Saturday, August 22, 2009

a lesson on unity- part 1

picture from

When I was on St. lawrence Island in Alaska this past may I was in a village named Savoonga (sa-voon-ga) I got to witness a culture completely unlike the present day life that most of us are surrounded with, I had that in both villages on St. Lawrence Island but in Savoonga I got to hear of and see a video of a whale hunt. Now these villagers live alot off the land, and if you went to the store there you would see why, so its more than just a hobby its life. There is lots at stake and so they take it very serious, I have also seen the excitement the very thought of being able to provide for your family has brought some of the younger generation. This whaling business is very organized too, with whaling commissions, whaling captians, etc.

There are many roles in even beginning a whale hunt, they even have camps set up in areas away from the village so that they can be close to the action, so you have to get your equipment ready, get your troops together, and get there and those are just the basic physical start ups. Each boat is its own team, with its own captain and crew of about 5( I'm guessing on the numbers based on what I've seen) these boats are usually 20' LUND aluminum boats. From what I saw there were maybe 10-15 boats out on a hunt. Now these days the communication tools they use are cb radios but back before they were around there were hand signals, maybe flags, but they know that communication is key to working as a team especially with the stakes of success being survival. Now from the people left back at the village, to the people left at camp, to the people out on the boats everyone works very hard and also reaps benefits of success. Teams among a bigger team, they way it works out on the water is when they see a whale they are set into motion trying to find it when it surfaces surround it and throw a harpoon rigged with an explosive tip at its heart, and while it may only take one harpoon each boat is indispensable the video i saw of the kill included many harpoons being thrown at it, a buoy is attached to the first harpoon making its whereabouts known even when its under the water.

Now that you have 40 tons of dead whale in the water you are faced with a whole new task, getting this whale from here to shore, now im not sure exactly how this boat ride looks like but they hook their boats up and drag the whale by the tail, sometimes they cut parts of the whale off at first to eat and then get on there way. The task of getting the whale from shore to land is a whole new task, like a big game of tug-o-war heres where it doesnt matter who you are you are on the rope pulling for all your worth, when there is work to do everyone does there share. when the pulling is over next comes the butchering, now just imagine working your way through 40 tons of whale, nothing gets wasted. usually you dont sleep at least not very much until all the work is done. When the work is done , all the food brought back to the village, everyone gets there share of the plunder.

part 2 to come soon

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