds.

It's a fact of more changing of winds all the time.

KAREN BREWSTER: So can you use the winds -- can you still use the winds to predict what's going to happen out on the ice and --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: You got to look at the clouds.

More stronger southeast winds I think to push the ice away further out in early spring and not come back.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, I see. It pushes -- southeast winds push the ice out too far out.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Too far out with more prevailing southeast winds. The southeast starts, it don’t change for like a month.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. So it is not like, oh, it just creates a lead, it just pushes everything.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right, but now it's more -- once it starts it's more prevailing and it's stronger.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And that's like I stated again and I'll state this again, when you see the changes from what it used to be to today, don’t depend on the media.

Don’t listen to what's happening. Watch what's happening in your environment.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And the way that the land is and now the ocean is.

Look at your own knowledge base and how it was.

That is more current to me and more my knowledge base of what the changes are and the tragic changes that are happening.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Something is causing it to happen.

KAREN BREWSTER: Are there any other changes in the ice that we haven’t already talked about that you've noticed?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: We don’t see the great big glacial icebergs no more. Fresh water ice is hard to see no more.

Piqaluyaks are rare when our ice is formed, where we get fresh ice for making water.

That is no more. They’re rare.

And the great big icebergs we used to get commonly from the eastern shores from Greenland. All those are gone.

KAREN BREWSTER: Besides getting fresh water from those, what impact is having none of those around?

Why were they important besides for water?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Well, that's where the whales prefer to be is Piqaluyak. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: If you see a Piqaluyak along the edge of the ice and there's an open lead, that's the most preferable place that that captain would like.

That's the whales prefer going through that Piqaluyak.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But at the same time you got to be aware of the fact that Piqaluyak, once it gets hit by ice -- flat ice that is solid.

When it hits a Piqaluyak, it's like glass. It breaks like glass.

One good hit and all that what you think is solid going to break up like glass. It shatters. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It don’t crack. It shatters.

KAREN BREWSTER: So it's still a --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: A good place to be, but if there's going to be a piece -- big piece of ice that hits, it's going to break like glass. It shatters. It don’t stay in one piece.

KAREN BREWSTER: Does the Piqaluyak do anything in terms of grounding and creating stability?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Usually there's -- the way -- they do get grounded, but a little bit further out.

And when we were younger we prefer Piqaluyak ice rather than lake ice as it's cleaner, it's tastier. It's like sweet water.

And we used to go out once the shore -- shore ice gets solid there's places where there's lots of Piqaluyak and you could just go down and pick your sweet water.

And that's what a lot of older folks prefer and we prefer that too when we were younger -- when we never used to have tap water.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Growing up on Piqaluyak water that was preferable.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Uh-huh. Other changes in the ice since you were a boy?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: The icebergs are smaller. Melting faster. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: (Inaudible) is faster. The ice is for some reason dirtier.



ROY NAGEAK, SR.: More brown ice. Anaġlu’s. We call them. Dirty ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: Dirty ice is what?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Anaġlu.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: There's a lot more browning of the ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: What about pressure ridges -- has that changed?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes, they're smaller and they melt quicker -- thinner.

Basically, no more ice. The solid ice we prefer.

Something's got to be done with it, but it's not us. It's not us that is causing the environmental changes. It's somewhere else on a global -- global -- in a global sense. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: More pollutants. More cars. More, in the developing nations more coal -- coal fired energy -- cheaper. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But dirtier. Getting hotter in our country.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Wetter. We used to be a dry arid country, but we get more rain.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Which might be good for the growth of lichen.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But then it allows more stuff to grow further south and taking places of the lichen. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Taking over where lichens used to grow. I see that a lot, too.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I have one last question about back to ice.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Okay. KAREN BREWSTER: Which is about when you are building trails. How is it that you decide where to make your trail? Do you pick by --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: A long time ago it was more convenient to make more straighter, because there was less ridges.

It was more solid ice that tend to just get attached to each other.

