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Archive 2008 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !


- A photo essay - Tikigaqmuit-

People of Point Hope Alaska

I want to take you on a journey into the arctic, the upper regions of the Arctic and show you via my photographs, and my experiences, and tell you of all that goes on up here in this incredbly vast area of so very few Inupiaq Eskimo's.

We will start our journey into the oldest of all villages in Alaska,

Point Hope Alaska, aka Tikigaq - Tigara on very old maps.


Very few are aware that most villages in Alaska were founded by People from Point Hope, Greenland was founded by the same people(s).

Many thousands of years ago, these people migrated from upper Mongolia, and crossed the land bridge in the Bering Strait, and eventually settled down in Point Hope, this was chosen as the choice spot for the number of different types of animals that migrate to this one spot of land.

Here are a few maps to understand the location,

The Inupiaq people only take that which is needed to eat, and absolutely nothing is ever wasted.


Thanks to the eye in the sky, we can now see the ice building up around the point.


The old town site is the first thing you see as you land in this village

old abandoned houses, and lots of "bones". Whale bones, that were used to construct a dwelling place.


All bones, have meanings and purposes, uses and functions.

They form an iglu, not IGLOO. they are used for Klan festival sites, they mark a famous captains whale, (the jawbones). They mark grave sites, and they form the most unique graveyard in the arctic, the whalebone graveyard.
This is world famous because it is the only one in the entire world.
no other village(s) have this.


I have over 200 very close personal friends of mine buried in this place.
Yes, that is how many people have died in this tiny place, that seems to peacefull, but anything can happen in the Arctic and usually does in many bizarre and wierd ways.

I have noticed here in the Arctic, that people die, mostly because they didin't listen & obey the very last words spoken to them.
It is the most bizarre feeling in the world, I don't know how to explain it, but imagine walking into a grave yard, and you personally know the names of everyone that is buried in there. Gasp, so many have died so young.

tragic stories, and so many needless deaths, thanks to the federal government. google : "Project Chariot"

23 miles from the village is Cape Thompson


It only took one "Rock" to put a stop to the whole damn shameful project.
but a "prize" was left by people that do not know how to think, radio active waste was buried in many places with no markers, Many of the caribou up here have become infected with this radiation, and thus all the elders have died so young due to cancer, it is the # 1 killer in this village.

So many of my closest friends. sob.

Outside of the whalebone graveyard, near the side of the road to the new town site, sites this grave site. The grave of the last chief of Pt. Hope. Atangauruk. This man was a scoundrel of the worst sort, He had six wives, and was murdered when he took another man's wife, for #7.

The jaw bone from his largest whale and the bones marking his six wives. He wasn't counted worthy to be buried in the village graveyard.


Point Hope used to have a population of well over 10,000 Inupiaq Eskimo people. then the whaling companies arrived, the population was reduced to 190 people, through greed, disease, and mass starvation. 22 Klans were reduced to just the remaining two.

The whales were decimated, then the walrus herd was demolisied, the caribou were slaughterd, and there was no food for the people to eat.
To the north of the point, west two miles, it is told of a great whaling ship that went down into the sea, Severly overloaded with its cargo being - walrus ivory. The currents in this part of the ocean are incredibly strong, this is dangerous water and it is just as dangerous when there is ice to be on.

One of the two remaining Klan festival sites, Kamaktauq


On the left side there are three sets of jaw bones of the whales of the famous great hunters of this clan, the middle set of jaw bones are from a 50 foot whale. the huge jaw bones of that large set must be from a whale well over 100 feet.

A bowhead whale weighs an astounding ton per foot !!
you will see later, a 48 foot whale, (no gore) it took a grueling 17 hours to get this animal out of the water, with hundreds of people pulling on ropes. Exhausting work. the only prize. or pay, you get to eat ! That is all these people want and that is the whole purpose of this thread, to enlighten the world as to the plight of the indeginous people(s), and their aboriginal right to eat, their food, their customs their unique tradition for many thousands of years.
These people are on the verge of exinction due to the limitations being placed upon them. This culture must not perish.

Children are our most precious valuable important resource.


