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SELAWIK: Youth Celebrate Fall at Annual Science-Culture Camp
Alaska Region, October 5, 2010
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Selawik students search for tundra berries with buckets provided by Selawik NWR. Sept 2010. Photo by Susan Georgette.
Selawik students search for tundra berries with buckets provided by Selawik NWR. Sept 2010. Photo by Susan Georgette. - Photo Credit: n/a
A Selawik elder guides youngsters in the traditional ways of scaling and cutting whitefish. Sept 2010. Photo by Susan Georgette.
A Selawik elder guides youngsters in the traditional ways of scaling and cutting whitefish. Sept 2010. Photo by Susan Georgette. - Photo Credit: n/a

For two weeks in mid-September, river boats gathered along the beach each morning in the Iñupiaq village of Selawik, waiting for students to charge down the bank and climb aboard for the 20-minute ride to the Science-Culture Camp. This was the 8th consecutive year of the camp, a much anticipated opportunity for local school-age students to get outdoors and learn about the area’s natural and cultural history.

Gorgeous fall conditions graced the camp this year: clear sunny skies, mild temperatures, golden tundra, and deep blue water. More than 150 students participated in the camp, many for two days. Highlights included checking gillnets, dissecting whitefish and pike, and 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, skinned a beaver, took nature photos, searched for water insects, observed birds, ate traditional foods, and listened to old Eskimo stories.

This year the Refuge purchased berry buckets with a Selawik NWR logo to distribute to camp participants. Everyone loved the buckets, and many children and adults sought to fill them with the bountiful blueberries and cranberries.

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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