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Title: Ethnological results of the Point Barrow expedition

Author: John Murdoch

Release date: August 26, 2013 [eBook #43568]
Most recently updated: October 28, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Louise Hope, Carlo Traverso and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team


The body of the article has been divided into three segments (see table of contents) of about equal size. This preliminary section includes the full Contents, List of Illustrations, and Index. All parts are fully interlinked. In the body text, each heading links back to the next higher heading, and so on back to the top of each file.

Orthography is briefly described early in the article. Note in particular the vowels ɐ and ǝ (inverted a and e); both are rare. The inconsistent use of ĸ and ρ, especially in material quoted from other sources, is not explained. The letter ĸ (kra) is equivalent to q in modern (ICI) orthography; ρ (Greek rho) may represent r or voiced/nasalized q.

List of Illustrations

General Index

Typographical errors are shown in the text with mouse-hover popups, and are listed again at the end of each file. General notes on errors and inconsistencies are at the end of this file. The Franz Boas article “The Central Eskimo” is available from Project Gutenberg as etext 42084.




Naturalist and Observer, International Polar Expedition to
Point Barrow, Alaska, 1881-1883.



see caption


Showing the region known to the Point Barrow Eskimo

Based on the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey
map of Alaska, 1884, with additions from the U.S.C. & G.S.
“General Chart of Alaska” 1889, and from Eskimo account.
Eskimo names given in the form used at Point Barrow
Names of “tribes” underlined thus

Compiled by JOHN MURDOCH





First Segment
Introduction 19
List of works consulted 20
Situation and surroundings 26
Climate 30
People 33
Physical characteristics 33
Pathology 39
Psychical characteristics 40
Tribal phenomena 42
Social surroundings 43
Contact with uncivilized people 43
Other Eskimo 43
Indians 49
Contact with civilized people 51
Natural resources 55
Animals 55
Mammals 55
Birds 56
Fishes 58
Insects and other invertebrates 59
Plants 59
Minerals 60
Culture 61
Means of subsistence 61
Food 61
Substances used for food 61
Means of preparing food 63
Time and frequency of eating 63
Drinks 64
Narcotics 65
Habitations 72
The winter house 72
Arrangement in villages 79
Snow houses 81
Tents 83
Household utensils 86
For holding and carrying food, water, etc 86
Canteens 86
Wallets, etc 86
Buckets and tubs 86
Meat bowls 89
For preparing food 90
Pots of stone and other materials 90
Bone crushers 93
For serving and eating food 99
Trays 99
Drinking vessels 101
Whalebone cups 101
6 Spoons and ladles 104
Miscellaneous household utensils 105
Lamps 105
Clothing 109
Material 109
Style of dress 110
Head clothing 112
Frocks 113
Mantles 121
Rainfrocks 122
Arm clothing 123
Mittens 123
Gloves 124
Leg and foot clothing 125
Breeches 125
Pantaloons 126
Stockings 129
Boots and shoes 129
Parts of dress 135
Belts 135
Ornaments 138
Personal adornment 138
Skin ornamentation 138
Tattooing 138
Painting 140
Head ornaments 140
Method of wearing the hair 140
Head bands 142
Ear rings 142
Labrets 143
Neck ornaments 148
Ornaments of the limbs 148
Bracelets 148
Finger rings 149
Miscellaneous ornaments 149
Beads 149
Toilet articles 149
Second Segment
Implements of general use, etc 150
Tools 150
Knives 150
Adzes 165
Chisels 172
Whalebone shaves 173
Saws 174
Drills and borers 175
Hammers 182
Files 182
Whetstones 183
Tool boxes and bags 185
Weapons 191
Projectile weapons 193
Firearms 193
Whaling guns 195
Bows 195
Arrows 201
7 Bear arrows 202
Bow cases and quivers 207
Bracers 209
Bird darts 210
Seal darts 214
Harpoons 218
Thrusting weapons 233
Harpoons 233
Lances 240
Throwing weapons 244
Hunting implements other than weapons 246
Floats 246
Flipper toggles 247
Harpoon boxes 247
Nets 251
Seal calls 253
Seal rattles 254
Seal indicators 254
Sealing stools 255
Seal drags 256
Whalebone wolf-killers 259
Traps 260
Snow-goggles 260
Meat cache markers 262
Methods of hunting 263
The polar bear 263
The wolf 263
The fox 264
The reindeer 264
The seal 268
The walrus 272
The whale 272
Fowl 276
Implements for fishing 278
Hooks and lines 278
Nets 284
Spears 286
Flint working 287
Fire making 289
Drills 289
Flint and steel 291
Kindlings 291
Bow and arrow making 291
The marline spike 291
The twisters 292
The feather setter 294
Third Segment
Skin working 294
Scrapers 294
Scraper cups 299
Combs for deer skins 300
Manufacture of lines of thong 301
Builders’ tools 302
For excavating 302
Tools for snow and ice working 304
Snow knives 304
8 Snow shovels 305
Ice picks 307
Ice scoops 308
Implements for procuring and preparing food 310
Blubber hooks 310
Fish scaler 311
Making and working fiber 311
Twisting and braiding 311
Netting 312
Netting weights 315
Weaving 316
Sewing 317
Means of locomotion and transportation 328
Traveling by water 328
Kaiaks and paddles 328
Umiaks and fittings 335
Traveling on foot 344
Snowshoes 344
Staff 352
Land conveyances 353
Sledges 353
Dogs and harness 357
Hunting scores 360
Games and pastimes 364
Gambling 364
Festivals 365
Mechanical contrivances 372
Description of festivals 373
Toys and sports for children and others 376
Playthings 376
Dolls 380
Juvenile implements 383
Games and sports 383
Music 385
Musical instruments 385
Character and frequency of music 388
Art 389
Domestic life 410
Marriage 410
Standing and treatment of women 413
Children 414
Rights and wrongs 419
Social life and customs 420
Personal habits and cleanliness 420
Salutation 422
Healing 422
Customs concerning the dead 423
Abstentions 423
Manner of disposing of the dead 424
Government 427
In the family 427
In the village 427
Religion 430
General ideas 430
Amulets 434



Many illustrations have labels showing scale: 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, up to 1/23. What you see may be a little bigger or smaller, but all images should be proportional. The ruler shows the printed size.

Pl. I.

Map of Northwestern Alaska


Map of the hunting grounds of the Point Barrow Eskimo

Fig. 1. Unalina, a man of Nuwŭk 34

Mûmûñina, a woman of Nuwŭk


Akabiana, a youth of Utkiavwiñ


Puka, a young man of Utkiavwiñ

5. Woman stretching skins 38

Pipes: (a) pipe with metal bowl; (b) pipe with stone bowl; (c) pipe with bowl of antler or ivory


Pipe made of willow stick

8. Tobacco pouches 69

Plans of Eskimo winter house


Interior of iglu, looking toward door


Interior of iglu, looking toward bench

12. House in Utkiavwiñ 76

Ground plan and section of winter house in Mackenzie region


Ground plan of large snow house


Tent on the beach at Utkiavwiñ

16. Wooden bucket 86
17. Large tub 87
18. Whalebone dish 88
19. Meat-bowl 89
20. Stone pot 90
21. Small stone pot 91
22. Fragments of pottery 92
23. Stone maul 94
24. Stone maul 94
25. Stone maul 95
26. Stone maul 95
27. Stone maul 96
28. Stone maul 96
29. Bone maul 97
30. Bone maul 97
31. Bone maul 98
32. Bone maul 98
33. Meat-dish 99
34. Oblong meat-dish 100

Oblong meat-dish, very old

36. Fish dish 100
37. Whalebone cup 101
38. Horn dipper 101
39. Horn dipper 102
40. Dipper of fossil ivory 103
10 41. Dipper of fossil ivory 103
42. Wooden spoon 104
43. Horn ladle 104
44. Bone ladle 104

