after St. Mary's, i had a day and a half in Fairbanks before heading back out to the Yukon - to the village of Grayling this time. Grayling is an interesting little village in that it was moved to its current location on the Yukon from the Innoko, a tributary of the Yukon directly to the east. On the Innoko, the village was called Holikachuk. the village was experiencing significant flooding, and so folks picked up and moved due west in the 1950s. This move made sense since many of the summer fishcamps used by Holikachuk residents were on the Yukon and they traveled there every summer. however, many Grayling residents continue to use the Innoko country for many of their other subsistence uses, inlcuding mosse hunting and harvesting whitefish and migratory birds.
Grayling is up river from St. Mary's and our visit continued to track with the upriver progress of the salmon. this was cool since it afforded me my very first opportunity to driftnet. drifting is a style of fishing when you set a net from a moving boat - basically one that is drifting downriver and the net drifts with you, snagging fish along the way. each drift takes about a half-hour to an hour, depending on the strength of the run. drifting is hard work - our first attempt yielded us this HUGE lochness monster-like tree root wad, which was a lot heavier than a salmon, or even several. not so much fun to catch wood.
that's Chase, my drifting teacher. He's 11 and has been working with his uncle since he was 5. Chase was a good teacher - look at our fish!
our catch was brought back to Chase's aunties, who then enlisted our help in making salmon strips. strips are hung to air dry for a day or two before being moved into a smokehouse where they will be smoked for a few weeks and then frozen for winter use.
this is a another family's smokehouse. those are backbones hanging on the outside which will be dried slightly and either used for dog food or boiled to remove the meat for jarring.
we were doing the same work in Grayling that we were doing in St. Mary's - documenting local knowledge of the salmon runs. believe or not, that's NOT me mapping historic fish camps with Henry Deacon, the traditional chief of the village. that's Catherine - we've worked together for the last several years and are regularly mistaken for each other - even when she was pregnant!!