“Kiliii Yuyan is an indigenous Nanai photographer who documents native cultures and wilderness conservation issues. He spent time with the Inupiat, an indigenous community from North Slope Alaska, whose lifestyle and culture is dependent on subsistence harvest of marine mammals.” K. Yuyan, BBC
Excerpt: The people of the whale-By Kiliii Yuyan, BBC
“Members of the community are allowed to catch limited number of bowhead whales a year from stable populations. The first boats to harpoon the whale receive shares. The lead whaling crew divide the head between them.
The Inupiat have a rich spiritual life that centres around the gift of the whale to the community. The cure for feeling cold while out on the ice is to eat quok, the Inupiat word for frozen raw meat and fish.
Seal is also a source of food for the Inupiaq. Misigaq, or seal oil, is a liquid made from the blubber of the bearded seal. It is left to ferment for a few days at refrigerator temperatures before eating.
Sigvaun Kaleak and his father, Raleigh, are lifelong whalers. Although commercial whaling has taken a massive toll on the global whale population, the Inupiat have maintained a sustainable harvest.
Bernadette Adams was the first Inupiat woman to harpoon a whale. “I happen to have no brothers, so I had to find some way to help the family out,” says Bernadette.
Inupiat elder Foster Simmonds has been a whaler since he was a child.”