“I am Inupiaq. I grew up in Kaktovik my whole life. I work here at KIC (Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation) as the general manager, and I am the wife of a new whaling captain. We just started a crew this year and we caught the biggest whale. It was 50 feet 9 inches. The tail was 16 feet long! But it was really good maktak (whale skin and blubber). Our whaling crew is called Silver Star, it was [my husband’s] dad’s whaling crew name, so we just used it.
My favorite part about living in Kaktovik is the peace and quiet, all the people here. We all know each other. We share our food. The best part is the food we eat is off the land and the ocean, and we share it with each other, and we are not stingy. That’s what I like about living here.
My part [as a whaling captain’s wife] of the whaling crew, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of organizing and making sure everything gets done the way it’s supposed to get done. I am happy to have my friend Fannie and the other crew members’ girlfriends. When we catch the whale, it’s really hard work, because you have to feed the village at lunch and at dinner in one day! That’s hard work, especially when you only have three cutters. I am lucky, I had my cousin come over and cook everything while we cut. And all the men, they make sure the meat is cut and get it ready for us to cut it into smaller pieces. It’s hard work, especially for a first time catching a whale. I have been through it; I was on my dad’s crew growing up. I knew how things were and we had a lot of elders teaching us. We would go help them and they would teach us how to do things like clean the intestines, cut the heart, cut the kidney and how skinny to cut the mukluk for boiling and how small to cut the meat and tongue. Then everybody is welcome into your small tiny home to come eat!”— Alicia Solomon is Inupiaq from Kaktovik, Alaska.
- © Brian Adams
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