First Peoples > An Ancient Bond with the Land > Arctic Whalers > Respect and Reverence for the Whale

An Ancient Bond with the Land

Arctic Whalers

Respect and Reverence for the Whale

The ancient beliefs and rituals of whale hunting are known from both archaeological evidence and Inuit oral tradition. Important beliefs and behaviours include the use of various songs and whale-shaped charms or amulets, to attract the whale and ensure its capture. Everyone on the hunt was quiet and respectful. All of the whaling crew members were careful to wear new, clean clothing, as a sign of respect.

After a successful hunt, the dead whale was offered a drink of water from a ceremonial bucket, beautifully made of baleen and decorated with whale symbols. Because whales live in salt water, Inuit believed they were always thirsty. The drink of fresh water was a gift to the whale for allowing itself to be killed.

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