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Bugs, Berries, and Bones: Adventures in the Tundra

July 24, 2015

Today I came along as Paul emptied the bug traps spread throughout the tundra by Véro, our archaeo-entomologist. The traps are simple yet ingenious. Cups of water are dug into the ground and a plastic roof is perched over them to avoid flooding. The bugs come across the cup, fall in, and drown: curiosity killed the beetle. Emptying a trap can produce various results. Besides the occasional beetle and other bug goodies, there can also be a variety of plants and even small dead rodents! The traps remind you that bugs are plentiful and honestly everywhere.

 On our collection route, Paul discovered a large dry mound covered with plants ideal for his reference collection. While he sorted through a dozen plants, each with a complicated Latin name, he simultaneously pointed out the berries I could eat. I learned a lot about plants and also had the opportunity to eat a bunch of delicious berries (personally, I recommend the crow berries).

We also came across a caribou skull with the antlers still attached! Seeing an opportunity to learn how to carve antler, the rack returned to site with us. Later that night, I prepared a part of it in order to carve out a story knife! Hopefully I will complete the project before I leave on Monday and will be able to leave Alaska with a truly unique souvenir.

 The site today, as usual, was characterized by hard work, buckets of dirt, and amazing artefacts. However, there was also a casual feel to the atmosphere. I carved a throne into the side of the spoil mound, which grows higher everyday. Visitors came and helped us screen. Finally, Sven tricked everyone with a doll he himself had carved out of wood. Placing it in buckets, he had convinced everyone it had originated from the site.  We enjoyed our hot chocolate at teatime, played with the puppy that had come to visit, and ended the day feeling productive.

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Life is good at Nunalleq.

Lindsey

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