But now there's more pressure ridges and thin ice that tend to pressurize against each other. No more solid ice.

Where we could just go through flat ice to go to the ice or to the -- go to the lead, but now there's so much young ice that is -- and there's more ridges to go through.

KAREN BREWSTER: So how do you decide where to make your trail?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Depends on what's on the other side. But lately it's all being pressurized ice -- it doesn’t matter. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: There's no more solid straight ice attached getting -- like I said getting attached to land.

It's more a freezing part that tends to make it flat.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. Last spring wasn’t there a lot of flat ice?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Kind of, not as big and strong or thick.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It's more of the young thin ice that were flat.

KAREN BREWSTER: There's a difference between flat and young, and flat and thick?


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And once the young flat ice reaches shore ice it breaks up more often making more pressure ridges that are thinner ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. Do you want to ask a question?

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: Yeah, maybe a couple.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes, yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: I’ve been dominating the conversation.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: I was interested -- you mentioned one of the first times you went out you went out with dogs, is that correct?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes. DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: So how in terms of this last question that she had how you choose your trail and how you travel on the ice, how did that change -- so how did that change your decision making when you went from dogs to snowmachines?

What is the difference there with this transportation?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: There was more involvement in going out and making the trails like in front of Barrow straighter it doesn’t matter.

With a snowmachine you could just kind of zigzag and follow the flat spots, but back then with the dog teams they tend to go straight out more. Big areas where you could go straight out.

Then have more trails where you could go back faster and straighter.

And that's one of the things my dad taught me, he said once you get into an area that you know that the whales will come up, look in the back and straight towards land and try to make a trail straighter to land rather than zigzag all over.

And that is always the case once I find the spot, find a way to go straighter into land faster.

Make your escape route from the coming of the ice that's going to break up faster, rather than zigzag all over.

Too many times the trails that are being made because of the more common pressure ridges they zigzag all over, where we need to make them much straighter.

I think there needs to be more effort from the community to make more -- doesn’t matter how high the ridges are to make them more straighter going out into the lead.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you're saying people are zigzagging to avoid the pressure ridges. To stay --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right. KAREN BREWSTER: -- on the flat instead of --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Going straight. KAREN BREWSTER: -- breaking through the trail -- the pressure ridges?


DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: Does that mean then -- because I assume dogs can’t go over too rough of ice, with so does that mean more work went into making the trails then?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes. And there was more community effort to make those trails. And they started earlier making the trails, because they did a lot more seal hunting.

But once the whaling start they tend to make them wider and straighter.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, that's interesting. They were already out there seal hunting and had all these trails already.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yeah. They already know which -- for the rough spots were -- where the pressure ridges are there'll be no more changes, but

with the way that the ice is and it changes a lot in and out, in and out until the time for whaling, so you have to go out and look for more flat areas.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But not like before where once that (inaudible) comes in, you know where the flat areas were.

But it changes more often now because of break offs.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Tend to have -- be more closer to land than before.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, yeah, it seemed like last spring people built trails then -- they had to keep moving camp. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So they had to keep rebuilding new trails.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Trails, yes. KAREN BREWSTER: Right? Is that common or that was unusual last year?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It's getting more unusual. I mean it's more common changing trail because the trail that you make break off.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. It's a lot of work.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right. And one of the things, too, is the lead tends to be further out. And there'll be more pressure ridges in between no more flat spots.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: So you got to work more often, but it still it's safe. 'Cause there's a lot of open spots that are like I say dirty ice.

Dirty ice is shallow or thin ice and they're all over the place.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: You don’t have -- I heard one of the whaling captains say that once they're next to the lead the first thing is don’t wander off the trail.

Because there are more thin ice and people are falling more into the thin ice if they wander off the trails, and that's more dangerous.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: There's more open ice or open pockets of water trying to go out into the open leads and thinner ice.

And I had this conversation with an older captain, it's like the one that is so observant he says once we get the trail made I tell my crew don’t wander away from the trial.

