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Archive 2008 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Truly an amazing piece of work and so en lighting, i was totally unaware of your history


Feb 10, 2008 at 12:28 PM
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Something is going on, I can't understand what everyone is talking about.


One by one, umiaqs are taking off in the water, I am all alone out here now.
for the first time, in over six weeks, I feel .. .. .. "alone" !

I know the women & children are still out here on the ice, but they are behind me 1/2 - 3/4 a mile, time to visit some camps and see what is actually going on.
Usually in the evening, late, it becomes quite calm.
That ocean achieves a glass like texture.

Everyone, is taking off, I am walking camp to camp to see what I can find out.


Each camp I arrive at, people are taking off, I haven't seen this type of activity since I have been out here.

It is about 2 am in the morning, not afternoon, Out here on the ice, no one cares which day of the week it is or which month it is. that doe not enter into our daily routine. We are out here for food for the entire village, what time it is or which day it is, is not important. who cares !


Floyd Oktollik is looking back at me, and I know exactly what he is thinking,. what is that dumb city white boy going to do next !! ??

That crew left, heading south, as they all are. I walked over to that calm spot to the right of the umiaq. I was feeling sorta kewl, hey look at me. all alone in this fantastic paradise of the north, I put my hands, / arms behind my back, stood a little taller and stuck the tips of my bunny boots about two inches over that ice pack. Standing tall, feeling good. I had absolutely no warning!

That calm spot in the water, was just like black glass. I am watching it so closely, not even a slight ripple, just black glass, so calm, just like a mirror.

I have a camera mounted on my chest via the strap. That black glass never moved. just calm, with a hole ?? A hole appeared in that calm, not the slightest ripple or water movement.. A hole, close enough for me to stick my foot in, with room to spare, WHOOOSSSSSHHHH!!! a FACKING WHALE !!!

Remember in sports, how they dump the gatoraide on the coach near the end of the game.?? Whooossshhh !!! I have "whale-aid" water. raining down all over me.. Oh my gosh what a putrid stink !! I am running but water is raining down all over me and I am in serious trouble. I am running back to the nearest camp.. soaking wet, I can't breathe, this stink is all over me GAG !!
As I approach the camp tent area two women are working outside and they look up to see me approaching all covered in ice. Ice is hanging all over me, cracking, falling, Everyplace water could drip off of me is now frozen and I look quite the sight.. Those two women fell over laughing.. Get back. stay away.. They instantly knew what happend just by the smell . Get away.. (lauging hysterically) no stay away, you can't come into the tent. I hear them laughing so hard inside the tent and someone threw two towels out for me to clean off. Stay away, don't come in here.(loud shrill of laugher) I tried to get one of the women to take a photo of me in this condition. STAY AWAY!
more laughter. They put 2 + 2 together instantly.

Now I want to know something. Who laughed the hardest, that whale, or the persona that sent him ?

Jonah had his story about a beast from the sea and it is written in a book called the bible.
I have had my encounter with a whale and it is posted on this web site, and many others.!!

This is one strange place out here on the ice pack !!

And I have been privy to the most bizzare conversation, that I have ever heard and I am quite skeptical about what I am hearing.

A whale was harpooned on a Sunday evening @ aboutg 11 p.m. No luck in finding that whale, for two days, these hunters stayed in that umiaq, looking, searching for some sign of the avatakpak. (seal skin float).
On tuesday morning they came ashore. Rested and began to look through binoculars, and pass them around, and I hear these words.

They are looking straight into the sun, at the ice pack on the edge of the horizon some 8 miles south.

Then I hear these preposterous words, There is something under the water, that is thick, I can't see through it, it must be blood.!!! There is blood on that ice, I can see it, but it is a different shade of grey, I think it is blood.

One by one they pass the binoculars around, and I hear similiar statements that make me believe they actually see something, and they hop back in the umiaq and head south.

Two days later, here they come, singing.!!!

Paddling an umiaq, into that wind is very hard work, 8 people working together to make that umiaq go forward, is not an easy task.

Each paddler, must be very careful when they use that paddle, pick up too much water and splash the person behind you, he does have the option to throw you out of the umiaq, rather than sit there and let the water freeze & build up ice on him, and cause much further problems.!


