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SELAWIK: Village Youth Get Outdoors During Annual Science-Culture Camp
Alaska Region, September 24, 2009
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Frank Berry, Jr. demonstrates caribou butchering during the Selawik Science-Culture Camp. Photo by Susan Georgette, 2009.
Frank Berry, Jr. demonstrates caribou butchering during the Selawik Science-Culture Camp. Photo by Susan Georgette, 2009. - Photo Credit: n/a
A Selawik community member displays ittukpalak, a dessert of fish eggs and cranberries, before offering students a spoonful to taste. Photo by Susan Georgette, 2009.
A Selawik community member displays ittukpalak, a dessert of fish eggs and cranberries, before offering students a spoonful to taste. Photo by Susan Georgette, 2009. - Photo Credit: n/a
High school students and other camp participants gather for a group portrait on a beautiful fall day. Photo by Clyde Ramoth, 2009.
High school students and other camp participants gather for a group portrait on a beautiful fall day. Photo by Clyde Ramoth, 2009. - Photo Credit: n/a

For a week in early September, students from the Iñupiaq village of Selawik crowded the river beach every morning, rain or shine, eagerly clambering into boats for the 15-minute ride to the Science-Culture Camp. This was the 7th year of the camp, a much anticipated opportunity for local students in grades 1-12 to get outdoors and learn about the area’s natural and cultural history. The camp takes place at a site north of the village selected by the Selawik Elders’ Council.  With help from Selawik Refuge staff, a large wall tent, tent frame, and wood stove have been constructed at the site.

Highlights from the camp this year included checking gillnets, dissecting whitefish and pike, and practicing scaling and cutting fish for paniqtuq (dried fish—a staple food in the community). Migrating caribou from the 400,000-strong Western Arctic Caribou Herd passed near camp, allowing the older students an opportunity to hunt with the elders and develop their skills in skinning, butchering, cutting, and cooking the meat. Students also picked berries, learned to make ittukpalak (dessert of sweetened fish eggs and cranberries), observed birds, identified plants, and listened to old Eskimo stories.

This year the Refuge purchased 10 digital cameras for students’ use and set up a Photo Scavenger Hunt for them to explore their natural surroundings. The kids loved the cameras and begged for additional “hunts” later in the year!

Elders, teachers, and community members also participated in the camp as boat drivers, cooks, mentors, and chaperones. For some children, especially younger ones, the camp is their only opportunity to take a boat ride into the outdoors surrounding their village. The camp, a cooperative effort by the Native Village of Selawik, the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, has been partially funded each year by the Challenge Cost Share program.


Contact Info: Susan Georgette, 907-442-3799 ext 16, susan_georgette@fws.gov



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