It was while I was teaching my very first watercolor class to a multi-aged group of Native Eskimo and Indian children that I came across some magazines of Barrow, Alaska. Most of the photos were of Bowhead whaling and life on the Arctic Slope.
I had the fortune of meeting with the photographer, Bill Hess, who was given permission to participate in a Bowhead whaling hunt. He later wrote a book which includes these photos calling it "The Gift of the Whale."
That people can hunt and eventually kill a 60 foot whale . . . in water . . . intrigued me. Then to lift it out of the water and cut it up required much cooperation, discipline and hard work. This was a characteristic of the Arctic Eskimo.
After each successful hunting season the people celebrated during Nalukatuq or the whaling festival. During the blanket toss jumpers would sometimes carry bags of candy and tear open and scatter the contents at the right time. Children and adults scampered to collect the candy.
On the lower left one brother congratulates his brother on his first catch of a whale. On the bottom right a woman's gesture reflects her ecstasy after a successful kill. The group of men pulling on the rope share the joy of landing their catch. I also had the fortune of sharing in the 1999 Nalukatuq in Barrow.