Bone ladle in the form of a whale

46. Bone ladle 105
47. Stone house-lamp 106
48. Sandstone lamp 107
49. Traveling lamp 108

Socket for blubber holder


Man in ordinary deerskin clothes

52. Woman’s hood 111
53. Man’s frock 113

Pattern of man’s deerskin frock


Detail of trimming, skirt and shoulder of man’s frock


Man wearing plain, heavy frock


Man’s frock of mountain sheepskin, front and back


Man’s frock of ermine skins


Pattern of sheepskin frock

60. Pattern of ermine frock 117

Woman’s frock, front and back

62. Pattern of woman’s frock 119

Detail of edging, woman’s frock


Details of trimming, woman’s frock

65. Man’s cloak of deerskin 121
66. Pattern of man’s cloak 121
67. Deerskin mittens 123
68. Deerskin gloves 124

Man’s breeches of deerskin


Pattern of man’s breeches


Trimming of man’s breeches

72. Woman’s pantaloons 127

Patterns of woman’s pantaloons

74. Pattern of stocking 129
75. Man’s boot of deerskin 131
76. Pattern of deerskin boot 131

Man’s dress boot of deerskin


Pattern of man’s dress boot of deerskin


Man’s dress boot of skin of mountain sheep


Pair of man’s dress boots of deerskin


Woman’s waterproof sealskin boot


Sketch of “ice-creepers” on boot sole


Man’s belt woven of feathers


Diagram showing method of fastening the ends of feathers in belt


Woman’s belt of wolverine toes

86. Belt-fastener 138
87. Man with tattooed cheeks 139

Woman with ordinary tattooing


Man’s method of wearing the hair

90. Earrings 143

Plug for enlarging labret hole


Labret of beads and ivory


Blue and white labret from Anderson River

94. Oblong labret of bone 147

Oblong labret of soapstone

11 96. Ancient labret 148
97. Beads of amber 149
98. Hair combs 150
99. Slate knives 151
100. Slate knife-blade 152
101. Slate knife 152
102. Slate knife 152
103. Slate hunting-knife 152

Blade of slate hunting-knife

105. Large slate knife 153

Large single-edged slate knife

107. Blades of knives 154
108. Peculiar slate knife 154

Knife with whalebone blade

110. Small iron knife 155
111. Small iron knives 156
112. Iron hunting knife 156
113. Large crooked knife 158

Large crooked knife with sheath

115. Small crooked knives 159
116. Crooked knife 159

Crooked knives, flint-bladed


Slate-bladed crooked knives


Woman’s knife, steel blade


Woman’s knife, slate blade


Woman’s knife, slate blade


Woman’s knife, slate blade


Woman’s knife, slate blade


Woman’s ancient slate-bladed knife


Ancient bone handle for woman’s knife

126. Large knife of slate 163

Woman’s knife of flaked flint

128. Hatchet hafted as an adz 165
129. Hatchet hafted as an adz 166
130. Adz-head of jade 167
131. Adz-head of jade 167
132. Hafted jade adz 168

Adz-head of jade and bone


Adz-head of bone and iron, without eyes


Adz-head of bone and iron, with vertical eyes


Adz-head of bone and iron, with vertical eyes

137. Hafted bone and iron adz 169

Hafted bone and stone adz


Small adz-blade of green jade


Hafted adz of bone and flint


Old cooper’s adz, rehafted

142. Adz with bone blade 172
143. Antler chisel 173
144. Antler chisel 173

Spurious tool, flint blade


Whalebone shave, slate blade


Saw made of deer’s scapula

148. Saw made of a case-knife 175
149. Bow drill 176
150. Bow drill and mouthpiece 176
12 151. Bow drill 177
152. Drill bow 177
153. Drill bows 178
154. Spliced drill bow 178

Drill mouthpiece with iron socket


Drill mouthpiece without wings

157. Bone-pointed drill 179
158. Handles for drill cords 180
159. Flint-bladed reamers 182
160. Flint-bladed reamers 182
161. Awl 182
162. Jade whetstones 183
163. Jade whetstones 184
164. Wooden tool-boxes 185
165. Large wooden tool-boxes 186

Tool-bag of wolverine skin


Tool-bag of wolverine skin


Drills belonging to the tool-bag


Comb for deerskins in the tool-bag

170. Bag handles 190
171. Bag of leather 190
172. Little hand-club 191

Slungshot made of walrus jaw

174. Dagger of bear’s bone 192
175. Bone daggers 192
176. So-called dagger of bone 193
177. Boy’s bow from Utkiavwiñ 196
178. Loop at end of bowstring 197
179. Large bow from Nuwŭk 197
180. Large bow from Sidaru 198

Feathering of the Eskimo arrow


Flint-headed arrow (kukĭksadlĭñ)

183. Long flint pile 202
184. Short flint pile 202
185. Heart-shaped flint pile 203

(a) Arrow with “after pile” (ipudligadlĭñ); (b) arrow with iron pile (savidlĭñ); (c) arrow with iron pile (savidlĭñ); (d) arrow with copper pile (savidlĭñ); (e) deer-arrow (nûtkodlĭñ)


Pile of deer arrow (nûtkăñ)

188. “Kûnmûdlĭñ” arrow pile 205

(a) Fowl arrow (tugalĭñ); (b) bird arrow (kixodwain)

190. Bow case and quivers 208
191. Quiver rod 209
192. Cap for quiver rod 209
193. Bracer 210
194. Bracer of bone 210
195. Bird dart 211
196. Point for bird dart 212

Ancient point for bird dart

198. Point for bird dart 213

Bird dart with double point

200. Ancient ivory dart head 214
201. Bone dart head 214
202. Nozzle for bladder float 215
203. Seal dart 215
13 204. Foreshaft of seal dart 217
205. Throwing board for darts 217
206. Harpoon head 218
207. Harpoon head 219

Ancient bone harpoon head


(a) Ancient bone harpoon head; (b) variants of this type

210. Bone harpoon head 220
211. Bone harpoon head 220

Harpoon head, bone and stone


Harpoon head, bone and stone

214. Walrus harpoons 224

Typical walrus-harpoon heads


Typical walrus-harpoon heads


Typical walrus-harpoon heads


Walrus-harpoon head, with “leader”


Walrus-harpoon head, with line


Walrus-harpoon head, with line


Walrus-harpoon head, with line


Foreshaft of walrus harpoon


Harpoon head for large seals

224. Retrieving seal harpoon 231

Details of retrieving seal harpoon


Jade blade for seal harpoon


Seal harpoon for thrusting


Diagram of lashing on shaft

229. Model of a seal harpoon 235

Large model of whale harpoon


Model of whale harpoon, with floats


Flint blade for whale harpoon


Slate blade for whale harpoon


Body of whale harpoon head

235. Whale harpoon heads 238

Whale harpoon head with “leader”


Foreshaft of whale harpoon

238. Whale lance 240

Flint head of whale lance


Flint heads for whale lances

241. Bear lance 242

Flint head for bear lance

243. Deer lance 243

Part of deer lance with flint head

245. Deer lance, flint head 244

Flint head for deer lance


Bird bolas, looped up for carrying


Bird bolas, ready for use

249. Sealskin float 247
250. Flipper toggles 248
251. Boxes for harpoon heads 249
252. Seal net 251

Scratchers for decoying seals

254. Seal rattle 254
255. Seal indicators 255
256. Sealing stool 255
257. Seal drag and handles 257
258. Whalebone wolf killers 259
14 259. Wooden snow-goggles 261
260. Bone snow-goggles 262

Wooden snow-goggles, unusual form

262. Marker for meat cache 262
263. Marker for meat cache 263
264. Tackle for shore fishing 279
265. Knot of line into hook 279
266. Small fish-hooks 280
267. Hooks for river fishing 280
268. Tackle for river fishing 280

Burbot hook, first pattern


Burbot hook, second pattern


Burbot hook, made of cod hook

272. Burbot tackle, baited 281
273. Ivory sinker 282

Ivory jigger for polar cod

275. Section of whalebone net 284
276. Mesh of sinew net 285
277. Fish trap 285
278. Fish spear 286
279. Flint flakers 288
280. Haft of flint flaker 288

Flint flaker, with bone blade


Fire drill, with mouthpiece and stock


Set of bow-and-arrow tools

284. Marline spike 292
285. Marline spike 292

“Twister” for working sinew backing of bow

287. “Feather setter” 294
288. Tool of antler 294
289. Skin scraper 295

Skin scrapers—handles only

291. Skin scrapers 296
292. Skin scraper 296

Peculiar modification of scraper

294. Skin scraper 297
295. Skin scraper 297
296. Skin scraper 297

Flint blade for skin scraper

298. Straight-hafted scraper 298
299. Bone scraper 299
300. Scraper cups 299

Combs for cleaning deer-skins


“Double slit” splice for rawhide lines

303. Mattock of whale’s rib 303

Pickax-heads of bone, ivory, and whale’s rib

305. Ivory snow knife 305
306. Snow shovels 305

Snow shovel made of a whale’s scapula

308. Snow pick 307
309. Snow drill 308
310. Ice scoop 308
311. Long blubber hook 310

Short-handled blubber hook

313. Fish sealer 311
15 314. Ivory shuttle 311
315. Netting needle 312
316. Mesh stick 312
317. Netting needles 313

Netting needles for seal net

319. Netting needle 314
320. Mesh sticks 314
321. Netting weights 316

Shuttle belonging to set of feather tools

323. Mesh stick 317

“Sword” for feather weaving


Quill case of bone needles


(a) Large bone needle and peculiar thimble; (b) Leather thimbles with bone needles


