Sunday, 23 October 2016

Inchoun, an arctic native village on the far east Siberian coast

Chukotka is one of these Russian Arctic regions that have been for long forgotten and abandonned to their native subsistence way of living. Only recently has Russia started to look more carefully to its far east Arctic Coast, as the Northwest Passage is now more frequently navigable - thanks to the warming ! - and the underground is found rich in deposits of gas and petroleum.

It's almost unbelievable how people have resisted living for centuries on these desolate and unfriendly tundra territories, far from any civilised town, under Arctic cold, on freezed land and ice covered seas. Some time ago I reported in Ultima Thule on the native village of Uelen; Inchoun is located nearby to the West, also on a sand spit by the sea.

Between Inchoun and Uelen, the only transport in winter used to be dogsled.

Arriving to Inchoun by sea, a row of low wooden cabins on a sand spit welcomes the visitors.

Inchoun (Инчоун), a settlement of marine hunters, is located north of Cape Dezhnev on the coast of the Chukchi Sea and about 35 kilometers west of Uelen (or Whelen).

Old isbas (left), soviet era cabins, and the new school (right).

Coordinates: 66° 18′ N, 170° 17′ W
(north of the arctic circle and close to the date line).

Population: ~ 420

Snowmobiles are the top choice for moving on the ice, though dogsleds are still much in use.

Inchoun's main road.

The oldest isbas are poorly built log cabins.

Locals mainly live now in new, heated cabins. But construction materials are always desperately needed for repairing.

The village's facilities include school, medical center, a small library, a post office, bakery, public bath and laundry facility, a small store. Power supply is provided by the village local diesel power.

Water supply is probably still the main difficulty. Truck-trains run along icy roads to bring tje precious supply.

The local shop, also a recent improvement, as fresh supplies arrive more frequently than it used to be.

Girls wearing the traditional 'Kamleya' summer dress.

Amazingly, the vilage is growing and those many children eventually obtained a brand new school.

Marine hunting has always been part of everyday life in Inchoun. The other main occupation is reindeer herding.

Inspired in a reversed boat, probably, the new school is the best improvement of all - it became the centre of social and cultural life in the village.

ДРУЖБА, friendship

The achitecture intends to allow snow to slide down easily leaving he roof clear.

The name of the village comes from the Chukchi word I'nchuvin, meaning "a cut-off nose tip".

This strange appellation is derived from a nearby cliff with a tall rock at its base that is said to look like a nose cut from the cliff.

Beringiya festival - the Beringian Arctic Games

The Beringyia Festival was held for the first time in 1992 in order to preserve traditional sports and national, as well as marine hunters culture.

One of the most popular games - tug of war.

In Agust, there is a celebration holiday, when artists from the surrounding towns -Anadyr, Uelen, Lawrence, Enurmino, Chaplin, Lorino,... - organize a program of music and dance festivities, a display of carving arts, taditional skin clothes and other crafts, traditional games, dogsled races, local dishes, and the main event - the hunter's regatta.

Marine mammal ivory carving is one of the native crafts.

The regatta annualy atracts many hundreds. Inchoun is one of the towns with a local program, and a hunter's boat race takes place there each year in the interior lagoon of the spit.

Marine hunters race on the Chukchi-Yup'ik eskimo canoes.

The regatta has been held for more than 20 years - the first one was held in 1992.

And women too !

Winds and blizzard are almost always present, even when the sun makes some way through them.

The main goal is not only to preserve the skills in manufacturing and manoeuvering leather built canoes, but also to collect from all over the coast guests of rowers teams.


Marine hunters returning after a day hunting in the lagoon (2003)

Inchoun cliff in winter.

Dim midnight sun over Inchoun.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

- a village in northwest Greenland facing Baffin Bay.

The Upernavik Archipelago is a vast coastal archipelago in the Upernavik municipality in northwestern Greenland (Qaasuitsup region), off the eastern shores of Baffin Bay.

The village of Aappilattoq is some 20-25 km northeast from Upernavik, on an island of its vast archipelago.

The archipelago extends up from 71° 50′N to the southern end of Melville Bay, at approximately 74° 50′ N.

Photograph of a steamer and a party of hunters in Melville Bay (1869)

Hunting boat, Melville Bay. Most inuit here live on fishing and hunting on the Bays.

Upernavik archipelago, thousands of small islands.

Aappilattoq, Upernavik municipality.

Aappilattoq is a small fishing and hunting village, founded in 1805 on a small island of the Upernavik archipelago.

Coordinates: 72° 53′ N,  55° 36′ W
Population:  ~ 200

The blue building behind the blue house is the school, accepting about 32 students. It has a library and that's also where most events take place - theater, celebrations and feasts, mainly.

Down left, half hidden, the fish processing plant, overlooking the small port.

Aappilattoq has no real port, rather a small jetty.

The beauty of the scenery is a blessing; but homes have no running water, stores close at 4 pm and internet connections are too slow; leisure time is hard to pass.

Aappilattoq became a trading post in the 1850s. Most of the village's inhabitants are engaged in fishing halibut and hunting seal or beluga all year round, as the sea around Aappilattoq is normally ice-free in winter.

As in most of Greenland towns, there are no roads or streets, just boardwalks and wooden stairways.

Most of the services are located at Upernavik, the last town this far North, where even in wintertime supplies can be obtained by helicopter, snowmobile or dogsled; but still Aappilattoq has a school, a store, a kiosk, and since 1964 a fish factory for some jobs other than traditional fishing and hunting.

The main trades include fishing, sealing and whaling, which employ most of the settlement’s inhabitants. The main catches are halibut and seals, which can be caught almost all year around.

No decent internet is available, talking on the mobile is one of few modern amenities.

The dog is the best friend and support, if you are to hunt or travel on iced terrain.

The Baffin Bay and Melville Bay areas are also where the largest number of polar bears have been observed in Greenland.

The only fast connection to distant towns (like Sisimiut or Nuuk, the capital) is by helicopter. But the nearby Upernavik is more frequently served.

Some winter images from the surrounding archipelago: