High in the Arctic . . Eskimo !

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Hello, My name is David, I live in a tiny whaling village 200 miles above the Arctic circle in a village of only 750 Inupiaq Eskimos. 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.

I am originally from Boston Mass. I moved to Alaska to work on the Trans - Alaska Pipeline in 1977. I fell in love with the Arctic and Alaska needless to say, when I had to return to Boston, I cried, I didn't want to leave, In 1981 I returned to Alaska. I was working in Anchorage as an electrican in the I.B.E.W , I was sent to this village for just three weeks, when the job finished, I quit the company and stayed, that was 27 years ago. I am still here.

Come learn from the comfort of your home or office the Eskimo way of living, High in the Arctic, Eskimo!



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Aaka & Aapa - Grandmother & Grandfather - Lilly & Donald Oktollik

Donald was a Whaling Captain and an Episcopal minister, in his day.

Lets go out to the ocean ice, Currently at this very moment over 600 people are camped 7 miles out on the Chukchi Sea in the Bering Strait of upper Alaska.
Hundreds of people are involved blazing a traill with pick's axe's all types of tools to manually smoooth out a way to transport all the equipment and supplies out to the edge of the ice where the lead opens for the animals to migrate.

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This seven mile journey will take many hours, it is a very rough ride, and I was convinced beyond all shadow of doubt that all the lenses would be cracked from the constant falling and bashing of the sled against the ocean ice when we went over little hills. the snow mobile would go over smoothly but the sled would rise as high as four feet in the air at times and come crashing down.

This is a typical whaling camp 7 miles out it is mid may and this is midnight. By the end of June, 12 noon is the same as 12 midnight! It will not get dark again till the end of August.

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This is home, for the next two months, We hunt, sleep , eat, right here, 24/7 no matter what the weather, except if the wind shifts, which it often does, but generally we have a very strong wind needed to crack that ice open for the animals to pass through, we are here before they arrive and we wait, sometimes weeks, we are ready. We sleep outside by the edge of the ice, no tents, 30 - 60 below zero with vicious winds non -stop.

Due to the 24 hour constant sunlight and the incredibly bright reflections all around, we become solar powered and can easily stay awake and alert for 3 days or longer. When your tired, just sit down on that sled that is covered with caribou skins and lean back, close your eyes and rest, in just a few hours time, you will be all charged up again for another 3 days or longer.

this is the most exciting time of the year. The suspense is all over the place and everyone is acting like it is The night before Christmas !


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This is how we go food shopping! Each whaling crew has 8 hunters, one boyer, and 3-5 women in the back. 1/2 3/4 a mile back from the lead opening on much safer ice. The women do all the cooking in the tents. they have a boyer to help them with other chores. He stays in the tent area and works most of the day.
At night when the women go to sleep, He is alone, all night long, by himself, keeping the home made wood stove fired up just right, He has to chop wood, keep that fire going all night long, hand him your lighter, or matches, he will need them, He must use "sicpan" to help wet wood burn, this is extremely flammable seal oil, his other duties include melting snow for cleaning cups, thermoses and melting ice for delicous fresh drinking water to make coffee, tea, and hot chocolate and fill those thermoses and bring them down to the lead opening. lHe is armed with many rifles, and must keep a viglant eye on the wind and keep watching and checking for cracks in the ice, Anything can happen out here.
your in good hands, lie down and go to sleep, He will make sure everything is ok.. hand him that lighter and matches and go to sleep This boyer, is only 3 years old !

I am shocked, astonished at what I see happening out here. 3 years old and that kind of responsiblility ? go figure ! I have seen many boyers this young! and it is just the most amazing thing, to see these childlike grownups working !

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When the cooks wake up in the moring, he has coffee, tea, all ready for them! all dishes are cleaned and ready to go for aonther busy day, He is now allowed to go to sleep in the tent, iagainst the back wall in the left corner. lhe will be allowed to sleep about 4-5 hours then he is up again helping the women ..

How do you suppose we get delicious fresh drinking water way out here in the middle of frozen no where, full of salt water and frozen ocean ice.? We melt snow for washing dishes and such. but for cooking and drinking we want / need delicious fresh drinking water.

We use Eskimo Technology to get the salt out of the frozen ice. how ? any ideas ?

I will be back for more, soon after "dinner" burp !

http://majikimaje.com/dinner123.jpg
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Very nice photos and the explanations are great. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to seeing what else you've done.
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Wow - love the photos and the descriptions you gave. It's amazing that you can go for three days with only a few hours sleep. The little boyer is a far cry from our children here.
  • Majik_Imaje
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This is a different planet we live on! the ICE is our home. whaling is what we live for. It takes a whole year to prepare for this event. New skins have to be put on some of the umiaqs, Six bearded seal skins that are tough, hand sewn with a zig zag type water tight stitch using dental floss. Mint or Regular.

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Even the children mimick their parents when playing out, notice that the "boat' they are using is mounted on a sled, just like their parents do!

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The Bravest Man I have ever met was Wally Tingook.

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When the sky is over cast, cloudy and such, it is very difficult to see changes in the ocean ice as your cruising along.l such was the case one day when Wally went looking to hunt for Seal. He didn't see the wall of ice and slammed into it at a very high rate of speed. The windshield severed his entire nose. The machine is a mess, He is bleeding, nose lying on the ground, he pickes it up and places it inside snow/ ice make a snowball to carry it in. Somehow someway he got that machine worling again and hobbled back to the village. when he entered the small clinic here in town, the two eskimo health aides started to scream and run in circles in total chaos trying to figure out what to do, as Wally was coered in blood with snowball packed nose in his hand. As the women continued to scream in horror at his appearance. Wally yelled.. HOLD THE MIRROR!.. and with needle and dental floss he sewd it on right there, by himself with no medicaton.

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There are many strange and brave tales up here, Just recently two weeks ago

We had to leave and evacuate the ocean ice due to the wind shift to strong south wind, From here in the village we can tell, when the lead is open again, just by looking at the sky. The ice always makes the bottom of the clouds.. white. when there is open water 7 miles out, you can easily see it by looking at the clouds, they will show you exactlly where the lead is open and where, the clouds are dark at the bottom because there is no reflection from the ice.

It was such a day when Robert Kingik was taking Luke's new snowmachie back down to the camp site 7 miles out, he had a sled with Erin Tyler riding on it, Erin is 11 years old, Robert is 25.

Over cast day and new snow on the trail. makes it very difficult to see 'changes" in the ice, the ocean was slush, Robert never saw that he was near the edge, he drove right into the ocean, as the snowmoble sunk into the slush ice water, the passenger on the sled, Erin Tyler age 11, he quicklyl rolled off the sled, onto safe ice, and he saw Robert in the ocean going down, struggling, "I know I am going to die today he yelled to Erin, (with all these clothes on, you sink fast) Robert went down and struggled to get back up to grab the ice, but he couldn't get up high enough, he started to go down again and screamed at Erin... see you in heaven ... or in hell, and he went down. LIttle Erin reached into the slush and grabbed Robert by the hair and somehw got him back up onto the ocean ice.

NOW time is very precious, there is only one thing to do and it has to be done quickly, and with sharp knives.. Cut every sticth of clothing off Robert, leaving him stark naked standing there..

Now Erin takes off his hat and wipes Robert down removing all heavy water and slush that is on him.
Once he is wiped down, the "beaver" hat is shaken and all water comes off that hat and it is dry, Robert now puts Erins hat on, Now Erin can take off his parky and put that and skipants on Robert and run.. or get a vehicle but they are all alone, so they have to run for a couple of miles to the nearest camp site. robert missed a turn in the trail due to new snow.!

This is life in the Arctic. anything can happen, at any time, Everyone has a "snowmachie" story to tell, bizarre things that have happened, These, people put 60,000 miles on one of these machines in less than a year easily !

Everyone agrees, I have, hands down, the best snowmachine story ever told, with 5 witness'.
YOU WILL never, ever believe this story, (later).

Back out on the ocean ice.

