Present and potential petroleum development in Alaska is directly related to public-policy issues. The Prudhoe Bay oil discovery signaled the need for determination of a transportation route to market. Pipeline location became a function of political boundaries, with an all-American route preferred. Actual pipeline construction was dependent on settlement of land claims with Alaska's indigenous peoples and the development of environmental safeguards. However, implicit in the U.S. Congressional decision to build the pipeline was acceptance that expanded human activity would impinge on northern Alaska's pristine wilderness and that there was probable risk of environmental damage. Another major public-policy decision was to allow construction of a pipeline for Prudhoe Bay natural gas. The problem that remains is uncertain economics; thus no Alaskan construction has occurred to date. Public policy also was advanced in windfall-profit taxation, and towards exploration and development of new petroleum areas. Each policy has generated conflict between state and federal governments and private groups, but overall public-policy decisions and related judicial actions continue to favor a development stance. This is likely to persist as long as U.S. national attention is drawn to the uncertainty of foreign sources for petroleum.
In 1853 a British Naval Expedition, involved in the search for the missing British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition under the command of Sir John Franklin, constructed a stone storehouse on Dealy Island off the coast of Melville Island, Northwest Territories. This storehouse was stocked with a complete inventory of supplies used in mid-19th century arctic exploration. Excellent documentary sources pertaining to the origin and the abandonment history of this site indicate that it underwent a series of diverse alterations since its abandonment. Many of these alterations were found to be archaeologically invisible. The extant remains would have resulted in a crippling misinterpretation of the facts had written records not been available. Because of the conservation problems posed by this extraordinarily large and rich collection of frozen material, traditional archaeological approaches were rejected. Instead, the structure and its contents were preserved in situ by a multidisciplinary team of archaeologists, conservators and architects. It is hoped that the underlying philosophy of this approach and some of the techniques used are applicable to other frozen sites. Examination of the historical record and available archaeological data indicates that the Dealy Island site played an insignificant role as an agent culture change among the historic Inuit. Several factors are considered in arriving at this conclusion, including British ethnocentrism, the logistical requirements of naval exploration and the abandonment of the High Arctic by indigenous peoples during the Neo-Boreal climatic episode.
Gray whale distribution and catch by Alaskan Eskimos : a replacement for the bowhead whale?
Arctic, v. 35, no. 3, Sept. 1982, p. 386-394, figures, tables
ASTIS record 10517
The catch of gray whales, Eschrichtius robustus, by Alaskan Eskimos from 1925 to 1980 has been documented to the extent possible by a search of the literature and personal communications with knowledgeable sources. During the period 1950-1980, 47 gray whales were landed by hunters at 12 villages. During this same period, 505 bowhead whales, Balaena mysticetus, were landed at nine coastal whaling villages. Alaskan Eskimos traditionally have been bowhead whalers, principally because of the predictive nature of the bowheads' migration. Gray whaling has never been an important subsistence activity. Because the bowhead population is thought to be depleted, gray whales have been suggested as a possible substitute for subsistence. The distribution of gray whales in Alaskan coastal waters is such that reliable annual whaling for this species is possible only at villages on the shores of the northern Bering Sea; it is unlikely for villages north of Bering Strait to Cape Lisburne, and more unlikely for villages north of Cape Lisburne and east of Point Barrow. Based on cultural and biological grounds, substituting gray whales for bowheads does not appear to be a reliable alternative for the residents of four to six of the nine Eskimo villages that currently participate in bowhead whaling.
Canadian subarctic agriculture has not been a widespread practice. Because of increasing northern populations associated with industrial development, and the high cost of fresh produce, the practicality and success of subarctic gardening are examined. Dawson City was chosen for study because of its long history of gardening. In 1980 there were 50 domestic gardens, 56 greenhouses, and three commercial gardens which supplied produce both locally and to Whitehorse and Inuvik. The study documents the following crops: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, turnips, kohlrabi, radish, beans, peas, potatoes, lettuce, kale, beetroot, Swiss chard, celery, onions, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, corn, peppers, leeks, squash, sunflowers and a large variety of herbs. The specific crop varieties used by gardeners are noted along with observations on their relative success, planting and harvesting dates and special gardening practices.
