Point Hope (Tikiġaq)

  • Point Hope (Tikiġaq)

We had our first official visit on Alaskan soil! Alaska is also celebrating a 150th anniversary, as the “Alaska Purchase” was made in 1867. We departed the ship early in the morning and headed to Point Hope, a community of approximately 700 people. This city is known as Tikiġaq in Inupiaq, and is one of the oldest continually occupied sites in North America. After displaying a courtesy U.S. flag on our ship, we jumped into the zodiacs for a windy ride to shore. Upon arrival we received an incredible greeting from the community members, who cheered and hugged every single participant as we set foot in Alaska for the first time. We then headed to the impressive Tikiġaq School to have lunch with students and community members. Afterwards, we gathered in the gym for a discussion with local elders and high school students. We also got to try Eskimo dancing, and played basketball with some of the students! The Tikigaq High School students have been state basketball champions for many years. After our meeting, we went on a historical tour of Point Hope, which took us to the jaw-dropping community cemetery that is surrounded by tall and majestic whale bones. We also explored old sod houses, which are built of sod from prairie grass, with wood panels lining the indoor or outdoor walls. In Point Hope, even whale bones were used to support these structures. Every June, the community holds a feast to commemorate the whaling season. Community members cook from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and everyone gathers to share whale meat and celebrate. The whaling captain chooses the location of the feast. We explored some of these locations and were deeply impressed by the size of the whale bones, as well as how each part of the whale can be used. Point Hope is a town that we will never forget. Thank you to the community for welcoming us with open arms, and for being an excellent first stop in the United States!