Great Land of Alaska

Definition of Alaskan Terms

Arctic Circle
The southernmost point at which the sun does not set on the summer solstice nor rise on the winter solstice; located at approximately 66° 34' N lattitude.
Barn door
A large halibut in excess of 300 pounds.
Bear insurance
A gun powerful enough to bring down a bear in a single shot.
Bush, The
Any part of Alaska that can be reached only by plane or boat, depending on the season and the weather. This means most of Alaska.
Cabin fever
A psychological condition arising from being inside too much during the long, cold winter. Sometimes described as "a 12-foot stare in a 10-foot room."
Calving
When a large piece of ice falls from a glacier.
Cheechako
A newcomer to Alaska.
Chicken
A small halibut.
Combat fishing
Crowded fishing conditions. [picture]
Firecracker
A small herring used as bait while trolling.
Highliner
A good fisherman.
Honeybucket
Indoor bucket used as a toilet in houses that don't have plumbing.
Iron dog
A snowmachine.
Kenai, The
1 : The Kenai Peninsula.
2 : The Kenai River.
Kooshdaakaa
Southeast Alaska's Big Foot.
Lights, The
The Aurora borealis.
Lode claim
A mining claim made on a vein, zone, or belt of minerals. The mineral is in its original position in the bedrock. See Placer claim.
Longline fisherman
A halibut fisherman.
Lower 48
The continental United States. See outside.
Moose Gooser
The Alaska Railroad.
Moraine
A mass of glacial residue carried and deposited by a glacier.
Mountain, The
Denali / Mt. McKinley, North America's largest mountain.
Musher
A dog team driver.
Muskeg
Marsh; bog; wet, swampy land.
Nunatak
A lone hill sticking out above the surface of a glacier.
Outside
1 : The continental United States. See Lower 48.
2 : Anywhere not in Alaska.
Permafrost
Permanently frozen ground.
Pingo
A large mound raised by frost action above the permafrost.
Placer claim
A mining claim made on an area, rather than a vein. The mineral has been removed from its original position in the bedrock through erosion. See Lode claim.
Pod
A group of whales.
Portage
1 : n. An overland route of travel between navigable waterways.
2 : v. To carry a canoe or small boat over a portage.
Qiviut
Hair from a musk-ox to make garments.
Rookery
A seal's natural breeding ground.
Shaman
A medicine man with great power.
Sitka Slippers
Heavy-duty rubber boots, commonly worn in the southeast.
Snowmachine
A snow-mobile. [picture]
Soaker
On the fishing grounds, a very large fish.
Sourdough
1 : Someone who has lived in Alaska a long time, usually in the bush.
2 : A sour-tasting dough used to make a variety of foods, including bread and pancakes.
Spawned Out
A fish (usually a salmon) that's finished spawning and is slowly dying and is considered inedible. Usually recognized by a dramatic color change and large patches of dead, white flesh.
Termination dust
1 : A dust coating of snow that appears on the mountain tops in fall, signaling the end of summer.
2 : The first snow to stay on the ground in the Anchorage bowl, thereby terminating construction season. (Definition 2 is the original meaning, but nowadays 1 is the most commonly used).
Tundra
A layer of moss that protects and covers permafrost.
Ulu
A versatile, half-moon-shaped knife traditionally used by many Native Alaskans.
Williwaw
A sudden gust of wind that may reach 100 knots after the winds build up on one side of a mountain and suddenly spill over into relatively protected areas.

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