This site offers information gathered by a project entitled "Whale Hunting Societies of the Western Arctic: A Regional Integration" [OPP-9807051] to study Western Arctic whaling in a comparative frame. It began in 1995 and has been sponsored by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission and funded by the National Science Foundation.

The main objectives are as follows:

(A) To provide results of the project research in a way that reaches across whaling and academic communities, and

(B) To follow up the kinds of discussions between local experts and academics that began in a workshop held in Anchorage in March, 2000.

Our project used a multidisciplinary approach to address a series of questions about the potential relationships between changing environmental conditions and the ways in which indigenous peoples in the Arctic have organized their whaling as a core part of their social lives. This includes, among other work:

-reconstructions of climatic fluctuations over the past two millennia and their possible effects on whaling over time;

-the relationship between wind speed and wind direction as they affect whaling in the Barrow region today, during spring and fall

-the study of whale bones as they appear in the archaeological record in order to learn more about the origins and characteristics of whaling across the Arctic region;

-a detailed archaeological study conducted in Wales, Alaska, of sites that contain material from approximately AD 500 into the 19th century;

-a continuing study of the importance of Qargit (ceremonial houses) in Point Hope during the late 19th and early 20th centuries;

-oral historical reconstructions of whaling during the 20th century at Wales, St. Lawrence Island and Little Diomede Island;

-a discussion of strategic decision making that must by undertaken during fall whaling in present-day Barrow


(C) A further objective is to highlight both general Arctic patterns and very specific issues that change from place to place. There are regional patterns that develop in the Arctic across space at the same time. At each place whaling developed, the conditions have been different, leading sometimes to very very distinct practices. The web site has therefore been organized in such a way that visitors can click on specific communities to find out about work that has been done in specific villages, and they can search particular topics, such as sea ice or whaling in the Arctic.

(D) A final objective is to provide links to sites that might be of interest to people who are exploring related issues.

(These are only examples; please see the project and workshop pages for more information.)