Barrow, Alaska, woman whaler makes local history

Bernadette Adams remembers pitching fits as a young girl out on the sea ice wanting desperately to go out whaling with her father. With no brothers, her hunting career started at a young age. And last week, she made local history as the first woman in the community to harpoon a bowhead. Usually women don’t go out in boats with the whaling crews. And while community members in Barrow are touting her as the first woman to kill a whale, she’s actually not sure if that’s the case. But it doesn’t matter to her either way.
 
“Everyone keeps asking me but I just say ‘I don’t know, I don’t keep up with that, all I do is go whaling,’” said Adams, 31, last week.
 
Adams went out with captain George Ahmaogak Sr.’s crew Monday, Sept. 22, on a calm morning.
 
The boat was about 20 miles offshore from Point Barrow when something in the water caught Adams’ eye.
 
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