Paglagivsi! Welcome!  


                                  The Gift of the Whale              

(Arctic legend)


When the Great Spirit created this land, he made many wondrous and good things. He made the sun, the moon, and the stars. He made the great land white with snow, and the ocean. He made fish of all kinds and the many birds. He made the seals, the walrus, and the great bears. Then the Great Spirit made the Iñupiaq. He had a special love for the people and showed them how to live by using everything around them.

Then, after making all this, the Great Spirit decided to make one thing more, this would be the best creation of all. The Great Spirit made this being with great care. It was the Bowhead Whale. It was indeed the most beautiful and the finest of the things made by the Great Spirit. As the whale swam, flowing through the ocean, it sang its beautiful song, and lived in perfect balance with everything around it.

But, the Great Spirit saw that the Iñupiaq needed the Bowhead Whale to survive. They needed to eat maktak, the flesh of the whale, to keep warm and healthy during the long cold nights. They needed its bones to help build their homes. They needed every part of the great whale.

So the Great Spirit gave the Bowhead to the Iñupiaq. He gave them a way to hunt it from their boats covered with bearded seal hide. He made a special time each spring, when the ice of the ocean would break apart to form a road where the whales could swim. In that whale road, the Open Lead, the whales would come to the surface and offer themselves, waiting to be struck by the harpoons. They would continue to do so every year as long as the Iñupiaq showed respect to the Bowhead, as long as they took only what they needed in order to survive.

But the Great Spirit decided this also at that time each year, when the Open Lead formed and the whales came to the surface to be hunted, the Great Spirit made a heavy cloud of thick mist that would hang just above the heads of the Iñupiaq and the whales. During the hunt the thick mist would hang there between the sea and the sky blocking the view of the Great Spirit.

"Though I give you permission to harvest my most perfect creature," the Great Spirit said, "I do not wish to watch it."




      Copyright © 2010 Native Village of Barrow


Click for Barrow, Alaska Forecast

  Site Map