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People Of The Whale by Kiliii Yuyan

America raised, yet native Russian descendent of “the salmon people who live along the Amur river in Siberia,” photographer Kiliii Yuyan captures the traditions of his grandmother’s people, the Nanai, High above the Arctic Circle on sea ice a mile from shore, an Iñupiaq whaling crew watches from a blind for a passing bowhead whale by the light of the moon. The Iñupiat have hunted whales here for at least 2,000 years, but the forces of climate change and globalization are rapidly altering the culture of this remote region.

In Kiliii Yuyan’s series “People Of The Whale” he documents the practice of whaling as carried out by aboriginal groups in North Alaska. Under the terms of the 1986 moratorium on whaling, the International Whaling Commission allows whaling carried out by aboriginal groups if it occurs on a subsistence basis, known as Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling.

Yuyan on the path of visual and cultural discovery finds himself trapped between culture and tradition and his western upbringing of the ideas around animal cruelty and environmental impact.

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