Maggie Prevenas, April 19, 2007


NOAA Teacher at Sea
Maggie Prevenas
Onboard US Coast Guard Ship Healy
April 20 – May 15, 2007

Mission: Bering Sea Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Alaska
Date: April 19, 2007

Inupiat rely on materials at hand in order to survive and flourish in the tundra of the North. These goggles were carved from ivory.

Inupiat rely on materials at hand in order to survive and flourish in the tundra of the North. These goggles were carved from ivory.

Native Culture

A few days ago, the sun was quite intense. Shining down on the white ice, the glare was blinding. Most of us up on the bridge put on polarized sunglasses. But what if you didn’t have sunglasses?

One of the native Alaskan people, the Inupiat, relied on their wits in order to survive and flourish in the tundra of the North. In spring, the light from the sun becomes more intense and lasts for longer periods of time. (Last night it was still light at 11:30 when I finally went to bed). The brightness can result in temporary snow blindness if one isn’t careful.

Inupiat hunters and whalers often made snow goggles from pieces of driftwood or bone. The goggles have a long narrow slit that permit sunlight to enter and the hunters to have a good view of the world. There are lots of variations on the basic slit style seen among different Alaska peoples.

Why not give it a try and make some snow goggles for yourself out of driftwood, or some other material that you have around the classroom. See how your snow goggles compare to the traditional form the Inupiat Eskimo made.