Kuskokwim Shortcut

I found the shortcut to the Kuskokwim river. There is a trail just the size of a snowmachine across the Tuluksak river right where it bends around the village.

Maybe it is a mile long, probably less. Along the way are the first signs of spring (besides all the melting snow):

And on the other side the mighty Kuskokwim!

I saw a few snowmachines hauling trees. There probably isn’t much time before the river gets too dangerous to travel on.

I could hear dogs barking from the village. When I got back, I ran into these two:

The conversation went like this:

“What are you doing?”

“I walked over to the Kuskokwim”


“I dunno, it is a nice day and I wanted to see it”

“Yeah, but why did you walk?”

Back in the Thick of It.

I guess it is time to write some Blog!

One of my challenges in keeping you all up to date on my going’s on here is that a lot of what I’m doing is learning about people and culture and systems and how they work (or don’t work) together. First, I’m still learning – so committing something to print is premature. I can’t say, “here’s what’s going on with the school” because I’m still learning – testing assumptions, getting context, etc. And I need to respect these people and this place. I’m a guest here, right? 

A game against a neighboring village. Note the child standing on the court

So, yes, I’ve had my head deep into Village Tribal Council and Yupiit School District goings on, trying to learn how things work, lending a hand where it seems warranted, staying out of the way when I think I should. If you want a deeper story of where I’m at with the job part of my job, give me a call. I get lonely in the evenings.

This is a week where I’ve left and come back again. It was spring break here in Tuluksak, though I think most of the school folks stuck around. Travel takes so long, and is so dicey (not dangerous, but you just never know if you’ll be in Bethel for a few days waiting for the snow or ice or wind to clear enough to get your flight to the village) that for many it just isn’t worth it. 

The principal went to Anchorage for a job fair to try and fill some of the empty teaching positions here, and met some good prospects, though she returned empty handed. Those folks were able to get better offers from other districts. Yupiit doesn’t pay for moving expenses, or for an initial visit to the place a teacher will be signing a contract to work.

I still brought in 100 lbs of stuff – this time mostly food, though I did bring some art for my barren walls, and some tools because I feel naked without tools. I definitely am eating better this visit – I have a big refrigerator full of delicious green kale. Mmmm.

There’s been an adult basketball tournament happening in the evenings. The gym is pretty much the size of a basketball court (not unusual out here) and it really makes watching a game exciting, since the crowd and the players are pretty much on top of each other. And, there seem to be maybe one million kids running around banging up and down the bleachers, which made me a bit crazy, so I had to give myself a personal time out.

Speaking of time out – it is a sunny 40 degrees outside, which with the snow on the ground makes it blinding. I’m going to get out there in it a bit, and remember to bring my camera!

As always, please feel free to comment on anything I’ve written, or anything you want me to write more about.

A walk to the Kuskokwim

Last weekend was calm and sunny, so as the sun was getting low I took a walk down the Tuluksak river to the Kuskokwim.

This compound is on the edge fo the village, with river access. You can see how slick everything is from the warm days and then refreezing at night. This area is set up for processing fish.

A sled dog and I look down the Tuluksak.

Waiting for breakup.

It was so quiet. I’ve seen some ravens flying overhead, but I don’t think any birds are residing in the village. All you can her when you walk is the crunch of snow and ice. Here are some tire tracks from a truck. Folks drive the river in the winter to get to neighboring villages, but also to get water from the Kuskokwim, which is a little less brown and a little more tasty than the Tuluksak water.

Here are some ice road markers to let you know it is time to turn off the river and cut across the land for a bit as a shortcut.

Just as I was nearing the Kuskokwim, I heard and then saw a smowmachine far of but heading my way. I waited until it got to me and the rider stopped and chatted. He wanted to be sure I was OK before heading into the village. Folks out here have a habit of checking in on people who are outside of the normal walking radius of the village, which is a good thing!