Needle cases with belt hooks


(a) Needle case with belt hook; (b) needle case open, showing bone needles

329. Trinket boxes 323
330. Trinket boxes 324
331. Ivory box 325
332. Bone box 325
333. Little flask of ivory 325
334. Box in shape of deer 325
335. Small basket 326
336. Small basket 326
337. Small basket 327
338. Kaiak 329

Method of fastening together frame of kaiak

340. Double kaiak paddle 330
341. Model kaiak and paddle 334
342. Frame of umiak 336

(a) Method of fastening bilge-streaks to stem of umiak; (b) method of framing rib to gunwale, etc.


Method of slinging the oar of umiak


(a) Model of umiak and paddles; (b) model of umiak, inside plan

346. Ivory bailer for umiak 340
347. Ivory crotch for harpoon 341
348. Ivory crotch for harpoon 342

Crotch for harpoon made of walrus jaw

350. Snowshoe 345
351. Knot in snowshoe netting 346

(a) First round of heel-netting of snowshoe; (b) first and second round of heel-netting of snowshoe


(a) First round of heel-netting of snowshoe; (b) first, second, and third rounds of heel-netting of snowshoe

354. Small snowshoe 350
355. Old “chief,” with staffs 353

Railed sledge (diagrammatic), from photograph

357. Flat sledge 355

Small sledge with ivory runners


Small toboggan of whalebone


Hunting score engraved on ivory


Hunting score engraved on ivory, obverse and reverse


Hunting score engraved on ivory


Hunting score engraved on ivory, obverse and reverse

16 364.

Game of fox and geese from Plover Bay

365. Dancing cap 365
366. Wooden mask 366

Wooden mask and dancing gorget

368. Old grotesque mask 368
369. Rude mask of wood 369
370. Wolf mask of wood 369
371. Very ancient small mask 369
372. Dancing gorgets of wood 371

Youth dancing to the aurora

374. Whirligigs 377
375. Teetotum 378
376. Buzz toy 378
377. Whizzing stick 379
378. Pebble snapper 379
379. Carving of human head 380

Mechanical doll—drum-player


Mechanical toy—kaiak paddler


Kaiak carved from block of wood

383. Drum 385

Handle of drum secured to rim

385. Drum handles 387
386. Ivory drumsticks 388

Ancient carving—human head

388. Wooden figures 393

Carving—face of Eskimo man


Grotesque soapstone image—“walrus man”

391. Bone image of dancer 395
392. Bone image of man 396
393. Grotesque bone image 396

Bone image—sitting man


Human figure carved from walrus ivory


Ivory carving—three human heads


Rude human head, carved from a walrus tooth

398. Elaborate ivory carving 398
399. Bear carved of soapstone 398
400. Bear flaked from flint 399

(a) Bear carved from bone; (b) bear’s head

402. Ivory figures of bears 400

Rude ivory figures of walrus


Images of seal—wood and bone


White whale carved from gypsum


Wooden carving—whale


Whale carved from soapstone

408. Rude flat image of whale 404
409. Ivory image of whale 404
410. Ivory image of whale 404

Pair of little ivory whales


Soapstone image of imaginary animal


Ivory carving, seal with fish’s head


Ivory carving, ten-legged bear


Ivory carving, giant holding whales


Double-headed animal carved from antler

417. Ivory carving—dog 407
17 418.

(a) Piece of ivory, engraved with figures; (b) development of pattern


(a) Similar engraved ivory; (b) development of pattern

420. Ivory doll 409
421. Whale flaked from glass 435

Whale flaked from red jasper


Ancient whale amulet, of wood


Amulet of whaling—stuffed godwit


Amulet consisting of ancient jade adz


Little box containing amulet for whaling


Amulet for catching fowl with bolas


Box of dried bees—amulet



see caption

The Hunting Grounds
of the
Point Barrow Eskimo

Based on Lieut. P. H. Ray’s “Map of
Explorations in Northwestern Alaska,”
Signal Service, U.S.A. 1885
Completed by
John Murdoch



By John Murdoch.


The International Polar Expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska, was organized in 1881 by the Chief Signal Officer of the Army, for the purpose of cooperating in the work of circumpolar observation proposed by the International Polar Conference. The expedition, which was commanded by Lieut. P. H. Ray, Eighth Infantry, U.S. Army, sailed from San Francisco July 18, 1881, and reached Cape Smyth, 11 miles southwest of Point Barrow, on September 8 of the same year. Here a permanent station was established, where the party remained until August 28, 1883, when the station was abandoned, and the party sailed for San Francisco, arriving there October 7.

Though the main object of the expedition was the prosecution of the observations in terrestrial magnetism and meteorology, it was possible to obtain a large collection of articles illustrating the arts and industries of the Eskimo of the region, with whom the most friendly relations were early established. Nearly all of the collection was made by barter, the natives bringing their weapons, clothing, and other objects to the station for sale. Full notes on the habits and customs of the Eskimo also were collected by the different members of the party, especially by the commanding officer; the interpreter, Capt. E. P. Herendeen; the surgeon, Dr. George Scott Oldmixon, and myself, who served as one of the naturalists and observers of the expedition. It fell to my share to take charge of and catalogue all the collections made by the expedition, and therefore I had especially favorable opportunities for becoming acquainted with the ethnography of the region. Consequently, upon the return of the expedition, when it was found that the ethnological observations would occupy too much space for publication in the official report,1 all the collections and notes were intrusted to me for the purpose of preparing a special report. The Smithsonian Institution, through the kindness of the late Prof. Spencer F. Baird, then secretary, furnished 20 a room where the work of studying the collection could be carried on, and allowed me access to its libraries and to the extensive collections of the National Museum for the purposes of comparison. The Director of the Bureau of Ethnology, Maj. J. W. Powell, kindly agreed to furnish the illustrations for the work and to publish it as part of his annual report, while the Chief Signal Officer, with the greatest consideration, permitted me to remain in the employ of his Bureau until the completion of the work.

Two years were spent in a detailed analytical study of the articles in the collection, until all the information that could be gathered from the objects themselves and from the notes of the collectors had been recorded. Careful comparisons were made with the arts and industries of the Eskimo race as illustrated by the collections in the National Museum and the writings of various explorers, and these frequently resulted in the elucidation of obscure points in the history of the Point Barrow Eskimo. In the form in which it is presented this work contains, it is believed, all that is known at the present day of the ethnography of this interesting people.

Much linguistic material was also collected, which I hope some time to be able to prepare for publication.

The observations are arranged according to the plan proposed by Prof. Otis T. Mason in his “Ethnological Directions, etc.,” somewhat modified to suit the circumstances. In writing Eskimo words the alphabet given in Powell’s “Introduction to the Study of Indian Languages” has been used, with the addition ɐ for an obscure a (like the final a in soda), ǝ for a similar obscure e, and ö for the sound of the German ö or French eu.

I desire to express my gratitude to the late Prof. Spencer F. Baird, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to the late Gen. William B. Hazen, Chief Signal Officer of the Army, and to Maj. J. W. Powell, Director of the Bureau of Ethnology, for their kindness in enabling me to carry on these investigations. Grateful acknowledgment is due for valuable assistance to various members of the scientific staff of the National Museum, especially to the curator of ethnology, Prof. Otis T. Mason, and to Mr. William H. Dall. Valuable suggestions were received from Mr. Lucien M. Turner, Dr. Franz Boas, the late Dr. Emil Bessels, and Dr. H. Rink, of Christiania.


The following list is not intended for a complete bibliography of what has been written on the ethnography of the Eskimo, but it is believed that it contains most of the important works by authors who have treated of these people from personal observation. Such of the less important works have been included as contain any references bearing upon the subject of the study.

