National Geographic : 1952 Jul
North Star Cruises Alaska's Wild West Junior Swigs Canned Milk from a Bottle; His Beady Eyes Follow the Photographer Eskimo babies ride on backs because mothers must keep hands free for chores. Wives cure skins taken by the hunters, tailor clothing and boots, do the cooking, and tend children. These North Star passengers return to King Island after a summer at Nome (pages 76 and 80-81). "Oh, I send him to Fairbanks by plane," she said.* Aside from a casual social note in the Muk luk Telegraph, no one in Barrow gives it a second thought when a group of Eskimo women charter a plane and fly to Wainwright for afternoon tea. Every noon I ate muktuk with trader Tommy Brower, son of Charlie Brower, old time whaler who left his ship, married an Eskimo, and lived for more than half a cen tury at Barrow. Until his death in 1945, Charlie was known as "King of the Arctic." "The younger generation is losing the slowly evolved culture based on hunting that enabled our people to survive in the Arctic," Tommy said sadly. "Why, our young people don't even know how to dress warmly! And they ridicule as old-fashioned the older people who could advise them wisely." To round out my northern voyage, I cruised poleward in a chartered Eskimo launch. After bucking a chill Arctic wind, we landed on the low, curving sand spit that marks the northern most reach of Alaska. A snowy owl rose noise lessly from scattered bones of huge bowhead whales that suggested to me some battle ground of prehistoric monsters. Eleven Weeks of Midnight Sun Sole occupant of that lonely spit was an old Eskimo sitting on the sand behind a cloth blind, scanning the sky for ducks. I walked over and received a big Eskimo smile for some cigarettes and gum, an exchange in which I always felt I came out ahead. For about 80 days in the summer the sun at this latitude circles continuously above the * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, Oc tober, 1949: "Nomads of the Far North," by Matthew W. Stirling, and "Busy Fairbanks Sets Alaska's Pace," by Bruce A. Wilson.