Two teenage girlfriends pose for me wearing traditional dress @ 50 below. Do they look cold ? No, Eskimo clothing is very warm, light. and quite colorful.

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In 1982 I was at the airport runway and saw this child of 3, Daisy Della Fay WowoW.

She is standing beside a 3 wheel ATV honda, and her grandfathers huge mitten is on her other side, The horizon line was removed as well as the other distracting elements to create this image.

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Out on the ocean ice, some familes stay together, but 18 whaling captains are spread out 1/2 - 3/4 a mile apart.

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We wait, watch, listen. We are here, long before the animals start to migrate, this is the eskimo way.. .. wait !

http://majikimaje.com/600/JOHNNYKa.jpg

Whales are coming !
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And I want to know, .. .. whose idea was this?! That is my first question. My second question is, who laughed, .. the hardest and loudest! I do not believe in coincidences one bit, nope, especially this true story.

http://majikimaje.com/LETSGO.JPG

Floyd Oktollik is looking back at me and smiling, I know what he is thinking. what ? is this dumb city boy from Boston going to do next!

Whales are coming and everyone is outa here. This is the last crew to leave. WowoW, I am out here, all alone, everyhone is gone, wow ! Look at all of this, here I am alone here! WowoW ! See that calm black area beside the umiaq, that is where I had walked over to, looking at the last umiaq's to disappear to the south, past the horizon. I know that the women are 1/2 mile behind me, w/ children and the boyers, so I don't feel so abandoned. I move over to the edge of that ice, looking at how calm the ocean is, just like black glass, so still, so perfect, I placed my hands, arms behiind my back, arched my back, stuck the tips of my boots over the edge about 2 inches or so, and stood tall and proud. The camera strap is around my neck, camera out in front of me. Standing tall, looking at the beauty and magnificence of the Arctic evening it is past midnight but you would think it was 2 in the afternoon.
That water never moved, not one ripple, not the slightest, I am watching it closely amazed at how STILL and perfectly like glass it appeard, then suddenly, with absolute no warning what so ever, there appeared a huge hole in the black glass stillness. it was so close, I could have easily stuck my entire leg down that hole. or a huge bowling ball, A WHALE !!! whooooooooooossssssssshhhhhhhhhh!! Holy Jet Spray ! [b]STOP

Ya know how in sports, they will pick up the gator aide and dump it over the coach ?

A huge facking whale just jet sprayed about 500 gallons up in the air and it is raining all over me as I am running, OMG,... what an absolute STENCH. and it is all over me, I am soaking wet from head to toe. DRIPPING soaking wet and I am running for my dear life, I know what is about to happen,, I am cracking, I got ice hanging all over me, as I approached the nearest camp, them women looked up and turned aruond and fell over with uncontrollable hysterical laughter, I have a habit of doing this constantly with these people, that is why Floyd was smiling so big.
They knew instantly what had happened.. ha ha ha ha.!
I have iceicles hanging all over me, my face is ice, all of me is ice, cracked and wonderful to behold, I tried to hand my camera to one of the women, she was laughing too hard and kept saying ,, keep away,, akaa.. (you stink)

The stench was the most unbelieveable stench I have ever experienced. YUK to the ninth power and larger!

From outside I could hear the continued high pitch laughter that lasted a long long time. I wans't laughing, then
Get out of here.. they threw towels at me and would not let me into the tent.

I was cold, I got the worst unbelieveable stink/stench all over imbedded into me OMG.

Jonah had his encounter with a massive animal from the ocean, and it is written in a book called the bible.

I have had my experience with a Bowhead whale and it is written here on this forum!

