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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Dennis Cowals: Before the Pipeline (Near the End of the Dreamtime)

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Caribou trot across the tundra, near Prudhoe Bay where the Trans-Alaska pipeline will start
 

Leaped at the caribou.
My son looked at the caribou.
.

 

We are looking
at the caribous out in the water
swimming around.
.

Caribou, what have I
done?



Joseph Ceravolo (1934-1968): from Ho Ho Ho Caribou, in The Paris Review #44, Fall 1968; reprinted in Spring in This World Of Poor Mutts, 1968




Young bull caribou crosses gravel roadway near Mile O


Caribou feed near the Sagavanirktok River.
The pipeline will follow the Sag River south some 110 miles.



Caribou graze near the Sagavanirktok River, eight miles east of the north slope site where the Alaska Pipeline will start. The pipeline will follow the Sag River south for the first 110 miles. Gravel from riverbeds will be used for pipeline bed and road. 



Caribou graze near the Sagavanirktok River, eight miles east of the north slope site where the Alaska Pipeline will start. The pipeline will follow the Sag River south for the first 110 miles. Gravel from riverbeds will be used for pipeline bed and road.



Caribou in "Alaska Cotton", a plant
found in marshy areas along the entire 789-mile route of the pipeline


 "Alaska Cotton", found in marshy areas along the entire 789-mile route of the pipeline



Caribou feeding on lichens and moss. The bird is an Alaskan Raven.




Wading shore bird searches out insects in pond. Near Mile 0, Alaska pipeline route.



Wading shore bird searches out insects in pond. Near Mile 0, Alaska pipeline route.


A young female fox near Galbraith Lake Camp, along the planned route of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline




 Young female fox near Galbraith Lake Camp


Day's work done, the Parka Squirrel stands on the bank and surveys its domain, with Franklin Bluffs in background, along the planned route of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline



A Parka Squirrel, or "Siksikpuk". The Eskimos make their warmest winter parkas from the pelts of the Parka Squirrel



This Parka Squirrel is gathering green grasses to eat during the 9-month winter




This Parka Squirrel is gathering green grasses to eat during the 9-month winter



This Parka Squirrel is gathering green grasses to eat during the 9-month winter



Emerging from its hole, this Parka Squirrel takes a look around for predators -- anything bigger than itself



A Parka Squirrel in the tundra



This Parka Squirrel makes its home among the boulders at the foot of Worthington Glacier. Mile 757, near the Trans-Alaska pipeline route




A pair of young rams, 3-5 years old, descend
the west salt lick in Atigun Gorge, four miles from the point where the pipeline will cross the Atigun River


A pair of young rams, 3-5 years old, at
the west salt lick in Atigun Gorge, four miles from the point where the pipeline will cross the Atigun River


Young sheep on its way to the west salt lick in Atigun Gorge, four miles from the point where the pipeline will cross the Atigun River




Bolder than its companions, this mountain sheep decided to investigate photographer Dennis Cowals. Photo taken on a bluff above the west salt lick in Atigun Gorge
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Two young sheep cross a hillside on the south side of the Atigun Gorge



A young ram, not yet mature enough to be hunted because he lacks a full 3/4 curl to his horns, approaches a salt lick. Grit and dirt on the high rock ledges have stained his coat a pinkish brown



An adolescent ram struts proudly, showing off before the young females at the west salt lick In Atigun Gorge


 A young ram at the west salt lick in Atigun Gorge, near the point where the pipeline will cross the Atigun River


Butt where It itches; this young ram scratches his itching horns on a Dwarf Alder (about 4 miles east of the designated pipeline crossing in the Atigun Gorge)


Two young rams nibbling on a Dwarf Alder 4 miles east of the designated pipeline crossing in the Atigun Gorge


 Three young Dall Sheep at the west salt lick in the Atigun Gorge, four miles from the point where the pipeline will cross the Atigun River


 Wolf tracks along the shore of a lake near Mile 101. Pump Station 14 will be built atop the hill overlooking this lake. View southeast from north shoreline.


A wolf-chewed caribou thigh bone in the center of the Atigun Valley. View east toward Peak 5430


Atigun Valley. View east toward Peak 5430



Silver-white Wolf
in the Atigun Valley. Wolves are found in isolated areas along the entire pipeline route. Being territorial they generally remain within their own valley systems unless the migratory passage of caribou and the need for food take them elsewhere.


White female wolf (Canis lupus) in the Atigun Valley, Alaska. This wolf dens in the riverbank of the Atigun inside the main valley about five miles south of Galbraith Camp. She roams at least twenty miles a day in search of food, from the main valley den into the gorge and then back to the valley proper.

Photos by Dennis Cowals (1945-) for the Environmental Protection Agency Project DOCUMERICA, August 1973 (US National Archives)

4 comments:

TC said...

Johnny Horton: North to Alaska, 1960 (unreleased version)

And of course that's exactly what Big Oil did, in the epoch during which Dennis Cowals made this affecting elegiac record.

But of course when the oil runs out, all the highways and pump stations and boomtowns and spike-heel dingbats will remain a lasting part of the landscape.

But... maybe the Dall Sheep, not so much.

Wooden Boy said...

How "leaped" moves into "looked"!

Perfect follow on from Murica's First Family, given her record on the environment.

Beautiful photographs. And given the ruin left in the subsequent decades, a necessary project.

manik sharma said...

Tom,

Couldn't help but recall this

Repent !!!

TC said...

The animals pictured by Dennis Cowals had no idea what was coming, mercifully for them.

And yes, Black Francis' lyric for "Caribou" (1987) (Manik's link) coincidentally converses in spirit with Joe Ceravolo's "Ho Ho Ho Caribou", writ the following year.

I live cement
I hate this street
It turns to me
I've got lament
This human form
Where I was born
I now repent

Caribou, caribou, caribou

Repent, repent