High Tech I stood on a cut bank bright with autumn, the hoarse shouts of ravens echoing in the silence. Across the Kobuk’s clear, tannin-tinged flow rose a prominent, birch-spangled knoll; and beyond stretched an expanse of country, rising toward the looming, cloud-brushed pyramids of the Jade Mountains. This place, Onion Portage, known to the Inupiat as Paatitaaq (for the wild, onion-like chives that grow here), is marked by a great looping bend several miles long where the Kobuk reverses direction and almost circles back on itself before resuming its meandering westward flow. I lingered here as people have since time forgotten—not just centuries, but millennia according to the work of archeologist Louis Giddings. Roaming alone through the upper Kobuk in the early 1940s, Giddings, a researcher from Brown University, found his way to Onion Portage as so many had before him, following the river, drawn by the shape of…