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Whaling Festival Dates !!

Here is the list..  village by village with the dates

Come on up for the time of celectration you will never forget

This year in Barrow there are many festivals, here are some of the photos we created of this much awaited event.

I was very dissappointed in whaling festival here in Barrow, it is tottally unlike the ways and traditions and customs of the Oldest of all villages. Point Hope is twice as old as Barrow perhaps much older but we do know that 3,000 years ago is accepted by the archeologists and geologists and such. There is much speculation that Point Hope is much older than that.  But the point is. the difference between the ways each village celebrates is as different as night and day.

I am currently living in Barrow Alaska since last August 7th.

Here are some photos of whaling festival that was recently held here in town. the temp is 55 degrees. You would never think that, looking at peoples hands, and the wind from the ice, keeps it very cold, even at that temp.

Now fast forward 2008 – Barrow – Whaling Festival !

Barrow does everything ‘different’ from Point Hope.

whaling is different, festivals are different, Point Hope (Tikigaq) is the oldest of all villages and as such they strictly adhere to and employ all the age old traditions that the elders insist upon. Centuries old, Millenia Old traditions, ingrained into their unique lifestyle / culture that must be studied and understood for their wisdom.

Although the temp is 50 above, the wind blowing from the ice, is cold, notice how people are dressed, look at their hands !

Here we are for the first of four festivals held in Barrow this year. These images were created on June 21 of 08.  How hot is it where you live ?  Here in Barrow it is 50 degrees. that sounds very warm but it is very cold. As you view some of these images, you will easily see and discern that people have their hands hidden (for warmth).  The wind is bitting cold, keep your ears covered, ear infections are extremly common here for adults & children alike.  The wind will change many times during the day, Wind is a must to learn and understand here, out in the tundra or on the ocean ice, that wind is the key to survival, Death is what awaits if you ignore the warning signs of wind.  In the village itself, you are protected from the elements of disaster which are significent in other locations, i.e. Ice movement(s), the freezing rain, ice storms, etc.

Each whaling festival, no matter which village, begins with prayer and thanksgiving .  Food & drink is the main course for many hours & hours. Then blanket toos and Eskimo Dance.  the festival day is over and it ends.. except in Point hope. it goes on for 3 days non – stop for all practical purposes. Rosemary Oviok (86 year old elder) says that in the old says. they would stay out there for those 3 days. no matter what the weather, rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, they stayed and gave thanks and celebrated!

Patkotak crew

Handing out food, waiting in line, servers serving the elders first. Coffee,Tea, Hot chocolate is constantly brewed in these two tents that you will see. Hundreds of people are present for the day’s activities,  Barrow has a population of 5k give or take, But in comparision, very few people attend, not quite what I had expected at all to see.  In Point Hope, Everyone shows up. plus visitors from all over the states and all over the world.

 There is a lot going on in this image
The weather will change constantly here in the Arctic. When those flags are not moving, Something is about to change, suddenly, watch, learn !!

There is no wind but it is still cold out

One of the most common indicators of how cold it is outside, look at peoples hands. study the way people are dressed for 50 degrees !   that is very hot for the arctic, with no wind. Once that wind is moving, the chill from the ice, as the wind blows over it, makes it very cold outside.!!!

Lots of fish, Raw frozen fish - good food to make you very warm

Boxes and boxes of frozen fish are brought to the festival site, It took less than two minutes to unload this huge trailer and setup the boxes on the table for everyone to partake of more of themany different  native foods served here today

More fish !!

Tony Bryant (Point Hope) is here in Barrow, asking this young whaler how old he is. The merging of the wood in the background and the woman raising her two fingers make this image perplexing and interesting indeed.
Tony Briant is an ‘actor’ in a new movie about Barrow that was recently made here.
In January, filmmaker Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, originally from Barrow and Fairbanks, walked the red carpet with familiar Hollywood faces at the Sundance Film Festival. His film, which in English means “On the Ice,” was chosen as one of 83 special selections of short films out of 5,000 films sent.
More recently, the film collected awards for screenplay and directing at the First-run Film Festival at New York University, where MacLean completed his graduate studies.
Inspired by Sergio Leone and other Western filmmakers in the 1950s and 1970s, “Sikumi” is an “Arctic western” featuring a fictional treatment of a real-life situation.
Apuna, the lead character in this Inupiaq-speaking film, crosses the sea ice several miles north of Barrow on a dogsled when he witnesses a community member in the act of murder. Isolated from anyone and anything, both men face tough questions about their morality “outside the bounds of society,” according to MacLean.
“I was thinking about how the characters would react to this situation and how they would react as Inupiaq people, taking into consideration our concepts, values .
“‘Avoidance of conflict,’ this is how this character would deal with this situation,” MacLean said.
“He wouldn’t try to subdue the killer but tries to find way to bring the killer to realize the magnitude of what he’s done — bring justice within himself.”
All three men playing in this film are local actors from Barrow. Brad Weyiouanna plays Apuna, Tony Bryant, with family ties to Point Barrow and Point Hope, plays Miqu, and Olemoun Rexford plays Taqi, the murdered hunter.
MacLean wrote the film as his master thesis project for the filmmaking program at NYU.
This is MacLean’s second film to appear at Sundance. His first film, “Seal Hunting with Dad,” or “Natchiliagniaqtuguk Aapagalu” in Inupiaq, was a documentary inspired by MacLean’s grandfather’s life and was screened at the New York Museum of Modern Art in April 2005.
MacLean’s films are primarily shot in Alaska and focus on the Arctic and the Inupiaq culture. While living in Barrow before leaving for film school, MacLean co-founded the first Inupiaq-speaking theater company. Both Rexford and Bryant had acted in the theater prior to making films with MacLean.
MacLean has dedicated himself to promoting the preservation of his Native tongue.
Familiar with the language from home but not a fluent speaker, MacLean taught himself the language with the help of his mother Edna Agheak MacLean, who is a well-known linguist. His mother also helped translate the film’s script from its original English version to Inupiaq, according to MacLean.
“Most of my generation grew up around the language but couldn’t really speak it myself, and I was feeling something was missing,” MacLean said.
“I tried to teach it to myself and tried to find ways to use it — one of the ways that has been effective is in theater and film pieces that I make,” he said, “I want to get it to be used in a more public way as part of the media.”
“Everywhere you look there is pop culture reference to Eskimos, but no one has seen Inuit culture as expressed by Inuit people,” MacLean said.
“People are very curious about it and definitely respond to that.”
MacLean’s next goal is to make a full-length feature. He is working on the script for that project.
Another project under the works is a documentary film about the effects of global warming in the Arctic.

Tony Bryant from Point Hope

The servers assigned to each crew walk around to make sure everyone receives a portion of the many varied types of food prepared for this event. Mikiigaq is the main delicacy served. There are other  foods that are  dangerous to eat. (fermented stink meat)  Just make sure you have not had any sugar products that day. It is possible to die from Botulisim if you have sugar in your system and you eat this food. I always smile and say ‘no thank you” I’ll pass on this treat! I am loaded on sugar,  Chocolate is part of my daily diet !

Fermented whale meat

 Many different types of soup are available,
Fresh caribou soup,
Fresh duck soup of many different varieties !

Soup is good food !

Just be patient and wait, Food is served where you sit. You are waited on by many servers that are part of each ot the two crews that were successfull this year in receving a whale.
some of the elders even bring their own favorite bowl, to make things easier for the servers that are passing out food to everyone that is here at the festival grounds.

Hot soup, delivered right to your area !  That's service !

More to follow.. !