I never ever, went near the edge of the ice again in the remaining 4 whale hunts I attended and photographed.[/b]

Let me pause here, briefly,

DANGER: Polar bear - Nanuq (Nanook of the north) Nanuq is pronouned just like that old "fake" movie Nanook of the north made decades ago.. what is so ironic is that the persons name was not really Nanook and that in real life he died by being eaten by a polar bear!

http://majikimaje.com/pbfp.jpg

Sob.. I had a very close friend in Point Lay (100 miles+ north here) Charles Stalker Jr. III He was my electrical apprentice in that village. Dec 1990 Sob.. .. A polar bear was going after his pregnant girlfriend. Chalres was only armed with a knife when he distracted that bear away from his girlfriend. He never had a chance, one swipe of the LEFT paw, literally cut him into two pieces and he was eaten. The bear was killed and his girl-friend survived that attack because of the heroism that Charles displayed.

Allan Rock was out on the ocean ice and was attacked by a polar bear. Armed with only a large knife. That bear died!

ALL bearsare left handed, they will always swing with the left paw first.

Billy weber was out on the ocean ice and a polar bear was coming after him. armed with only a .22 rifle and only one bullet left. Billly weber ran, His friends could see the predicament he was in but were too far away to help. There is only one place to shoot a polar bear, and that is in the ear. Shoot for the skull and it will bounce off his skull and the bear will get you!
Billy was running for his life, and that bear was gaining on him, while running he merely pointed that rifle back and took his last shot, Billy lived to tell about it.. that bear was that close, that Billy got him right in the ear.


These are all very true stories that anyone in Point Hope will verify.

Last week, ha ha ha... Gus Kowanna (17) bought himself a rifle that was way too powerful for him or anyone else for that matter, he was warned, don't do that Gus, and don't put a scope on it, he didn't listen. .303 weatherbee bolt action. Gus proudly went out to the ice with his new weapon, He was warned, Gus is out on the ice and went up to the tent for something, when he came out of the tent, there was a polar bear, looking at him from about 30 or 40 yards away or slightly further. Gus picked up his rifle and took careful aim and pulled the trigger, That scope punched him right in the eye and now the polar bear is coming after him, Gus loaded another bullet and took aimi and held on for dear life to that rifle.. BLAM.. that scope punched him square in the eye and he is hurting so bad, getting socked like that, he can't think of the pain he doesn't have much time left at all, carefully he loads another round and held it as tight as could be and pulled that trigger.. that bear went down and Gus got rid of that rifle. I wish I could have reached Gus to get a pic of his face. it was sure swollen. black eye real bad.. he learned his lesson, the hard way. but at least he alive.
http://majikimaje.com/TRACKS.jpg
Even after that polar bear is dead, stone cold dead, that bear can still kill that hunter or who ever opens that bear up for gutting or skinning or whatever it is called. The liver must be destroyed by fire, so that other animals will not eat it. the tubes must be carefully tied and you better know what your doing, if you get any of that juice on your skin, your dead, there is just too much vitamin A inside that bear.

In Barrow Alaska 1940's A very famous Inupiaq hunter was cleaning a polar bear and he was all but finished and his hands were cold and he cupped his hands to blow into them, he got the tinest bit of that juice on his lip.
He lived for many years and everyone in those parts is aware of him, he passed on in the late 80's I think. His skin was bleached pure white and his hair was as white as snow, he lived, and everyone is witness to this bizarre event.

Scientists are concerned about global warming and the recent amount of polar bears that show up in the water drown, dead. They figure it is because of the extended long swims from the ice pack to the next ice pack.
That is not the reason ! There seems to be a shortage of seals further north, and a polar bear will attack anything he can eat. and the biggest mistake a bear can make is to attack a sleeping walrus. A walrus likes to sleep on its back, neck up head back exposing his vital neck region, the walrus is stretched out, asleep and along comes a polar bear, hungry, he pounces on that walrus who merely lowers his tusks around the bears head and rolls over into the water and drowns the bear! The walrus always wins.

Polar bears live on the ice, they follow the ice, sometimes they miss and end up in town, we do our best to get them out of town, but when a bear is going after a child or another person, we have no choice but to take it down quick.

http://majikimaje.com/JJ.JPG
Last month a mother with 3 cubs intered town, the ending was a good one, they were successful in getting that mother out of town and back onto the ocean ice.
The most delicous meat I have ever tasted in all my life has been polar bear meat, It is jet black, grainy like an old piece of garnled wood but it is so sweet and tender, better than the best prime rib I have ever eaten, It was the only time I have ever asked for seconds and everyone all at once said NO!

