Nalukataq Photo
June 18 - June 25, 2023
Utqiagvik, AK

In Utqiagvik, the Nalukataq whaling festival is held by the Iñupiaq people in spring following 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 blanket toss. While it's now conducted as entertainment, it didn’t originate that way. An Iñupiaq hunter would be tossed in the air, enabling him to see across the horizon to hunt game.

During today's celebrations, thirty or more Iñupiaq gather in a circle, holding the edges of a large skin made from walrus hides, and toss someone into the air as high as possible. The person being tossed throws gifts into the crowd and loses their turn when they lose their balance. The object: to maintain balance and return to the blanket without falling over.

The event typically takes place the third week of June. Please contact your accommodations or tour operator in Utqiagvik to confirm event dates.

Photo Credit: @cordelialaska