Now, 18 umiaqs, tied together, towing a 27 ton whale, takes a much concentrated effort to move at all. I can hear singing, coming from a great distance away as these whalers are rejoicing for the food they have received.
It took two days to paddle 9 miles into the wind, with this huge load, sing all the way, for two days, that is a long time, just to get out of the "checkout" line !!

When a whale has been harvested, The very first thing that must be done is to remove the "flippers", This is the main prize, the best part or portion of that whale. Everything is eaten, nothing is wasted, not one scrap.

Now the real work begins. A bowhead whale weighs a ton per foot.

It takes a long time to set up, get all the equipment ready to perfrom this very dangerous task.



So many times, photos I have taken, appear crooked, but you can actually see, the curveature of the earth, this far north. You do not need a camera to see this. .just look to the right or to the left, instead of looking straight ahead.

When a whale has been harvested, the very first thing that is done is to take the flippers come off, (oh I said that already) They are brought back to the village, and the church bell is rung over and over and over.!! Everyone in town knows what this means.. FOOD !! The flippers are brought to the homes of the oldest elders that are not able to make it down to the edge of the ice. That ride is brutal and it takes many hours.


Myra Lisbourne, at the young age of 70, runs down to the lead opening to help grab that flipper and help the whaling captain(s) bring this to shore to bring back to the village a.s.a.p. I just can' t understand how she can do this with no gloves. I am having a very hard time keeping my hands / fingers functional.

The celebration is about to begin, no one is sleeping or even thinking about sleep now, it is time to eat. Many days of work, hard dangerous work is about to begin.

Fresh "boiled" muktuk, When a whale has been harvested we cannot eat this blubber in the traditional fashion (raw & frozen). This is too fresh, we have to boil it, the blubber is "grey" not pink as is the usual texture of blubber.

Edited on Feb 11, 2008 at 12:24 AM

Feb 11, 2008 at 12:19 AM
matt sager

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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Thank you for this amazing glimpse into a world which most of us would never see let alone experience. I am thoroughly enjoying learning of your experiences in 'Point Home'. Looking forward to the rest of your posts! Thanks again


Feb 11, 2008 at 03:39 AM
Art B
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Incredibly fascinating narrative. It is my privilege to be reading and seeing your story. I truly thank you for sharing your life in this way. Your "whale-aid" story brought back a much smaller incident where a walrus "spit" quite a stream onto me once... similar result, but in a much warmer climate. Looking forward to the next chapter. I hope to send others here to share it also. Best regards. -Art

Edited on Feb 11, 2008 at 07:50 AM

Feb 11, 2008 at 07:44 AM
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Thank you for allowing us into your world. I am astonished and fascinated by this. Well done and thanks again.

Feb 11, 2008 at 10:01 AM
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Thank you Art for that "Articulate" statement and sentence(s). !! Whew I am impressed.

Those first three words, is what really captured my attention, and I could not get past those for quite a while, I must say in all honesty. I can "read" a lot, by your sentence structure, things that are not said, and I thank you.

It is responses such as these and many others that keep me going on and on, posting, sharing, and telling these true stories.

Up here in the Arctic, we use planes, like you use automobiles, We fly lots and lots in and out of the village(s).

People from Wainwright fly to Barrow just to buy groceries, it is that much cheaper and a much better selection.
In Point Hope most people order from Anchorage or Seattle or fly to Kotzebue to obtain food at a much lower cost.

I once had to purchase some food for a whaling captain in 2003 as I was in Anchorage at the time. 300 dollars worth of dry goods, cost over 400 dollars to ship up to the village, If perishable items were included then the price sky rockets.

A case of soda pop i.e. 7UP or Coca-Cola or Pepsi is 24 bux (in Pt. Hope)

Pop is our "water" up here, it is consumed in very large quanties,

It is very easy for us, ( my household 5 of us) to go through 3 cases in just one day, sometimes, (when visitors arrive) this happens too frequently.

yes !! do the math, close to 1,000 a month on soda pop !!

Everyone knows the inside of everyone's house because of the frequent visitors to all homes at various times.

