Point Lay's Nalukataq
Spring Whaling Celebration ~ 6-27-09

Here are some photos from yesterday's nalukataq (spring whaling celebration) from the village of Point Lay! The last time they harvested a whale was 72 years ago. Point Lay fought hard for a quota, and received a quota of one bowhead whale. They tried whaling last year but ice conditions were not good. This year, the Atkaan Whaling Crew harvested a whale during spring whaling. The crew captain is Juluis Rexford Sr.

It was emotionally charged for the village. They were so thankful to receive a whale and they shared it with the community and all visitors. Nalukataq was dedicated to the elder Warren Neakok and his late wife, Dorcas. In his late eighties, Warren was brought to nalukataq by his family and enjoyed the afternoon.

Atkaan Crew - The Atkaan Whaling Crew of Point Lay with Captain Julius Rexford Sr.

Brenton Rexford - Atkaan Whaling Crew member Brenton Rexford celebrates the successful whaling season in true Inupiaq style - jumping on the seal skin taken from their umiaq (skin boat).

Warren Neakok and family - Point Lay elder Warren Neakok is surrounded by his children. The last time the village harvested a whale, Warren was 15 years old.

Lona Penn and Fred Miller - Atkaan Whaling Crew member Lona Penn serves Fred "Stretch" Miller of Barrow some mikigaq - fermented whale meat and maktak (skin and fat) - a delicacy loved by many.

Patrick Tukrook - Patrick Tukrook separates the quaq - frozen whale meat - in preparation for serving it to the community during nalukataq. Quaq is eaten frozen, raw and most always with salt.

Nora Itta and Thomas Nukapigak - Point Lay whaling captain Thomas Nukapigak and his mother, Nora Itta, enjoy nalukataq. Nukapigak's crew was on the ice during spring whaling in Point Lay when they heard Atkaan Whaling Crew announce the strike, and immediately went to assist the crew with their whale. Atkaan Whaling Crew Julius Rexford Sr. gave a heartfelt thanks to Nukapigak and his crew during the nalukataq for all of their help.

Photos by Mary Anniagruk Sage