Sled Dogs, Hudson Bay
A thousand years of dogs: Running pressure ridge and ice ridge, skirting every crevice, loping frozen tundra through permanent day and the long months of near dark. They are a special breed. Their sense of snow; their sense of smell; long hours without shelter in wind that freezes human flesh solid as a wall of ice and the dogs did not lie down, not once. Forward. Panting. Steady on broad feet on short legs made to endure, sure footed as Magnetic North.
Behind the loaded sled, following, Inuit come. Drawn toward the loadstone of Viking iron offered in trade for meat, for fat, for furs. And sled dogs led them on that journey – every inch – and by heart and will and sinew allowed Inuit to stay.
Now this Canine Continental Drift is done, what will become of Arctic in a civilized imagination? As the Arctic melts away the Inuit dog remains. Bred now for speed racing the leads that crack the shelf ice like liquid lightning; across bare snow in a blizzard minus 40 below, their job is not to carry but to win, and keep alive at least the sound, that deep-throated growl, the barking howl of the team.
In the dappled winter dark, light-echo of a sunrise that never seems to come, what Arctic Dreams do Inuit Elders dream?
Hear Mark Seth Lender read Sled Dog on Living on Earth (Public Radio International):
The field work for Sled Dog was conducted in the traditional Inuit community of Arviat, on the north west coast of Hudson Bay, and was made possible by the generous support of the following organizations and individuals:
Special thanks are also do to the many backers of North Knife, A Radio Expedition to Hudson Bay
Susan Louise Moyer
Jim Le Moine
Hannele K.L. Dzubas
Sitwell Fund for the Visual Arts
Dr. Arnold Saslow
Dallas Art Salon
Patricia A. Kiefer
Robert “Snorkle Bob” Wintner