A bullet is a whole heck of a lot cheaper, to obtain food, that to purchase it out of the stores or other places.


This is a very famous house in the city of Point Hope. I have been inside this house and just about every other house in the village. I have even lived in this house when we moved back up to Point Hope in 2003. My 3 week stay was much more than comfortable. I was treated as family, and all of our needs / wants were met with very kind smiles all day long.

Amos Lane ("boss") died in 1989 from cancer, he wasn't in the village when this happend, He was in the hospital in Kotzebue, 200 miles south,
I do not know how, this is possible, but when Amos passed on, the first one's to know about it were; his dogs !! They woke the whole entire village up with their continued child like crying for hours.!! @ 3:30 a.m. Those dogs cried and cried and cried like little children ! I will never ever forget that morning. It wasn't until the Lane family called down to Kotz, and found out the time, How did those dogs know ??
Meat ? Caribou, there are always a dozen caribou on that roof, all winter long. The Lanes are the best hunters in the village and without a doubt the best whalers also.

They harvest more whales than any other family name up here.
Allan Lane was the person who saved my life. This is the house Irma Oktollik ran to when I told her that preposterous story. She didn't believe one word of it.

She heard the whole story in much greater detail than I published it.. but it was all done in Eskimo by Allan's mom. Suuyuq.

Allan is mad about that incident to this day.. that just can't happen, and he shakes his head.

Back to the ice. The second thing done to this whale, once it reaches the Captains camp. A flag is placed On the ice, so that all crews will know where this is all happening. The ropes and block and tackle and other associated rigging equpment must be brought to this captains camp.


Now with modern technologies captains and crews can keep in touch with the verious other camps as to what is happeing over this large ten mile gaunlet

Each camp is equipped with a CB radio - VHF radio down at the lead opening and in the tent areas and even in the homes in the village. So everyone is hearing a play by play action of who Kappi first !! Who Kappi ?? Who struck a whale ?
Kappi ( to strike whale with harpoon). (cup E).


The news is always brodcasted back to the tent area, and to the various familes and elders still in the village and all over the ocean ice.
Everyone is in constant communicaton with the whole village,as one.
A familiar sound out on the ice pack, The sound of static, the squelch is adjusted and then a voice that everyone knows. .says those familiar words we all know so well..


Can you hear me now ?? !! And laughter erupts all over the ice, in the tents, and in the village.!!!

This actually happened last year with two crews out on the water in their umiaqs as they passed one another ,, One crew member yelled over, "hey, do you have any mustard? ".. but of course was the reply and a jar of Grey Poupon was passed over with everyone laughing !!

These crews carry a lot of extra food in those umiaqs, when they are out there for days, they stay out there, This is hard core hunting. It only happens once a year, and it is over too quickly and preparations are made to begin the checklist to get ready for next year.

.But back to topic and whaling and see what is involved to bring a 48 foot whale out of that ocean and onto the ice.

The world is being duped about the actual number of Bowhead whales that are in the ocean today.
In 1982 the federal government had some biologists up here for a census of the bowhead whale population. I was there for this and I was witness to their procedure.

In a One month, period, they counted 15,000 whales. They did not take into consideration the amount of whales that migrated through different lead openings.
they did not count the number(s) that migrated before they came, and they didn't take into account the numbers after they left.

The eldlers scoffed at that figure, ten times that is the real number, How else do you think Japan could find and harvest 1000 whales? According to greenppece, there are less than 300 !! ??

The people of Point Hope were reduced to playing baseball, .. 3 strikes and your out, go home, get off the ice. pack it all up.. you cannot eat your food.

The whaling villaages are under a very strict quota system imposed by people of the International Whaling Commission

Now that the flag is planted the whale it brought over to this location and secured, It is time to eat. A huge 4 foot square is cut out of the back of the whale up near the back of the neck aera. 4' x 4' x 10 " thick, This square of maktak will feed all the workers that show up to take part in the enormous work involved to butcher this whale up, give out the shares,and transport it all back to the village.

That last sentence is about 3-4 days work.(round the clock).


You can see in the lower right the huge square of maktak that has been taken out of the whale, Now the cooks will prepare that, and everyone eats and eats.
After eating, then the work begins to haul this 48 foot whale out of that water.

