With the 1992 calendar zeroing in on next year's quincentenary celebrations of Columbus's voyage and discovery of the New World, it seems timely to reflect on the incredible impact that an accidental landing on Guanahani Island in the Bahamas had on the entire native population in the Americas. It leads one to ask serious, perhaps uncomfortable, questions about the events to be celebrated and what it meant to be discovered by European explorers who took ethnocentric arrogance to dizzying heights. ...
Subsistence fishing provides an important source of food for the remote Ojibwa community of Webequie, located along the Winisk River in northern Ontario. Field observations during the summer of 1988 were combined with a recall survey to estimate catches from October 1987 through September 1988. Of 133 potential fishermen, 90 were surveyed. The total community harvest was estimated to be 83,810 fish, round weight 108,210 kg. After adjustments, this provided 118 kg round weight/person/year, or 0.21 kg/person/day edible fish for consumption. Lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), northern pike (Esox lucius) and suckers (Catostomus commersoni and C. catostomus) were dominant in the catch. Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fluvescens) attracts special fishing effort. Older males (>40 years old) are the primary fishermen. Fixed gill nets take 95% of the harvest, most of which is consumed. Commercial fishing seems to be disappearing. Recreational fishing is a potential source of revenue. Subsistence fishing tends to be overlooked in development and management schemes but is clearly an important activity.
Double counts in aerial surveys to estimate polar bear numbers during the ice-free period
Arctic, v. 44, no. 4, Dec. 1991, p. 275-278, 1 map
ASTIS record 32012
The double-count technique in aerial surveys, a variant of the mark and recapture method, was tested over islands offshore northern Quebec to estimate the number of polar bears that retreated there in the summers of 1986 and 1987. One front observer and two lateral ones surveyed six areas from aboard a twin engine DC-3 aircraft, independently reporting the number of animals they saw to the crew navigator. Bears were classified as being seen both in front and on the side, in front only or on the side only, making it possible to estimate correction factors. Although the observed strip covered 1.75 km on each side of the aircraft, the bear visibility rate exceeded 60% for lateral observers; the low vegetation of the islands and the contrasting colour of bears explain this high visibility. Corrected bear density varied between 0.4 and 14.2 animals per 100 sq km according to year and area. The double-count technique could be used to estimate the size of bear populations retreating on the islands and the coasts of Hudson Bay during the ice-free period, but its costs would have to be evaluated and compared with current techniques before including this method in management programs.
The pollen record of a 160 cm peat core from Imnavait Creek, a small upland basin in the northern foothills of the Brooks Range, Alaska, reveals a history of vegetation change from the early Holocene to the present. The Alnus rise within the region occurred after 8500 yr B.P. Betula and Cyperaceae are the major floristic elements throughout the diagram, and this, along with the significant levels of Salix and Ericaceae, suggest that the area was characterized by a mosaic of herb and shrub tundra communities, dependent on variations in terrain and moisture availability.
The proposal that the "hybrid bison" of Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP) be exterminated and replaced with "wood bison" has no taxonomic justification. The subspecies Bison bison athabascae Rhoads 1897 is based on the inadequate descriptions and taxonomically invalid criteria - i.e., body size and morphometrics. Its accepted pelage features are based on studies of the same herd of Nyarling River (NR) bison from Elk Island National Park (EINP). These pelage features, assumed to be genetically fixed, are ecotypic confinement effects, which NR bison share with EINP bull elk and moose. In bison the display hair acts analogous to deer antlers, which reflect their bearers' access to high-quality food during their growth. NR bison in captivity, in the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary (MBS), and the original wood bison are "northern plains bison." Nor are WBNP bison distinguishable from MBS bison. A "wood bison" phenotype was also described as diagnostic for southern plains bison (B.b. bison Linnaeus 1958); the northern plains bison was named B.b. montanae Krumbiegel 1980. Consequently, B.b. athabascae = B.b. bison, as the latter has priority. Yet captive and introduced NR athabascae = montanae. Some WBNP bison resemble B. priscus, supporting the view that B. bison evolved as a hybrid between American and Siberian large-horned bison. Hybridization in large mammals need not be a tragedy for conservation.
In this paper the distinguishing characteristics of six chronologically discrete Palaeo-Eskimo occupations discovered in the North Devon Lowlands region of Devon Island, Northwest Territories, are summarized and their cultural/chronological positions briefly assessed. Observed variations in the intensity of occupation in the study area and major shifts in the extra-regional cultural affiliations of these six occupational episodes are discussed in reference to a high-mobility subsistence/settlement strategy model of High Arctic Palaeo-Eskimo socioecological adaptations.
