National Geographic : 1952 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine Eskimos at Barrow Swear to Defend Alaska Against Surprise Invasion Aleuts, Indians, and Eskimos in the Alaska National Guard form a human radar screen to scout and harass attackers until defenses are mobilized (page 86). "You don't have to teach these fellows much about using a rifle," says the Guard's Lt. Col. Marvin Marston (left). "They've been hunters all their lives." the permafrost. Ruts were full of water. Only a little over four inches of rain fall annually at Barrow, but there is no runoff, evaporation is slow, and permanent frost prevents under ground drainage. I passed a lady balanced storklike on one leg while an amused Eskimo dug into the mud for her shoe and a galosh. "Oh, this is nothing," he said. "In October we sink to neck." Money Burns Holes in Parkas The village cooperative store was crowded with Eskimo mothers carrying babies in their parka hoods. Store shelves were displacing the Arctic Ocean and the tundra as the source of Eskimo provisions. Inhabitants of Eskimo villages have been lured to Barrow by a modern version of a "gold rush," until the Arctic coast is practically abandoned. At the Navy oil project just northeast of Barrow, a number of Eskimos are employed at white man's wages. They operate tractors, bulldozers, cranes, and drilling equipment as expertly as if born to the work. "We take in $400,000 a year," the Eskimo store manager told me. "Our people spend their money as quickly as they get it." A traveling saleswoman representing knit ting mills in Logan, Utah, had struck it rich. Exhibiting her samples in a "fashion show" with Eskimo models after a gangster movie at the local cinema, she viewed without enthu siasm a circle of unresponsive fur-clad femi nine customers. Suddenly one of them pointed and said, "I take that, and that, and that." The Eskimo woman had purchased a three-piece knitted ensemble costing $135 without bothering to feel the cloth. The sales were on. "But how will you clean your suit?" I asked the Eskimo.