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November 26, 2019

Failing ice cellars signal changes in far-north Alaska whaling towns

  • Some whaling villages are working to adapt as more cellars — some stocked with tons of subsistence food — turn up with pooling water and mold.
  • By RACHEL D'ORO
    Associated Press

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — For generations, people in Alaska's far-north villages have relied on hand-built ice cellars dug deep into the permafrost to age their whale and walrus meat to perfection and keep it cold throughout the year.

    Scores of the naturally refrigerated food caches lie beneath these largely Inupiat communities, where many rely on hunting and fishing to feed their families. The ice cellars range from small arctic root cellars to spacious, wood-lined chambers, some topped with sheds.


     
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