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Children.. chasing a bowhead whale
Posted By: Majik_Imaje, 03-09-2008, 02:53 AM

that is exactly what these children are doing, they are pretending to chase that whale.

It is 9:00 a.m. Easter sunday 30 below zero .. as I am walknig past some houses in the village, I hear some shildren screaming and making a lot of noise. I hear the words . "Killimaq, Killamaq (hurry up) - Agviq (whale) . Of course these children are just pretending.

They are copying their parents or mimicking them in what they do.. for real.. !

Notice the "sled" under their "boat" there is a reason for that. they are doing everything they know their parents do for real.

Now we are 7 miles out on the ocean ice pack on the frozen Chukchi Sea in the Bering Strait of upper Alaska 200 miles above the Arctic circle.

Here are their parents doing the same thing, taking a skin boat (umiaq) down to the lead opening, mounted on a sled to protect these skins that are all hand sewn using dental floss.

These are the people of Point Hope Alaska, The oldest continually inhabited settlement or village in all of North America. Life can accurately be traced back some 3,000 years to this one spot of land.

Point Hope is a tiny whaling community of 800 + Inupiaq Eskimo's whose whole life revolves around the mighty Bowhead whale.

come along and enjoy the ride as we head out to the ocean ice to see what these people go through just to eat !!! Imagine chopping a trail for miles cutting a trail through the ocean ice to move equipment and supllies for 800 people that live out here for two months.. just to gather food . No one gets any pay for this.. .. the only reward is that you get to eat !!

Imagine sleeping outside @ temps of 50 below zero.. .. for two months with no tents.!

This is home for the next two months. right here. 24 / 7 home sweet frozen home.
This is a typical whaling camp many miles out on the ocean ice. This image was created at midnight in mid May.

Come along for a journey that will amaze you and leave you speechless, with spell binding text and the most amazing stories you have ever heard!

Lets go: out to the ocean ice. from the comfort of your home or office. the temp is 50 below zero.
18 whaling captains and their crews are spaced out, some 1/2 - 3/4 of a mile apart from each other. hidden in the ocean ice.. waiting,.. ..

The women are 1/2 of a mile behind these hunters on much safer ice. this is where they do all of the chores associated with whaling namely cooking for the Captain, his 8 hunters, a boyer and 3-5 women that do all of the hard work of cooking for all these people 3 - 5 times each day for the next two months out here in the middle of frozen no where.

Last edited by Majik_Imaje; 03-10-2008 at 02:43 AM. Reason: spelling
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03-10-2008, 07:33 AM   #16
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This is an awesome series. Beautiful images of a place not seen by many. Great stories and narrative. What an adventure. Seems down right spring like in comparison here. Thanks for sharing this with us.

03-11-2008, 01:11 AM   #17
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If I type in the word IGLOO no doubt you have heard that word, but do you know what an IGLOO IS ? I sincerly doubt that very much, you think an IGLOO is built out of snow or ice.. that is a myth ! that simply is not true, NOT FOR ALASKA EVER!

First of all, in the Inupiaq language there are no O's or E's. Therefore the correct spelling of THAT WORD is Iglu

Iglu = one dwelling place.

Iglut = two dwelling places.

Igluk = three or more dwellings.

ever since the begining of time thousands of years ago, The Inupiaq people have always constructed an iglu out of whale bones and sod ! These ancient ruins are all over the place and still visible here today. and in many villages. From Kotzebue just over the Arctic circle clear up to Barrow and beyond, Kaktovik

This is an Iglu, this broken down "condo" once had electricity running to it. The service drop is on the left hand side. one of the porclean insulators is still visible.

When covered with snow, the inside of these dwellings were quite protected from
the elements of the constant never ending strong Arctic winds.

As you can easily see, there is quite a bit of room in some of these old units. Some of them were very long with rooms off to the side. Large families lived in these dwellings for 2,600 years and some of the old ancient ruins are still visible here today as the wind and erosion, uncovers earth and sod to display the ancient bones dug deep into the permafrost many thousands of years ago!

All over the OLD TOWN SITE, ruins are still visible and more are becoming visible each year, The village of Point Hope had to be moved 2.5 miles south in the late 70's due to flooding. That is still a major problem today, we are only about 12 feet above sea level, one huge wave and we are all fish food!

Bones are everywhere, and they have significant meanings and uses !

and of course.. .. stories !

Bones.. .. .. what is there to say about .. "bones" ?