I don’t want to lose another snowmachine. He lose more of them. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Because it won’t support the weight of a snowmachine.

KAREN BREWSTER: So who decides where the trail goes -- that sounds --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It's a combination of whaling captains getting together and ask each other which way you going?

Well, you know what, it's more solid up north and I've seen it all. People talking to each other.

And there's always groups of captains that tend to go together.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: A com -- common, what we call it?

KAREN BREWSTER: Camaraderie?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yeah, between whaling captains is getting so more obvious.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Some like to go a little bit further west. Some like to go further north.

KAREN BREWSTER: Because you --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Some like to go in front of Barrow, and be more brave.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, yeah, you said about the community effort to make the trails. Are crews still joining forces to make trails or do the people --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes, that's why groupish -- or whaling captains tend to stay with -- like my whaling captains or family.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. So you're still working together to build trails? It's not one crew goes and does their own trail?



ROY NAGEAK, SR.: If you help with the trail, you're more inviting. If you're just a follower and just waiting until the all the trails are made, then you're being frowned on.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. And it sounds like some of the older more experienced captains go out and scout and decide -- ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right.

KAREN BREWSTER: -- where the trail's going to go?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And those are the ones that tend to have the seal hunters in their group, because they're already going out knowing which way is the best way to the leads. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And that's where we need to be more vigilant in sending out our young people to be more conscious of what areas--what ares where the lead is opening and where the flat spots are.

And you don’t do that by just sitting in the front of your TV watching the NBA. You need to go out there more often.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. Do you have more questions?

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: Was people more safety concerned before when there was -- ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: You know, it's harder to evacuate probably with dogs and there was no Search and Rescue with helicopters and was that --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes. There was more safety conscious. And knowing where the solid ice was.

And knowing the current. And knowing how to read the clouds that are high up and which way they're moving.

I've learned that tomorrow’s wind will be what's above the clouds or above further up the day before.

And my dad used to tell me if you're looking up on the clouds and it's really straight that means it's going to be windier.

But if you see like cumulus and there's no wind and they're just floating around, that means there'll be less wind.

But if you see a lot of clouds that are straight, try to see which way they're going, and then next day they -- that -- whatever's up there will fall down and be the wind or the weather.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: You said this last spring you thought it was -- it might be too dangerous to be worth it to go -- to go out whaling.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right. DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: In your memory how many other seasons have been -- been like that where you say or your dad say that it's not worth it? It's too dangerous.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Not very often, let me tell you, not very often, but now -- nowadays it's more often.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: And what -- what -- and what -- what point or what is the determining factor, if any? I know there's multiple ones --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: A sixth sense. DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: Yeah.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: If you know your environment -- if you know your land and the way that the ice is formed looking at it starting now.

Right now it's looking like we're going to have a bad ice -- stable ice season 'cause it's not frozen yet.

September, August, September middle part is when it starts freezing before the ice in the ocean, but now it's when almost in the middle of November and still nothing's freezing.

It's a sixth sense that you get from knowing your environment, the land, the sea.

Your knowledge base and knowing your environment, and that sixth sense of not worth it.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: And what -- what times during freeze-up and the beginning of spring can you -- can you tell significant things of how the whaling is going -- going to turn out?

If for instance all this slush comes in and it freezes in place -- a lot of slush, what would you, in your mind think about it's going to do for the whaling, for instance?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Well, you start getting an idea of this time of the year where it used to freeze, but now with it being no ice yet your ability to forecast for the solid year is be where the preferred areas -- be where it freezes first.

And when it gets to the time table of whaling and your ability to read the ice is not there, it's still open water, then already you're feeling what kind of whaling season will we have with the ice not frozen yet.

And that has never happened before. In that case, your ability to read the ice once it's time for whaling will be out of tune with our whaling season.

And when you're out of tune and your environment and the ice is out of tune with what we need to do for spring whaling, then your decision to start whaling and the ice that is being formed for it to be solid, your ability to know that it will be safe to go out there, the decision making happens now with the way the ice is formed.

