“I am not afraid to speak up and talk about why we need to act on climate change now.”
Iñupiaq, Native Village of Shishmaref
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Bachelor of Science in Alaska Native Studies and AAS Tribal Management
Class of 2020
Esau, we hear you travel a lot. Can you share about some of your travels?
I traveled to Paris, France, which is over 4,000 miles away! And that was my first time leaving the United States and only second time leaving the state of Alaska! It was such a culture shock for me, coming from a community of 600 people, to a city that literally has millions of people living in an area. But, at the same time, I had a lot of fun being in a whole different place, learning new cultures, meeting new people, and also talking about Shishmaref and about Alaska every chance I got. I truly believe that everyone should be able to travel at least once in their lifetime to experience a different culture than their own.
What drew you to the Caleb Scholars Program? Do you have a personal story about meeting Caleb or a connection to his legacy?
I am so blessed to be a Caleb Scholar. He advocated so hard to protect our marine mammals and bridging the relationship with indigenous people and the western science community. I am, at least in my view, doing some part to keep his legacy going. The story that needs to be told in regards to how climate change is affecting not only the land, but also our Inupiaq way of life.
What does marine conservation mean to you? How do you engage with marine conservation at home?
Marine conservation means everything to me. We rely so much off the land and the sea, the caribou, moose, musk ox, migratory birds, seals, walrus. Without them, we would not be here today. So I advocate for protecting our sea and the future existence of our animals; because it doesn’t only effect the animals, it is my future.
What are your future educational and career goals? What are the top three things that are moving
you toward those goals?
I graduated with my Certificate in Tribal Management this past May of 2017. I plan to earn my Associates in Tribal Management this May 2018 and with my Bachelors in Alaska Native Studies with a focus in Alaska Native Law, Government, and Politics in May 2020. The top three things that motivate me to accomplish my goals are:
- My home, community, friends and family, and my state. I want to do everything I possibly can to protect and serve my community and state—as the saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child.”
- To protect and preserve our unique Alaska Native culture; as a young Inupiaq man, I have to help preserve and protect my culture, and to pass it on to the next generations after me. And one huge component of my culture in Shishmaref is the hunting and gathering of sea mammals like the spotted seal, ring seal, ribbon seal, ugruk or large bearded seal, young bearded seal, and walrus.
- I would like to inspire other Alaska Native students and young people to apply for higher education, and by that I mean that there’s more than college they can apply to—there’s also technical colleges and trade schools they can apply for. That you can be Native and also have a higher education.
Share a memorable story from your past when you felt a relationship to the ocean.
I had the privilege to have grown up where I grew up, and that was in Shishmaref, Alaska. We are surrounded by the lagoon and by the ocean, or Chukchi Sea. I have numerous memories that come to mind when I think about the ocean, but one of the most memorable ones is being with my Uncle Boy before he passed away and going egg hunting for seagull, geese, and duck eggs. That day we gathered so many buckets of eggs and we went to our cabin at Serpentine and my gram and them were boiling the eggs in this big pot on the green Coleman stove and I didn’t know what it was doing so I stuck my pinky finger in the pot and I ended up burning my pinky and from that day on I learned not to play with boiling water again.
Holy smokes, Esau, you rock! Quyaana for making Caleb’s legacy thrive!