Well usually a subject not many would find interesting, except up here, because of the "varied" use of bones. A lot can be said and shown to explain many things and uses for "bones".

The whalebone graveyard has jaw bones from many whales collected over many thousands of years.

Nothing is ever wasted by the Inupiaq peoples. Jaw bones from whales mark grave sites and cermonial festival sites.

The last chief of Point Hope (1920s era) is buried here. Atangorak.

The whale bone graveyard is 1 mile away in the distance, yes it is that far away from this, grave which as you notice, for some reason is not among the people of Point Hope. He was not considered a nice person. He had six wives and took another man's wife for his # 7 th wife. He was murdered shortly there after. all of his six wives are buried here also !

Jaw bones from a whale of that whaling captain are always used to mark their grave sites with the biggest whale that captain has ever "received".

Kamaktoaq is a cermonial festival site used once a year @ whaling festival which is held each June, if we have been successful in receiving a whale.
Point Hope used to have more than 20 clans, before the whaling companies arrived here. Now we have just two clans left. Kamaktoaq & Unisigsicauq.

03-11-2008, 05:02 AM   #18
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Remarkable photojournalism. thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures and putting them into context. what wonderful people.
03-11-2008, 07:27 AM   #19
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I was happy just to seee kids outside playing in the snow like I used to when I was a kid, playing pretend. But to have my eyes opened up to a whole new world with your photography and words, that was awesome. Thanks.

03-11-2008, 08:38 PM   #20
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Polar bears - Nanauk !

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

Noonuk of the North was a movie long ago, more of fiction than what is real, the ironic part was the person in that movie was killed an eaten by a polar bear in real life.

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.!!

Actually, they caught three brown bears in two days.

Grrr... Grrr.. you ain't so tough !! Grrr.. Grrr.

These dogs just have to show how tough they are, when a dead animal is hung or brought into the village.

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 !!
03-13-2008, 07:04 PM   #21
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Back to the ocean ice :

back out on the ocean ice.. these tents have to be moved each week because of the heat from the wood stove will cause the plly wood to sink down deep into the ice.. time to move and set up a new camp site at or very near the same location.

fIRST THING that must be done, is get some new water for cleaning & washing. this is always done using snow. But which "type" of snow. In the U.S. we have one word, for that white stuff, that falls out of the sky landing on the ground. "Snow"! But in the Inupiaq language, that word is not enough. There are many different types of snow and as such in this world, you need to know exactly which type of snow your talking about. up here, this is very important.
There are over 100 words in Inupiaq, to describe this white stuff ! There is also special methods to use to get "clean snow" for washing dishes and cleaning, not any type snow will do. it must be very find this type snow. you must walk and find some very hard snow and knock of the top crust, then down deep is your clean snow.

When placed into this pot. we do not want to waste time, melting it several times. Melting it once is what we need.So to accomplish this. the snow has to be compressed as much as possible. A big pot of snow does not equal that much useable water to work with. This chore is done, all day long constantly we need much water for washing dishes, and cleaning other items.

Once the tent is all set back up. we need water immediately. but first the new floor must be put down. four sheets of plywood at least are used and they must be washed first before putting them into place.

A ten foot sled is against the wall, covered in caribou skins. At least 3 sleds are required for each camp. One for the hunters at the edgeof the ice.
one for the inside of the tent and one for going back and forth to town to get more supplies and equipment.

This is your arctic kitchen. miles out on the ocean ice pack for 8 weeks !!!

Time to cook for 15 people in here.

these people laugh and have so much fun, even in the most difficult of conditions

I was a boyer on the Oktolliks crew for three years. I was amazed and exhausted from all the work that had to be done, during the night time.
and I am replacing a 3 year old or a very young boys job and responsibility ! How they do this is beyond me. I was all thumbs. There is not much room here to work with and at least two or three women are sleeping in here. Once the women are awake and they do not need a boyers help any longer, that boyer is allowed to go to sleep at the back of the tent on the left side. It was just such a morning when I was told.. go to sleep. when I woke up some 3 -4 hours later. my eyes focused on the back of that tent wall. all I could see was red blood all over that canvas. blink blink I wasn't sure what I was looking at but it was blood. I moved my hands in front of my face and their was blood all over them. I bolted straight up sitting in that area looking at my hands and grabbing my body and clothes all over the place as fast as I could, to find the area of pain. There was none. I looked over at the cooks and I ust know they could see the question marks coming out of my head floating upward. Instantly they broke into that high pitched hysterical laughter that is heard all over the place out here constantly.
Calvin was out on the ice. hunting ducks, he shot one, and it flew right into the tent and was flapping all over me while I was sleeping. I was in such a deep sleep. I never felt anything. but that story was told up and down the ice and in every village, news travels very fast up here.

