Dr. Doug Causey, UAA
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Slide 1:Dr. Causey took this photo himself from
Hooper Bay in the fall before Thanksgiving. Hooper Bay is ½ way down
Alaska out in Bering Sea. Today you don’t get that kind of weather until around February– the climate has changed in a short time.
Slide 2: This is a polar projection of the Arctic-
at the center is the North Pole. To make sense of it look for Greenland
or the Aleutian Islands, then you can then figure out the rest. Russia
owns most of the Arctic. There are 9 Arctic countries, but because of Siberia and
the northern part of European Russia, Russia has the most land of all the other countries combined.
Slide 3: History of the conquest of the Arctic. Pattern in explorations– English in Newfoundland in late the1500s. In the1660s Russians moved eastward
over Urals and then moved throughout Siberia starting in the early1600s
on. In 1700s French and English in Canada, in 1800s first Russians then U.S. in Alaska. Critical question– why would anyone go there? What drove people? Besides the thrill of adventure– it was resources–and the primary resource was the fur trade. At the beginning of the 1500s it was fish for the British– cod fish, but all the rest of expansion in Russia, Canada, Russian America and in U.S. was because of the fur trade. The pattern was not in straight lines–
they moved to find the fur. Russian Americans came to Alaska to
exploit St Paul Island. Later U.S. explored more, but initially it was all about just that
one island and the fur seals.
Slide 4: Understanding
why people got into the Arctic is important for understanding the cultures that have developed and
the current state of affairs. This is a map of Siberia showing the major rivers. Purple were
major routes of early Russians in Siberia. One of pecularities of
the Arctic is that all of the rivers run south to north (with only minor exceptions). North-south
rivers good if want to get to the Arctic, but not if you want to go east
to west (east-west travel is a general problem in the Arctic). But there are tributaries that go
east-west. It would take 18 months to cross. There is a picture of a fur market in Russia, with a photo of
fur seals. The fur seal harvest in Alaska from St. Paul Island was the sole reason the U.S. bought Alaska. Why do Europeans come to the Arctic? They follow wealth, it is an extraction economy, and the first was furs.
Slide 5: Yasak–
it is a Tatar word for tribute. Look at the table for entries from 1624-1647, each column is a different trade center.
In 1624 tribute sent to the crown from one locality was about 5 million
dollars. The Arctic has always been seen as a source of wealth through extraction.
Slide 6: Eastern Siberia is roughly the area west of the Lena and east of the Kolyma Rivers. It is mountainous. The red square is the area in the next slide.
: Ecosystems are pretty typical of Siberia, could be in Canada or Alaska as well. The polar desert has about 10” of rain/equivalent of snow. Gradient of ecosystems.
Eastern Siberia– more or less one Indigenous groups. Russian history of encounter with Indigenous Peoples is a difficult one, Indigeneous Peoples have not benefited. The grey areas are places where Indigenous Peoples are not officially recognized although they do occur there.
The Gulags of the USSR- these were in effect the concentration camps operated by Stalin for his own people. Eastern Siberia was somewhat spared. Used to get people out of the way and to work them as slaves. Magadan was the central receiving and dispatching point for Eastern Siberian and Russian Far East Gulags. At the peak probably 20 million people over 4 decades when Stalin and his immediate successors were in power. This still influences culture– the current government still is influenced in the way it thinks about Siberia. There is a dark history concerning where the population centers are found-- some are placed where they are because of the Gulags.
Slide 10: This is somewhat dated– it is from a CIA assessment–
a major problem of the north is illustrated by the placement of oil reserves (brown shading) and the pipes to processing. In Alaska oil is extracted then piped south for processing, and brought back up for
use. This makes it very expensive. Same in Siberia.
Slide 11: Soviet refineries
Slide 12: Largest reserves are in Western Siberia.
50 billion barrels known reserves.
potential production. Economic impacts are going to be great. What used
to be largest economic resource in Tsarist times was furs, 20 years ago diamonds, now oil
and gas. But there are big environmental impacts.
Slide 14: Lines are roads– that’s
it. You can go north-south in Alaska, but east-west is hard. These maps
show active mines. Pebble mine has not been developed, largest known
deposit of gold discovered in 50 years, byproduct is copper, will be the
largest open pit mine ever developed. Tailings will be a problem, mine is
located right at the salmon fisheries in Bristol Bay. Alaska is no different than Siberia in that most economic development is extraction. ½ is nonrenewable,
other ½ is fisheries that are sustainable. This defines a major conflict between resource utilization.
Slide 15: Roads– look at Prudhoe Bay for oil. Chevak– largest town in region, no roads, -35 with -90 wind chill.
Slide 16: Gradation of precipitation– red is polar desert. Southeast– Juneau is a temperate rain forest.
Slide 17: Language
groups. Actual identity of groups is more fine grain, this is just the major
language groups. Development of Alaska initially was unhappy, when
it became state things got better. Developed Tribal Corporations, not the same as tribes in the Lower 48. People in the Corporations have title privately and through Corporations. Most of Alaska is federally owned.
Slide 18: Quite a bit of Canada is north of the Arctic Circle. Iceland has about 10 acres above Arctic Circle so, technically it is also an Arctic nation.
Slide 19: Canada
developed about 100 years before Alaska. Blue diamonds are oil sands.
Northern part of Canada is the same as Alaska, with an economy based on extraction. Dr. Causey keeps emphasizing the extraction economy of the Arctic because it is so important in history–
who benefits?? Extraction benefits corporations. That is the history of
the Arctic (in Russia the crown benefited). The Arctic is starkly split– many people doing subsistence, corporations doing extraction, and a lot of people left out.
Slide 20: Circumpolar peoples (by and large)– Inuit are a very large heterogeneous group that share a language. 20
years ago they banded together to form the Circumpolar Commission of 8 Arctic
countries. Have language culture, economy, point of view, issues all
Slide 21: Biological map–
major migration pathways makes the point that it is important to look
at long distance connections to rest of world that are regular and
strong. Shipping routes, migrations. This is called the crossroads of continents.
Slide 22: To
understand a complex system like the Arctic you need to understand the
interplay between systems, not single species. Biological systems exist
in the physical environment, and there are feedbacks. The cultural history of the Arctic is
varied. What is the present stability of the system and how resilient are
human communities in the Arctic. This is an important question– how resilent are human, biological communities to environmental change and climate change