Birds migrating along the flaw lead at Point Barrow, Alaska were observed from 6 May to 4 June 1976. Little migration occurred until 25 and 26 May, when winds shifted from northeasterly to southwesterly and widened the lead. King Eiders (Somateria spectabilis) were the most abundant migrant; their movements were greatest with southwesterly (following) winds and between 1200 and 1800 h (Alaska Daylight Savings Time). On 26 May 360,000 King Eiders passed within a 10-hour period. Ninety percent of the migrant Glaucous Gulls (Larus hyperboreus) moved east by 25 May. Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima) and Oldsquaw (Clangula hyemalis) were most abundant in early June and the bulk of their migration probably occurred after 4 June. Male King Eiders passed mostly in May while females were more common in June, suggesting that this species delays pair bonding until the latter part of their migration. This strategy necessitates an early migration and introduces the risk of possible starvation due to late spring freezing in the high Arctic.
Earth hummocks were found on the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains in a non-permafrost environment. Many hummocks show involutions of organic layers within 25 cm of the surface, suggesting that the hummocks are still active. The soil material is a non-plastic, silt-textured volcanic ash. During brief periods in the spring the upper soil horizons can become super-saturated with water; the soil then becomes liquid, resulting in involutions in the surface layers. This mechanism is generally erosional and it is unlikely that it contributed to the formation of earth hummocks. The hummocks are believed to be relict features that were formed under colder conditions, when permafrost was likely present in the ground.
The occurrence of thiobacillus ferrooxidans and arsenic in subarctic streams affected by gold-mine drainage
Arctic, v. 35, no. 3, Sept. 1982, p. 417-421, figure, tables
ASTIS record 10522
Thirty-five streams in gold-mining regions between Rampart, Alaska, and Dawson City, Yukon Territory, were sampled to determine dissolved arsenic concentrations, and numbers of the acidophilic iron- and sulfur-oxidizing bacterium Thiobacillus ferrooidans. The pH of the streams varied from 6.3 to 8.6 and the streams were nearly saturated with dissolved oxygen. T. ferrooxidans was found in eight of nine streams affected by gold-mine drainage and in only one of 26 streams not affected by gold-mine drainage. Some of the streams affected by gold-mine drainage near Fairbanks, Alaska, occasionally contained levels of dissolved arsenic above 50 parts per billion. The recognition that T. ferrooxidans is associated with gold-mine material and that the heavy metal arsenic exists in streams affected by gold-mine wastes is important for understanding the environmental affects of mining activity on subarctic streams.
128 fresh (current) and 18 preserved (museum) polar bear hair samples were subjected to mercury analysis. Mercury levels ranging from <0.5-44.3 ppm were observed in the fresh samples with a geographic distribution showing higher levels in the western Arctic and substantially lower levels in the eastern Arctic and in Hudson's Bay. A similar geographic range and distribution was found in the museum specimens. No correlation can be demonstrated between observed levels and industrial releases of mercury. There is no real indication of increase in general levels over time. The source of observed high levels of mercury in arctic marine fauna appears to be geologic rather than industrial.
Extreme northern and southern distribution records for jumping spiders (Araneae, Salticidae) in the western hemisphere
Arctic, v. 35, no. 3, Sept. 1982, p. 426-428, table
ASTIS record 10521
In Alaska and Canada the northern limit of salticid spider distribution corresponds closely to the boreal forest-tundra ecotone. The only occurrence in the polar tundra is at Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada. In South America, Puerto Deseado, Argentine marks the southernmost record.
A richly detailed account of the demise and death of a Kutchin leader in the early 19th century, preserved in Hudson's Bay Company journals, is presented and analyzed for what it reveals of Northern Athapaskan adaptations in the early fur trade era.
Bering was asked by Peter the Great to lead the 100-man First Kamchatka Expedition, 1725-1729. In 1782 he navigated up Anian (Bering) Strait to 67 18' N, in the process discovering St. Lawrence Island and the two Diomedes. The Second Kamchatka Expedition, 1733-1742, again under Bering's leadership, finally set sail June 1741 on the St. Peter and the St. Paul. Although these ships became permanently separated from each other by a storm early in their voyage, they both made separate landfalls on the Gulf of Alaska coast. The St. Peter was wrecked on Bering Island in the Commander group. The crew was forced to winter there and Bering, among others, died of scurvy and hypothermia. The survivors, who constructed a ship from the remains of the St. Peter, returned to Petropavlovsk, to which Captain Chirikov had returned aboard the St. Paul the previous fall. Although it cost him his life, Bering had succeeded in laying the basis for Russia's claim to the "big land". The 2000 sea otter pelts that his expedition brought back sparked a fur rush which resulted in the establishment of the Russian-American Company in 1799.