Now I know you want to get to the good stuff.. the Ocean Ice.

Lets head down there for the most fantastick journey with the most unbelieveable stories you have ever read or seen on this photo essay.

We will come back to the village later, but it is time to go whaling.
April - May out to the ocean ice.


Imagine cutting a trail with pick and axe for seven miles, just to move equipment and supplies, for people to hunt and gather food. This seven mile journey takes many hours to complete. This is no easy ride. I was convinced that all of my lenses would be shattered when that camera case was opened.

My first trip down to the ocean ice. I have the flu, I am so sick, but a whaling captain named Jake Koonuk requested me, now ! Make sure he brings his camera. The temp was sixty below and I have to sleep outside, with the hunters. I froze the flu. I was 100% the next morning !


7 miles out, some familes stick together out here. but there are 18 whaling captains, spaced out 1/2 - 3/4 a mile apart on the ocean ice to form a gauntlet, There are lots of different types of animals that migrate past the point every year, for thousands of years, since time began.
The hunters must be out here, before the migration starts.
It takes 8 hours to set up a whaling camp out on the ice. When the wind shifts to south it takes 20 minutes. it is mass panic of over 700 people to get off that ice as fast as you can, Ice is coming and it will run right over everything in its path.


Now, I introduce my captain, Umailiaq (oo may lik) Jake Koonuk whaling captain.

He was the one, who made this all possible, The truth must be told Jake told me.


That seal skin is filled with air. it is "avatakpak" (ah vah tuk puk) it is used much in the same manner as a bobber is used in fishing, There is 200 feet of rope attached to this seal skin float. It shows the area that whale might be hiding in.

We wait, for that whale, to give itself over to the captain of its choice !
(much more on this later)

His crew, and everyone else on the ice, was furious, that a white man, was out on this ice pack, with a camera!! Everyone was very upset with me, until I started giving 11 x 14 gorgeous color prints away for free, down on the ocean ice. This has to be a first.


John Denver came to this village in the mid 1970's. under the pretense of helping them with their plight. After what he did, to these people on national television, they were all furious that I was here with a camera !
Paramount Studios tried to gain access to this village, they were denied. The same is true with the BBC in London, they were here, all ready to go out to the ocean ice. Then the truth slipped out. they were kicked out of town.
Jacques Cousteau wanted in here, but was blocked and denied access.

I have been on 5 sacred whale hunts with the Inupiaq people. Twice with Jake,
the other three hunts I was a boyer for the Oktollik crew. Calvin & Irma Oktollik. That's when I found out how much hard work is involved to perform the job of a boyer.

Fresh hot dounuts every day many times a day.!


How do you think, this cook will get that dough to rise ?? It is drafty in that tent and that dough needs to be quite warm to rise. Once that dough is all mixed it is put into a clean plastic bag, then that bag is placed under her back inside of her parky, much in the same manner in which a child is carried here, Under the parky in the back.


The woman making the doughnuts is Emily Lane, The girl carrying the infant is one of her twin daughters Minnie. Minnie & Josie were twin sisters, They were Emily's whole life.

One day in 1991, Emily, her younger brother Frank, and the twins went up to the cliffs to search for fossil ivory, They were warned: do not make any noise up there, this time of year, The snow / ice is ready to katak (fall) off the cliffs, to the area where they were headed to search for fossil ivory. The snow / ice did katak, Frank pulled Emily out when she was buried past her waist. they looked around frantically for the last known place the twins were at. They dug frantically for well over an hour. Sadly they had to give up and go back to the village for help. Many hours later, the twins were found, under a huge pile of ice and snow, .. .. holding hands. - born together, died together @ the young age of only 18.!

Edited by Majik_Imaje on Jun 12, 2008 at 01:17 AM GMT

Edited on Jun 12, 2008 at 10:17 AM

Feb 08, 2008 at 04:42 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

In the grocery line.. crusing for food.. 50 below, 50 mph winds that are truely brutal when you have to face into that wind as this crew is.

Tuzroyluk's Crew


My good friend Leroy Tuzroyluk. light blue parky.

