Walruses aren't an endangered species and, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Alaska Natives are entitled to hunt them and sell byproducts such as whiskers, bones and ivory. Pungowiyi's family is from Savoonga, a community of about 700 people on St. Lawrence Island, which is between Alaska and Russia. The primary reason for the hunt is food, but the sale of tusks and carvings helps bring in cash.
"We've taken a pretty big hit on this elephant ivory ban. People are getting mistaken with it, with walrus ivory because they're not explaining and getting it out there," Pungowiyi says.
Since the summer, federal and state regulations cracking down on the domestic market for elephant ivory have caused people to think all ivory is illegal, he says.