The ice has to be "ramped" - sloped to provide an easy way for the whale to slide up. 48 tons. People power only.!! Where do you begin to rig something like this.

Two holes must be dug, Deep into the ice to create a "beam" of sorts to hook the block and tackle and ropes.



Blur will hold and prevent the twist of the block and tackle when the "strain" is applied.

this is very dangerous work and everything must be checked and rechecked,









Edited by Majik_Imaje on Feb 11, 2008 at 02:36 PM GMT

Edited on Feb 11, 2008 at 11:36 PM

Feb 11, 2008 at 12:25 PM
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

This is the most amazing post I have ever seen on FM. The pictures and the narrative are just so compelling, my only question is why isn't this all in a book to be treasured? Your pictures and words are teaching me so much, answering questions I have always had, making sense of things I have heard. I feel so comfortable with your writing style, you are like a friend sitting at my table visiting and telling me of your adventures. Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your place in the world and it's amazing people.

Feb 11, 2008 at 02:28 PM
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

I want to add my voice to the many others here expressing gratitude to you for this beautifully offered information. Thank you very much for taking the time to teach about this way of life.

Feb 11, 2008 at 02:55 PM
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Thank you for sharing; this is a truly unique experience to view this right from the source.

Michael R

Feb 11, 2008 at 03:07 PM
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

One of you guys that know how to publish this type of information ought to help him out on this project. Priceless.

Feb 11, 2008 at 08:35 PM

Search in Used Dept. 

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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

thanks for all of the input and valued comments.

Have I ever thought of a book? Oh yes ! of course, 27 years ago I went to great lengths to have one published.

I keep meeting the wrong people, and thus that is how so many of my images have been stolen.
Very reputable (or so called) people, companies etc.

I have the very bad habit of believing people when they speak / talk or tell me things.

United Bank of Alaska raked me over the coals, That bank eventually went bankrupt,

they stole the complete works for the entire 2nd whale hunt.

My first whale hunt,`82, I had one camera and 60 rolls of vps.

Second whale hunt.. 5 cameras, 300 rolls of film

That vice president of that bank - eventually went to jail big time. not for this or anything related to me, But people form "habits" and she had a habit of running a con on people,

She got caught, and made the news on t.v. each and every night for quite a while.

Back to topic.

have I ever thought of a book ? heck yeah. and I would do anything to publish one, I am just learning, how interested people from all walks of life are very interested in this type of "Educatonal lifestyle - cultrue of the Inupiaq Eskimo"

People from India & Texas are always requesting photos showing large areas of ice, they all say it helps them stay cooler, It seems to have some physicological help in coping with the heat.

At this very moment I am scanning every single slide / negative I have in my entire collection.

I have six looseleaf binders that are over stuffed with images,

I have a huge wooden box that has as much or more in negatives.

go to any good bookstore............. -=[ALASKA'S ARCTIC]=-

big white coffee table type book... ! My name is in the back and my photos start on page 128.

Graphics Art Publishing Co. Portland Oregon.. big time publisher,

big time thieves.!! (enough said).

HIGH in the Arctic.. .. Eskimo !!!

Do you notice I don 't have my name plastered all over my images ??

have you noticed I am not so vain as to place copyright notices on my images??

I made my fortune long ago on these priceless fine images.

My children can live off the proceeds from these images for the rest of their lives.

We had a photographer from Paramount studio's come into our gallery in Anchorage during the summer of 2003.

He walked in and looked around @ 175 framed prints hanging on the wall, and he exclaimed wOW !! Boy do these people like you !! I laughed hard and said, what ever makes you think that ?? He replied .. " just look at how they are looking at you , smiling so." I laughed again and said, oh they just want to look good for their free photograph.. he paused turned around and begain looking.. after some time he said. where-ever did you go to school to learn how to shoot like this ?? I said I have never had any formal training.. he said your full of " __it" . He was sorta mad and he said.. 'you didn't just learn how to do this on your own. someone had to have taught you this. I smiled really big and said. Oh I did have a teacher, He is the ONE who taught me. I knew it he said, who was your teacher ?? When I mentioned My TEACHERS NAME.. he walked out of the gallery ! .