And like I say, it's still open water. Your ability to forecast what areas will be solid or what areas or what type of ice will be out there, your knowledge base is askew.

It's not solid with what your past experiences have -- and already for me spring whaling this year will be leery.

I won’t have the comfort level of knowing whether the ice will be solid enough to do spring whaling.

That I know because of what's happening now.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so you’re comfortable with maybe again this coming year 2014 you might not put a crew out? That's okay with you?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Well, it depends on whether the more solid ice which is somewhere out in the Arctic Ocean, if it comes in and make it more solid and crush in -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: -- to the seashore and have more solidity, than I'll have some comfort level. KAREN BREWSTER: But if --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But where is it now? I mean --

KAREN BREWSTER: But if it doesn’t -- if the ice is questionable next spring and you’re not comfortable, you're okay with saying two years in a row "No, we're not going whaling." You would do that?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Well, to me since I'm at that age where I feel like I got to retire and my nephew catching a whale this fall that I gave the flag to. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Will have to decide. It's not me no more.

I’ve -- I’ve kind of given some of my ability to control the whaling crew to my nephew. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.


KAREN BREWSTER: But he comes to you for advice and instructions still?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: I did last year.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And he followed it. And it was a wise choice, but now he's got to make that decision whether our crew will go spring whaling.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Because he's getting more of the control away from me. I'm almost on the consultant level.

And those are the comfort levels too is what you teach your whaling crew. It's got to be solid.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: The knowledge base for our young people with the ice that has completely changed from my knowledge base that I had with solid ice 50 years ago.

The times have changed so much with the condition of the ice that making a decision early whether you will get ready.

We got enough skins for a new skin for our boat, but the decisions to make whether you want to go out during springtime or not. The window of opportunity is getting smaller. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: To do spring whaling then we say that. KAREN BREWSTER: Yes.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: I'll just say that.

KAREN BREWSTER: That's a good way to say it.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: The window of opportunity to do spring whaling because of the conditions of the ice then -- laying back from a global -- KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Globalization of the environmental changes. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And how old our earth is becoming -- being polluted by countries outside of us and the way that it will change they either -- it neither would be worser or if the people change their ways of life to be less pollutant then we might have a chance to go back to how it was before.

But the way that it looks like, it's out of our control.

KAREN BREWSTER: I was going to ask you before and I forgot. When was it that you started your own whaling crew -- when you became captain? Your father had his crew.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And then --

KAREN BREWSTER: And that was --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: My sister, the oldest in the family and that's how it always been. The oldest one -- it just happened to be my sister Martha Aiken and then it became Robert Aiken’s crew for many years.

KAREN BREWSTER: So she took Nageak crew and it became Robert Aiken.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Robert Aiken, but the flag was still there.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Martha made the flag -- a different flag compared to what my dad’s was.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And now we still carry the same flag that my sister made out of respect for her because she was oldest one in our family.

And then my brother James had it for a while until they moved to Anaktuvuk Pass and then the family decided that it would fall onto me because I was able to support a whaling crew.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: But then, the way that my father when I think back into it had already decided for me to be in a sense the captain in the far or near -- farther away.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And it's -- it's the wisdom of our elders that decide.

KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh. So what year did you become captain of Akootchook crew?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Man, it was like mid-80’s. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Mid-80’s. And I was one of those that never got a whale real quick, until such a time that -- it's how you look -- it's how you look on who you are.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Spiritually, I was disconnected through a lot of things to the land, to the sea, because of a lifestyle that to me that's -- KAREN BREWSTER: It was --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: -- but I always reflected on. Because you always need the spiritual connection to the ocean and to the land to really understand how the animals are.

If you don’t have the ability to read the land and the sea and the spiritual connection that we have with our animals, and the spirituality that follows after catching a whale, then your ability to be successful depends on it.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And I've made a lot of changes in my life for the positive.

KAREN BREWSTER: That’s good.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And more so spiritually.

