Inutuq/Sacred Whale, 1992

Lawrence "Ulaaq" Ahvakana
(American | Inupiat, born 1946)

Location: Little Mountain Elementary School & Mount Baker Middle School, Mount Vernon


Inutuq/Sacred Whale is a cast-bronze sculpture by Inupiat (Native Alaskan) artist Lawrence Ahvakana. He notes that "Inutuq/Sacred Whale is the one we call Agviak, the Right Whale or Bowhead Whale" and it is the Northern Inupiat's favorite whale for its sweeter meat. The sculpture's form is based on an original marble sculpture of a bowhead whale, which was based on the traditional, small Native Alaskan ivory carvings of bowhead whales. Whaling captains would carry such a small sculpture or tie one onto the umiak or skin boat for good luck in the hunt. These Arctic whales were and are important to Native Alaskan people as food, to build sod houses with the bones, and more. Ahvakana's bronze sculpture is sleek and voluptuous, realistic but with naturally stylish lines.

This artwork was acquired for the State Art Collection in partnership with Mount Vernon School District.


Native Alaskan artist Lawrence "Ulaaq" Ahvakana (Inupiat) creates sculptural artworks representative of his Inupiat culture and symbols. He is inspired by the oral histories and legends passed down through his family. He spent his childhood in Barrow, Alaska, part of the Inuit Nation that spans from Siberia to Greenland. Ahvakana states, "My first introduction to the Arts was watching my mother, who is a very competent skin sewer... The dances and songs of the Inupiaq tradition is the oral history of my people. It is the emotional interpretation of our respect and involvement within the environment of the North Slope of Alaska."

Ahvakana received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture and Glass Arts from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1972. He is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. He now lives in Northwestern Washington.

Material CategorySculpture - coated metals
MediumBronze cast
Dimensions30 in x 4 ft x 30 in
ID NumberWSAC1996.106.000
Acquisition MethodDirect purchase
Artist LocationAlaska
Location Information
AgencyMount Vernon School District
Artwork LocationLittle Mountain Elementary School & Mount Baker Middle School
Outside of entrance to Staff Room
WA CountySkagit
Site TypePublic School
Address1514 S. LaVenture Rd.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Geo. Coordinates48.411939 | -122.312038
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