Out here, thre is just one thing we cannot do without. It is in every camp site. It is mandantory out here. but it is not allowed down near the lead opening where the hunters live.

when the tent is moved, everything is broken down, the wood stove has to be off and cooled down to move.
The stove pipes must be cleaned out as the soot is thick in side. Buring wood all day long, all night long for a week, coats the inside of these pipes, with a very thick layer of this soot (pualar)

this is a very dirty job to do, but it you do this correctly, the process of using snow to clean out these pipes works perfectly in fact it is so easy to clean these, that children are given this important chore to do each week.

Just make sure your wearing "old" gloves. scoop up a pipe full of snow, and empty it out. simple as that Keep repeating this simple procedure until the snow comes out clean. then the pipes are ready to connect to the tent / stove and fire it back up again.

There she is. Cleaing stove pipes. do you recognize who that little child is ? That is Kathy Rock.. the young girl in the begining of this thread.

Here they come "ducks" what can I say about duck hunting. ha ha..(chuckle)

Two hunters were at the old town site. hunting ducks, waiting and two flew over in range of the shotguns. This is a true verifiable story. with any of these stories all you need is person's name and Point Hope Ak. 99766

that letter will reach that person. two hunters raised their rifles and one of them squeezed that trigger. One duck fell. The other duck did a nose dive straight towards that hunters house. (very few "shacks in this area) as that duck was diving towards that hunters house, he took careful aim as that duck was flying down down down. BOOM he missed. as that duck was seen climbing high back up into the sky, the hunter had just successfully shot.. his dog!

dem dux shore bee smart!!

Delicous fresh duck soup, prepared out here daily, for many weeks.

although there is a lot of work out here to do..
Children are used to accomplish some of the simple
chores. this is hard work none the less and every so often
you just gotta take a break !!

Some of the food is cooked outside if possible and always on the south side of the tent as the wind whips all over the place out here. There is only so much room inside that tent and many coleman stoves plus the wood stove are used all day long for a lot of difficult hard work.

washing dishes out here. is a huge chore also. Nothing comes easy out here.

Aquaq is getting ready to make caribou soup. tuttu is the name for caribou ("2 - 2 ")is the sound that word makes.
Caribou meat is delicious, it has no fat in it.. If you grind up 3 pounds and fry it.. when finished there is less than 1/2 teaspoon of fat. Caribou tastes much like beef, depending on how you cook it.

but it is delicious.

There is a house here in town, that always has a dozen caribou sitting on top of that small roof.

A tiny frozen fossilized "steak" in this town from the store.. is over 17 dollars. with a family of ten people it is impossible to feed that family at those outragous prices when you do not have a job.
one of the herds up here above the Arctic circle have more than 400,000 animals !!

there are less than 15,000 Inupiaq eskimos above the arctic circle.

It is 20 below zero. does she look cold ? she is.. but it is only for a very short time.. and that "tingle" on your skin is very refreshing at times when working inside the crowded tent area.

03-13-2008, 07:32 PM   #22
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I have told the story of the vitamen A toxicity of polar bear liver to people for decades and no one seems to believe it or are astonished that such an phenomenon is possible. Glad to see that my tale of woe is seconded. I must admit that I did not know that all bears are southpaws. Hmmmm.... another dubiously true tidbit to offer up at the next cocktail party


03-13-2008, 07:35 PM   #23
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What a facinating thread. I can't wait to see and read more.
03-13-2008, 08:18 PM   #24
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ROFLMAO !!! well you now have a verifiable source to point to.. Admiral Perry he lost 3 members of his crew.

and I have some more recent accounts to add! Thanks for your interest in my work and photo essay.

(chuckle) I have so many people do the same thing to me also.. and when they find the info on the internet they act as through they have the proof!

One lady on one forum said to me.. Now I know your lying to us. you said it was Feb and it was light, then it got dark "and we all know there is six months light and six months darkness"

(double chuckle) !!
Many people and publishers have been after me to write a book, ha ha.. why bother! I want the movie !! and the only person I know of that could possibly play my part, with my sarcasim humor and wit, would be George Carlin !

It is just astounding how people who have never been here, will make such brash bold statments !

Now let me bust one of the biggest myths that exist, about Alaska & the Inupiat Eskimos and the land in which they live & thrive in.