Well let me stop here and back up a few years,, I found something out, and this photographer from paramount had just re inforced my suspicions.

1983 I went into Channel two news, here in Anchorage to show my images, and see if I could meet the "right people" .

I went to the receptionist and she called on the phone and some man came out, after looking at just a few images he got on the phone and someone else came out. He was headed to the phone to call someone else in the busy studio. It was at that time that John Tracey (owner / anchor) walked by, This other man had the album and said.. John you have to see this.. John said, I can't I am on my way to a very important meeting, the man just opened the albun and shoved it in his view of sight. John without hesitation opened a door to another room and sat down and spent over an hour talking with me.

he kept ranting about the composition, of these images, in fact he mentioned it so many times I was getting bugged, I said.. hey ,, all I do is point & shoot. He slammed his hand down hard on that table so hard it scared the daylights out of me.. I was trembling.!! He looked at me, smiled and said.. I have never seen anything like this and I have lived here all of my life. Then he replied, how come these look more like paintings than photograhs.. Where did you get these processed ?? I replied I did them myself in the village using snow !!

I have some of the most unusual tales... !

when I was about to be born, in Boston Ma. in 1948. My mother went out and purchased a scrap book to place the photogrphs of me that were about to be taken of me as a child, an infant , a new born. They didn't have photo albums per say in those says, but scrap books were the rage.

I never knew about this, until late in my adult years, On the cover of that album was the name of a place that wasn't even a state, it said ALASKA and it had an image or drawing of an eskimo on a sled driving into the sun on the ice

My mother informed me of this, many years after I told her, this ( Pt. hope) was my home!


Feb 11, 2008 at 10:39 PM
Aaron Jors
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p.2 #12 · p.2 #12 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Wow this is amazing info.

Feb 12, 2008 at 04:45 AM

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p.2 #13 · p.2 #13 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Dave has encouraged me to add a few of my point hope photos...so here they are :-) taken summer 2007.

whaling festival

whaling captain's wife

one of my brothers out on the ice....we were led there by dave's son!

whalebone graveyard...with an interesting foreground object. dave can explain the story behind these birds (their meaning to the natives) better than I can.

whalemeat (and others) being cleaned/separated.

a few more are here (still adding!)

Edited on Feb 12, 2008 at 08:52 AM

Feb 12, 2008 at 08:32 AM
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p.2 #14 · p.2 #14 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Hauling or dragging a 48 ton whale out of the ocean and getting it safely on the ice presented a huge problem for us here, the ice kept breaking under the weight of the whale, Several tons of blubber had to be removed in very large sections to lighten the load.

Barrow Alaska 1991 (no pics)

This was the exact same situation, This is the dangerous part, putting a strain on that block and tackle to pull the whale out of the water. anything can happen out here, and usually does in many bizarre and strange ways.


The captain is noticing the strain on the O ring on the block and tackle, he turns around to check on the people ready to pull, he notices on his left side as he is facing the people pulling; that 3 white new nurses are down on the ice, from the hospital in town, they are too close, He points to them, he yells at them.. GET OFF THE WAY, your too close, move back. get off the way, They start to move back, and as the captain turns around to check the gear, they quit moving, The captain gives the command to pull.. The O ring snapped, That block and tackle took off like a speeding bullet. Two of those women were instantly decapitated, that mess and the block and tackle hit the third woman, who to this day remains in a vegtable like state or condition. Prayers were said, the unsightly bloody mess was cleaned up, prayers said again, then back to work!

Life is harsh up here, unforgiving, when someone tells you something up here, you best listen and obey.

During the hunt, these whales know that the umiaq's are in the water, The whales do not lift their tails out of the water, They can easily avoid any umiaq in that water. But although no notice is given or posted when we reach our quota of strikes, then and only then. when we are still out on the ice, hunting other animals, Somehow these whales know this and then and only then do they lift their tails out of the water as they pass by as if to say, bye, see you again next year. These people are truely one with that whale!!


I hear laughter, but that is normal everywhere out here, lots of people having a great time, but then I hear, .. .. 'Hey Dave !" and I turn around to see this !!


