The World Above Us: Enter the Arctic

September 17 - December 7, 2007

The Arctic

Cold summers and its treeless landscape characterize the top eight percent of the world that we call the arctic. The arctic consists of three continents with land owned by eight countries: United States, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The arctic is home to over 3.9 million people; only 354,000 are indigenous to the arctic. The arctic has extremely remote communities. In fact the population, per density, is less than one person per square mile.
To visit, you will probably need a plane, boat or dogsled and should not count on finding too many modern amenities.

Overview of Exhibit
Interior of a Sod House       By: Gugel
Interior of a Sod House
By: Gugel
Modern technology is available in most arctic communities, but living conditions are still very similar to the conditions portrayed in the model dwellings on exhibit. The lack of long distance road systems and the high costs of freight and air cargo prevent most arctic communities from "keeping up with the times." It is not unusual to stay in a home built with recycled lumber from abandoned government or mining structures and to use a honey bucket. Most arctic residents continue to rely on a diet that comes form the land. Most non-indigenous residents might not feast on seal or whale meat as the indigenous people continue to, but they might enjoy regular moose and caribou steaks and burger and a steady supply of seafood. After all, in Barrow, Alaska you can pay more than $2.99 a pound for chicken and $3.98 a pound for a sirloin top beef roast, on sale! A gallon of milk can go for $7.85. Internet shopping provides accessibility to high fashion clothing and eliminates the need for clothing only made with traditional materials. However, traditional materials and styles are still used because it is hard to surpass the quality, warmth, and durability of truly time and climate tested authentic arctic wear.


This map is from


Click here to see
larger view.

Norway, Sweden, Finland
NORWAY, SWEDEN, FINLAND: Sami pictures with reindeer boot at sami hats.

Jensen Arctic Museum
The Jensen Arctic Museum is the only museum on the West Coast devoted solely to the arctic. It was founded in 1985 by Western Oregon University Administration and Dr. Paul Jensen, Professor Emeritus of Teaching Research. Dr. Jensen, with administrative support and funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, focused on improving education in rural Alaska. His work included the creation of bilingual curricula in Yupik, Siberian Yupik and Inupiaq languages. Dr. Jensen and Western Oregon University also facilitated student and teacher exchanges between Alaskan Inuit and Oregonians. As a result, Dr. Jensen's personal collection of arctic artifacts grew to over 2,000 objects. After the museum was opened at the current location of 590 Church Street, Monmouth, several of Dr. Jensen's associates donated their personal collections to help fulfill the museum's mission of collecting, preserving and educating about arctic cultures and ecology. Today the Jensen Arctic Museum has over 4,000 arctic artifacts, books, photographs and slides!

Faculty, Students and Staff are welcome to use the Jensen Arctic Museum's collection to enhance all aspects of academia.

USA: Ukivok House

DENMARK: Sod house with
artifacts from the area.
U.S.A. (Alaska): Ukivok house made of driftwood and walrus skin. Surrounded by carvings of walrus ivory animals.
ICELAND: Top-Walrus intestine window. Pieces of intestine sewn together to make a transparent, waterproof window.
Bottom left-Viking adze head.
Bottom right-map of Viking travel routes through the arctic.


Canada: Multiple Family Igloo

RUSSIA: Dome tent surrounded
(from left to right) by birch bark
basket, fishing lure, berry comb,
cache, and whale vertebrae.
CANADA: Multiple family iglu only used by the Inuit of Baffin Island. Only Inuit who lived in snow houses for long term periods of time.

This is a single family snow iglu. Snow iglus like this one were used as temporary shelters while hunting or traveling by Inuit through the arctic.

Below is a snow knife and doll.

Temporary snow iglu, snow knife, doll

Location: 2nd floor main lobby

Roben Jack Larrison
and Jensen Arctic Museum volunteers

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This page was modified October 16, 2007 kmj.