Well I have to explain this in two sections, because Point Hope is much different frm Barrow.

first lets take a much better look in the area of which I am speaking about so you can understand in a much easier way.

December is the worst month no matter which village you live in or the whole state for that matter. Dec 21st is the shortest day of the year.

So lets start there. In Barrow Novermber 17th the sun sets and goes below the horizon and it will not come back ABOVE the horizon until Jan 23rd

but we have some "light" each and every day. dusk type not very bright. and for only a very short amount of time (Dec 21) that "dusk" like sorta bright light only lasts for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, then we slowly start to pick up extra minutes every day, continuing into Jan, then the sun comes back up and only stays above thehorizon for 1 1/2 hours then down, then darkness again.

This is Barrow.Dec 21 55 below 11:30 a.m. we will have dusk type sorta bright light by 12:30 and darkness again by 2:30 perhaps.

As we move into february we are really gaining more minutes each day as in 20 minutes more sunlight each day. on into march sun is up by 8 am and sets at 5 pm now we are really gaining. mid march sunlight at 5 am - 9 pm once we hit april .. towards the end we never see darkness until the end of August. 3 1/2 months of sunlight 24 - 7

June 21st is the longest day of the year. well we have been in 24 / 7 sunlight since end of april - mid may in point hope there is that much difference between those two villages

People say I am nuts when I tell them you can see the curvature of the earth up here. you can. get out on that ice and look at the open ocean water. to your right it is higher than the lower on your left

but in the winter, we never have 3/12 months of TOTAL darkness What we have is more darkness than light for 3 1/2 months but the summers are indescribable. extemly easy to stay awake and alert for 3 days or longer and it only takes about 4 hours rest to re-charge for another 3 or more days if yu stay outside in that sunlight !!

They say we spend 1/3 of our lives asleep. Move to the Arctic and enjoy life longer and fuller !! ha ha ha ha.!!
03-13-2008, 10:05 PM   #25
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Beluga whales have been caught and divided and quickly brought back to the village for the elders as shares.
Beluga whale looks almost exactly like a dolphin. They are (maktauk) (muck tock) instead of Maktak. (muck tuck)

Fresh beluga is delicious when boiled and eaten with "mustard" ! It is grey in color and I enjoy beluga much more so than whale. Although I am from back east in Boston I still miss the food from back east.! Pizza !, fried clams and steamers and lobster.!

Alaska King Crab is a delicacy and is much sought after but visitors. It is one of the main foods that tourists crave. Salmon, King crab, are just two of the food items tourists search for when arriving in Anchorage.

1 A.M. in the morning and this crew is ready to head out. Something seems to be happening and more and more umiaqs are leaving the camps to head out south.

I am not aware of what is going on, I just notice that people are leaving.

and a lot of conversation is going on that I am not understanding

A world of ice, in all directions, except for the narrow lead opening which grows and opens wider and sometimes closes when that wind shifts.

Twenty-Four hours a day, sitting, watching, looking, waiting, days on end, NO SLEEP. The wind is constant, it is strong, it is cold, each "" day "" is the same. Whcih day of which week of which month is irrelevant, it doesn't matter, nothing matters except to accomplish the work, to obtain FOOD...

no pay... no unemployment.. .. no funds.. .. no sponsers.. .. .. it takes a whole year, just to get "ready" to begin!! This hunt is extremly hard work in the worst conditions imagineable. It was impossible to capture images in "bad" weather, nothing but a white horizontal snow wall moving past you. In white out conditions you cannot see but a foot or so in front of you.. if that .

NOW. with some modern technologies we can communicate along that vast ten mile or so "gaunlet" of whaling captains & crews that are "hidden" behind & in the ice.

Not only do the captains at the edge of the ice have C.B. radios & VHF radios, the tent areas and the homes back in the village can all stay in touch with each other over many different channels.. Ch68 for VHF and CH2 for C.B. and the static is always heard, and adjusted, and then the familiar voice comes over and is heard in every camp and home throughout the village.. .. .. Can You hear me now ?

When a whale has been caught, a FLAG IS put up so other crews can see where EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY must converge to the help organize the enormous work that lies ahead. NO SLEEP for days & days, !!!
the hunters are at the ready constanly, in any weather, the sun provides the power to keep going, on and on and on!!
Everything is white and blinding, constantly!

One by one, umiaqs and crews are taking off from the ocean ice. Something is going on, I guess this is serious, so I head, to see which crew I can come upon that is close to my area.