Walk in freezer, no electricity needed !! Store 48 tons of food out here, for a few days and then transport it all back to the village and to the "siglauks" the deep root type cellars, dug deep into the perma frost.

These "cellars" are extremly dangerous, Some of them are 30 feet deep or more.

They are covered with plywood and huge rocks hold the cover on, When a person has to climb down there, to insert more food or remove food, this presents a major life threating problem that must be dealt with very carefully.

That siglauq must be aired out, to get rid of all the toxic fumes, from "food"? fermenting. Even when that siglauz is safe to enter, a rope is usually tied to the person desending, in case of unconsciousness, the people above can pull that person up safely.

Fermented food is dangerous to eat. You must not have any sugar in your system.
You bette be sure, you have had no fruit, no soda pop, no sugar of any type or any candy.

This food can kill you, if you have sugar present in your system. Here is what happens. If your body is free from sugar, you can eat this and all is well, the food sits in your stomach and "boils" releasing the toxic gases, but if you have had any sugar, that boiling action hardens over with a hard crust and the gases cannot escape and the person dies brom botchulisim!

That was the case in1989 Henry Attanguanna, forgot he had sugar and he died that year much to the surprise of everyone in that village.

Reggie Oviok had to go to the hospital in Kotzebue two years ago, but he made it through the very painful sick period and survived.

the ocean ice is not as thick as it used to be and it doesn't get as cold out here as it used to be, decades ago.

and according to the elders, it does not get "dark at night the way it used to"
in the winter months.

I gotta stop here and jump in line and help pull this whale up.. every body is needed, Hey you, put that camera away and get in line.. Oops.!! when they had to stop to re-rig, I jump out of line (with permission) and capture this scene. ha ha ha.. hold that rope,, don't let it slip !!


Once that whale is upon the ice, then it is carefully marked, and divided in the traditional manner, here is how it works.


If that captain that harpooned the whale, if this is his first whale, That captain does not receive any shares of this whale, Al;l of the Captains shares go to the elders of the village. for his first whale only.Also, the oldest elder in the village, gets to pick anything that Captain owns at his house. ANYTHING. she has a choice of anything that he owns (except his house). If he has a new snowmachine, or 4 wheel honda or vehicle such as a car or truck, she can request anything she wants.

J.J. Lane caught his first whale in 2007, The oldest living female elder is - Rosemary Oviok, she got her choice of ANYTHING.. J.J. was worried and with good reason, He has lots of material possessons. J.J. came over to see Rosemary, worried as to what she would pick from his house or possessons. She smiled really big when he walked in, J. J. was worried big time, it showed all over his face. Rosemary laughed and said, don't worry, all I want is your VHF radio so I can hear what the community is talking about, J.J. smiled even bigger and said I will buy you a brand new one today !! Both people were very happy and J. J. was noticably relieved !!

Then in the ocean.. as each crew reaches that whalel that has been haprooned by the successfull captain. the 2nd umiaq to reach that whale, receives the next amount of shares, the 3rd umiaq and so on for each and every crew. Every crew has shares in that whale in the order in which they reach that whale.


The crew of the successful captain, donates a small portion of thier shares to that 1st time captain. so that he does have some shares of his whale.

guess what. ?? I even received shares from that whale for all the work I did as part of the crew I was assigned to.. But, what ? where am I going to put all of this

I call Joe Oktollik over.. Joe, all of this is yours, I don't want it. I have no room to store all of this.. It is all yours, for a bag of M&M's and a hershey bar !!

He agreed ! whew !


All night long these workers work dividing up and cutting that whale into shares for everyone in the village, Meanwhile back in the village, people are handing out small shares for each household in the entire village.

This is an incredibly team oriented village, a close knit community, that is just so fantastick to share in and be one with these people.


I seem to provide much entertainment for these people with my stupidity!
Hey ! I am a city boy from Boston, I don't know squat about "country or rural type living. I do learn my lessons .. .. the hard way, and usually in strange ways that no one would ever expect.