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The hunter takes care of the bear, the women take care of the skin. This skin is worth over 15,000! To properly accomplish a "native" tan, without the use of chemicals, an extremelly sharp Ullu knife is needed, and many women are required to finish this in the course of an entire day.

http://majikimaje.com/nt.jpg

Sally Killigvuk (left) and Elizabeth Oviok - Postmaster (right) are using all they got with much strength to scrape the skin until it is soft and clean. There are about six women working on this and it will take them most of the entire day.

Once it is cleaned then it must be thrown into the ocean tied up of course to something solid, then it is hung up in the Arctic wind for a few months to dry out.

http://majikimaje.com/2BEARS.JPG

Well I hope you found this "bear-y" interesting !
http://majikimaje.com/beardpg.jpg

The best.. ... is yet to come.. ..! :cool:
  • SpooF
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Very cool stuff!
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I pity that bear :'(
No just joking :lol:

Awesome pictures m8,
this is really cool stuff
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keep it comming thats really great stuff i've always wanted to go to alaska
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I like these photos. They could make some good wallpapers, have you got higher resoultion images. If there is no problem can you provide a few?
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If I type in the word IGLOO I bet you think you know what that is and what that word means.

I bet your wrong.

First of all, in Alaska, above the Arctic circle since eons ago, an Iglu is not built out of snow or ice. that is a myth.
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Certain parts of Canada & Greenland use snow/ice for a dwelling place or unit.

There are no O's or E's in the Inupiaq language so the correct spelling is:

Iglu = one dwelling

Iglut = two dwellings

Igluk = three or more.

This broken down collapsed condo once had electricity running to it:)
The service drop is located on the left side stick with the old porcelean still attached.

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An Iglu is make out of whale bones and sod, since eons ago, Many of the very old ruins are still visible today, and many more are still being uncovered due to erosion and the fierce weather of the North Slope.

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As you can easily see, there is quite a large area here in the dining room of this iglu, some even have side rooms off to the side, An iglu was quite large, often holding as many as ten people or more. that seems to be the norm here in the village, Ten !

The Old Town site is now A Federally protected landmark of historical signifigence. $10,000 fine if anyone is caught digging in this area.

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any artifacts that are found here, in the old town site must be turned in to the proper authorities.

Beach combing is a big time business in the Arctic, on any beach, Clyde Harris of Kotzebue (185 miles south of here) was walking along the beach one day on his way to work, he saw something short and stubby sticking out of the mud, he kicked it and almost broke his Toe. Do you have any idea, how difficult it is, to get a tow truck up here in the Arctic ?

Clyde bent over and grabbed that short stump and tried to mive it, the earth moved ten feet away, He jumped up and ran home, (work was cancelled) he dug this monster up, A huge fossilized Mastadon Tusk, thousands of years old
He was immediately offered $15,000 for this, Clyde said No!

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Post 3+ Months Ago

Due to the width of some of the images i'm going to have to edit the posts and knock them down so they are sticking with Ozzu rules.

You can read about the inline images in the Ozzu Rules here.
  • Majik_Imaje
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so sorry .. I will adjust the images .. and it won't happen again
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It's not a problem. Thank you for the understanding.
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Blimey, a definite change from the norm; some amzing photos and info there - thanks for sharing your experiences.
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Very nice photos. All this time I always thought Eskimos were of Native American (Indian) descent but now I see they are Asian.
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Very kewl stuff thanks for the stories love them and yes I can relate to the guy and the rifle. first time shot mine it gave me black eye too learned lesson not to hold so close to eye next time lol and bang bang goes the 30-30 and wap cracks the scope on my eye and cursing and swearing came forth lol but lesson learned no problems now hehe
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OriginNO_II wrote:
Very nice photos. All this time I always thought Eskimos were of Native American (Indian) descent but now I see they are Asian.


They came over the bridge?