As it has been my object to go, whenever possible, to the original sources of information, compilations, whether scientific or popular, have 21 not been referred to or included in this list, which also contains only the editions referred to in the text.

Armstrong, Alexander. A personal narrative of the discovery of the Northwest Passage; with numerous incidents of travel and adventure during nearly five years’ continuous service in the Arctic regions while in search of the expedition under Sir John Franklin. London, 1857.

Back, George. Narrative of the Arctic land expedition to the mouth of the Great Fish River and along the shores of the Arctic Ocean, in the years 1833, 1834, and 1835. Philadelphia, 1836.

Beechey, Frederick William. Narrative of a voyage to the Pacific and Beering’s Strait to cooperate with the polar expeditions: performed in His Majesty’s ship Blossom, under the command of Capt. F. W. Beechey, etc., etc., etc., in the years 1825, 1826, 1827, and 1828. London, 1831.

Bessels, Emil. Die amerikanische Nordpol-Expedition. Leipzig, 1878.

—— The northernmost inhabitants of the earth. An ethnographic sketch. < American Naturalist, vol. 18, pp. 861-882. 1884.

—— Einige Worte über die Inuit (Eskimo) des Smith-Sundes, nebst Bemerkungen über Inuit-Schädel. < Archiv für Anthropologie, vol. 8, pp. 107-122. Braunschweig, 1875.

Boas, Franz. The Central Eskimo. In Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, pp. 399-669. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1888.

Brodbeck, J. Nach Osten. Untersuchungsfahrt nach der Ostküste Grönlands, vom 2. bis 12. August 1881. Niesky, 1882.

Chappell, E. (Lieut., R.N.). Narrative of a voyage to Hudson’s Bay in His Majesty’s ship Rosamond, containing some account of the northeastern coast of America, and of the tribes inhabiting that remote region. London, 1817.

Choris, L. Voyage Pittoresque autour du Monde, avec des portraits des sauvages d’Amérique, d’Asie, d’Afrique, et des iles du Grand Océan; des paysages, des vues maritimes, et plusieurs objets d’histoire naturelle; accompagné de descriptions par M. le Baron Cuvier, et M. A. de Chamisso, et d’observations sur les crânes humains par M. le Docteur Gall. Paris, 1822.

Cook, James, and King, James. A voyage to the Pacific Ocean, undertaken by the command of His Majesty for making discoveries in the northern hemisphere, to determine the position and extent of the west side of North America; its distance from Asia; and the practicability of a northern passage to Europe, in the years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780. London, 1784. 3 vols. (Commonly called “Cook’s Third Voyage.”)

Corwin.” Cruise of the revenue steamer Corwin in Alaska and the N.W. Arctic Ocean in 1881. Notes and memoranda. Medical and anthropological; botanical; ornithological. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1883.

Crantz, David. The history of Greenland: containing a description of the country and its inhabitants; and particularly a relation of the mission carried on for above these thirty years by the Unitas Fratrum, at New Herrnhuth and Lichtenfels, in that country. 2 volumes. London, 1767.

Dall, William Healy. Alaska and its Resources. Boston, 1870.

—— On masks, labrets, and certain aboriginal customs, with an inquiry into the bearing of their geographical distribution. < Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1881. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1884.

—— Tribes of the extreme northwest. < Contributions to North American Ethnology, vol. 1. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1877.

[Davis, John]. The first voyage of Master John Dauis, vndertaken in June 1585: for the discoverie of the Northwest Passage. Written by John Janes Marchant Seruant to the worshipfull M. William Sanderson. < Hakluyt, “The principal navigations, voiages, etc.,” pp. 776-780. London, 1589.


—— The second voyage attempted by Master John Davis with others for the discoverie of the Northwest passage, in Anno 1586. < Hakluyt, “The principal navigations, voiages, etc.,” pp. 781-786. London, 1589.

—— The third voyage Northwestward, made by John Dauis, Gentleman, as chiefe Captaine and Pilot generall, for the discoverie of a passage to the Isles of the Molucca, or the coast of China, in the yeere 1587. Written by John Janes, Seruant to the aforesayd M. William Sanderson. < Hakluyt, “The principal navigations, voiages, etc.,” pp. 789-792. London, 1589.

Dease, Peter W., and Simpson, Thomas. An account of the recent arctic discoveries by Messrs. Dease and Simpson. < Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, vol. 8, pp. 213-225. London, 1838.

Egede, Hans. A description of Greenland. Showing the natural history, situation, boundaries, and face of the country; the nature of the soil; the rise and progress of the old Norwegian colonies; the ancient and modern inhabitants; their genius and way of life, and produce of the soil; their plants, beasts, fishes, etc. Translated from the Danish. London, 1745.

Ellis, H. A voyage to Hudson’s Bay, by the Dobbs Galley and California, in the years 1746 and 1747, for discovering a northwest passage. London, 1748.

Franklin, Sir John. Narrative of a journey to the shores of the Polar Sea in the years 1819-20-21-22. Third edition, 2 vols. London, 1824.

—— Narrative of a second expedition to the shores of the Polar Sea in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827. Including an account of the progress of a detachment to the eastward, by John Richardson. London, 1828.

[Frobisher, Martin]. The first voyage of M. Martine Frobisher to the Northwest for the search of the straight or passage to China, written by Christopher Hall, and made in the yeere of our Lord 1576. < Hakluyt, “The principal navigations, voiages, etc.,” pp. 615-622. London, 1589.

—— The second voyage of Master Martin Frobisher, made to the West and Northwest Regions, in the yeere 1577. With a description of the Countrey and people. Written by Dionise Settle. < Hakluyt, “The principal navigations, voiages, etc.,” pp. 622-630. London, 1589.

—— The third and last voyage into Meta Incognita, made by M. Martin Frobisher, in the year 1578. Written by Thomas Ellis. < Hakluyt, “The principal navigations, voiages, etc.,” pp. 630-635. London, 1589.

Gilder, W. H. Schwatka’s search. Sledging in the arctic in quest of the Franklin records. New York, 1881.

Graah, W. A. (Capt.). Narrative of an expedition to the east coast of Greenland, sent by order of the King of Denmark, in search of the lost colonies. Translated from the Danish. London, 1837.

Hakluyt, Richard. The principall navigations, voiages and discoveries of the English nation, made by Sea or over Land, to the most remote and farthest distant Quarters of the earth at any time within the compasse of these 100 yeeres. London, 1589.

Hall, Charles Francis. Arctic researches and life among the Esquimaux: being the narrative of an expedition in search of Sir John Franklin, in the years 1860, 1861, and 1862. New York, 1865.

—— Narrative of the second arctic expedition made by Charles F. Hall: his voyage to Repulse Bay, sledge journeys to the Straits of Fury and Hecla and to King William’s Land, and residence among the Eskimos during the years 1864-’69. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1879.

Healy, M. A. Report of the cruise of the revenue marine steamer Corwin in the Arctic Ocean in the year 1885. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1887.

Holm, G. Konebaads-Expeditionen til Grønlands Østkyst 1883-’85. < Geografisk Tidskrift, vol. 8, pp. 79-98. Copenhagen, 1886. 23

Holm, G., and Garde, V. Den danske Konebaads-Expeditionen til Grønlands Østkyst, populært beskreven. Copenhagen, 1887.

Hooper, C. L. (Capt.). Report of the cruise of the U.S. revenue steamer Thomas Corwin, in the Arctic Ocean, 1881. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1884.

Hooper, William Hulme (Lieut.). Ten months among the tents of the Tuski, with incidents of an arctic boat expedition in search of Sir John Franklin, as far as the Mackenzie River and Cape Bathurst. London, 1853.

Kane, Elisha Kent (Dr.). Arctic explorations in the years 1853, ’54, ’55. Two vols. Philadelphia, 1856.

—— The U.S. Grinnell expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. A personal narrative. New York, 1853.

Kirkby, W. W. (Archdeacon). A journey to the Youcan, Russian America. < Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1864, pp. 416-420. Washington, 1865.

Klutschak, Heinrich W. Als Eskimo unter den Eskimos. Eine Schilderung der Erlebnisse der Schwatka’schen Franklin-aufsuchungs-expedition in den Jahren 1878-’80. Wien, Pest, Leipzig, 1881.

Kotzebue, O. von. A voyage of discovery into the South Sea and Beering’s Straits, for the purpose of exploring a northeast passage, undertaken in the years 1815-1818. Three volumes. London, 1821.

