On the words we use to describe beauty: otherworldly, dreamlike, surreal.
These terms distance us from the places that move us, and they make it harder to acknowledge the truth of where we are. This is the world we live in, we are awake, and this is as real as it gets.
Take the gift. It’s real, and it’s really for you.
I know, this is almost sappy enough to be screen-printed, but I’m really feeling it today.
Photo by Eric Guth of the Bering Land Bridge area in Alaska, U.S.A.
The house is packed with memories of him. He was one of the greatest dog mushers of all time, and he lives on through his community, his family, and his dogs.
It was an honour to meet the family of Herbert Nayokpuk, the Shishmaref Cannonball. He reminded me, even in death, that our legacies will touch many people beyond our everyday circles.
My favourite thing about my work is, without a doubt, the element of surprise. Case in point: The Eskimo Ninja (aka Nick Hanson of Unalakleet, Alaska). Nick is a contestant on the hit show “American Ninja Warrior.” He built his own training course, pictured here, out of driftwood and trash from the dump. In this shot by Eric Guth, Nick descends the 14 foot Warp Wall framed between the posts of his Salmon Ladder.
So what is more surprising that meeting a self-described indigenous ninja on a beach in an Alaskan village? It’s this: Competing in this reality show, down south in glitzy L.A., reminds Nick of his Inupiaq heritage. “It’s supportive, and cooperative,” he says. “When I went to American Ninja Warrior, I felt like I was going home.”
It’s a rainy Saturday at home in Ottawa, Canada. I grabbed a circumpolar map and some stickers and have been reflecting on my journey around the pole, which began with a trip to Northern Quebec when I was 16 years old.
It was a summer road trip with my mum and her friends, and I had no idea that those first experiences would be so formative. I remember visiting the Hydro Quebec dams that flooded vast areas and changed rivers, wildlife and communities forever. I remember entering a teepee to peel potatoes and eat goose roasted over the open fire. In the communities we visited, some people welcomed us, and others chose to keep their distance.
I have continued on a path around the north, always as a visitor and always conscious of my role as an outsider. It’s a role I believe is important for reconciliation – to cultivate a curiousity about culture, while dismantling the desire to change it. Seeing new things and then wanting to “make them better” is one of colonialism’s dead giveaways.
People sometimes ask me how my visits benefit the communities I travel to. They don’t, really. Benefits flow the other way. I’m the one who is changed.
My theory of change? Be changed.
The Bering Land Bridge—even this tiny part of it—made a big impression on me. Come and read about it in the National Geographic Explorer’s Journal. Our first blog post is out now!
#meetthenorth #lindbladexpeditions#explorersjournal #onassignment #natgeo#natgeovoices #beringlandbridge #findyourpark #shishmaref #serpentinehotsprings #ontheland #beringia #iceage #snow #arctic
Photo by Eric Guth
Meet the North has played a small role is this large project, and it was a pleasure to share ideas, networks, and images with the museum. I’ve been coming here to learn about nature and science since I was a little girl. I’m excited for these doors to open.
My work here was also supported by Lindblad Expedition which became of sponsor of the museum through #meetthenorth. Win win!
I’m in the lower 48 right now after a fabulous Alaska trip. There seem to be a lot of playoff games of various kinds going on down here right now. I’m not much of a sports fan, but when I see the look on this woman’s face–cheering her team from Gambell Alaska–I think maybe I should be.
Who are you cheering for? Sports or otherwise!
Photo by Eric Guth.
If Sue Steinacher’s house was burning down, this is one of the treasures she would grab on the way out. It’s a tiny seal made from walrus ivory. She feels that only someone who knows the animal intimately could reproduce it in such perfect detail.
I asked Sue the question about the house burning down. She has so many treasures I wondered what she would take if she could only fill her pockets and run. And then it got me thinking. What would I take? What would you?