Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Ain't dead. Just "Gone Missing."

Top of the morning gents,

Open season on whales now. The 8,000 strong school of
migrating gargantuan fish sticks has passed our lethal
bros on Gambell Island. These massive sea-cleaning
machines were generous and delivered mondo kilotons of
good meat, blubber, and muktuk.

In return, they took a few killers from our crews too.

If you let your eyes relax and let your predatory
equipped stereo vision go out of focus, you'll see
subtle shifts in the icescape out the back of my
bedroom window. Strange, must be the medication.

To confirm that I'm not hallucinating and seeing
shimmering figures in all-white garments, and pale
white boats, I asked the smartest person I know.

My Siberian wife advised me that I'm seeing lost souls
who's flights got delayed by bad weather and have to
wait around this heavily used departure deck until
break up.

She told me that they could also see us.

Some hunters never come back, they're just gone
missing.

"Gone Missing" is Alaskan parlance for our inability
to solve the mystery and make sense of why we Alaskans
have to bury so many empty boxes for so many
disappeared souls, lost and lying dead somewhere in
God's country.

Most of you have done Search and Rescue missions, lots
of 'em. Fuck, every one of you bastards have pulled
all-nighters downstairs in Central Dispatch tweaking
the radios, sweating up all my fucking phones, and
stinking up my radio microphone with really awful
public service coffee and cigarette breath.

When yer all scared, yer uniforms smell different.
Fuck ye, yer still my best mates.

I don't mind the rich aroma left behind by you
chewers. COPE and SKOAL odor on my phones and mics
smell perty dern good whenever I'm scareder'n shit and
fearing our S*R targets are likely no longer breathing
God's air.

In the last 50 years, there's been thousands of
Alaskan versions of humans that've met their fate and
met their maker, alone and hurting like shit with
crystallizing bodily fluids.

If a body is frozen alive, the soul hangs about just
to smell our cigarettes and sit with us at the man's
table and drink with us.

Sort of a bonus package, an extended stay with your
best mates until break up and the inevitable arrival
of hungry bear cubs designed to be the quickest and
most efficient player in the sport of "catch and
release" of the souls of our "gone missing" hunting
pals.

My wife is right you know, on Eskimo Territory both
wonderful and terrible things occur in 3's. And lots
of Eskimo souls gotta wait out bad weather.


If yer related to any of our Gambell Island shooters,
we send our regards.

Out of respect, the rest of us will halt killing till
everyone's taken care of the business of burial
services with empty boxes.

I want you boys in uniform to be careful. Hear me?

"Gone Missing" don't equal "gone on a drunk", yet the
results are often the same.


Karl.

---

KTUU Channel 2, Anchorage, Alaska

1 dead, 3 missing after whaling boat sinks
by Jason Moore - Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Anchorage, Alaska - Tragedy in the St. Lawrence Island
village of Gambell as a whaling skiff capsized early
Wednesday morning.

Two of the crew were rescued, but at least one man
died. Three people are missing and presumed dead --
the captain and two 11-year-old children.

The captain was 38-year-old Jason Nowpakahok (right),
who is also the mayor of Gambell. With him were his
11-year-old daughter, Yolanda, and his 11-year-old
nephew, Leonard Nowpakahok.

The incident happened about 2 a.m., some five miles
offshore from Gambell. A group of boats had just
harvested a whale, and the weather had worsened.

Nowpakahok reportedly cut his 18-foot boat loose from
a tow line to get back to town and then radioed the
others that the skiff was taking on water. Another
boat responded to help out, but arrived after
Nowpakahok's boat had capsized.

The other boat found two crewmen alive on board, then
pulled 23-year-old James Uglowook out of the water but
he was pronounced dead when they reached Gambell.

The surviving crewmen were 37-year-old Davis Uglowook
and 25-year-old Darin Slwooko.

“The life expectancy for people who fall into that
water is about 15 minutes,” said Greg Wilkinson
(right), spokesman for the Alaska State Troopers.
“They were able to get there -- if they started having
boat problems at around 2, we got the call at 2:15
that the boat had capsized. So it all happened very,
very quickly.”

Charles Lane, who lives in Anchorage, knows Jason
Nowpakhok and says he was like a brother, that they
hunted together and carved ivory.

Lane (left) says it is unusual for children to be on a
whale hunt, particularly girls, but that Yolanda went
everywhere with Jason. He says the bond between father
and daughter was very strong.

“That little girl was magic,” he says. “She was just
-- there's nothing I can say. She was very well
behaved, she was very well loved, and she was her
father's shadow. She was the apple of his eye.”

Lane says Nowpakahok's wife, Sherri, was in a halfway
house in Nome for a misdemeanor assault charge. He's
very upset because he claims they put her on suicide
watch, moved her to the Anvil Mountain Correctional
Center, put her in solitary confinement and stripped
her of her clothing. He claims she's not suicidal, and
he's working with a number of agencies to get her to
Gambell.

The Anvil Mountain Correctional Center has confirmed
that Sherri Nowpakahok is being held there.

There reportedly are still boats carrying on the
search for the missing people. Troopers and U.S. Coast
Guard aircraft searched the area earlier but did not
spot anything.

Lane says the incident has devastated Gambell, a
community of 650 on the northeast cape of St. Lawrence
Island, a town dependent on what the Bering Sea
provides. But that which gives can also take away.

“Jason’s not dead,” Lane says. “Every time I want to
see Jason, I'll close my eyes and look in my heart,”
says Lane. “And his daughter, anytime I want to see
her, I'll just close my eyes and look in my heart.
They'll always be alive in my heart.”

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