Home sweet frozen home. 24/ 7 right here, for two months !

Leroy went to Kotzebue (200 miles south) with two friends and they all rode snow machines, They were coming back to Point Hope when a fiecre storm erupted suddently with out warning, The Arctic is extremly fierce weather, you call them hurricanes, for us, just another normal day.


The other two hunters with him decided to turn back, Leroy kept going, he wanted to go home, he thought that by going on the ocean ice it would be faster, He unhitched his sled and took off, into that strong north wind, His machine went right through the ice, Leroy or his machine was never found. The National Guard was using helicopters with metal detectros for days trying to find some closure for his parents - Seymour & Claudia, Death is no stranger here in Point Hope. One woman in this town has had the grief and unbearable burden to have buried six of her children over a 25 year period.

AT night out on the ocean ice in April, when that sun goes down, it gets mighty cold, I would have to place the lens cap on for the evening. My camera is on a tripod, most of the time, I would scream when it was time to change film. Pure torture to take your gloves off when it is 50 below zero and attempt to accomplish a simple task as loading a roll of film.


I would have to literally chip the ice out of the viewfinder in the morning, the camera was encased in 1/16" of ice. The controlsl were very sluggish, but with effort they worked quite better than I ever expected. I have King Kong out here.. Pentax K1000 was king and my Mamiya Rb 67 was Kong !
no batteries are gonna last out here, and this was done before digital became popular, this is film. and it is pure tortue to change a roll.

This was such a day, sitting there, waiting for something to happen that was worthy to take the effort and time to compose and create an image that is "art". I wanted to give up so many times. The pain was too much for me.
My fingers, my hands could / would not work. It would take a very long time for me to have the ability to move my fingers. NO place to go to warm up, well there is, but I am not walking back to the tent area, I can't bring my film or my camera(s) into that tent, that would be total disaster.

Are you cold ? this is why your nose runs so much when it is cold out.. they kept telling me.. .. "use it " ? !!! yuk ! no way ! thus I suffered immensly only because I was stubborn, and I just would not listen.

Take your gloves off ! ?? ?? blow your nose into your hands and rub it all over and put those gloves back on. yuk ! I just would not go that far. Until I was forced to, I had no choice. My fingers were frostbit, numb and I just could jnot move them, only as a last resort I finally broke down.
WoWoW !!! Instanly, my hands were warm, functional, and they didn't hurt as they warmed up, as was my previous experience which would often lead to frozen tears !!


Are you really cold ? Then grab that hacksaw. (ha ha ha ha) I am on a different planet, A different world out here, nothing makes sense to me at times. This is how you get warm out here. Slice some thin strips of caribou meat from those ribs. Swallow them whole, do not chew. Now fill your stomach full. This is a hunters breakfast (quaq) when they go out far distances. They stay warm(er) and they do not get thirsty.
Your stomach has to work very hard to digest all of that raw frozen meat or fish. your body begins to generate body heat the likes of which you have never ever expeienced. At 30 below zero, we are taking clothes off, because we are too hot.

Can you tell who has just recently eaten quaq ?

Eating a hot meal, has its disadvantages, for one, your body relaxes, it will not generate body heat, you become lazy and you begtin to get cold(er).

INUPIAQ TECHNOLOGY, time tested for many thousands of years.!!

Because we are out in the sunlight for 24 hours a day. we become solar powered, it is very easy to stay alert and awake for 3 days or longer.

In April that is not possible, it gets dark, but by mid May, no one is sleeping much, except the cooks.

when the hunters get tired, just lie back on that sled and close your eyes for a few hours., your good to go for another 3 days or longer.


When a hunter goes out on that ice pack before the lead opens, He takes a frozen fish with him wrapped up, in paper or tin foil. he puts it into his boot, or mukluk, Many hours later, he will take it out, unwrap it, and enjoy a hot steamy meal out in the middle of frozen no where..

Edited on Feb 08, 2008 at 06:09 AM

Feb 08, 2008 at 05:59 AM

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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Wow! I don't know if you're done posting, but that was extremely enjoyable!!!

