Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Inupiat Eskimos Cope With Daylight Patterns

The majority of the residents in Barrow, Alaska are Inupiat Eskimos who cope with some of the strangest daylight patterns in the world. After a 1:50 am sunset on May 9, the sun rose again at 2:56 am. Barrow now faces constant daylight 24 hours per day until the next sunset on August 2. This may mean that the local artisans could produce their Eskimo art any time of day.

“Some people are just used to it because it happens every year," said resident Earl Finkler. "But there was one fellow ... who said that you could put foil over your windows to sleep, but if you get up in the middle of the night the sun hits you and it keeps you up. Other people say it energizes them, especially for subsistence hunting and whaling.” Barrow, a town of 4,500 people, is about 330 miles above the Arctic Circle. From November 18 straight to January 24, residents in Barrow do not see the sun at all.

I experienced a bit of this pattern during one of my trips up to Iqaluit in Nunavut last year. There was only 3 hours of darkness each day and it was most strange walking around town at 10:30 pm in complete daylight. It's a good thing that the curtains in my hotel room were quite thick.

To see exquisite art from the north, see Free Spirit Gallery Eskimo Art.

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