Museum

On the Spring Ice

directed by Sarah Elder and Leonard Kamerling, color, 45 min, 1975


Walrus as well as whales are hunted by the Eskimos of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. As the film opens, an old man tells of the dangers of moving ice, how people used to drift on such ice and never return. A cluster of men stand on a snowy rooftop, scanning the sea ice for walrus, when one spots a skin boat in distress far out on the ice. The crew had not come home the night before, and now were drifting toward Siberia. Long ago, there was nothing that could have been done to save them. Today, the men call the Coast Guard. The next day, preparations for another walrus hunt are made. The hunters load the boat and travel fifty miles out to sea, where they spot two walrus sunning themselves on an ice floe. "Don't move," one hunter tells the camera. The walrus are shot, admired, butchered on the ice, and loaded onto the boat. Back in the village, the meat is cut again and hung to dry.

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