KAREN BREWSTER: That’s good. Uh, Oliver, did you want to ask about your trail maps and satellite images or are we done? DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: I don't want to push it any. But yeah, it sounds like you've seen our trail maps. Have you seen --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes, I’ve seen it 10 years ago and I asked one time why don’t we have that no more.

'Cause they used to map out the ice with infrared or something -- whatever they used to look at the flat spots. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: That was a good program back then. And I always asked what happened to it.

But if it comes back and start looking at the ice around March, February or March when it starts getting brighter, where you could reflect where the young ice is because it's so obvious you could see it in the map, or however they made it where the black spots are.

It's -- it's an advantage for us to see a program like that we started.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: So know how thick the ice is helps or you can tell --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yeah, you could tell from those -- the first time they used those trail marks.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: You could tell where good solid ice is through the imagery that they used. And you could see where the dark ice was. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And where the white solid. Because the more whiter it was the more thicker it was.

To me when I saw those it was like wow this is good. You could read the map on the computer. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: And is something that can actually help you with your decision making.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right. DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: Creating trails.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Because we don’t have the ability to be renting planes and whaling captains to fly over and see where the flat spots are.

It used to be good for the Search and Rescue to do that, but we don’t have that flexibility no more.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: So why does it help you to know where the flat spots are?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: To make our trail.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: Is that not something you can see like, oh, look, it looks flat?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: No, not from the pressure ridges.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: That's like I say there are more pressure ridges where you see a lot of them, but then you got to know where the flat spots are from a more above view.

KAREN BREWSTER: So it gives you a wider view -- a bigger picture?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: A bigger picture of where the flat parts would be.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: So how does -- does -- and this goes very in line with what I'm researching -- trying to research the trafficability of ice in general so I'm very --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: The dark areas.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: -- exactly what kind of -- what is the most important to you. Like when you say flat, how flat ice is that? Like stuff you can easily go over with a snowmachine?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Right. The whitier -- when I saw those tracks and where they were looked at in the computer you could tell where the thin ice was as compared to the more solid whitier ice.

KAREN BREWSTER: So thickness is more important to you than -- ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: -- if the ice is rough or smooth?



DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: So the smooth ice, wouldn’t that be where the ice is thinnest?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: You could tell on those maps that were provided. DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: Uh-huh.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: The aerial maps were from the satellite, wherever they got them from.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: You could tell what was solid, and you could tell it was thinner.

KAREN BREWSTER: Because what you're saying is you can have flat ice that's thick and flat ice that's thin?


KAREN BREWSTER: And the satellite shows you the thick versus the thin.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: 'Cause that's how I read it.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And then going down there, and you could see it.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: And would you also have been interested in material that can show you or satellite imagery in some way can tell you how rough the ice is for the purpose of what’s easily visible --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It's really easy.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: -- and what’s not? Or is that easy to tell?

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It's easy to tell.

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: The thickness is, or how the strong the ice is is what you're --

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes, it's --

KAREN BREWSTER: That's harder to tell.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: You could tell where the thickness or the pressure ridges are. They're thinner and they're way whitier than the --

DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: But from a satellite point of view would it be interesting to you to be able to identify from a satellite imagery where all of the rough areas are for the purpose of --


DYRE “OLIVER” DAMMANN: -- what's easier to travel on.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And see along the lead. See where they end, where the flat spots are.

KAREN BREWSTER: For picking out where a good camp spot would be? ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Yes. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: Especially when the lead is open.


ROY NAGEAK, SR.: And you could pick that from an image once the lead's open -- if the open -- leads ever open.

You could tell where the pressure ridges are from the satellite. Depends on the imagery that you --

and there's a lot of things you could do with the computers now.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yes. These guys do amazing things. Arigaa. Quyanaqpak.


KAREN BREWSTER: Thank you for sharing all that.

ROY NAGEAK, SR.: It's got to be done. But the knowledge base and handing it down with what the ice is, it's the window to learn is getting shorter for our younger people.