The short-term impacts on caribou (Rangifer tarandus) of low-level jet fighter training activity at Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay (Labrador) were investigated during the 1986-88 training seasons (April-October). Visual observations of low-level (30 m agl) jet overpasses indicated an initial startle response but otherwise brief overt reaction by woodland caribou on late-winter alpine tundra habitat. Between 1986 and 1988, daily effects of jet overflights were monitored on 10 caribou equipped with satellite-tracked radiocollars, which provided daily indices of activity and movement. Half the animals were exposed to jet overflights; the other 5 caribou were avoided during training exercises and therefore served as control animals. In 1988, the control caribou were from a population that had never been overflown. Level of exposure to low-level flying within the exposed population did not significantly affect daily activity levels or distance travelled, although comparison with the unexposed population did suggest potential effects. The results indicate that significant impacts of low-level overflights can be minimized through a program of avoidance.
Noctilucent clouds are tenuous ice clouds that form in the upper mesosphere over arctic and subarctic regions in the summer. Observations of the clouds made during 1988 and 1989 by the North American surveillance network NLC CAN AM are presented. Observing took place from 15 May to 15 August, except for arctic sites, which observed from 1 April to 30 April and 15 August to 15 September due to the Midnight Sun. The peak incidence of noctilucent clouds occurred in July during both years. Both positive and negative sightings, that latter determined by at least two readings under favourable conditions, are plotted on date-latitude graphs. An apparent northern migration of noctilucent clouds (NCL) with latitude as the season progresses was detected. Although an attempt was made to look for an apparent longitudinal drift, none was found. A detailed comparison of how NLC have behaved and changed in the past quarter century is examined using the NCL CAN AM data in conjunction with the 1964-65 data presented by Fogle (1966).
Royal tax records from 1557 to 1614 provide native harvest data for descriptive and quantitative analysis of the Saami (Lapp) reindeer hunting society in northern Sweden. The Saami made tax payments during the Scandinavian Late Middle Ages to Crown sheriffs in natural harvest products according to standardized equivalents. These natural goods were obtained in three areas of subsistence - hunting/trapping, fishing, and primitive reindeer husbandry, allowing for a graphic depiction of the economic performance of extended Saami families during this period prior to the adoption of modern reindeer herding. The native harvest, combine with enthnohistorical information, provides a model for reconstructing traditional circumpolar economies.
Environmental radiocesium in Subarctic and Arctic Alaska following Chernobyl
Arctic, v. 44, no. 4, Dec. 1991, p. 346-350, 1 map
ASTIS record 32019
Radiocesium (134Cs and 137Cs) concentrations were measured in soil, plant and wildlife samples from subarctic to arctic Alaska. Concentrations of 137Cs ranged from below detectable or low levels in whale and fish samples to as high as 242 Bq/kg in lichen. For all potential human food items, the radiocesium concentrations measured in this study were below accepted permissible levels for human consumption. Chernobyl-derived radiocesium concentrations ranged from below detectable or low levels in all arctic samples (soil, sediment, lichen, whale, fish and caribou) to 32 Bq/kg in subarctic moss. Therefore the distribution and subsequent deposition of Chernobyl-derived radiocesium appears to be variable but decreasing significantly from the Subarctic (Fairbanks) to the Arctic. The present data support the suggestion that Chernobyl-derived debris arrived from western Canada into central Alaska and subsequently moved to the north (arctic) and to the west, decreasing in the quantity deposited as the debris transversed the state.
"Einar Mikkelsen, or Mikkel, as he was often called, would have been quite at home in the old Norse society. Exploring new lands and seeking tough challenges in the northern regions of the world was as much in Mikkel's blood as any Norseman could have wished for himself." This profile recounts the remarkable expeditions to Greenland and Alaska, undertaken by Mikkelsen, under the most extreme conditions, and tells of his involvement with Greenland and Greenlanders. Even at the age of 65 he continued his efforts to provide the Greenlanders with some protection between the old and the new worlds. He was very aware of how difficult it would be for the Greenlanders to create a workable amalgamation of the Western and the traditional worlds. He understood as well as anyone that only by living in reasonably small settlements spread out on the land could the people continue to maintain most of the old hunting way of life. He was one of the principal founders of the Danish Arktisk Institut and served on the publications committee of the Arctic Institute of North America throughout the 1950s.