Feb 08, 2008 at 06:32 AM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

This was a very powerful set of images that were complimented with some beautiful words. Thank you very much for posting them. As I was looking at them, I could feel the cold. Dangerously beautiful.


Feb 08, 2008 at 06:32 AM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Thank you Spudkayaks & blueangel_78

no I am not done posting, there are many pages and hundreds of photos and some of the most unbeliveable text you have ever read.!!
coming soon, shortly, right here. !!

Feb 08, 2008 at 06:52 AM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Oh good, keep 'em coming!!!

Feb 08, 2008 at 07:05 AM
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Well lets pause here for a moment, (pun intended)


Danger warning: POLAR BEARS are not soft cuddly cute animals, they are ferocious beasts of prey that are extremly dangerous and very unpredictable.

There is much you do not know about these animals, this short segment will teach you much about this magnificent animal, that should never be underestimated.

ALL bears.. .. are left handed, they will always strike with the left PAW first!

Even after a polar bear has been killed, that bear can still kill that hunter if he is not careful when that bear is opened up.
The liver must be burnt and destroyed, anything that eats this will die!
Admiral Perry on his expedition to the North Pole lost 3 members of his crew due to attempting to eat a polar bears liver, It is saturated with millions of units of Vitamin A. This is extremly toxic and deadly.
when that bear has been opened up for gutting, skinning, etc.. A hunter must be extremly careful, not to get any of that "juice' on himself, gloves must be worn. Great care must be taken when cutting the liver out of the animal. the tubes must be tied to prevent leakage of this "JUICE" it contains tooo much, Vitamin A and just by getting some on your skin it will kill you!

When the hunter is finished with the procedure of gutting that animal, any clothing that has "juice" on it must be burned and destroyed !

Barrow Alaska 1940's Vincent Niigak was gutting a bear, and all was well and finished, His gloves were removed and burnt. His hands were cold and he brought up his hands to warm them by blowing on them close to his mouth. Unknown to him at the time of this event. The tiny-est speck of juice touched his lip.

He Lived to tell about it in a very unusual way. He lived for many decades but he stood out in a most peculiar way.

Eskimo's are darkskinned and with black hair. Vincent's appearance was white as snow. His skin, his hair. ALBINO. pure white skin, pure white hair. Everything was bleached white by that small miniscule amount of vitamin A on his skin.

Everyone in Barrow knows of this famous hunter, He died in the late 1980s I believe. I have never had the pleasure to meet this famous man, but many have told me the same story in each and every village. His claim to fame was well known all over the area.

A polar bear can run at speeds of over 40 miles per hour, they can attack without notice, out on the ocean ice. They are ferocious predators. Each month, certain women must get off the ice. go home. come back later in a week or so. get off the ice. you present too much of a danger out here for everyone.
That bear can smell blood for many miles, these bears are extremly clever and will stop at nothing to eat, anything.

Seals are their main food supply. A bear will sit over a breathing hole in the ice and cover his nose and eyes with its paws, and wait for a seal to surface to breathe. One quick look around by the seal, and it is all over,.. ... ... .. burp!

BILLLY WEBER WAS OUT ON THE OCEAN ICE; and a polar bear came around the corner and ran towards Billy at full speed.
Billy turned and ran. he had a .22 rifle with only one bullet left. he took off running, he had no choice but to run.. that bear was gaining on Billly as he ran for his life. Other hunters out on the ice saw this event unfold, but were too far away to offer any assistance. There is only one place to shoot a polar bear to kill it.
that one vital spot is in the ear. While running for his life, with that bear quckly gaining on Billy he merly pointed that rifle back as he ran and took the shot.. .. ..
.. .. Billy lived to tell about this and everyone up here knows of this famous event.

That bear was that close, because Billy waited, and waited until the last possible second to point it at the ear and take the shot while on the run. That bear went down.

A very close personal friend in Point Lay Alaska, My electrical apprentice, Charles Stalker Jr. III was not so lucky. A polar bear was going after his pregnent girl friend. Charles distracted that bear away from her, and armed with only a knife, and a very thin jacket, that bear literallly cut him in half with the swing from the left paw. The villagers came out and blasted that very skinny bear, but much of Charles had already been eaten. Dec. 1990 sob!