Krause, Aurel (Dr.). Die Bevolkerungsverhältnisse der Tschuktscher-Halbinsel. < Deutsche geographische Blätter, vol. 6, pp. 248-278. Bremen, 1883.

—— and Arthur, Die Expedition der Bremer geographischen Gesellschaft nach der Tschuktscher-Halbinsel. < Deutsche geographische Blätter, vol. 5, pp. 1-35, 111-133. Bremen, 1882.

—— Die wissenschaftliche Expedition der Bremer geographischen Gesellschaft nach dem Küstengebiete an der Beringsstrasse. < Deutsche geographische Blätter, vol. 4, pp. 245-281. Bremen, 1881.

Kumlien, Ludwig, Contributions to the natural history of Arctic America, made in connection with the Howgate polar expedition, 1877-78. Bulletin of the U.S. National Museum, No. 15. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1879.

Lisiansky, Urey, A voyage round the world, in the years 1803, ’4, ’5, and ’6, performed by order of His Imperial Majesty Alexander the First, Emperor of Russia, in the ship Neva. London, 1814.

Lyon, G. F. (Capt.). The private journal of Captain G. F. Lyon, of H.M.S. Hecla, during the recent voyage of discovery under Captain Parry. Boston, 1824.

M’Clure, Robert le Mesurier (Capt.). See Osborn, Sherard (editor).

Mackenzie, Alexander. Voyages from Montreal, on the river St. Lawrence, through the continent of North America, to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans, in the years 1789 and 1793. London, 1802.

Maguire, Rochfort (Commander). Proceedings of Commander Maguire, H.M. discovery ship “Plover.” < Parliamentary Reports, 1854, XLII, pp. 165-185. London, 1854.

—— Proceedings of Commander Maguire, Her Majesty’s discovery ship “Plover.” < Further papers relative to the recent arctic expedition in search of Sir John Franklin, etc., p. 905 (second year). Presented to both houses of Parliament, January, 1855. London.

Morgan, Henry. The relation of the course which the Sunshine, a bark of fiftie tunnes, and the Northstarre, a small pinnesse, being two vessels of the fleet of M. John Dauis, held after he had sent them from him to discouer the passage between Groenland and Island. Written by Henry Morgan, seruant to M. William Sanderson, of London. < Hakluyt, “The principall navigations, voiages, etc.,” pp. 787-9. London, 1589.

Murdoch, John. The retrieving harpoon; an undescribed type of Eskimo weapon. < American Naturalist, vol. 19, 1885, pp. 423-425. 24

Murdoch, John. On the Siberian origin of some customs of the western Eskimos. < American Anthropologist, vol. 1, pp. 325-336. Washington, 1888.

—— A study of the Eskimo bows in the U.S. National Museum. < Smithsonian Report for 1884, pt. II, pp. 307-316. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1885.

Nordenskiöld, Adolf Eric. The voyage of the Vega round Asia and Europe. Translated by Alexander Leslie. 2 vols. London, 1881.

Osborn, Sherard (editor). The discovery of the northwest passage by H.M.S. Investigator, Capt. R. M’Clure, 1850, 1851, 1852, 1853, 1854. Edited by Commander Sherard Osborn, from the logs and journals of Capt. Robert Le M. M’Clure. Appendix: Narrative of Commander Maguire, wintering at Point Barrow. London, 1856.

Parry, William Edward (Sir). Journal of a voyage for the discovery of a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific; performed in the years 1819-’20, in His Majesty’s ships Hecla and Griper. Second edition. London, 1821.

—— Journal of a second voyage for the discovery of a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific; performed in the years 1821-’22-’23, in His Majesty’s ships Fury and Hecla. London, 1824.

Petitot, Emile Fortuné Stanislas Joseph, (Rev.). Géographie de l’Athabascaw-Mackenzie. < Bulletin de la Société de Géographie, [6] vol. 10, pp. 5-12, 126-183, 242-290. Paris, 1875.

—— Vocabulaire Français-Esquimaux, dialecte des Tchiglit des bouches du Mackenzie et de l’Anderson, précédé d’une monographie de cette tribu et de notes grammaticales. Vol. 3 of Pinart’s “Bibliothèque de Linguistique et d’Ethnographie Américaines.”

Petroff, Ivan. Report on the population, industries, and resources of Alaska. < Tenth Census of the U.S. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1884.

Powell, Joseph S. (Lieut.). Report of Lieut. Joseph S. Powell: Relief expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska. < Signal Service Notes, No. V, pp. 13-23. Washington, Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1883.

Rae, John (Dr.). Narrative of an expedition to the shores of the Arctic Sea in 1846 and 1847. London, 1850.

Ray, Patrick Henry (Lieut.). Report of the International Polar Expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1885.

—— Report of Lieut. P. Henry Ray: Work at Point Barrow, Alaska, from September 16, 1881, to August 25, 1882. < Signal Service Notes, No. V, pp. 35-40. Washington, Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1883.

Richardson, John (Sir.). Arctic searching expedition: A journal of a boat voyage through Rupert’s Land and the Arctic Sea, in search of the discovery ships under command of Sir John Franklin. 2 volumes. London, 1851.

—— Eskimos, their geographical distribution. < Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, vol. 52, pp. 322-323. Edinburgh, 1852.

—— The polar regions. Edinburgh, 1861.

Rink, Henrik [Johan] (Dr.). Die dänische Expedition nach der Ostküste Grönlands, 1883-1885. < Deutsche geographische Blätter, vol. 8, pp. 341-353. Bremen, 1885.

—— Danish Greenland, its people and its products. London. 1877.

—— The Eskimo tribes. Their distribution and characteristics, especially in regard to language. Meddelelser om Grønland, vol. 11. Copenhagen, 1887.

—— Die Östgrönlander in ihrem Verhältnisse zu den übrigen Eskimostämmen. < Deutsche geographische Blätter, vol. 9, pp. 228-239. Bremen, 1886.

—— Østgrønlænderne i deres Forhold til Vestgrønlænderne og de øvrige Eskimostammer. < Geografisk Tidskrift, vol. 8, pp. 139-145. Copenhagen, 1886. (Nearly the same as the above.)


—— Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo, with a sketch of their habits, language, and other peculiarities. Translated from the Danish. Edinburgh, 1875.

Ross, John. Appendix to the narrative of a second voyage in search of a Northwest passage, and of a residence in the arctic regions during the years 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833. London, 1835.

—— Narrative of a second voyage in search of a northwest passage, and of a residence in the arctic regions during the years 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833. Philadelphia, 1835.

—— A voyage of discovery, made under the orders of the admiralty in His Majesty’s ships Isabella and Alexander, for the purpose of exploring Baffin’s Bay, and inquiring into the probability of a northwest passage. London, 1819.

Schwatka, Frederick. The Netschilluk Innuit. < Science, vol. 4, pp. 543-5. New York, 1884.

—— Nimrod in the North, or hunting and fishing adventures in the arctic regions. New York, 1885.

Scoresby, William, Jr. (Captain). Journal of a voyage to the northern whale-fishery; including researches and discoveries on the eastern coast of Greenland, made in the summer of 1822, in the ship Baffin, of Liverpool. Edinburgh, 1823.

Seemann, Berthold. Narrative of the voyage of H.M.S. Herald, during the years 1845-’51, under the command of Captain Henry Kellett, R.N., C.B.; being a circumnavigation of the globe and three cruises to the arctic regions in search of Sir John Franklin. Two vols. London, 1853.

Simpson, John (Dr.). Observations on the western Eskimo, and the country they inhabit; from notes taken during two years at Point Barrow. < A selection of papers on arctic geography and ethnology. Reprinted and presented to the arctic expedition of 1875 by the Royal Geographical Society (“Arctic Blue Book”), pp. 233-275. London, 1875. (Reprinted from “Further papers,” etc., Parl. Rep., 1855.)

Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the discoveries on the north coast of America, effected by the officers of the Hudson’s Bay Company during the years 1836-39. London, 1843.

Sollas, W. J. On some Eskimos’ bone implements from the east coast of Greenland. Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 9, pp. 329-336. London, 1880.

Sutherland, P. C. (Dr.). On the Esquimaux. Journal of the Ethnological Society of London, vol. 4, pp. 193-214. London, 1856.

Wrangell, Ferdinand von. Narrative of an expedition to the Polar Sea in the years 1820, 1821, 1822, and 1823. Edited by Maj. Edward Sabine. London, 1840.