... As his father had, Norton did some exploring when his boss, Ferdinand Jacobs, sent him to Chesterfield Inlet in 1762. He returned to report reaching its very end and finding that no hoped-for Northwest Passage existed there. That autumn, Jacobs went to command York Fort, and Norton succeeded him at Churchill. He now had opportunities to display what the late Professor Rich generously called his "uncommon energy and perception". One may allow the "energy", for Norton was full of ideas, but they were too often impractical for his "perception" to be very impressive. One was a notion that live moose could usefully be sent to England, ... and by their next boat the Company ordered Norton to send no more livestock home. ... in 1765 he persuaded his employers to start a whaling business at Churchill. The result was disastrous. A century later bowheads were profitably hunted around Southampton Island, but Norton ordered his whalers to stay south of Marble Island. There only four whales were caught in seven years, and in 1772 the Company cancelled this enterprise after losing over 20,000 [Pounds Sterling]. Another of Norton's brainwaves concerned the copper which had long been known to exist in the North. ... In 1765 Norton hired two Chipewyans, Idotliazee and Matonabbee, to find its source. Three years later ... [Norton] persuaded his employers to send Samuel Hearne on his three famous journeys to the Coppermine in 1769-72. On the joureys we can say here only that Norton's crazy planning ensured the failure of the first two. ... This third journey also caused a bitter quarrel between Norton and Hearne, for Norton tried to force Hearne to take along some of his Cree relatives. Hearne, who had enough of Norton's kin on his earlier journeys, refused; and thereafter, he writes, Norton "used every means in his power to treat me ill." It is therefore unfortunate that nobody but Hearne has left any description of Norton's personality; Hearne's picture of him living "in open defiance of every law, human and divine", is so lurid that one would welcome corroboration. ...
Hall conceived an interest in arctic exploration in his late thirties and in 1859 he mounted his first expedition in search of Franklin. He sailed to Baffin Island on board a whaling vessel and was fortunate to encounter an English-speaking Eskimo couple when he was put on shore. They taught him about arctic survival and were his loyal companions throughout his life. His next trip north was made in 1865. This time the whaling vessel put him ashore at Roe's Welcome Sound in Hudson's Bay. In 1869 he finally reached King William Island where he found relics from the Franklin Expedition, but gave up hope of finding any survivors. In 1871 he sailed north as leader of a full-scale expedition, aboard the Polaris. He and the leader of the scientific staff, Dr. Emil Bessels, shared very poor relations, and once the ship and crew had settled for the winter in Hall Basin, Hall briefly travelled by sledge northwards, returned to the ship, and after drinking a cup of coffee became violently ill. He died two weeks later. His body was exhumed in 1968 by Chauncey Loomis, Hall's biographer. An autopsy revealed that Hall had been given large doses of arsenic, which was commonly used as a medicine, prior to his death. It is not known whether Dr. Bessels did this, accidentally or otherwise, or the arsenic was self-administered. However, Dr. Bessels never admitted to the Board of enquiry that he administered any arsenic to Charles Hall.
Pullen had a long career as a naval officer and surveyor. He was persuaded to leave the Navy for a time, in which he was employed by the Surveyor General of South Australia. He later rejoined the Royal Navy and surveyed the Saint John River and Bay of Fundy. He was then appointed as first lieutenant of H.M.S. Plover, which was a depot ship for the first of three searches for Franklin. He birthed the Plover and two other ships at Wainwright Inlet and set out from there in boats, travelling east to the Mackenzie River. His men overwintered at Fort McPherson and Great Slave Lake. While on his way to York Factory in the spring, Pullen was met by two Indians with a commission from England requesting that he continue the search for Franklin east of the Mackenzie River. A second winter was spent up the Mackenzie River. His second arctic journey was made less than two years later, during which he commanded the H.M.S. North Star, as part of Sir Edward Belcher's 1852-54 expedition. During this expedition Pullen stayed two winters in Erebus and Terror Bay, Beechey Island, and travelled across Lancaster Sound and up Wellington Channel.