Such was the case one day, a wet day, and we had moved into Dorcus and "em's" old house. We had to get the heat on. I had to chop wood for the woodstove. all of the wood I had was wet ! soaked through and through, that is not a problem, I know what to do to get this fire going, all I have to do is to split this huge log I have outside the house. It was only about 3 foot long. and about a foot in diameter.

I never knew you split wood length wise..I have never had that opportunity to watch and learn how this is done.. simple task eh? Well I was doing it the way I have always seen on t.v. ha ha ha - watching cartoons and such. I was cutting a huge V in this log.. first one side and then the other side. trying to get this log chopped into two large pieces.

I was just about through this log, very wet water logged saturated log or piece of wood. I almost have it and I came down on that piece of wood with all my might with this axe I am using.. furp.. not quite. almost.. I am going to give it one last shot with all my might. I grabbed the axe handle just a little further down and went into the swing delivery. I went high up on my toes to get all the momentum I was capable of and I swung with all my might. that axe came down on the wood and 1/2 inch from the wood the axe suddently stopped and sprang back and hit ne in the head just above my right eye and smacked me so good and hard I cracked the axe handle.. stupid me. caught the clothes line above me and I never noticed. SMACK I went down hard, I managed to crawl over to the door to the house and fell inside with blood coming out from over my eye above the eyebrow.

Screams erupted from the many female visitors inside my house and the clinic was called immediatly. Darlene Lane came rushing over with 4 miles of bandages. she thought I cut my leg off! The bleeding was minimal, but the job wasn't finished yet.. I took about a 1/2 dozen valerian root caps and went back outside to finish the job some 20 mintues later. but I didn't have an axe.. ha ha ha.. I was given an axe to finish the job from the neighbor next door. A DOUBLE SIDED AXE.. ha ha ha..

I would not swing that axe but held it at arms length and went .. tink.. tink.. tink..
I eventually got through that piece of wood, and successfuly got the stove fired up and working to keep the house warm. All it took was just a little sicpan a tiny bit put on that piece of wet water logged wood. The sicpan melts and coats the wood, It is that oil that burned, not the wood, That stove burned for 3 days before that wood finally dried out enough to catch fire and burn.!!

Out on the ocean ice, I would walk around and look up constantly to make sure there were no clothes lines for me to catch the axe on..I always had these people in uncontrollable fits of laughter watching this city boy, try to adapt and perform in the Arctic, simple chores, such as riding a snowmachine!!

All night long this whale is worked on. @ 4 in the morning, after working all night this image was created,


Baleen is a much sought after prize of the whale, Each lip has 300 slats or strips of baleen. Shares of this valuable material are passed out to all crews. this is worked on to produce some very amazing art including baleen baskets which are in huge demand all over the world.
Sears used to sell corsets to women in the late 1800's and early 1900s' It was used in corsets tohelp form and keep the womans shape.


Here are a few items made from the baleen of a whale.

"Hanko" - Henry Koonuk made this drawing or etching, He his perhaps the best in the village when it comes to this type of traditional art work depicting the old ways.


My son MarkAndrew made the item above a mask with the traditional "labret" as the old whaling captains used on the side of their lip(s).
Using his artistic Inupiaq imagination he designed this moving piece of Art.

The head bone is all that is left when all is finished. This is thrown back into the ocean to give thanks for the gift received and I swear there was more rejoicing over this than when thay actually caught the whale!!

Nothing is wasted from that whale, everything is eaten every scrap!! Nothing is thrown away, not even the bones, all of them are saved and used in various ways for other purposes, functions & uses!

Whaling festival comes next.. BLANKET TOSS:

This is not what you think or expect!!

Do you think that NFL football is tough ?? NO! NFL football has rules, Blanket toss has no rules, the players : ? The oldest women in the village compete!

diving, running, jumping, crashing into the ground head first to grab that prize. These are 80 & 90 year old women running like they were in their teens once again.!!


Blanket toss, is one of the main highlights of the 3 day festival in Pt. Hope

Quaqaruq is the Inupiaq name for Whaling Festival in Pt. Hope, Blanket Toss is Nalakutaq, In Barrow they do not refer to whaling festival as Quaqaruq, It is just referred to as Nalakutaq !