1950's Allan Rock was out on the ocean ice. Same predicament.. A polar bear was charging him, armed with only a large knife, Allan was successful and jumping on that bears back and taking him down the hard way.!!!!!

During the 1970's it was LEGAL for the white man to hunt the polar bear in Alaska.
A permit had to be obtained and it was good for only one day. The cost of the permit was 10,000 dollars, This practice had to be discontinued because too many of the great white hunters were shooting polar bears from the planes they chartered.

Polar beat meat is the most delicious meat I have ever tasted in my life.
It is jet black, grainy like old gnarled wood, but it is so sweet and tender, 10 times better than the best prime rib I have ever tasted. In fact it was the ONLY time I had ever asked for seconds at a meal, and all at once everyone responded NO!

Scientists are puzzled at all the recent drownings of polar bears. They say it is because of the huge distances between ice packs, that the bear cannot swim that far. That is not the real reason for bears drowning, no.
The real reason for their drownings is they have no fear, they will attack a sleeping walrus on the ocean ice. A walrus will sleep on its back with head back revealing the vital neck region. when that bear pounces on that walrus, the walrus merely lowers its tusks around the bears head and rolls over into the water bringing the bear down to huge depths !


Polar Bears were recently put on the endangered species list and then quickly taken off that list. We are only allowed to take them down as a last resort to protect innocent lives here in the village. Each year a few bears will enter the village. Bears stay on the ocean ice pack, sometimes they wander into town.
We do our very best to get them out of town, back onto the ocean ice. Sometimes
that is not possible and we have to take them down quick, due to the fact there are children outside in the village. This year three bears entered town, two of those bears had to be taken down quickly, as they were trying to gain access into homes.. A mother with three cubs entered town.. We were successfull in getting that mother and those cubs, out of town back onto the ocean ice.

The bear and the meat is the responsibility of the hunter, the skin is worked on by the women. It takes many women to perform a "Native Tan" on the skin using very sharp Ulu knives. This can take as much as ten hours or more.


These women work hard to scrape that skin clean, this is not an easy task to accomplish. Sally Killigvuk, the mother of the hunter with the polar bear. Elizabeth Oviok (postmaster) work hard with these other women. Six - Eight women will spend the entire day, working on this skin, when that skin is cleaned, then it is put into the ocean, tied up to soak for a week or two, then it is placed up on a rack in the strong north winds to dry, for many months.


Well we live a simple life in a very dangerous place, under the harshest conditions known to man on the entire face of the earth. We would not have it any other way.
Believe it or not, YOU are all invited to take part in whaling festival next June in Point Hope !! A three day non-stop event held every year (coming soon).
J.J. Russell Lane, displays the skin of his very first polar bear.
J.J. caught two whales this year! His first, and His second.
Khristopher Nashookpuk caught these two bears, in fact his girlfriend took down the big one.!!



Well I truely hope that you found this all "bear-y" interesting !

Lots more to come, lets go back to the ocean ice and see what happens when a whale is received !!

Feb 08, 2008 at 07:27 AM
Tim Ashton
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Truly amazing.Thank you for those great pics but the history lesson was awsome

Feb 08, 2008 at 08:51 AM

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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

dave, thanks so much for posting this. this is more than I have ever seen of your work. :-)

to add a few things, I had the opportunity to meet dave and hang out with him and his family in point hope last summer. he is a really cool guy with a lot of great info on alaska. it is a whole different world there, and it really takes going to the north slope to see what alaska is all about. southern alaska seems a bit touristy, looking back...and the north slope is definitely not a trip for the casual vacationer. living on what I call "the hairy edge of the universe" requires a very different lifestyle. as you can see a lot of this stuff is film, which is considerably more difficult to use and develop at those environmental extremes. this stuff took some serious work.

I also took some photos while I was there, which I will post a few of with dave's permission. but i must confess, my pictures show nowhere near the connectedness to the tribe as I am an outsider and dave is not!

thanks again for the post man, give the guys my best!

