Jabbertown, Point Hope

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Jabbertown, Point Hope

by | Jan 15, 2021

Jabbertown is a historical shore whaling station on the Chukchi Sea coast, about 150 miles (242 km) northwest of Kotzebue and 2.5 miles (4 km) southeast of Point Hope, also known as Tigara, Alaska. The whaling station was shown on a chart in 1898, and the name is from the multiple languages and dialects spoken by European and American whalers and their families. An older shore whaling station called “Cooper” or “Coopers” was located a short distance away. 

The Point Hope or Tigara Peninsula is one of the oldest continuously occupied Iñupiat areas in Alaska. Several settlements have existed on the peninsula over the past 2,500 years, including Old Tikiġaq, Ipiutak, Cooper, Jabbertown, and currently, Tigara. The peninsula offers good hunting access to marine mammals, and ice conditions allow easy boat launchings into open leads early in the spring whaling season. The people were traditionally aggressive and exercised dominance over an area between the Utukok River to the north and the Kivalina River to the south. This included maintaining traditional Iñupiat structures of power and the control over people and resources held by shamans and umialiit (Native whaling captains). The powerful Point Hope umialik Ataÿauraq forbade European and American shore whalers from establishing stations in or near the village, hence the founding of the Cooper whaling station and later Jabbertown. Point Hope people refused to work for Jabbertown whalers but did work for other American whaling interests. 

By 1848, commercial whaling activities brought an influx of Westerners to the area. By the late 1880s, there were numerous commercial shore whaling and trading entities at the nearby shore whaling enclave at Jabbertown. Shore whaling was profitable because it allowed earlier access to migrating whales when whaling ships needed to wait until the pack ice broke up. Shore whalers utilized open leads in the ice and polynyas to hunt whales. The shore whaling stations employed regional (but not local) Iñupiat as whaling crews and offered an enormous variety of Euro-American manufactured goods for trade and as partial remuneration for Native labor. These stations disappeared with the demise of whaling in the early 1900s. Read more here and here. Explore more of Jabbertown here:

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