Questions & Answers Wk 06

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Every week Team GoNorth! answers ten questions related to the module topic from student explorers -- so stay tuned and submit YOUR questions!

Yes, we sure have! Many many times actually. The good thing for us is that polar bears do not care much for sled dogs

So, they may be following us or coming into camp, but once they realize the dogs are there they usually take off. This question very much goes with the one before... Because it is important for us to always remember that we are the visitors on the land; When we meet a polar bear we will do everything we can to not have a prolonged encounter - and our goal is to never have to harm the polar bear.
It is actually not legal for us to shoot a polar bear unless it is in self-defense. We carry these smart little things, they are almost like a pencil -- you pull back on a small trigger and it shoots off a flare or a banger which is likely enough to make the polar bear change direction to get away from us. Most often it is the mighty Polar Huskies that do the job: they start making a lot of noise and most polar bears take off.

Now, this morning -- guess what, huuuuuge bear tracks! Not polar bear though. Turns out that here in Nome the grizzly bears are already out. And let me tell you, that have to be the biggest grizzly tracks I have ever been shown. At least 10 inches long!! Its a little early for them to be out - but the weather here is also milder than usual.

Have you guy's ever had a close encounter with a polar bear?

submitted by:
Jake, Beau, and Eli

Well, first, before I answer your question from an ''Arctic perspective'' -- I think in general within all cultures it is extremely important we consider and learn from history and knowledge of the past. By taking this knowledge into account we are in the best possible position to adjust for change

As for the Arctic -- the records, hard core data, only goes back some 100 years tops (and in many Arctic regions even less)
GoNorth! Chat Expert: That means that it is very hard for scientists to come to any conclusions simply because they do not have much data to trend on -- Now traditional knowledge about the land and seasons etc Well that goes back thousands of years -- so that gives us a whole lot more to work with. So for example -- the case of the bear being out early. May be that there was a scientist that came to Nome some 15-20 years ago and started looking at when bears normally come out of their den in the spring - as a sign of changing seasons. Now that scientist may be saying, hmm, looks like they are coming out earlier and that this could be a sign of a changing climate- but then it could be argued, how does the scientist really know much with only data going back 15-20 years! On the other hand, if tradition amongst the Inupiat in Nome is that you go to a certain spot in the hillside every spring in late April to see the bears out, then likely hood is, that that is when the bears normally come out and have for eons.

And when the hunter now says already end of March that he is having issues with the bears breaking his traps, well that is something that is valuable to the scientist looking to learn about climate from study of bears...

Why is it important to study and use traditional knowledge?

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That is an excellent question! I think we can do two things... Ok, make that three :) First of all, we can make an effort to learn about other cultures -- so that we stay open minded to them and can take them into consideration.. Which takes me to the second one: be thoughtful and respectful towards other cultures traditions and values, even if we don't really get it - and by that I mean also in our everyday living, far far removed from these other cultures. That we think about that we (and our way of life) is not the only way and that we all share the resources here on earth - the space. That how I act and the choices I make in life affect people in other cultures elsewhere.

So... one reason to really make effort to address climate change around the world, is that there are people and cultures that are already being hugely affected.. and whose traditions depend on all the rest of us making an effort to make it possible for them to keep their way of life -- even 'where they live' ...

And now, I am sorry, but I can not remember what my third answer was !!! Its been a long week already :)

What can we do to help preserve traditions and customs?

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Great question! I think what interest me about cultures is that I learn about humans, our way of live, and thus about the land and the region they live in - I find that really fascinating!

Yesterday in the plane I sat next to an Elder from Nome. I asked a lot of questions :) not least about the sea ice, the conditions the land, animals, whaling and so on. He was so kind to share a lot of amazing knowledge about how they traditionally hunt seals, what kind of seals at what time of the year and the same for walrus.

By him telling me about the traditions of hunting, I learned about what is important to him and to the people that live here -- and how they have been able to survive off the land - and still do today. One of the things I learned I never knew was how they go out in the spring to pick greens!

So... I was like, greens!? Like berries?
He laughed at me :) and said, no greens

Turns out they pick the new spring as it comes out of the ground or grows, for example the willow 'buds' ... Then they take it and put it in seal oil to preserve it for the summer!

Now that right there just opens up my mind to the importance of seal hunting for example - whereas if one knew nothing about how Inupiat people have so many uses for the seal and that it is so vital in the way that they live, maybe one could have a problem with seal hunting.. but by learning about the traditions and customs of others and how they live, what is important to them - we learn to appreciate and understand and be open minded for other perspectives... to not be judgmental -- and I think that is key in a world where we live together in harmony --- sharing the resources that we have here on earth!

What interests you most about other cultures?

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Well, we eat a very high fat diet -- each expedition team member, whether it is a dog or a person gets about 5 - 6000 calories a day, whether it is in milk that we put in our tea or chocolate that we eat! Or in the case of the dogs, fat, kibble, chicken meat or in Chukotka it will be walrus meat!

Now as far as what we eat -- its a lot of butter and cheese. Each one of us eat ''a stick of butter'' and about 4 oz of cheese a day. Besides from... for breakfast we eat oatmeal or granola, a bagels fried in butter, and 2 sausages. For lunch its soup or ramen noodles, salami, gorp, chocolate, energy bars, nuts and dried fruit. For dinner its pasta, rice or mashed potatoes with ''stuff'' maybe chicken from a pouch, or tuna or when we are really lucky we have meat that we have been given in communities. Like moose or caribou meat. We just saw a moose yesterday - a  live one that is - really cool!

So, as you can see we do not hunt on the land as we travel to get food - instead we carry all the food with us. We do so because we have to cover so many miles a day (we do not know the areas we travel in so we would not know much about where is best hunting) and also the resources of the land where ever we go - well that is for the locals to take and manage.

What do you guy's eat when you are on the expedition?

submitted by:
Jake, Beau, Eli