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As some of you may remember, my DS and DDIL live in the remote village of Kaktovik, in far northern Alaska, year around, where DS is the school librarian and DDIL is the village postmaster.  During "summer" break this year, DS visited us here in northern California for some weeks for the first time in three years.  As postmaster and only employee of the US Postal Service in Kaktovik (written as "Qaaktugvik" in the local Inupiat (pronounced In.NOO.pee.aht) language, DDIL was unable to come since there is no one to replace her.  Note: They spent most of their time this summer on Skype!

While he was here I made a wall hanging for the school's library for him to take back.  I titled it "Three Whales for Kaktovik" to honor the September whale hunt in which the village hunters are allowed to harvest only three whales to support the village population of about 250 through the winter.  It is a very ceremonious hunt, and no parts of the whale are discarded, except the giant bones, which are offered to the resident polar bears to gnaw on after the meat has mostly been stripped off.  The polar bears arrive in large numbers, right on time.  Tourists come to this very remote area on the Beaufort Sea to witness this!  The whales hunted are Bowhead Whales which are year around residents of the Arctic Ocean and Beaufort Sea, and which are not on the rare or endangered list.  The most outstanding feature of this specie of whale is it's very large mouth, since they are filter-feeders, straining  enormous numbers of very small creatures, called krill, from the ocean.  Only Alaskan natives are allowed to hunt them for subsistence and nothing may be sold to outsiders.  

I had to do some research, but found an outline of a Bowhead Whale (thank you, Google!) so my enlarged whale depictions would be accurate, and since the local people would probably laugh if I had used the outline of another kind of whale!

DS seemed pleased and the principal gave him permission to hang it in the library.  

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Comment by Donna Sykes on August 25, 2015 at 12:44pm

Very nice. It is always so neat to incorporate an event such as this that is so much a part of their culture and history into a quilt. You did a beautiful job. I am sure it will be much appreciated by all who view it in the school library.

Comment by Carol Ann Hinton on August 23, 2015 at 12:03pm

Janet - They are there for the adventure!  They are young, out of college, married for a year, no pets and no children.  Perfect timing for an adventure. (I hope they get over it soon!)

Comment by Irene Gallway on August 22, 2015 at 5:15am

Enjoyed the story. The quilt is beautiful.  

Comment by Barb/WI on August 20, 2015 at 10:51am

Such a beautiful quilt, and story to go with it.  What an honor for you to have it hanging where it can be appreciated by many.  I can not imagine the lifestyle of your son and DIL.  How spoiled I am!

Comment by Janet/MO on August 20, 2015 at 8:03am

What a lovely quilt to donate.  I am curious as to what prompted your son & DDIL to live in such a remote part of the country.

Comment by Carol Ann Hinton on August 20, 2015 at 7:19am

Pam, I'm not sure DS considers Kaktovik "interesting."  It's a very difficult place in the winter.  The ocean freezes over (Kaktovik is on an island), and the wind is fierce!  They have a VERY SMALL house (living/sleeping room, with the kitchen in a corner & small bathroom), and only very small windows because you must keep your house warm at -30 degrees.  Vehicles don't survive the cold very long, so they walk to work (about two blocks) every day.  It is completely dark for 24 hours for several months.  Internet contact is spotty due to the weather.  Oh, and you must look both ways for polar bears when you step out your door!  Yes, a loooong way from momma!

Comment by Pam/NY on August 20, 2015 at 5:43am

Just beautiful...what an interesting place to live, but so from momma! Love the story!

Comment by Prairie Quilter Jan/NE on August 19, 2015 at 6:21pm

Isn't is fun to be able to translate a meaningful part of their culture into a quilt?  Great idea!  I'll be interested to hear of any conversations your son has with the students about the quilt.  Maybe it will turn into a story quilt.  Nicely done.  I admire your creativity with these nature quilts.  

Comment by Jodi Cramer on August 19, 2015 at 6:07pm

Your story touched me deeply and I am so grateful you are doing such a beautiful quilt to honor their lives and their work. Thank you very much!

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