Edited by Majik_Imaje on Feb 13, 2008 at 09:46 PM GMT

Edited by Majik_Imaje on Feb 13, 2008 at 09:51 PM GMT (Reason: broken links)

Edited on Feb 14, 2008 at 06:51 AM

Feb 12, 2008 at 08:03 PM
Bill Gass
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p.2 #15 · p.2 #15 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Dam this is kool. Keep going. Pictures and narrations are excellent. Would love to spend a year or so there.


Feb 12, 2008 at 08:12 PM
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p.2 #16 · p.2 #16 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Well time for a little Eskimo humor,

what do you get, when you put 29 Eskimo women into one room ?

Feb 12, 2008 at 09:42 PM
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p.2 #17 · p.2 #17 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Howdy from Juneau!

Thanks for sharing this fascinating collection of photos and stories and insights!

I'd love to come up and experience the Whale Festival. Are the dates for 2008 set yet? A quick search of the net didn't yield any results. With luck, I could combine a trip to Point Hope with a stop in Nome - one of my favorite places in Alaska so far (but still exploring!).

Cheers and thanks!

Oh, and as for your riddle, my guess is: all the single eskimo women in and around Point Hope

Feb 12, 2008 at 11:43 PM
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p.2 #18 · p.2 #18 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Whaling festival is held each and every June, in Pt. Hope and in Barrow.

IF & ONLY IF; The whaling crews, captain(s) have been successful.

Barrow is always successful, they do things much differently up here.

Pt.Hope is the only village that still does it all, the old traditional way.

the answer to the riddle, What do you get when you put 29 Eskim women into one room: ?

Ans: " A full set of .. .. teeth !

The date for whaling festival is set by the Captain that harvests the first whale (Pt. Hope) as far as Barrow is concerned, That date is unknown to me at this time. But I will post info as needed / wanted.
2008 two whales were received this year. The first one by Elijah Attannganna's crew. June 15-17 hurry for the time of yur life.
both festival sites in Point Hope will be active this year. Two different clans received whales. The other whale was received by Rex Rock !

In Barrow, each captain sets the date for his festival, But be assured Barrow is a happening place with most of the month engaged in festivities and tons of food, games, blanket toss, dancing and so much more. Last week of June for 2008 in Barrow ! they received 7 whales if I am not mistaken.

Each village has its own ways, dialect and such, although the dialects are different in all the villages most of the words are easily understood by all.

From Anchorage to Kotzebue to Barrow and all the villages between, when I speak Inupiaq, they always understand me, but they always say " WHAT ??" (they want to hear me say it again) .. where did you learn to speak like that ?? Boston,... we all speak like that !!

Laughter is always my aim, when speaking with people, I enjoy laughing and having a fun time, if possible.

Edited by Majik_Imaje on Jun 12, 2008 at 02:24 AM GMT

Edited on Jun 12, 2008 at 11:24 AM

Feb 13, 2008 at 12:25 AM
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p.2 #19 · p.2 #19 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Thanks a ton for the info! I'd certainly be interested in learning the dates for Pt. Hope and I'll keep my eyes and ears open for info on Barrow as well.

"A full set of teeth" - yikes! :-)

Your Boston accented Inupiaq story hits home with me. In the 80's I spent some time in Eastern Europe, behind what was still the Iron Curtain. I got along by speaking German I learned in the US and mostly Vienna. Nobody could figure out where I came from so I pretended to be from the southern part of East Germany and learned that if I barked orders at people, nobody would question me and I'd get the Eastern Block menus and prices and rooms and service reserved for fellow East Block citizens (the fact that I was wearing western clothes also helped give people the impression I was somehow an important East German!). I lived very well very inexpensively while I was there just because I spoke a very funky version of German!


Feb 13, 2008 at 06:28 PM
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p.2 #20 · p.2 #20 · High in the Arctic .. .. Eskimo !

Majik, if you don't mind me asking, can you give a bit of history/timeline as to how this photographic work came to be?

You were asked to come over and shoot? Returned home, revisited for more photography and decided to stay? If it's not to personal/private to ask, can you share the outline of your own personal history with Point Hope/Home?

Feb 14, 2008 at 10:57 AM
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