This is Ernie Frankson's crew, casting off, getting ready to wait for a whale, the time has come, after six long weeks of sitting and waiting, and watching in this frozen cold windy climate of ice and brilliant sun. a cloudy day is always a relief for me.

Each and every crew I reach is just leaving as I approach them. whew I am out of breath, walking carrying all of this camera and tripod. fully dressed I have over 38 pockets !!! ha ha.. !! Having a simple system for placing items in my pocket(s) was always a very disclipined procedure, because it is so easy to loose things that can't be found with that many pockets, just to discover at a much later time, oh, there it is!
Out here on the ice, I was a dumb as could be. simple obvious things such as drinking water was a complete mystery to me. Where is all this delicious fresh drinking water coming from ??? I just wasn't observent enough to notice in the begining.
Take any large piece of ice and stand it up. brush all the snow off the top and most of the sides. We gotta take the salt out of the ice, out here in the middle of frozen no where. We use the sun for that, and or sand! We wait.. ... .. and the sun beats down on that ice and the ice begins to become "clear" at the top. Wait and the ice will become clearer and clearer going down into the ice deeper and deeper. NOw walk over to that ice with your Kettle and chip the ice horizontally and fill your kettle with the most delicious drinking water you have ever tasted !!!

Floyd Oktollik is looking back at me, and I know exactly what he is thinking! "what is that dumb city boy from Boston going to do next"?
when they left I walked over to that calm spot to the right of the umiaq and stuck the tips of my bunny boots over the edge just about 2 inches and stood tall, My camera strap is abound my neck, I moved my hands and arms behind me and stodd just a little bit taller.. hey look at me.. this is so kewl. and I am here absolutly alone, everyone is gone, The women are all behind me 3/4 of a mile or closer. but for all practical purposes I am here alone. Six weeks out here, I am getting very used to it. I am somewhat cold but comfurtable. I gaze down at that water that is just like black glass. so calm like a mirror, not the slightest movement at all. I am starring at that one area, it is black glass.. so black, so calm, not even the slighest ripple of movement of water at all.. blink blink and ther is a huge hole in the water ? hmm?? I could have easily reaced over and stuck my foot right down into that huge hole. a big bowling ball would have fit in with room to "spare" !(pun intended).

There was absolutly no warning whatso ever. WHOOOOOSSSSSSHHHHHH!!!!
OMG. what a stink.. 5,000 gallons of "whale-aid' is raining down me.. oh what a stink..OMG. gag. running for my life to get the heck out of there and I am in the middle of a rainstorm of stink and yuk all over me!!! I am soaking wet all over, and I can't breathe because of this gosh awful smell of yuk.. I am running and I know what is about to happen.. Ice is forming all over me, I can hear it craking and falling and every place on me that is "dripable" if freezing and I approach the nearest camp all out of breath.. huffing and puffing and gaging and choking.

when them women looked up and saw me they instantly knew what had happend and they fall over into hysterical fits of uncontrollable laughter, NO STAY AWAY.. DON'T COME NEAR US. GET back.. I tried to hand my camera over to one of the women to take a photo of me.. NO STAY BACK AND THEY ran into the tent.. STAY OUT.. GET BACK.. AND I could hear the high srhill of laughter as they threw out two towels for me to clean up! gosh that stink I will never forget. but I do want to know.. I want to ask two questions.. and some day I want the answer.
who? beside them women ... who laughed the hardest and the loudest.. that whale or the "persona" that sent it !!!!!!!
JONAH had his experience with a beast from the sea and it is written in a book called the bible.
I have had my true experience with a whale, and it is written on this web site and many others!!

BUT, ..I truely want to know.. whose idea was that ??.. that was tooo well precisesly and prefectloy executed with no knowledge of what was about to happen. Yes whales have a great sense of humor.! I only wish I had a photograph to show all the ice I was encase in !!! cracking all over my parky and everyting, I was a mess! cold and it stunk !!

Some of these same women still today, after all of those years.. just fall into fits of laughter when they see me about the village.!!!

IRMA OKTOLLIK explians to me the way of the whale. We are one with that whale.

It is impossible for us to "chase" a whale in that small umiaq, that whale can swim very fast, and deep, One flip of the tail or the flippers and the crew is gone, that does not happen. those whales know we are in the water, they are very smart.
Whales can see, they can hear.. .. and they can smell. whales are like little children, some are shy and timid, some like to play hide & seek, and some are pround and show off and boastfull, making a big show of their gift to us.

