Marjorie Tahbone, Nome

Marjorie Tahbone, 26-year-old Inupiaq woman from Nome, remembers the first time she butchered a bearded seal – Oogruk - when she was just sixteen years old.

“I had been preparing for that moment for years” she said, learning from her mother how to do things like separate the blubber from the skin to create seal oil, an Alaska Native delicacy.

“You’re doing something that you knew your ancestors did decades and decades and decades before. There’s something about that feeling that makes me feel whole” she said.  After she butchered her first seal, she finally felt like a woman.  

It was a right of passage.