Saturday, March 17, 2012


Nalukataq is the spring whaling festival of the Inupiaq Eskimos of Northern Alaska, and is characterized most famously by the Eskimo blanket toss.

After the spring whale hunting season, successful crews celebrate with a Nalukataq festival. These take place in June, and are scheduled to avoid conflicts between villages to allow friends and relatives from distant communities to share the bounty and the fun. In Barrow, for example, Nalukataq is usually in the third week of June. Other villages may be in the week before or the week after. Scheduling depends on how many whales were caught as well as other factors.

Nalukataq serves two purposes: First, it is a celebration of thanksgiving for success. Second, it is the first of several times during the year when quaq (frozen whale meat) and muktuk (whale blubber and skin) are distributed to the community. The ability to produce and distribute wealth amongst the community is highly valued in Eskimo cultures, and whaling captains, who always give away large portions of their whales, gain great stature and respect within the village for every whale they catch.

Festive clothing is commonly worn to the event, and highly decorated mukluks and parkas of seal, caribou, wolverine, wolf, and fox are abundant.

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