Tag Archives: village

Boat Trips on the Kuskokwim

Nothing says Alaska like taking a boat ride on the Kuskokwim River, eating freshly-caught salmon and watching a spectacular sunset at midnight. In the midst of our busyness, I am thankful to have experienced some of these remarkable aspects of this beautiful region.

On Friday, a group of us had the opportunity to take a boat to the Yup’ik village of Napaskiak to shoot some B-roll footage for our documentary. We could not have asked for a better day to go out on the Kuskokwim River. The weather had finally improved; the blue skies and fluffy white clouds were welcoming after many dreary, drizzly days.

We all piled into the boat and set off on our expedition. It was thrilling to get out on one of the last wild rivers flowing through the United States. The Kuskokwim is so important to the people of Bethel and the surrounding villages for transportation and food.

Along the way to the village, we made a few stops along the river to try to find moose. Even though we never found one, the meadows and marshy landscapes we saw were breathtaking. I am still holding onto hope that I will see a moose before I leave Alaska.

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After the beautiful boat ride, we reached the village. As we got out of the boat, I noticed the peacefulness of Napaskiak and immediately felt that by bringing in all of our cameras we were intruding on the lives of the villagers. We had a limited amount of time to get our B-roll, so I knew I had to overcome my discomfort to find the footage we needed.

The eight of us split up into groups, so Leah, Morgan and I headed off to find interesting shots around the village. We communicated our whereabouts in the village by using walkie-talkies — an incredibly fun and useful addition to our adventure.

As we were setting up our cameras to shoot video, all of a sudden two young girls appeared and wondered what we were up to. Soon more and more curious children started to emerge as we moved around Napaskiak. They were incredibly respectful and stayed behind the cameras instead of trying to get in our shots.

The houses were very small and connected by boardwalks, so villagers traveled to and from different structures by bike or four-wheeler. Napaskiak had a Russian Orthodox Church that we peeked inside. We also chatted with a village police officer, who was very friendly and joked that he just didn’t want us to take pictures of him.

We received word from John via our walkie-talkie that it was time to head out. As we packed up our gear into the boat, the village children swarmed around us saying they didn’t want us to leave. I am sure we are the most exciting visitors they have had for a while.

The team was all set to go, and we all waved goodbye as we started back down the river. I couldn’t help but feel sad as Napaskiak became a faint sight in the distance. I find it hard to imagine winters in such a remote place. Villages throughout the region face great challenges due to their isolation from more populated areas. Despite the difficulties of village life, I am humbled by how welcoming the people of Napaskiak were and will always remember the lively spirits of the children.

During our journey back to Bethel on the Kuskokwim, I witnessed the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen (the one odd thing about it was that it was at midnight). No photo can do it justice, but I was able to capture a photo from our boat. It was a truly wonderful day.

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On Saturday the entire Backpack Journalism crew took a boat ride on the Kuskokwim to a fish camp. We enjoyed a fun and relaxing cook-out of hot dogs and hamburgers. In addition, we had a taste of salmon that had just been caught in the river. I am not a huge fan of fish, but I thought this salmon was absolutely delicious.

Besides eating great food, our evening at the fish camp was spent in the great outdoors enjoying the presence of some fantastic people. It has been just over a week since we arrived in Bethel, and I am so thankful to be sharing this experience with fellow journalism majors, Creighton students and faculty, and friends old and new. Whether we are playing card games, preparing meals or just laughing uncontrollably, I am loving my time in Alaska and will be sure to make the most of my last week here.

 

Sending my thoughts and prayers to the people of my hometown of Norfolk and the rest of northeast Nebraska, especially those affected by the terrible tornadoes in and around Pilger. 

 

Carpe Alaska

There has been so much going on that the days and experiences are starting to all blur together and just feel like either one longgggg day, or an entire month. Yesterday was no exception. I’ve never had a day feel quite so long and so short all at the same time.

It all started with the opportunity to be behind the camera for an interview. This time I was on my own (accompanied by Tim) and really getting things going. Each time I’m feeling more and more comfortable operating the cameras and just more confident in my abilities. We interviewed a girl named Anna, a recent high school grad, about her experiences growing up in Bethel, and a few things about culture and climate change.

After listening to her perspective and rocking my detail-oriented style, we headed back to base camp. From there I was offered the opportunity to go for a walk and take some pictures. I normally would have just wanted to stay in and play some card games, but my gut pulled me out the door; and thus the dream team was born!

#DreamTeam Myself, Hannah, Morgan, and Stephanie
#DreamTeam Myself, Hannah, Morgan, and Stephanie

We went out on a whim of an adventure, and MAN was it incredible. It all started when we ran into some natives. Sadly, we bore witness to a common trend in Bethel as at least one if not more of our new insta-friends was very intoxicated. Nonetheless, they were still very friendly and talkative, and we took photos and laughed. And then the magic kicked in.

Mid-conversation, across the river, a moose and her two calves emerged from the bush, and we all exclaimed in excitement;, grabbing our cameras trying to get a shot. Either way, we were all so exhilarated that we gleamed, and started to head back to the social hall. Then we stumbled upon a woman with a yellow Finch that had recently ran into a window. The bird was still trying to fly so we all got some great shots of him. We finally arrived back inspired and pumped up for the remainder of the day.

#LayersOnLayersOnLayers
#LayersOnLayersOnLayers

For the near eternity that was left of the day, I was assigned to the group that was going to see a local village off the Kuskokwim river. We bundled up and prepped our equipment. We ended up taking a hour boat ride into the sun to see never-ending meadows, beautiful skies, and incredible wildlife. I was already amazed by the time we got to the village. We only got to stay for a short amount of time, which a lot was taken up by being swarmed by adorable kids, but it was so unforgettable. The B-roll aside, the images and scenes we saw will forever be with me. It all truly was a blessing to experience.

Ending the day with a bowl of freshly popped popcorn and jamming out with Hannah to “It’s the best day ever!” from the Spongebob Squarepants Movie soundtrack really just tied everything together.

I’ve really learned how incredible this trip has been, and how to fully experience things I just have to get out there and see what I can while I have time. Just realizing that this experience is completely in my hands just makes me feel so empowered and ready to take on each individual day. Good thing tomorrow is only a day away!! #MusicalHumor  #PopLockandFocus   image