Here’s an interesting photo book to read. It documents the hunting of the bowhead whale by the Iñupiat Eskimos. It took a glance at the cover of the book at the Sengkang National Library and reeled at the title that had the words, whale and hunting. However, I flipped the pages and got totally intriguied by it. I totally love cetaceans, all the “dialects” they sing in and how they are so beautiful. And so do these eskimos. Its a very complex relationship they have with the whales. I don’t know what to think of it but the book just brings you to the situation, the tradition of these eskimos and prods you to think about the conflict.
Here’s an excerpt from the website accompanying the book by Bill Hess.
“In October of 1998, Malik, renowned across the Arctic Slope as one of the most successful harpooners alive, put his knowledge to the task of saving whales when three California gray whales became stuck on the Beaufort Sea side of Point Barrow. Malik seemed to develop a rapport with the whales. He spoke to them often, in a gentle soft voice. He heard them speak back to him.”
The eskimos risked life and limb to dig about 280 holes in the ice sheet big enough for the whales to access the surface for air. These holes led to the open sea. I thought that was a rare side of the eskimos I have read about and I must think that very few people really know this. I have read about indigenous cultures that hunt sustainably and have a respectful relationship with the animals they hunt. They don’t overdo it. The point of satiation never borders into the greedy. Which is why I think we should protect cows.