The people whose arts and industries are represented by the collection to be described are the Eskimo of the northwestern extremity of the continent of North America, who make permanent homes at the two villages of Nuwŭk and Utkiavwĭñ. Small contributions to the collection were obtained from natives of Wainwright Inlet and from people of the Inland River (Nunatañmiun) who visited the northern villages.

Nuwŭk, “the Point,” is situated on a slightly elevated knoll at the extremity of Point Barrow, in lat. 71° 23´ N., long. 156° 17´ W., and Utkiavwĭñ, “the Cliffs,” at the beginning of the high land at Cape Smyth, 11 miles southwest from Nuwŭk. The name Utkiavwĭñ was explained as meaning “the high place, whence one can look out,” and was said to be equivalent to ĭkpĭk, a cliff. This name appears on the various maps of this region under several corrupted forms, due to carelessness or inability to catch the finer distinctions of sound. It first appears on Capt. Maguire’s map2 as “Ot-ki-a-wing,” a form of the word very near the Eskimo pronunciation. On Dr. Simpson’s map3 it is changed to “Ot-ke-a-vik,” which on the admiralty chart is misprinted “Otkiovik.” Petroff on his map4 calls it “Ootiwakh,” while he gives an imaginary village “Ootkaiowik, Arctic Ocean,” of 55 inhabitants, in his census of the Arctic Division (op. cit., p. 4), which does not appear upon his map.

Our party, I regret to say, is responsible for the name “Ooglaamie” or “Uglaamie,” which has appeared on many maps since our return. Strictly speaking this name should be used only as the official name of the United States signal station. It arose from a misunderstanding of the name as heard the day after we arrived, and was even adopted by the natives in talking with us. It was not until the second year that we learned the correct form of the word, which has been carefully verified.

The inhabitants of these two villages are so widely separated from their neighbors—the nearest permanent villages are at Point Belcher and Wainwright Inlet, 75 miles southwest, and Demarcation Point, 350 miles east5—and so closely connected with each other by intermarriage and common interests, that they may be considered as a single people. In their hunting and trading expeditions they habitually range from the neighborhood of Refuge Inlet along the coast to Barter Island, going inland to the upper waters of the large rivers which flow northward into the Arctic Ocean east of Point Barrow. Small parties occasionally travel as far as Wainwright Inlet and more rarely to Point Hope, and 27 some times as far as the Mackenzie River. The extent of their wanderings will be treated of more fully in connection with their relations to the other natives of the Northwest. They appear to be unacquainted with the interior except for about 100 miles south of Point Barrow.

The coast from Refuge Inlet runs nearly straight in a generally northeast direction to Point Barrow, and consists of steep banks of clay, gravel, and pebbles, in appearance closely resembling glacial drift, bordered by a narrow, steep beach of pebbles and gravel, and broken at intervals by steep gulleys which are the channels of temporary streams running only during the period of melting snow, and by long, narrow, and shallow lagoons, to whose edges the cliffs slope gradually down, sometimes ending in low, steep banks. The mouths of these lagoons are generally rather wide, and closed by a bar of gravel thrown up by the waves during the season of open water. In the spring, the snow and ice on the land melt months before the sea opens and flood the ice on the lagoons, which also melts gradually around the edges until there is a sufficient head of water in the lagoon to break through the bar at the lowest point. This stream soon cuts itself a channel, usually about 20 or 30 yards wide, through which the lagoon is rapidly drained, soon cutting out an open space of greater or less extent in the sea ice. Before the sea opens the lagoon is drained down to its level, and the tide ebbs and flows through the channel, which is usually from knee-deep to waist-deep, so that the lagoon becomes more or less brackish. When the sea gets sufficiently open for waves to break upon the beach, they in a short time bring in enough gravel to close the outlet. The cliffs gradually decrease in height till they reach Cape Smyth, where they are about 25 feet high, and terminate in low knolls sloping down to the banks of the broad lagoon Isûtkwɐ, which is made by the confluence of two narrow, sinuous gulleys, and is only 10 feet deep in the deepest part.

Rising from the beach beyond the mouth of this lagoon is a slight elevation, 12 feet above the sea level, which was anciently the site of a small village, called by the same name as the lagoon. On this elevation was situated the United States signal station of Ooglaamie. Beyond this the land is level with the top of the beach, which is broad and nearly flat, raised into a slight ridge on the outer edge. About half a mile from the station, just at the edge of the beach, is the small lagoon Imérnyɐ, about 200 yards in diameter, and nearly filled up with marsh. From this point the land slopes down to Elson Bay, a shallow body of water inclosed by the sandspit which forms Point Barrow. This is a continuation of the line of the beach, varying in breadth from 200 to 600 yards and running northeast for 5 miles, then turning sharply to the east-southeast and running out in a narrow gravel spit, 2 miles long, which is continued eastward by a chain of narrow, low, sandy islands, which extend as far as Point Tangent. At the angle of the point the land is slightly elevated into irregular turf-covered knolls, on which the 28 village of Nuwŭk is situated. At various points along the beach are heaps of gravel, sometimes 5 or 6 feet in height, which are raised by the ice. Masses of old ice, bearing large quantities of gravel, are pushed up on the beach during severe storms and melt rapidly in the summer, depositing their load of gravel and pebbles in a heap. These masses are often pushed up out of reach of the waves, so that the heaps of gravel are left thenceforth undisturbed.

Between Imernyɐ and Elson Bay (Tă´syûk) is a series of large shallow lagoons, nearly circular and close to the beach, which rises in a regular sea-wall. All have low steep banks on the land side, bordered with a narrow beach. The first of these, I´kpĭlĭñ (“that which has high banks”), breaks out in the spring through a narrow channel in the beach in the manner already described, and is salt or brackish. The next is fresh and connected with I´kpĭlĭñ by a small stream running along behind the beach. It is called Sĭ´n-nyû, and receives a rivulet from a small fresh-water lake 3 or 4 miles inland. The third, Imê´kpûñ (“great water”), is also fresh, and has neither tributary nor outlet. The fourth, Imêkpû´niglu, is brackish, and empties into Elson Bay by a small stream. Between this stream and the beach is a little fresh-water pond close to the bend of Elson Bay, which is called Kĭkyûktă´ktoro, from one or two little islands (kĭkyû´ktɐ) near one end of it.

Back from the shore the land is but slightly elevated, and is marshy and interspersed with many small lakes and ponds, sometimes connected by inconsiderable streams. This marsh passes gradually into a somewhat higher and drier rolling plain, stretching back inland from the cliffs and growing gradually higher to the south. Dr. Simpson, on the authority of the Point Barrow natives, describes the country as “uniformly low, and full of small lakes or pools of fresh water to a distance of about 50 miles from the north shore, where the surface becomes undulating and hilly, and, farther south, mountainous.”6 This description has been substantially verified by Lieut. Ray’s explorations. South of the usual deer-hunting ground of the natives he found the land decidedly broken and hilly, and rising gradually to a considerable range of mountains, running approximately east and west, which could be seen from the farthest point he reached.7

The natives also speak of high rocky land “a long way off to the east,” which some of them have visited for the purpose of hunting the mountain sheep. The low rolling plain in the immediate vicinity of Point Barrow, which is all of the country that could be visited by our party when the land was clear of snow, presents the general appearance of a country overspread with glacial drift. The landscape is strikingly like the rolling drift hills of Cape Cod, and this resemblance is increased by the absence of trees and the occurrence of ponds in all the depressions. There are no rocks in situ visible in this region, and 29 large bowlders are absent, while pebbles larger than the fist are rare. The surface of the ground is covered with a thin soil, supporting a rather sparse vegetation of grass, flowering plants, creeping willows, and mosses, which is thicker on the higher hillsides and forms a layer of turf about a foot thick. Large tracts of comparatively level ground are almost bare of grass, and consist of irregular hummocks of black, muddy soil, scantily covered with light-colored lichens and full of small pools. The lowlands, especially those back of the beach lagoons, are marshes, thickly covered with grass and sphagnum. The whole surface of the land is exceedingly wet in summer, except the higher knolls and hillsides, and for about 100 yards back from the edge of the cliffs. The thawing, however, extends down only about a foot or eighteen inches. Beyond this depth the ground is perpetually frozen for an unknown distance. There are no streams of any importance in the immediate neighborhood of Point Barrow. On the other hand, three of the rivers emptying into the Arctic Ocean between Point Barrow and the Colville, which Dr. Simpson speaks of as “small and hardly known except to persons who have visited them,”8 have been found to be considerable streams. Two of these were visited by Lieut. Ray in his exploring trips in 1882 and 1883. The first, Kua´ru, is reached after traveling about 50 miles from Point Barrow in a southerly direction. It has been traced only for a small part of its course, and there is reason to believe, from what the natives say, that it is a tributary of the second named river. Lieut. Ray visited the upper part of the second river, Kulugrua (named by him “Meade River”), in March, 1882, when he went out to join the native deer hunters encamped on its banks, just on the edge of the hilly country. On his return he visited what the natives assured him was the mouth of this river, and obtained observations for its geographical position. Early in April, 1883, he again visited the upper portion of the stream, and traced it back some distance into the hilly country. The intermediate portion has never been surveyed. At the time of each of his visits the river was, of course, frozen and the ground covered with snow, but he was able to see that the river was of considerable size, upwards of 200 yards wide where he first reached it, about 60 miles from its mouth, and showing evidences of a large volume of water in the spring. It receives several tributaries. (See maps, Pls. I and II.)

