And God created great whales, and God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21

This past week has been a week of thanksgiving for the people in Barrow for the gift of the whale.  There have been celebrations called naluqataks  in which each successful whaling crew hosts a community feast and celebration.  The celebration  starts in the morning and extends late into the night.  The morning begins with eskimo doughnuts and coffee.  Eskimo doughnuts are delicious-I think they are similar to fry bread.

At lunch time there is caribou stew, duck and goose soup and distribution of the bowhead whale meat, including muktuk (blubber) and fermented  meat, a real delicacy and treat, especially for the village elders.  There are prayers, singing, and even church services at some of the naluqataks.

At about 9 pm, the blanket toss commences.  The blanket toss takes place on the same skin that covered the successful whaling crew’s umiak, and is made from the skins of 8 bearded seals.  At the end of the blanket toss, the skin is removed and taken to the local gym where the traditional dancing begins at about 11:30 pm and has been known to go on until the wee hours of the morning.  The drumming and dancing is beautiful-sadly when many of the white missionaries arrived in many of the villages on the North Slope, dancing was banned, as it was deemed to be to provocative by the missionaries.   Note that the drums are made from the capsules of the liver or lungs-very cool!  I tried the blanket toss once-I decided it was best left for someone more experienced, younger and flexible!  I landed on my knees-I have already had 5 knee surgeries and think it best that I just observe from now on!

Here is a slide show demonstration of the celebrations as well as some photos!

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