The Whale Hunters’ Story
COME WITH US TO A PLACE THAT is much darker, much colder, and much more dangerous than wherever you are right now. We are in the far Northwest, along the coast of Alaska, centuries ago. Imagine that along that coast you live in an earthen hut with your close family group of about 30 people. The hut is only 50 feet long and 20 feet wide. There are no windows and there are no doors. Only a few small holes in the ceiling release the smoke from the whale oil lamps that light and heat our space. To come in and out of this space, we crawl through a tunnel in the floor, out toward the coast. We have reinforced our tunnel with the rib cage bones of a whale.
We are not the only hut along this stretch of the coastline. Several other family huts make up our village. But everyone, in every hut, is doing what we are doing.
We have been waiting since we heard the very first pop, exploding like gunfire, letting us know with a roar that the ice floes are beginning to thaw and spring is near. We have been waiting through the long, dark winter. We have been waiting since the Northern Lights have started to fade and we approach more than four hours of daylight.
In our huts, at the earliest signs of spring, we are waiting for the whales. Every year from late winter ...