The third river is known only by hearsay from the natives. It is called Ĭ´kpĭkpûñ (Great Cliff), and is about 40 miles (estimated from day’s journeys) east of Kulu´grua. It is described as being a larger and more rapid stream than the other two, and so deep that it does not freeze down to the bottom on the shallow bars, as they say Kulu´grua does. Not far from its mouth it is said to receive a tributary from the east flowing out of a great lake of fresh water, called Tă´syûkpûñ (Great Lake.) This lake is separated from the sea by a comparatively 30 narrow strip of land, and is so large that a man standing on the northern shore can not see the “very high” land on the southern. It takes an umiak a day to travel the length of the lake under sail with a fair wind, and when the Nunatañmiun coming from the south first saw the lake they said “Taxaio!” (the sea).

On Capt. Maguire’s map9 this lake is laid down by the name “Taso´kpoh” “from native report.” It is represented as lying between Smith Bay and Harrison Bay, and connected with each by a stream. Maguire seems to have heard nothing of Ikpikpûñ. This lake is not mentioned in the body of the report. Dr. Simpson, however,10 speaks of it in the following words: “They [i.e., the trading parties when they reach Smith Bay] enter a river which conducts them to a lake, or rather series of lakes, and descend another stream which joins the sea in Harrison Bay.” They are well acquainted with the Colville River, which in their intercourse with us they usually called “the river at Nĭ´galĕk,” Nĭ´galĕk being the well known name of the trading camp at the mouth. It was also sometimes spoken of as the “river of the Nunatañmiun.” The Mackenzie River is known as “Kupûñ” (great river). We found them also acquainted with the large unexplored river called “Kok” on the maps, which flows into Wainwright Inlet. They called it “Ku” (the river). The river “Cogrua,” which is laid down on the charts as emptying into Peard Bay, was never mentioned by the Point Barrow natives, but we were informed by Capt. Gifford, of the whaler Daniel Webster, who traveled along the coast from Point Barrow to Cape Lisburne after the loss of his vessel in 1881, that it is quite a considerable stream. He had to ascend it for about a day’s journey—20 miles, according to Capt. Hooper11—before he found it shallow enough to ford.


The climate of this region is thoroughly arctic in character, the mean annual temperature being 8° F., ranging from 65° to -52° F. Such temperatures as the last mentioned are, however, rare, the ordinary winter temperature being between -20° and -30° F., rarely rising during December, January, February, and March as high as zero, and still more rarely passing beyond it. The winter merges insensibly by slow degrees into summer, with occasional “cold snaps,” and frosty nights begin again by the 1st of September.

The sun is entirely below the horizon at Point Barrow for 72 days in the winter, beginning November 15, though visible by refraction a day or two later at the beginning of this period and a day or two earlier at the end. The midday darkness is never complete even at the winter solstice, as the sun is such a short distance below the horizon, but the time suitable for outdoor employments is limited to a short twilight from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is, of course, an equal time in the summer 31 when the sun is continually above the horizon, and for about a month before and after this period the twilight is so bright all night that no stars are visible.

The snowfall during the winter is comparatively small. There is probably not more than a foot of snow on a level anywhere on the land, though it is extremely difficult to measure or estimate, as it is so fine and dry that it is easily moved by the wind and is constantly in motion, forming deep, heavy, hard drifts under all the banks, while many exposed places, especially the top of the sand beach, are swept entirely clean. The snow begins to soften and melt about the first week in April, but goes off very slowly, so that the ground is not wholly bare before the middle or end of June. The grass, however, begins to turn green early in June, and a few flowers are seen in blossom as early as June 7 or 8.

Rain begins to fall as early as April, but cold, snowy days are not uncommon later than that date. There is a good deal of clear, calm weather during the winter, and extremely low temperatures are seldom accompanied by high wind. Violent storms are not uncommon, however, especially in November, during the latter part of January, and in February. One gale from the south and southwest, which occurred January 22, 1882, reached a velocity of 100 miles an hour. The most agreeable season of the year is between the middle of May and the end of July, when the sea opens. After this there is much foggy and cloudy weather.

Fresh-water ponds begin to freeze about the last week in September, and by the first or second week in October everything is sufficiently frozen for the natives to travel with sledges to fish through the ice of the inland rivers. Melting begins with the thawing of the snow, but the larger ponds are not clear of ice till the middle or end of July. The sea in most seasons is permanently closed by freezing and the moving in of heavy ice fields from about the middle of October to the end of July. The heavy ice in ordinary seasons does not move very far from the shore, while the sea is more or less encumbered with floating masses all summer. These usually ground on a bar which runs from the Seahorse Islands along the shore parallel to it and about 1,000 yards distant, forming a “barrier” or “land-floe” of high, broken hummocks, inshore of which the sea freezes over smooth and undisturbed by the pressure of the outer pack.

Sometimes, however, the heavy pack, under the pressure of violent and long-continued westerly winds, pushes across the bar and is forced up on the beach. The ice sometimes comes in with great rapidity. The natives informed us that a year or two before the station was established the heavy ice came in against the village cliffs, tearing away part of the bank and destroying a house on the edge of the cliff so suddenly that one of the inmates, a large, stout man, was unable to escape through the trap-door and was crushed to death. Outside of the land-floe the ice is a broken pack, consisting of hummocks of fragmentary old and new ice, interspersed with comparatively level fields of the former. During the 32 early part of the winter this pack is most of the time in motion, sometimes moving northeastward with the prevailing current and grinding along the edge of the barrier, sometimes moving off to sea before an offshore wind, leaving “leads” of open water, which in calm weather are immediately covered with new ice (at the rate of 6 inches in 24 hours), and again coming in with greater or less violence against the edges of this new ice, crushing and crumpling it up against the barrier. Portions of the land-floe even float off and move away with the pack at this season.

The westerly gales of the later winter, however, bring in great quantities of ice, which, pressing against the land-floe, are pushed up into hummocks and ground firmly in deeper water, thus increasing the breadth of the fixed land-floe until the line of separation between the land-floe and the moving pack is 4 or 5 or sometimes even 8 miles from land. The hummocks of the land-floe show a tendency to arrange themselves in lines parallel to the shore, and if the pressure has not been too great there are often fields of ice of the season not over 4 feet thick between the ranges of hummocks, as was the case in the winter of 1881-’82. In the following year, however, the pressure was so great that there were no such fields, and even the level ice inside of the barrier was crushed into hummocks in many places.

After the gales are over there is generally less motion in the pack, until about the middle of April, when easterly winds usually cause leads to open at the edge of the land-floe. These leads now continue to open and shut, varying in size with the direction and force of the wind. As the season advances, especially in July, the melting of the ice on the surface loosens portions of the land-floe, which float off and join the pack, bringing the leads nearer to the shore. In the meantime the level shore ice has been cut away from the beach by the warm water running down from the land and has grown “rotten” and full of holes from the heat of the sun. By the time the outside ice has moved away so as to leave only the floes grounded on the bar the inside ice breaks up into loose masses, moving up and down with wind and current and ready to move off through the first break in the barrier. Portions of the remaining barrier gradually break off and at last the whole finally floats and moves out with the pack, sometimes, as in 1881—a very remarkable season—moving out of sight from the land.

