Point Hope Aerial, 2013

Point Hope, Alaska, February 22, 2013

One of the great privileges in our life was to live for three years in the Inupiat village of Point Hope, Alaska. Lying 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle and still deeply connected to a whaling-based subsistence culture, it is said that the Tikigaq Peninsula has been inhabited for some 9,000 years, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in North America. It is a place of aqpik berries and caribou, snowy owls and arctic foxes, fierce winds and frozen seas, a full month of darkness and the most magically soft pink, gold and orange morning and evening light we’ve ever seen. One day in early fall we hiked out to the end of the peninsula, stood on the beach, and watched in wonder as thousands upon thousands of murres, puffins, auklets and other seabirds streamed by on their way to the open ocean to spend the winter, their nesting season complete – surely one of the planet’s greatest migratory events. We endured a mid-winter three-day blow of hurricane force winds that forced most of the village to huddle together in the school which had its own generating system and could offer warm shelter and hot meals. Polar bears sauntered through the village right past our house and there were nights when the Northern lights danced above our heads in electric greens, pinks, purples and reds.  And it was a place of friends, some of the toughest, most generous people we’ve ever known. Tikiġaġmiut – the people of this peninsula in the Chukchi sea.

9 thoughts on “Point Hope Aerial, 2013

    • Hi Gerowyn, I’ve been editing old photos and found this one, which I’d forgotten I had. I was struck by how perfectly “postage stamped” Point Hope is on this rather narrow peninsula, at times nearly surrounded by frozen sea. Long ago, the peninsula was an important haul-out place for walruses, which, along with the caribou that sometimes wander out onto the peninsula, were a draw for establishing a settlement there. You can still find walrus skulls at a very old village site further out the peninsula. This old village is marked only by a few mounds – what’s left of dug-in sod homes. That area now is regularly inundated with sea water, as is old Tikigaq, the village site that was abandoned back in the 1970s.

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