We wait... .. .. for that whale to give itself over to the captain of its choice.!!! This is something the world does not know. A whale will always match the personality of the captain that it gives itslef over to, no matter which year it is, and so does the weather. !! Each captain has his own personalilty & the whale will always match that captains personality no matter which year it is,,, t hat whale will always do the same thing, for that captain each and every year!

Some captains will never receive a whale because of their (bad) personality. Whales some how know this and respond accordingly.

WAIT & WATCH Irma said to me, laughing, she can see the look on my face, she knows I dont believe what she is saying, (we know better.. right??) Well . I don't know how to explian this. just to repeat what Irma said, using her exact words. I still don't understand all of this, but I am amazed beyond what words can ever express on how these people truely are one with nature and the animals.

Wait & watch Irma said to me. This year it is a very warm year ( it was 25 below) I dont consider that very warm at all, to me it is freezing indeed. Irma laughs. This is Joes weather. she added. laughing, watch, When Joe receives a whale it is all over very quickly she said. he will receive that whale near the edge of the ice.
but she added (laughing) when he harpoons that whale, It will die and give up quiclly, still & dead. The wind will come screaming in at over 100 miles an hour and the temperature will drop by 100 degrees as well. you better be prepared she said and laughed. Ididn't believe one word of it I have to admit, it all sounded preposterous to me.
So with much skeptisim I moved my camera and tripod over to Joes crew up high above him and behind him on the huge ice pressure ridges.
A very close personal friend of mine frmo Boston, Brad Parker came up to visit and view this intriguing experience. We were sitting up there, playing chess, looking at the board. we didnot notice or hear Joe's crew slip silently into the water, we were concentrating on the board and we hear BOOM (exploding harpoon). I look up to see a dead whale about 30 foot long beside Joes Umiaq, as I got up that wind came screaming in, the temperature was oh so cold and bitter and Joe was standing up .. into the wind, arms outstretched with a smile on his face.
HOw did that woman know, and explain everytihng so perfectly, two weeks before it ever happened I will never know or understand how she called it all so perfectlly!!

A whale giving itself over to the captain, and the actions of the whale will always be the same no matter which year it is.
I have been on 5 sacred whale hunts, each of the five years,
one whale
two whales
one whale
two whales
four whales

last year no whales, this year 3 whales

that is not much food for a community of this size and getting bigger each year.

There are many things that happen up there that just do not make sense to me!
If you have an explanation that makes any kind of sense please tell me, because I am totaly clueless how some of these skills are ever explained. One captain has a personality that is hidden.. his whale will always hide under the ice and he has to use his nose to find it.. !!! now how it is ever possible to smell through ice ten feet thick is way beyond my comprehension or understanding!!

Last edited by Majik_Imaje; 03-13-2008 at 10:21 PM.
03-13-2008, 10:11 PM   #26
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Thankyou Majik, your pictorial essay and tour into the lives of these people is very much appreciated. Truly fascinating and highly informative.

Please also thank the families for allowing this to be photographed and shared with so many.

Sincere Thanks,
03-15-2008, 05:44 AM   #27
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I sincerly thank you all

I am speechless, thank you all, for such wonderful words of praise. I have done my job well to deserve such kind comments about my work.

There is so much more to follow, currently we are about 1/3 into this thread, there is so much more to follow.

Hi honey , I 'm home.. gosh that smells good,.. .. what's for dinner tonight hon ??

03-23-2008, 06:59 AM   #28
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A Little "humor" from 3D Studio Max

my favorite program to play and create .

sorry, but I just couldn't resist to throw in a "commercial"

anything you can possibly think of, can be created and animated !

80% of todays games are made using this fantastick program

Autodesk offers a 30 day free trial download.
03-23-2008, 07:36 AM   #29
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What a great series of images, and great storytellin too, Majik... great sense of humour. It's wonderful to see how other folks live. I'm showing this to my friends... Excellent work mate!

Last edited by KrisK10D; 03-23-2008 at 07:51 AM.
03-23-2008, 08:05 AM   #30
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Thank you "mate" !

I have many more pages of photograhs and spell binding stories that will keep you glued to this thread for over two hours, when it is finally finished !!

so stay tuned, check back often.

a whole new arctic forum is in the works which will allow you to interact with all villages and the people and so much more.

We need people to sign up. & wait as the Inupiaq Eskimos from all over Alaska will fill this forum with the most interesting discussion groups on the internet

please join


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