Edited on Feb 08, 2008 at 09:19 AM

Feb 08, 2008 at 09:16 AM
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Hi honey, I'm home. hmmm, that smells good, what's for supper ?


Edited by Majik_Imaje on Feb 08, 2008 at 03:52 AM GMT

Edited on Feb 08, 2008 at 12:52 PM

Feb 08, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Search in Used Dept. 

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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Majik, I'm stunned...
What a story to tell. I was so fascinated, that I'm too late for work now...
What the heck...

Thank you very very much for sharing your photo' s and story. Please don't stop! Keep 'm comming!


Feb 08, 2008 at 12:37 PM
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

My first response to the liver/vitamin A story was ... "This can't be right, can it?" But it is. 0.3 grams of polar bear liver contains the upper intake level and 30 to 90 gram is lethal...


The series, and its accompanying commentary, is fascinating. I'll be keeping track of this topic.

Edited on Feb 08, 2008 at 01:11 PM

Feb 08, 2008 at 01:10 PM
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

I enjoyed the series. I had an uncle that lived in Barrow Alaska for many years.


Feb 08, 2008 at 01:24 PM
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

and what is / was your uncles name ?


A very familiar sign in Barrow right across from Arctic.. .. pizza !!!

Edited by Majik_Imaje on Jun 12, 2008 at 01:25 AM GMT

Edited on Jun 12, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Feb 08, 2008 at 02:48 PM
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Wow! What a captivating read. I was priviledged to live in North Pole for over sixteen years, and although I did experience -76F, my life as one of the Chosen Frozen pales to your expeirences. Thank you very much for sharing in words and light paintings. I'm looking forward to spending more time here.
Thanx again!!


Feb 08, 2008 at 03:38 PM
Peter Fry
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

I'm stunned, awesome story very well illistrated, have you tried National Geographic.

Feb 09, 2008 at 07:14 AM
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Well funny you should ask that question. Yes I did approach them back in the day, 5k for the whole collection, Ha, I make that on a good weekend.!!

I politely told them, ... ... ... another place to photograph !!

Everyone wanted these photographs when I first hit Anchorage with them. Everyone gasped, no one had seen anything like this, and to this day, 27 years later, there still isn't anything out there, that can compare.!! or even come close !! You just can't walk into a village and go down to that ocean ice pack. Many have tried.

My photographs have been stolen by banks, Printing companies, and even British Petrolium outright stole 75 images of life out on that ice pack.

Very few people can handle what happens out there. ( I am talking about outsiders.). Once your out there, that's it, there is no place to go, Sleeping outside in these temps is brutal, you need "blubber" to survive.

blubber makes your blood thick, helping to keep you warmer,

So lets go back out to the ocean ice, and see what is going on, and how these people survive and the food they catch and eat.

When I tell you how they catch a huge whale, you will never believe me.
I know I didn't believe it when I heard about this, I scoffed at the mere idea.

Realize this: Inupiaq Eskimos live off eating, flammable fat !! This is what keeps them warm(er).

A white person, is not allowed inside an umiaq during a whale hunt.

Oriental people, have offered as much as 10,000 for the ear bone of a bowhead whale, they are under the impression that it is some type of aphrodesiac ?? !!

Opps, here comes a boyer, on his way to work, I laugh, straighten up, snap a sharp salute and stand just a bit taller as he goes by, out of respect for this 3 year old, doing all that work, by himself, all night long, alone !


Out here, this is a different world, A different planet, a world of ice, extremly cold, and the ever present north wind, just never quits, it just gets stronger.

you wake up, look around, I am convinced at times, I am in a different world.


If life isn't harsh enough, there is always work to do on the trail, this trail must be kept open as new supplies and trips are constantly being made.

Ice is brought down, from great distance of almost 100 miles away, one way trip to get drinking water from the Kupak river.


chopping, smoothing out that ice, so vehicles can travel is very hard work, hundreds of people, constantly working to keep it open, smooth, and packed.

This ride out and back it hard on the snowmachines, The speed is very slow to transport an umiaq out here.


This ice is a dangerous place, anything can happen at any time, unexpected things.

