Arctic Refuge Virtual Bird Fest

“We walked in the same path as my ancestors”

Joanne Bryant remembers a family summer vacation into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Mountains and spruce trees surround blue water.
Mountains and boreal forest at the edge of Arctic Village. 📷 Danielle Brigida/USFWS
Boreal Jacob’s ladder and elegant paintbrush flowers. 📷 Alexis Bonogofsky for USFWS
Purple flowers on green shrubs.
Dwarf fireweed blooms in clusters. 📷 Lisa Hupp/USFWS

“My parents were sharing stories of how our ancestors have walked along these lines many times, migrating after food and shelter to survive.

I couldn’t even imagine the harshest of weather in migrating many miles to seek food and shelter. There were signs of habitation of where they used to camp, is where we were camping now.”

Closeup of black spruce bark: dark brown and patchy with small bits of white lichen
Black spruce bark. 📷 Greg Blick/Creative Commons Flickr
Wild foods: a muskrat and a greater scaup swim in Arctic ponds. 📷 Peter Pearsall/USFWS

Once that duck soup, meat and fried bread is done, we gather around, give thanks for the food and realize how blessed we were to eat from the land.

A loon with gray head and red marking on throat floats on a pond with sedges.
Red throated loon on an Arctic pond. 📷 Lisa Hupp/USFWS

“It was one of my beautiful moments because it was the most perfect morning.”

Blueberries on a low shrub nestled into green and yellow tundra plants.
Alpine blueberry. 📷 Lisa Hupp/USFWS
Underwater image of a grayling with colorful rainbow scales and a green colored tail.
Arctic grayling. 📷 Kristine Sowl/USFWS
White flowers in small clusters growing close to the ground and tundra.
Labrador tea. 📷 Allen Stegman/USFWS

“We walked in the same path as my ancestors, and so many signs that they were once there, and I was happy because the land they ate from was what fed us during our journey to the great Arctic Refuge.”

White cottongrass blowing in the wind along the bank of a small lake bordered with mountains and spruce trees.
Arctic Refuge cottongrass and lake. 📷 Alexis Bonogofsky for USFWS



Stories from Alaska by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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