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Index: Serial: After the Snowbird Comes the Whale

After the Snowbird, Comes the Whale 5.

After the Snowbird, Comes the Whale 5: ‘In ayahagaaq, a circle of sinew or seal line held between the palms is manipulated into semi-abstract versions of activity and transformation. The string moves in coordination with the narrative and when the string collapses, the space between the hands returns to emptiness.’

After the Snowbird, Comes the Whale 4.

After the snowbird, comes the whale 4: ‘Everything’s alive and in migration. The lagoons beyond the bluff that parallel the beach are filling with snow goose, scoters, harlequins and bufflehead. On the marshes that surround these, phalarope and godwits, knots and whimbrels. Summer migrations draw people inland. After the whale hunt, they co-habit with the smaller species.’

After the Snowbird, Comes the Whale 3.

After the snowbird, comes the whale 3: ‘Two Octobers back, I watched the village clean up team collect the barrels that had contained stove oil brought each September from San Francisco. On complex contracts and transcending vastly difficult logistics, fuel from cosmopolitan producers and via multiple cooperating agencies is shipped in a four month summer series of provisions north to Alaska and at Tikigaq is lightered to a central tank that’s fueled the village since the mid-1950s. Brimful with excreta, the barrels at freeze-up are carried to the north side and rolled into the water.’

After the Snowbird, Comes the Whale 2.

After the snowbird comes the whale 2: ‘Just as travellers moved from the ritual intensity of winter and spring to the more agnostic freedom of summer in the interior, so in July 1909, at the behest of a new missionary, they participated in the separation from Tikigaq of the cemetery where their ancestors had lain for generations as a part of the village.

After the Snowbird, Comes the Whale 1.

After the Snowbird, Comes the Whale 1: ‘He knows I know his name is Tulugaq, but still I call this mighty individual Sharva, who visits me these late spring evenings. A specialist in kung-fu manoeuvres reproduced from Bruce Lee movies, small hours, visio­nary conversation, Sharva’s passage through the village keeps the girls awake and some in terror as he guns his machine to the edge of my storm-shed and opens the throttle in a final bellow. Then in the after-blast, he strides through the snow, my outer door groans and his glove smacks the lintel.’

After the Snowbird, Comes the Whale: Introduction and index.

Introduction, by Tom Lowenstein: ‘At first, before I started work in the village, I imagined that I would be entering a world of the prehistoric. But when I realized that Native Alaskans had known Euro-Americans since the 1880s, I came to accept and to study culture change. Much of the present text is about the double nature of Inupiaq life and its relationship with modernising America…’