Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge



Whaling Traditions


Indigenous Whaling Traditions: Northern Whaling Traditions

In some ways, whaling today is different than in the past. Explosive whale darts and bombs, adopted from Yankee (New England) whalers in the 19th century, long ago replaced stone-tipped harpoons, although pieces of the old weapons still turn up inside newly killed whales that must have lived for more than a century.

In most communities, whaling boats with traditional hand-built frames and walrus hide covers are still used, but they are fitted out with gasoline motors that can be used during parts of the hunt and for towing animals that have been killed. As in the past, sealskin floats on rawhide lines are used to slow the flight of wounded whales.

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