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Story tellers, artists and dancers at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage

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Spirits

Other celebrations were-and still are-held to honor the spirits of animals killed in the hunt. Alaska Natives share a belief in the reincarnation of both people and animals. By honoring the animal spirits, they hope to ensure success in future hunting seasons.

The Cup'iks traditionally held a "bladder festival" every year in November or early December. They believed that the spirit of the seal lived in the seal's bladder, and hunters would carefully remove and store the bladders of the seals they killed throughout the season. The rituals involved were intended to return the seal spirits to the sea, so they would come back the following year.

The spring whaling festival is held by the Inupiaq Eskimos, only at the end of a successful whaling season, to appease the spirits of deceased whales so that they will return in the form of new whales the next season. In addition to dancing, singing, and food, the whaling festival includes a tradition familiar to some visitors-the nalukatak, or blanket toss.


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