Postcard from Barrow: Nalukataq
Barrow turned out (and up) a few weeks ago to celebrate the spring whale harvest wherein two crews brought in four whales total. The traditional Iñupiaq festival, called Nalukataq, is a thanksgiving for the harvest, so central to a traditional Inuit subsistence community’s way of life. During the day-long fete the community honors the whalers who bring in the bounty, feast on caribou and goose soup and whale delicacies of all kinds, and have – you know – a whale of a good time. In addition, each family receives its share of frozen whale meat (called quaq) and whale blubber and skin (muktuk) from the spring harvest.
A highlight of the Nalukataq is the blanket toss. Community members gather around a seal-skin trampoline, and toss all willing high into the air. Traditionally, the whaling captains go first, and they throw candy and other treats to watching children. Good times indeed.