Auk Village

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Aki ignores the murder of crows gathered on the Auk Nu beach. Rather than reacting to us, the crows play a bouncing game. For no apparent reason, one flies ninety degrees up then drops like a rock onto the beach. Next two birds bounce up and down. A third bird tries it.  When an eagle swoops over them the crows fly in a low arc over the water and return to the beach. Are crows and ravens the only birds with spare time to kill?

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The other birds we pass are either hunting, eating, or resting. Scoters and harlequin ducks dive on food in the bay. A sea lion rolls once on the surface and slips under the water to chase a fish. One bald eagle surveys the bay from a spruce roost after temporarily flushing the crows.

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The little dog and I leave the beach for a forest trail that leads to Point Louisa. It takes us between lines of yellowing blueberry bushes to a spit where we can see the old village site. From this spot 100 years ago, we could have seen smoke climbing from the roofs hand-hewn long houses. Big canoes, dug out from single spruce or cedar logs would have littered the beach.  A canoe full of Auk Tlingits chased a boat of British sailors back to Lt. Vancouver’s brig.  A canoe from Wrangell carried John Muir here.

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The canoes and long houses are gone. One totem pole survives to stand over a village site of dogwood, thimbleberry and fireweed gone to seed.

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