Boy, 9, harpoons whale off Barrow, Alaska
Whaling for subsistence is part of the native culture in Barrow, Alaska. Still, news that a 9-year-old boy this week harpooned a 33-foot whale might be unsettling to some.
The Anchorage Daily News reported the story on a blog and details are sparse. But the story implied that it's rare for a boy to be allowed to join a whale hunt, much less deal the telling blow.
Here's the account, shared by Barrow resident Bridget Edwardsen:
On Tuesday around noon, Panigeo crew struck a whale. Pauyuuraq Brower of Barrow shot the whale with the darting gun. Then Paul Patkotak, 9-year-old son of Maria & Ellis Patkotak, harpooned the bowhead whale and officially killed the whale.
Paul is a 4th grader at Ipalook Elementary School & is very into his culture. He loves to go whaling with his uncle Qulliuq Pebley, who is the Captian of Panigeo Crew, he loves to go subsistance hunting and camping. The family was overjoyed in tears when they heard that their 9-year-old Paul harpooned the 32' 7" whale.
This is big news for Barrow, usually kids are not allowed on the boat until they are a certain age. I think Paul is the youngest kid to actually harpoon & kill a bowhead whale. Once they arrived & beached the whale, the family was overjoyed. His mother could not believe that her son actually caught the whale.
-- Pete Thomas
Photo: Paul Patkotak. Credit: Barrow resident Bridget Edwardsen