Great photos and great stories. I'll be awaiting the stories :). I like them, better then the ones I have :D Post more stories and photos.
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It is hyphosised that the native americas came over from asia over the land bridge that was formed in the Baring straight with Alaska and old Russia. they have another one that they say that they came in canoes and followed close to land and canoed across the short open waters.
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well I have read that they crossed the land bridge .. to Point Hope as this had an abundance of animals of all types. Some say that this is how the American Indian came to the lower 48 states.

They have extremly similar dance and music !

they did not use canoe.. they walked across. and continued to do so far into recent eras such as the 18th and early 19th centuries !

Point Hope people have many relatives in Russia.
Even today when a child is born, they have what is referred to as the "mongolian spot"
Two of my Inupiaq sons were born in Boston Mass. When my first born son was born the doctors exclaimed.. There it is.. "the Mongolion spot" which is not a spot per say but rather the entrie buttocks region is 'BLUE" !dark blue but it fades after many years. Full blooded Inupiaq have this spot with them for life!

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Midnight in mid May. Rex Rock Umiliaq = whaling captain scanning the horizon in search of animals migrating through the lead opening. All day, each and every day this is the norm. wait, watch, look & listen. Hunt & eat right here.

This image won the Alaska Press Award and has been published in many different forms of media over the years.
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This umiaq is very small and fragile. Any whale could easily just swat this with a flipper or a tail. This never happens. We are one with the whale. those whales know we are in the water, Whales are very smart but they are also just like little children. We wait.. .. for that whale to "GIVE" itself over to the captain of its choice.
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This was an extremlly cold day, the likes of which I will never forget. I would literally scream, when I reached the end of a roll of film. A simple task such as quickly changing a roll of film was an excercise in pure torture and incredible pain. It would often take me hours to recover from such an ordeal. Sixty below with 50 mph winds is nothing that can be accurately described as to how much it hurts. That wind will "cut" your face. Make no mistake these people "are not used to the cold" that is a myth and not true. They get just as cold as you or I would in sub zero temperatures ! But there are many tricks to overcome the extreme cold. To help cope !

How you dress is extremly important and .. .. dirty clothes cannot keep you warm. Using many, many loose layers is one of the most important things I learned. How to dress!

What you eat.. .. and HOW YOU EAT IT is perhaps the #1 trick to keeping warm in such terrible conditions!

Are you cold ? Go.. pick up that hacksaw. and I will teach you how to get warm, not by working, as most would think, but by "eating" !

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This is a hunters breakfast.. .. Raw frozen caribou meat or Raw frozen fish. Slice that meat up into small strips. do not chew just swallow that meat, whole in small strips, or chunks. FILL YOUR STOMACH FULL... ... ... your gonna push out body heat the likes of which you have never encountrered in all your life. @ 30 below zero we are taking clothes off because we are just tooo hot !!!
When you eat "quaq" (raw frozen meat or fish) your stomach has to work very very hard to digest that frozen mean or fish. Also because it is frozen there is a lot of moisture in that food, You can hunt all day without getting thirsty !
Inupiaq Technology, time tested for thousands of years! Now can you spot some people here, .. .. that are too hot ? !
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Lol, I would have never thought of eating cold food to stay warm. And people here drink hot chocolate... At least in the region where I live :) Well, at least it doesn't get as cold here as it does up in the Arctic.
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We drink hot tea, hot chocolate & hot coffee out on the ocean ice. & we also drink coca-cola and other types of soda pop.. but you have to be carefull with the soda pop because they freeze so quickly ! But always super ice cold when you want one.

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I bet its super ice cold. How much soda cans do you throw away a day (on average) from freezing to ice? Or do you do something to them?
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Post 3+ Months Ago

none !

Here in the village, a can of soda - pop is $1.00

A case of any brand is $24.00 !

In our household (4) we go through a case a day 24 x 30 = 720 bux a month !

is that insane ? or what ! but that is our "water" up here! that is the prerferred drink.

Add to that.. ... 3 industrial size contiainers of Tang each month Plus assorted juices of all types !

Purchasing food from the small store in the village or having it shipped up through a freight co. or through the mail is very expensive.