One day, we are standing around, having a good time, telling stories, watching the horizon, and a boyer comes running down to the lead opening at the edge of the ice. He is all excited yelling and saying, in terror, we are not on the ice ! I looked under my feet and all around and thought what is he talking about ?? Then I saw everyone start to scamble and run, I am standing there looking stupid, when one member of the crew turns to me and says " so how you getting back .. white man "?? He wasn't kidding either.

The ice way in back of us, a few miles, broke off and we were floating out to sea, and no one never knew it.

This is what happens when the ice breaks. The wind is what breaks it, and sends the ice pack out to sea, in just a few hours.


There are many stories of people that have been on the wrong side of the ice, and drifted out to sea, never to be seen or heard of again.

A few people, have survived this, and have told incredibly strange tales of another person, apearring on that ice, to comfort them, dressed in very old time Eskimo clothing.. ?? There is a lot of things that happen up here, that do not make sense. I will "spill" all the beans so to speak,as this thread progresses, First & foremost, It is not my iintention to lie, exageratte, or mislead anyone. I only type that which I have experienced and seen, and have heard, in all the villages I have been in. I have lived in lots of these villages,
Thirty years is a long time to live AMONG these people.

Point Hope is my home I prefer to call it Point Ho-ME.

On land, markers are placed, and another set of markers is placed way out.
These markers are constantly watched, the current under this ice, is very strong, It has crushed many a Old time Whaling vessel into toothpicks.

You can't take anything for granted out here.

This is one of the reason, that a boyer has to pay special attention to the wind, all night long. He is always looking for cracks in his area of the ice.
The Umailiaq (whaling captain) is boss over his hunters, the umiaq, and the ocean. That is his domain. The whaling captains wife, is umailiaq also, Her domain is the ice. She is boss over all. She tells that captain where to set up his umiaq. All hunters answer to her.


Whaling is the most exciting event I have ever partaken in and witnessed. These people are like .. .. Its the night before Christmas. I have never seen people so happy, Even when working under the most horrible conditions.


Edited on Feb 09, 2008 at 10:47 AM

Feb 09, 2008 at 10:20 AM
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

It does not matter which whaling camp you visit, whether it is the hunters down at the edge of the ice, or the tent camp area, in back of the hunters, it is all set up identical in each and every aspect.

Each week, the tent must be moved due to the plywood sinking down into the ice, from the reflected heat from the wood stove.


some of the cooking is done inside the tent area, and other types of cooking are performed outside.


The plywood floor is washed by hand @ the beginning of each and every day and kept clean during the entire day. This is very hard work inside of the tents, these women work non-stop 18 hours a day.


The stove pipes must be cleaned to get all of that soot (polor) out of them.
This is a job no one wants to do because of all the soot, dirt, etc that comes out of these pipes. Get that wood stove too hot and you will burn that tent down. I have seen grown-ups get that stove too hot. And that tent goes up quiclkly in flames. I have never seen or heard of a boyer doing that. Just a few adults and one whaling captain.



Caribou meat has no fat. Aquaq is preparing Caribou soup, Caribou is (2-2) Tuttu.

Chop or grind 3 pounds of caribou meat and fry it. When it is finished there is less than 1/2 teaspoon of fat. This meat is delicous and tastes very much like beef. Without any of the artificial "additives" !

Whale however, is eaten raw & frozen, that is the traditional manner in which maktak (muktuk) is eaten - blubber, flammable fat !

This is their favorite food, nothing can replace "blubber"!

I have never once ever seen any child "suck" their thumb(s) or fingers.
Bizzare as it may seem, that doesn't happen up here with these children,

when a child is teething, the mother will place a small piece of maktak in that childs mouth, Eating raw frozen blubber is akin to trying to take a bite out of a "hockey puck' .


Using an eskimo knife (Ulu) the blubber is cut up into tiny stips or pieces.

add salt, or dip into seal oil. when I first arrived in this village, I had all of my pipeline arctic gear, fully dressed, I thought I go handle it, I didn't last 20 minutes, Then I started to take a spoonfull of seal oil every day at noon, after a few months, 30 below was wonderful,!

http://majikimaje.com/MORTON SALT.JPG

Blubber will make your blood thick(er), fruit will make your blood thin(er).

