Harry "Kupaaq" Brower, Sr.
Harry (Kupaaq) Brower, Sr. was born in 1924 in Barrow, Alaska. He was the youngest son of commercial whaler and trader Charles Dewitt Brower, one of Barrow’s earliest non-Native residents, and his Iñupiaq wife, Asiaŋŋataq. Harry and his eight brothers and sisters grew up in a mixed household, where they ate American food and spoke English with their father, and ate traditional Inupiaq food and spoke Inupiaq with their mother. Starting at a young age, Harry learned to hunt, trap and fish in the Inupiaq way from his uncles, Taalak, Ahsoak, and Ugiaġnaq. He became a successful trapper and polar bear hunter. In his youth, Harry was an expert harpooner for various whaling crews. He started his own whaling crew in the mid-1940s, but lost all his gear during an ice break up event in 1957, and did not have the means to have a crew again until 1972. Harry was a very successful whaling captain with his Kupaaq Crew. He seemed to have a special connection to whales. Harry served in the Alaska Territorial Guard and the U.S. Army, worked for the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory in Barrow as a carpenter, and for over thirty years assisted scientific researchers by sharing what he knew about arctic animals and their environment. Harry also was influential in the establishment of the North Slope Borough’s bowhead whale research program by promoting the idea that science could help persuade politicians better than just the voice of the Iñupiat people when in the 1970s the International Whaling Commission wanted to abolish Native subsistence whaling. In 1988, Harry Brower (along with Kenneth Toovak) received a certificate of recognition from the Sigma XI Scientific Research Society for nonprofessional scientists who have made significant efforts in promoting scientific research. Harry Brower died April 22, 1992. For more about Harry Brower, Sr. see The Whales, They Give Themselves: Conversations with Harry Brower, Sr., edited by Karen Brewster (Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Press, 2004).