One of Denmark's most distinguished scientists, geology professor Arne Noe-Nygaard, died on 3 July 1991 at the age of 83. ... Volcanism and igneous rocks ... were Noe's main interest. ... In 1936 Noe was appointed scientific assistant at Copenhagen's Mineralogy Museum; he moved two years later to the Geological Survey of Denmark. Here, besides taking care of the Drilling Division, he was assigned the geological mapping of the Faroe Islands, which are almost exclusively made up of volcanic material formed during the younger Cretaceous and Tertiary periods. This work was very close to his heart and he participated in it until his final days. In 1940 he was promoted to sectional geologist of the Drilling Division, a job that was in fact far from his main interests. In spite of this, Noe demonstrated his undisputed ability for management and administration, which became obvious when in 1942 he competed successfully for the Chair of Professor Geologiae at UC, .... It was not long before the university and other academic institutions became aware of Noe's enormous energy and capacity for work. A few years after taking on his professorship he was elected Decan (head) of mathematics - natural sciences faculty, and in 1955 he was made a member of the university's Supreme Governing Body (Consistorium). He became a member of boards of directors of various foundations, such as in 1963 the prestigious Carlsberg Foundation. ... Noe's name will be remembered by generations of international and Danish geologists and arctic explorers.
In 1974 a slightly bow-legged young male arctic archaeologist, nearing completion of his Ph.D., nervously stood before a Bryn Mawr College introductory archaeology class. Approximately 35 eager undergraduate women sat quietly and expectantly in their seats. The undergraduates had to lean forward when their new professor began to speak, for his lecture was delivered through a cloud of cigarette smoke and at a whisper that barely reached beyond his beard. Thus began Richard H. Jordan's career as an archaeology and anthropology professor. His productive career ended prematurely on 19 January 1991, when he died of a heart attack at the age of 44. ... Dick's career went through various theoretical stages and took on a circumpolar aspect as he became involved in work in Siberia, Alaska, Canada, Denmark, and Greenland. He always saw arctic archaeology in the context of anthropology and insisted that his students have an excellent anthropological grounding. Overall, he was interested in unraveling the prehistory of arctic cultures and understanding human adaptations to cold regions, climate change, and cultural contact. He recognized that international cooperation and exchange among academics is essential to the success of scholarly endeavors and was impatient with those who hampered such efforts. On the national level he lobbied for increased funding of northern research and expressed his concern about the United States' underdeveloped arctic social science policies. The voice that began as a nervous whisper in a Pennsylvania classroom was now that of an emerging leader in the field of northern research. Dick's students and colleagues will notice less animation and a lower noise level at academic meetings and increasingly will realize how silent their phone lines have become. The northern anthropological community has lost an invaluable colleague, teacher, and friend. ...
James Merritt Harrison died 6 July 1990, following a bicycle accident on 18 April 1990 that left him in a coma from which he never recovered. ... He was respected internationally both as a geologist and a representative of the Canadian scientific community through his many eminent contributions. ... he received many honours for his work in government and with scientific organizations in Canada and abroad. He was a director of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society 1963-67 and a vice-president of that society 1967-73. He was an original member of the Science Council of Canada in 1964. He was president of several societies: Geological Association of Canada, 1960-61; International Union of Geological Sciences, 1961; International Council of Scientific Unions, 1966-68; Royal Society of Canada, 1967-68; and Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 1969-70. In 1971 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. He was assistant director-general in Paris for UNESCO in the period 1973-76. He created training programs and promoted science, particularly in developing countries. He continued to further the ideals and activities of UNESCO through membership and chairmanship (1985-88) of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. ... He joined the Geological Survey of Canada in 1943; his fieldwork being entirely in the PreCambrian shield areas, mainly northern Manitoba and the iron ranges of Labrador. He became director of the GSC in 1956 - its youngest director - and under his leadership the GSC developed and modernized substantially. He fully encouraged the development of new sub-sciences within geology, including the latest advances in radioactive dating of rocks, aerial photography, geophysical and geochemical surveys and the application of data processing to geology. Some of Jim's innovations made possible several major scientific advances and contributed to the rapid exploration of Canada's remote frontier areas, including the Arctic Islands and the Polar Continental Shelf. ... In 1964, Jim took on the responsibilities of assistant deputy minister (research) of the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys and in 1972 he became senior assistant deputy minister of the renamed Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. ... Dr. John Parker ... has commented about Jim Harrison as follows: "Northern people have lost a great friend and dedicated supporter. He truly cared for people and nurtured their ideas. ... He had a deep knowledge and understanding of Canada's North and was a great friend and supporter of its people. ..."