Whaling: Inuit and Whale Essay

Submitted By jessicabyrd
Words: 1610
Pages: 7

Abstract

Whaling in Alaska has gone on for thousands of years. It is a tradition and way of life for the native people of Alaska. The Inupiat Eskimos of Alaska hunt whale because is one of their main resources for food. The way the Eskimos hunt the whale is in a traditional manner. When they bring a whale in the whole community gets together to help cut up the meat and store it for the long winter a head. The Eskimos share the meat with everyone in the community and in other villages as well. There are 11 villages in Alaska that hunt the grey whale. These 11 villages share a quota of the amount of whale there are allowed to strike. We need to stop foreign countries’ merciless slaughter of these animals; it’s wasteful and inhumane. Keywords: Grey whales, Narwhales, AEWC, IWC Whaling in Alaska has been a tradition for the Alaska Eskimos for thousands of years. Whaling is a huge part of the Eskimos culture and way of life because whale is a major resource for food in these villages. The Eskimos can use almost every part of the whale, so nothing will go to waste. Whale meat is very high in nutrients such as iron, niacin, protein, and the skin is very high in calcium. The bones of the whale are used for housing equipment and the baleen is used to insulate boots. The stomach of the whale is used to make drums for traditional gatherings to sing songs about the whales. When the whaling season starts the Eskimos have a celebration where they play games, dance, and have the traditional blanket tosses for the kids. As part of the celebration, they eat whale meat for up to 5 days.

Whaling is very huge for the Alaskan Eskimo community as a whole. Everyone in the community gets together to help out with anything they can. When a whale is caught the whole community goes out to pull the whale in. Then the whale is cut up into pieces and given out to everyone in the community. Villages that reach their quota during the whaling season give meat to struggling villages that did not catch enough to feed everyone. The Eskimo tribes are big on family and are all about sharing with each other. Arnold Brower Jr. says, “when a caption and his crew catch a whale they do not say to the rest of the community, ‘here is our whale, come and give us money and we will give you a small bit of it’. No. The caption shares his whale with everyone.”

The traditional way to kill a grey whale is to go out to the edge of the bay where the whale is migrating through to find the whales. They bring a boat made of sealskins and a harpoon and they wait until they see the whale blow air out of its blowhole. They then throw the harpoon that is attached to a long card made of intestines. After following the whale and sticking it with several harpoons, the whale eventually dies and floats to the surface. It takes many boats and men to drag the floating corpse to the village shores, once they get the whale to the shores all of the crew says a prayer for the whale as thanks for giving itself to them. The whole community is waiting to assist them in pulling the whale out of the water.

These days, it seems like the natives have been becoming less traditional in their ways. As William Yardley says, “Barrow, Alaska, the ancient whale hunt here is not so ancient anymore.” Tradition is one of the reasons why they get to hunt whale and because it was a part of their main resource of food. Now they have other resources but it seems like they still need the whale meat, just not as much as they did back in the day. Now they have grocery stores, restaurants, and are getting money from the pipeline operations. When hunting whales in today’s society, everything has changed. The Eskimos are using speedboats, exploding harpoons, and mechanical forklifts. Using all of this equipment makes it inhumane to the whales. It is much easer for them to just throw an exploding harpoon than to have to have the skill, patience, and knowledge that used to be passed down from…