A Great Friend: Brandon Chapman Moves to Kotzebue, Alaska!

If you know me at all, then you know I’m completely infatuated with Alaska and became so from my first trip to Denali, Fairbanks and all the way down through the Kenai Peninsula. Currently, I read just about everything I come across about Alaska- from The Anchorage Daily News to the smallest community police blotter (Unalaska).

I absolutely love Alaska, its beauty, its diverse peoples and their cultures. You should also know how I truly feel about native peoples, culture, education and nature: Anyone who dedicates themselves to documenting any of these without bias and with a purist view of telling that story through the eyes of its people or through mother nature itself is an absolute hero of mine.

So it was actually no surprise when I received an email informing me that former college roommate (and great friend), Brandon Chapman had just moved to Alaska. Not just Alaska, but the Alaskan-bush: Kotzebue, Alaska! I used to have just one hero in Alaska- Bill Hess- Now I have 2! Bill Hess and Brandon Chapman- and I might have to rethink the order of those 2 ;) .

Brandon is an anthropologist who is also a world-traveling fool! When we were in college, Brandon set out for Peru to study the culture of the ancient reed-boat fisherman of Huanchaco. Brandon makes a difference in whatever he does, and he will forever be a true friend.

Here is the letter I received from Brandon:

Hi Friends,
After six comfortable and fruitful years in Washington, I’m on the move again… to Alaska! Not only Alaska, but the arctic north. I’m now the full-time anthropologist for the Inupiaq (Native American, Eskimo) tribe with the Northwest Arctic Borough government. I relocated up here a few weeks ago (visited for an interview back in May) and I’m adjusting to my new home. Most of my work will be on a project documenting elders’ knowledge of local ecology and making GIS maps from that. I’ll also be teaching anthropology at the local extension campus of the University of Alaska. I’m living in a small town called Kotzebue, 30 miles above the arctic circle on the Chukchi Sea. Mostly Inupiaq and other Eskimos live here and there are only a few towns more north, such as Barrow. It’s pretty remote, off the road system, sees 24 hour sunlight through spring and summer… and I thought Palouse was nordic. I’m about done with the PhD and will be
defending dissertation near the end of this year while working in Kotzebue. Will be up here for anywhere from 1-3 years, but should be getting back down to the lower 48 for some serious traveling and visiting sometime next year as I’ll have lots of vacay time.
Since I’ve had some requests for it, wanting a way to document my adventures here, and most importantly as an additional avenue to keep in touch with all of you, I’m going to do something I never thought I would and that’s blog. It’s called “North by Northwest” at (nxnw.blog.com). Yep, the same title as the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock thriller, although my version will probably involve more dodging of caribou than airplanes in cornfields. I’ve never been big on the blogging thing, but we’ll give it a shot and see how it goes. I started with my most recent travel to the small villages and will add some posts retroactively that document happenings since my first trip to the arctic in May. Ideally, I’d like it to be a forum for my adventures, a place to tell stories of the Inupiaq and the many characters in arctic Alaska, and to share photography of the region. Hopefully, you folks and others will read, be interested, and occasionally comment.

Congratulations Brandon, your a badass and I look forward to your blog posts!

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