Benfer from Barrow

On an afternoon in early December, Benfer Ahnatook Simmonds sat outside his home on Parsons Avenue, snacked on an orange and told a story.

He had a dream, he said, about the biggest bowhead whale in the world.

“God gave me that dream,” Simmonds said. “He said I’m going to make a harpoon; I won’t use no whale bomb, I won’t use nothing but the power of Jesus Christ. The whale comes to me. I’ll build the boat, 22-foot boat, I’ll make my own.”

Simmonds is 52, the third youngest of 14 children, a boat-builder, a hunter and an ivory carver “ever since I was seven years old.”

“It’s in my blood,” he said.

Born in Barrow, he moved to Anchorage nearly two decades ago. He still remembers life at the top of the world; hunting and whaling and the time his father brought home two wolf pups.

“My brother-in-law’s brother wanted to buy both of them, make a wolf team,” Simmonds said. “But my dad think in his heart, if the chain breaks, the kids in danger in the village, so he just sold the female. He kept the male … for 11 months.”

He said he’s one-eighth Irish and seven-eighths Eskimo; the Irish blood gave him his beard and his Alaska Native elders taught him to survive.

“We are built to live on our own with food from the land, sea and air,” Simmonds said.

"I'm a great hunter. I can shoot 400 feet away, hit the whale on the head when it's in the ocean." - Benfer Ahnatook Simmonds

“I’m a great hunter. I can shoot 400 feet away, hit the whale on the head when it’s in the ocean.” – Benfer Ahnatook Simmonds

Categories: Blog

Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s