... Emile Fortuné Stanislas Joseph Petitot entered the Congregation of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary-Immaculate in 1860. Fourteen days after his ordination, Petitot left France for the Mackenzie River, where he lived for the next twelve years, based at missions in Fort Providence, Fort Resolution, and principally Fort Good Hope. His accomplishments during his stay were remarkable. He collected material for his Dictionnaire de la langue Déné-dindjié, a dictionary of the major Athapaskan languages; Petitot's work still remains the best available in the field. Les Traditions indiennes du Canada Nord-Ouest records extensive legends from the Hare, Chipewyan, Loucheux, Dogrib, Cree, and Blackfoot cultures, all gathered during this period. Rarely at the missions, he travelled widely with native companions, often into territory completely unknown to both Petitot and his guides. ... Attending to the physical, as well as spiritual, well-being of the Indians, Petitot nursed them when they were sick, and supplied them with necessary food and clothing. Although suffering from an abdominal rupture, he designed, decorated, and helped build the Good Hope Chapel, declared an official historic site in 1981. In June 1870 he journeyed from Fort MacPherson to Lapierre House in the face of strong resistance from the Protestants, who considered that territory as inviolably theirs. His maps of the vicinity of Great Slave Lake, of the Anderson River, and of the western branches of the Yukon are remarkably accurate. Travelling between the Mackenzie and Liard rivers, he charted the Petitot River, named in his honour. He corrected and completed the maps of his precursors, notably Sir John Franklin. The Rivière La Roncière-Le Noury, which Petitot discovered in 1868 and placed on the map in 1875, was later denied any existence. Over 30 years after Petitot's discovery, the mouth of a large river (the Hornaday) was found to empty into Darnley Bay east of the supposed mouth of Petitot's Roncière, although the river's course was not extensively surveyed beyond its mouth. ... The pace of Petitot's northern life could not continue indefinitely. Exhausted after twelve years in the North, he returned to France in 1874, where he arranged for the publication of his dictionaries and numerous other works. ... He also received at this time a silver medal from the Société de Géographie de Paris for his map of arctic regions. On 24 March 1876, Petitot again embarked for the North. But his health was broken and his great period of geographical discovery had come to a close. ... ill health ultimately demanded that he give up missionary work entirely. ... The geography of the country and the ethnology of its people were Petitot's primary northern interests, but he also made substantial contributions to our knowledge of the geology, paleontology, zoology, and botany of the region. ...
Prentice G. Downes was one of the most singular men to travel in the North in the last years before the 1939-45 War. An able man in the wilderness and a gifted cartographer, ethnologist, and naturalist, he is best remembered as the author of Sleeping Island: The Story of One Man's Travels in the Great Barren Lands of the Canadian North, a classic of northern canoe travel. ... In a letter to George Douglas in 1943, Downes remarked that his having read Napolean Comeau's Life and Sport on the North Shore of the St. Lawrence "had a great deal to do with my ever going north, as I was so interested that I set off for the North Shore to find the old gentleman." Comeau had died, but thus in 1935 Downes commenced his northern travels. In 1936 he took passage aboard R.M.S. Nascopie from Montreal to Churchill, during which trip he made copious notes on climate, geography, wildlife, Ungava Eskimo vocabulary, and northern society. From Churchill he flew to Pelican Narrows and with an Indian companion canoed to Reindeer Lake and back again. In 1937 the New England Museum of Natural History sponsored a solo trip by Downes to study the Eskimos of Boothia Peninsula, before which he made his way to Brochet at the north end of Reindeer Lake and investigated the histories, languages, and ways of the Crees and the Chipewyans. This fascination with northern Indians, and above all with the significance of dreams in their cultures, was central to Downes's travels. The Crees named him "The-man-who-talks-about-dreams." Two of Downes's unpublished writings are a Cree-Chipewyan dictionary and a volume titled "The Spirit World of the Northern Cree: Contributions to Cree Ethnology." The first of Downes's major canoe trips came in 1938, when he paddled alone from Waterways to Fitzgerald, after which he moved on the Great Slave, the Mackenzie, and Great Bear. ... The Sleeping Island trip of 1939 - from Brochet to Nueltin Lake - was followed by another, less triumphant, venture into that region in 1940. Despondent as he was at his failure to reach Kasba Lake by way of the Little Partridge River, Downes could still confide in his journal: "Three important routes and one previously unknown river have been worked out. Kasmere Lake is now plotted, both north and east arm. Actually, far more was accomplished than a successful trip through to Kasba would have afforded." Much of the North was as yet imperfectly mapped then, of course, and one of Downes's primary achievements was his meticulous mapping of every obscure route he followed. ...