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Harriman Expedition Retraced



The Documentary Film
The Documentary Film

Producers and Crew
Producers and Crew

Program Preview
Program Preview

Alaskan Perspective
The Alaskan Perspective

On Location
On Location

Filming History
Filming History


The Alaskan Perspective

Filming in Alaska poses an interesting set of problems for any film crew. What to do when the mosquitoes are so thick they block the shot? What to do when the Bering Sea fog obliterates everything? How close does one go to a calving glacier, or a Kodiak bear?

But if Alaska poses challenges for a film crew, it also serves up a feast, and not just because of its scenery. The people of Alaska have such a range of stories to tell; those of us who live in other places were truly fascinated by their accounts of life along this beautiful coast.

Vernon ByrdVernon Byrd
Ornithologist, Bering Sea
"I think having a group of scientists aboard and people that recorded things in a careful way was what made the Harriman Expedition so outstanding. I think I'm learning in the short time I've been working with questions about change in the Bering Sea, which has been about the last thirty years or so, that anything that was carefully recorded has become quite valuable now, in retrospect. Because we're so interested in what changes have occurred where you don't have a very long consecutive record, it only goes back to sea birds in the Bering Sea to about the mid 1970s. So expeditions like the Harriman really stand out as records that you can go back to and really see what was going on at that time."

Perry EatonPerry Eaton
Former Director, Alaska Native Heritage Center
"We, as Native Alaskans, are continuously examined. You know, the standard joke in Anaktuvuk Pass, which is an Inupiat community off the coast up on the Slope, the average family is a mother and a father, at least two living grandparents, six kids, about twelve dogs and one anthropologist. Every generation of anthropologists are, quote, more sensitive than the last. But it remains the occupation of observation. And that will never change. I don't think there was a lot of resentment at the time for people coming in and asking the questions. Just as there's not a lot of resentment today. The resentment happens in the next generation about that SOB that looked at grandpa."

Kathy FrostKathy Frost
Marine Mammologist, Prince William Sound

"The kind of research they did was the underpinning of what we do today. A lot of the stuff was the same. They'd take an animal, they'd weigh it, they'd measure it, they'd make good descriptive notes of its age, its sex, its condition. All of those sorts of things. And the fundamental difference here is we're using high tech satellite link radios. We're using electrocardiograms in the field. Very computer intensive. We're running electrocardiograms right here on the ship, running the data piece straight into a live computer. There's a lot that wasn't possible a hundred years ago."

Jay HammondJay Hammond
Former Governor of Alaska
"I think Alaska's the center of conflict over development more than any other state because of two types of people that are attracted to Alaska. On the one hand you have those who are seeking new economic horizons that find virtually everything is owned or has been done by somebody else elsewhere. And they see new grounds to plow up here. And some have done very well financially. On the other hand, you have another group of folk who come up here seeking to escape from the environmental degradation that they feel has occurred elsewhere and wish to visit an untrammeled wilderness. Those two groups of people are bound to come into conflict; step on each others' toes as they do frequently here."

Byron MallottByron Mallott
CEO, Alaska Permanent Fund
"Someone from the ship the George Elder at the time, a family member, an anthropologist or a naturalist, a Muir, a Burroughs or a Dall or Harriman himself, either a young Averell or Edward, could very easily have picked an eagle feather up off of the beach in Disenchantment Bay and maybe felt some of the same connection to the place that the feather makes me feel here. That it is a place of wilderness. That somehow it is timeless because eagles are there. And that is timeless. It probably feels the same way in 1999 to me as it did to my people and to the people on the expedition in 1899. And to be able to hold a feather today that in 1899 could of caused people of the expedition and my own people to feel the same way is a powerful connection."

Robbie MelovidovRobbie Melovidov
Community Leader and Fur Seal Harvester, St. Paul, Pribilofs, Alaska
"What we're doing is a subsistence fur seal harvest to carry on the culture within our community and try to pass it on to the generations that are coming up. My father and my grandfather and all the way down the generations for many generations participated in the fur seal harvest. As a young boy my father brought me out here and put it in my heart. And so every year I have to do this. And it's a kind of thing where I can't be any place else in the world. It's just a feeling that I have with the connection with our culture and with the environment and with our people as Aleuts. And I have my son out there right now. I'm teaching all the different aspects of our operation. And he eats seal meat and I cook it for him. And I use the old recipes and it's very satisfying to me to realize that probably at this point, if I wasn't to be around anymore, I know for a fact that my son will carry this on for years to come."

Dean RandDean Rand
Captain, Discovery Voyages Company, Prince William Sound
"It seems as though in the rest of America, the push is to buy open land to protect it. In Alaska it's the other way around. My fear is that in Alaska the short term non-visionary economic planning is going to mean that pristine wilderness environments like Prince William Sound will be over-exploited. There'll be lodges coming in. There'll be more and more tour boats. There'll be more gawkers. There'll be more and more operators like myself. It's going to take away from that wilderness quality. That feeling that wow, I'm out here walking where no one's ever walked before."

Irene ShieldsIrene Shields
Tlingit Native, Cape Fox Researcher
"Our Tlingit people are losing language very fast. There are only a few elders who can speak Tlingit. I feel that it's very important that we keep our culture alive and strong. But there are not too many younger people who can speak the Tlingit language. And the songs and dances, the stories are being lost."




For information on the Harriman Retraced Expedition e-mail: harriman2001@science.smith.edu

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