The school closed, the shops closed, and even the U.S. post office took a break so the whole population of 270 could assemble on the beach under a gently falling snow to hug and cheer as the victorious whalers brought in the supply of winter meat and blubber. (An audio slide show of the event is available here.)
The elders spoke the Inupiat language, while the kids were more hip. One girl stared at the 43-foot-long bowhead whale and shouted, "Hey, man, that's heavy!"
Two bulldozers hauled the whale onto the beach (after breaking the two-inch-thick rope, twice). Children danced on top of the whale, and then the adults began carving it up, with one man dispatched to shoot his rifle periodically to ward off the polar bears that were circling the beach hungrily. The first "muktuk," or bits of skin and blubber, were rushed into a pot, then passed around to all.
"It's good with ketchup or A-1 Steak Sauce," one man explained, offering those condiments as well. The local people had handfuls of the muktuk; I tried it and found it pretty awful. That's a major reason the Eskimo diet will trim those waistlines.
Keep reading. Remember, cooked muktuk is safe muktuk.