Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Village of Noorvik

After several days of having the computer in the shop, one would think I would have taken the time to organize my thoughts so as to be ready to write again. Well, stuff happens and this is the first I have been able to return.

My companion artist, Shiho Nakaza, and I made a quick trip to the hotel to grab our overnight gear, complete with sleeping bag "just in case" we might "get stuck." As a long time Alaskan, getting stuck out- or in- is a relative term. One could get stuck out at a fish or hunting camp, get stuck in Anchorage, or get stuck in town unable to get OUT. Weather is usually the issue. I have been stuck out due to fog, wind, snow, and even an erupting volcano. So the prospect, while intriguing, was not out of the realm of possibility. Given the experiences of the people who had been waiting to to to Point Hope, it's best to be ready.

But the weather, and the mechanical capabilities of the helicopter, cooperated and we were taken to the airport in Kotz, loaded up and lifted off over a snow covered land that appeared, to an artist, to be a study of values- lights and darks. Frozen ribbons of rivers wound their way through the plains that made up the landscape. After about a half hour ride, we were there. We were dropped off, a group from Noorvik was to be taken to Selawik further up the river, and we would be picked up in a couple of hours.

The Inupiat village of Noorvik is situated on the Kobuk River with a population of a little over 600. There is a nicely appointed clinic and high school/elementary school. The school district website describes Noorvik as a place where students hunt "caribou and moose, fish the rivers and lakes, ski, play basketball and surf the net...Travel is by snow machine, plane or boat." They study literature, art and math as part of daily life and "where an ancient culture is moving toward a promising future." It is indeed promising for youngsters in these remote parts of Alaska to have the connection with the outside world as well as with their heritage.

We visited the clinic where we met with Major Emily Cerreta as she was just finishing an examination with a toddler. Her interaction with the little boy as well as his young mother was endearing and we were able to see the child have enough confidence to be curious about the stethoscope and hold it in place over his own heart as Major Cerreta listened.

All too soon we were on our way to the airport where the helicopter arrived in the usual cloud of snow and wind. Back to Kotzebue and ready for more interesting events.

The drawing shown is of Ssgt Croxon photographing people loading the helicopter in Noorvik. This will be transferred to canvas today so that the painting can begin.

1 comment:

  1. Aha! computer in the shop. I was wondering where you'd been!


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