But here in the Arctic, out on that ocean ice pack. We have to wait, and wait, and wait, for our food. Look, watch, wait, listen. That is the order of the day.




does it sound boring? Absolutely not, it is a most wonderful way to spend the day, with many friends , on a "picnic" of a different type, a picnic no one would ever consider !

How can this possibly be fun ?? ?? ??

Because, anything can happen at any time, without any warning what-so-ever.
Be alert, be aware, we are here for one purpose, to gather food to get us through the next winter.!


You have perhaps 3 seconds to get that shot off and nail that seal.
they don't stay up, for long. But for a crew, it is not 8 hunters opening up. nope.. the hunter that spots that animal, gets the chance. and when successfull, it is shared with everyone. Up here, Everything belongs to everyone,.. .. food wise... .. only !!


All night long, when the wind is not to powerful, the umiaq's are out, waiting, watching, looking and listening. I was always being told to shut up! Quit yelling ! ( I was talking in what we consider a normal voice). but I have no idea how people can hear, what others are even saying next to me, they speak so softly. Some of the stories that I have heard are just so fall down belly aching, full of laughter.
Old town site, two hunters are out hunting, near their house, for ducks, sitting and waiting and watching, nothing changes much, wait and watch,look and listen. Two ducks fly overhead, one hunter takes aim and successfully drips one of the ducks. The other duck dove straight for that hunters house, The hunter is aiming at the duck diving towards his house and pulls the trigger,and shot his own dog, the duck climbing back into the sky, them be some smart ducks up here. In Alaska, the state bird is.. .. "the mosquito" !
Here in the Arctic they have a wingspan of 2" !

We never have a problem with them, due to the constant wind, but if that wind stops, you best not be out on that tundra, they will descend on you like a black cloud.

Ice, from very far away, the Kupak river, (80 mile trip, one way) is hauled back to the village, We now have a water p lant in the village since the 70's, but nothing can match the taste of water from this river. The elders won't drink anything else. and to go fetch some of this prized ice is a full days work
Gasoline in the village has been over $5.00 a gallon for many years. In the early 80's it was 3 dollars a gallon!!
Paying for "your type food" is just much too expensive for us here, We have a small store in town. but the high cost of frieght makes buying food extremly expensive. I worked in this village as an elctrican later, 89, a new window facotry was installed here. It would cost me $1000 a week to feed my four sons ! A small turkey back then was $135.00

That will not even feed a family for one meal up here. We need our food!

groups, agencies, commssions, must come out here, and live our way, before they tell us we cannot eat our food. there is no shortage of animals, that is media hype and greenpeace frabicated lies.

The Inupiaq people have never depleted any of the resources. No one has the right to tell us,, .. .. you may not eat.






Six weeks went by, before anything substantial happened out here. That is a very long time to be frozen, (me). I wanted to quit so many times because of the cold. My problems were of my own doing, not dressing correctly, not eating correctly, and not doing what I was told to do. Sleeping outside, was not the problem, it was always my fingers. The captains always laughed, when they saw me trying to get my hands warm, Eat more maktak (muk tuk)
A = ah . That did not help, much to their amusement, watching me try to "enjoy" it. !!


Edited on Feb 10, 2008 at 10:49 AM

Feb 10, 2008 at 09:32 AM
Tim Ashton
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

From a community of 10,000 to 190.
it sounds pretty much on the scale of what the western settlers of Australia did to our indigenous peoples.
it was only in 1928 when the government last issued a permit to go and shoot them! when we talk of civilisation, and at the same time look hard at our history, what we have is a very thin veneer.
This wednesday, our parliament is finally offering our condolences for the actions of our fore fathers. An official ceremony to say sorry will be made at the opening of parliament.
It will not bring them back, but hopefully it will begin a healing

Feb 10, 2008 at 12:06 PM
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

I agree 100%

thanks for taking the time. to read, think, and respond!

Feb 10, 2008 at 12:17 PM
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