|Interviewing Andrew Okpeaha Maclean|
JJ: Did you grow up in Barrow?
Yeah, I grew up in Barrow and Fare Banks another town in Alaska.Barrow has about 4500 inhabitants. But when I was a kid it had only 2000, so it has grown a lot.
JJ: What are the activities you do in Barrow?
There is the traditional stuff, its a very hunting centred culture. So I grew up duck hunting, seal hunting and there are whaling crews. These are the main things you can do up there, but then the western culture has come up, so there's parties and other stuff.
JJ: What are the difficulties up there for the kids?
There's a lot of kids, especially kids who don't get amerced in the culture can lose their way a little.
JJ: Did you have a very traditional childhood?
I had like half and half, especially when I was living outside of Barrow it was very non-traditional so very western, larger culture, that sort of thing. But when I was in Barrow it was much more traditional especially because I am older than the kids now, so when I was growing up there was less of a outside influence.
JJ: In the movie you didn't see the kids go to school at all, why is that? Where they finished already?
Well no, but I just decided that you see so many movies about kids and it's always kind of centred around school, high school and things like that. And I just thought I am not so interested in that so I wanted to show the rest of it.
JJ: You mean they were all skipping?
Yeah, either that or if you look at it the movie takes place within 3 days, so the idea is that it happens on a weekend. By the time you hit the last scene is about the following Monday or Tuesday.
JJ: So in 3 days it never gets dark?
Yeah, its light for about 3 months and after that its 3 months of total darkness. In springtime and in fall it changes in between so its more normal then. Yeah its pretty cool there especially when its summertime its al light and everybody is so energetic and its great. The winter time can be kind of hard though because its always dark.
JJ: Do you get used to the cold when you grow up there?
Yeah, its totally normal. If you grow up in Barrow and then you leave, and if its like 10°C to 15°C degrees, people from Barrow say wow this is hot today.
JJ: Is Barrow near to the North Pole?
It sort of is. It's probably a 1600 kilometres away. But it's as close as you can get in the U.S.A.
JJ: What's the coldest it can get in Barrow?
The coldest I have been in is probably around -50°C without the wind. With wind the coldest might be -70°C. That's like the coldest. Normally in winter time a normal temperature would be -40°C.
JJ: Did you and your father go out hunting?
With my uncles mostly, my dad is actually from Los Angeles so I am half Inuit.
JJ: Does Josiah (main actor) still go?
Oh yeah, definitely. His dad is a whaling captain, he is a very accomplished hunter himself and he will definitely go hunting the rest of his life. Josiah is somebody who is very grounded in the traditions and in the hunting culture especially.
JJ: Is it illegal to hunt?
No, it's legal, we have been hunting that way for thousands of years and so we've kept the rights to do all that.
JJ: What sort of music do they like up there?
They're into Hip Hop and actually everything. Especially these days the outside influence is large. Everything that happens comes up there immediately. The world has become so much smaller.
JJ: Do you get everything up there in Barrow? Are there shops for everything?
There are shops for most things. Not for everything, but these days you can order so much online and then you'll get it shipped up there. So the world is changing, the world has become smaller.
JJ: Do the Inuit think of themselves as Americans?
Yes, they do, but we think of ourselves mainly as Inuit. That's our culture. That's who we are, but people are at the same time patriotic and think of themselves as Americans. It's interesting because we were colonised, but at the same time we are patriotic so it's a very complex question.
JJ: Has global warming affected the hunting and lives up there?
Yes, it has. The sea ice forms later in the year and melts earlier in spring and its thinner as it used to be. This has a effect on the whaling, the seals and the polar bears. You can definitely tell that its warmer out there as it used to be, especially to the old people. The older ones talk a lot about how things were different when thy were younger.
JJ: Are there any places were only Inupiaq is spoken?
In some of the smaller communities the language is stronger and in Canada similar languages are spoken and they are much more stronger than in Barrow. But Alaska is probably the worst, we have a lot of work to do.
JJ: How many Inupiaq are there still?
That's a good question, I am not really sure. Probably about 50 000 to 100 000.
JJ: Do you feel very Inuit?
Yeah, that's how I grew up, that's who I am.