It is very easy for me to spend 1000 a week just on food ! purchasing it from the store.

Hunting is far less expensive, but the cost of gasoline up here has long been over $5.++ for many years.

I was in Anchorage once a few years ago and had to purchase supplies for one of the whaling captains.. $300 worth of food in Anchorage was a lot. A months supply of good food, dried goods and such. it cost over 400 dollars to ship that up to the village !

Now couple that with all of the extremly high unemployment, and it makes for a tough life up here, unless you have another method to support your family.

Beachcombing is a major event year round for the sea casts treasures upon these beaches from very far away lands, Russia, China, Japan, and Joe Oktollik threw a bottle into the ocean with a note.. It came back 5 years later. note was still dry and legible.. no reply was enclosed.
colorful beads wash up, turquoise beads. very valuable I am told. Artifaces from ages long ago are found. Valuable artifacts.

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We found this last summer up river 40 miles up the coast line. An ancient fossilized saw of some sorts, it is obvious how the handle fits into the hand with a place for the index finger to support the saw. It is apparant that this is made for a small hand of a young girl perhaps, extremly flexible and skillfully made. To saw frozen fish perhaps. We passed it around to some of the elders for their opinion and they all agreed it was some type of saw, but for what no one knew exactly, UNTIL I opened my mouth and showed them how it was used and what it was really used for, . The held it like this. I said.. .. " and pushed it into the bowl and turned it around and around several times so they could easily pick up their spaghetti ! Everyone got a big laugh out of that.!

Arts & Crafts are the sole income for many of the families in the village. This is how they survive. Very few jobs in the village, Time to get busy and learn how to make, sew, weave, carve, make dolls, masks, Ivory & fossil ivory is found by some people, if you look and hunt and dig long enough. It is very rare and commands a huge price. for jewelery and other arts and crafts.

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That fossil ivory bracelet sold for 280 dollars.
Gorgeous fossill ivory inset with fossil inlaid ,
very skillfully into the existing bracelet piece.




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Bone Masks are in huge demand all over the world. These are made out of the vertebrae from the bowhead whale, Not one "anything" is wasted from that whale. Everything is used. even the bones. nothing is wasted in the Iniupiaq way of life, Everything has a purpose and a specific use. These are time tested methods dating back several thousands of years or longer !
  • Bogey
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Lol. Send me a fossil if you find one you don't want :D.

The place has a lot of history underground. That bracelet looks nice. I might have kept it if I found it. (unless I was starving).
  • Majik_Imaje
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Post 3+ Months Ago

LOL we didn't find that bracelet.. My son Isaiah made that bracelet!

Fossilized ivory costs many hundreds of dollars! Sometimes as much as 3,000 dollars for just one piece!

The end of August is the main time to go hunt for Ivory, or anytime there is a storm or a very strong west wind. We haven't had any storms this fall which is very unusual.

We know exactly where to go if a strong west wind storm arrives. we go out and wait in that storm for the ivory to wash up on the beaches.

We are headed up to Barrow Alaska next week to purchase some fossilized ivory we hear that there is lots for sale.



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My son Mark made this bracelet today!

that is all my four sons do,.. .. is carve and make bracelets and ear-rings

Eskimo dolls are in huge demand and they fetch a very high price!

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Post 3+ Months Ago

What is used for the jewelry? Like the bracelet. I mean, is there any precious stones used?
  • Majik_Imaje
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Post 3+ Months Ago

NO.. THAT bracelet is all fossilized ivory.. the black part is baleen.

We work with walrus ivory, fossil ivory, mastadon ivory, mammoth ivory,
baleen from the whale.

skins frm the animals. no precious stones. Just ivory.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

LOL, that ivory looks like marble :)
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Post 3+ Months Ago

But we moved further NORTH, to the TOP OF THE WORLD, Barrow Alaska !

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Lets see what happens, when a whale is harvested.



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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.

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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

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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.

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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 .

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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.
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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 ?

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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.

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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.
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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 !


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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 CME 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.!

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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!
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