This final departure of the ice may take place at any time between the middle of July and the middle of August. East of Point Barrow we had opportunities only for hasty and superficial observations of the state of the ice. The land floe appears to form some distance outside of the sandy islands, and from the account of the natives there is much open water along shore early in the season, caused by the breaking up of the rivers. Dr. Simpson12 learned from the natives that the trading parties which left the Point about the 1st of July found open water at Dease Inlet. This is more definite information than we were able to obtain. We only learned that they counted on finding open water a few days’ journey east.




In stature these people are of a medium height, robust and muscular, “inclining rather to spareness than corpulence,”13 though the fullness of the face and the thick fur clothing often gives the impression of the latter. There is, however, considerable individual variation among them in this respect. The women are as a rule shorter than the men, occasionally almost dwarfish, though some women are taller than many of the men. The tallest man observed measured 5 feet 9½ inches, and the shortest 4 feet 11 inches. The tallest woman was 5 feet 3 inches in height, and the shortest 4 feet ½ inch. The heaviest man weighed 204 pounds and the lightest 126 pounds. One woman weighed 192 pounds and the shortest woman was also the lightest, weighing only 100 pounds.14 The hands and feet are small and well shaped, though the former soon become distorted and roughened by work. We did not observe the peculiar breadth of hands noticed by Dr. Simpson, nor is the shortness of the thumb which he mentions sufficient to attract attention.15 Their feet are so small that only one of our party, who is much below the ordinary size, was able to wear the boots made by the natives for themselves. Small and delicate hands and feet appear to be a universal characteristic of the Eskimo race and have been mentioned by most observers from Greenland to Alaska.16


see caption

Fig. 1. Unalina, a man of Nuwŭk.

The features of these people have been described by Dr. Simpson,17 and are distinctively Eskimo in type, as will be seen by comparing the accompanying portraits (Figs. 1, 2, 3, and 4, from photographs by Lieut. Ray) with the many pictures brought from the eastern Arctic 35 regions by various explorers, some of which might easily pass for portraits of persons of our acquaintance at Point Barrow.18

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Fig. 2.—Mûmûñina, a woman of Nuwŭk.

The face is broad, flat, and round, with high cheek bones and rather low forehead, broad across the brow and narrowing above, while the head is somewhat pointed toward the crown. The peculiar shape of the head is somewhat masked by the way of wearing the hair, and is best seen in the skull. The nose is short, with little or no bridge (few Eskimo were able to wear our spring eye-glasses), and broad, especially across the alæ nasæ, with a peculiar rounded, somewhat bulbous tip, 36 and large nostrils. The eyes are horizontal,19 with rather full lids, and are but slightly sunken below the level of the face.

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Fig. 3.—Akabiana, a youth of Utkiavwiñ.

The mouth is large and the lips full, especially the under one. The teeth are naturally large, and in youth are white and generally regular, but by middle age they are generally worn down to flat-crowned stumps, as is usual among the Eskimo. The color of the skin is a light yellowish brown, with often considerable ruddy color on the cheeks and lips. There appears to be much natural variation in the complexion, some women being nearly as fair as Europeans, while other individuals seem to have naturally a coppery color.20 In most cases the complexion appears darker than it really is from the effects of exposure to the weather. All sunburn very easily, especially in the spring when there is a strong reflection from the snow.


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Fig. 4.—Puka, a young man of Utkiavwiñ.

The old are much wrinkled, and they frequently suffer from watery eyes, with large sacks under them, which begin to form at a comparatively early age. There is considerable variation in features, as well as complexion, among them, even in cases where there seems to be no suspicion of mixed blood. There were several men among them with decided aquiline noses and something of a Hebrew cast of countenance. The eyes are of various shades of dark brown—two pairs of light hazel eyes were observed—and are often handsome. The hair is black, perfectly straight, and very thick. With the men it is generally coarser than with the women, who sometimes have very long and silky hair, though it generally does not reach much below the shoulders. The eyebrows are thin and the beard scanty, growing mostly upon the upper lip and chin, and seldom appearing under the age of 20. In this they resemble most Eskimo. Back,21 however, speaks of the “luxuriant 38 beards and flowing mustaches” of the Eskimo of the Great Fish River. Some of the older men have rather heavy black mustaches, but there is much variation in this respect. The upper part of the body (as much is commonly exposed in the house) is remarkably free from hair. The general expression is good humored and attractive.

The males, even when very young, are remarkable for their graceful and dignified carriage. The body is held erect, with the shoulders square and chest well thrown out, the knees straight, and the feet firmly planted on the ground. In walking they move with long swinging elastic strides, the toes well turned out and the arms swinging.

I can not agree with Dr. Simpson that the turning out of the toes gives “a certain peculiarity to their gait difficult to describe.”22 I should say that they walked like well built athletic white men. The women, on the other hand, although possessing good physiques, are singularly ungraceful in their movements. They walk at a sort of shuffling half-trot, with the toes turned in, the body leaning forward, and the arms hanging awkwardly.23

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Fig. 5.—Woman stretching skins.

A noticeable thing about the women is the remarkable flexibility of the body and limbs, and the great length of time they can stand in a stooping posture. (See Fig. 5 for a posture often assumed in working.) Both men and women have a very fair share of muscular strength. Some of the women, especially, showed a power of carrying heavy loads superior to most white men. We were able to make no other comparisons of their strength with ours. Their power of endurance is very great, and both sexes are capable of making long distances on foot. Two men sometimes spend 24 hours tramping through the rough ice in search of seals, and we knew of instances where small parties made journeys of 50 or 75 miles on foot without stopping to sleep.

The women are not prolific. Although all the adults are or have been married, many of them are childless, and few have more than two children. One woman was known to have at least four, but investigations of this sort were rendered extremely difficult by the universal custom 39 of adoption. Dr. Simpson heard of a “rare case” where one woman had borne seven children.24 We heard of no twins at either village, though we obtained the Eskimo word for twins. It was impossible to learn with certainty the age at which the women first bear children, from the impossibility of learning the age of any individuals in the absence of any fixed method of reckoning time. Dr. Simpson states that they do not commonly bear children before the age of 20,25 and we certainly saw no mothers who appeared younger than this. We knew of but five cases of pregnancy in the two villages during the 2 years of our stay. Of these, one suffered miscarriage, and of the other four, only two of the infants lived more than a short time. It is exceedingly difficult, for the reasons stated above, to form any estimate of the age to which these people live, though it is natural to suppose that the arduous and often precarious existence which they lead must prevent any great longevity. Men and women who appeared to be 60 or over were rare. Yûksĭ´ña, the so-called “chief” of Nuwŭk, who was old enough to be a man of considerable influence at the time the Plover wintered at Point Barrow (1852-’54), was in 1881 a feeble, bowed, tottering old man, very deaf and almost blind, but with his mental faculties apparently unimpaired. Gray hair appears uncommon. Even the oldest are, as a rule, but slightly gray.


Diseases of the respiratory and digestive organs are the most frequent and serious ailments from which they suffer. The former are most prevalent toward the end of summer and early in winter, and are due to the natives sleeping on the damp ground and to their extreme carelessness in exposing themselves to drafts of wind when overheated. Nearly everyone suffers from coughs and colds in the latter part of August, and many deaths occur at this season and the beginning of winter from a disease which appears to be pneumonia. A few cases, one fatal, of hemorrhage of the lungs were observed, which were probably aggravated by the universal habit of inhaling tobacco smoke. The people suffer from diarrhea, indigestion, and especially from constipation.

Gonorrhea appears common in both sexes, but syphilis seems to be unknown in spite of the promiscuous intercourse of the women with the whalemen. One case of uterine hemorrhage was observed. Cutaneous diseases are rare. A severe ulcer on the leg, of long standing, was cured by our surgeon, to whose observations I am chiefly indebted for what I have to say about the diseases of these people; and one man had lost the cartilage of his nose and was marked all over the body with hideous scars from what appeared to be some form of scrofulous disease. A single case of tumor on the deltoid muscle was observed. Rheumatism is rather frequent. All are subject to snow blindness in the spring, and 40 sores on the face from neglected frost bites are common. Many are blind in one eye from what appears to be cataract or leucoma, but only one case of complete blindness was noticed. Dr. Sutherland states that he does not recollect a single instance of total blindness among the Eskimo that he saw in Baffin Land, and expresses the opinion that “An individual in such a state would be quite unfit for the life of toil and hardship to which the hardy Esquimaux is exposed. The neglect consequent upon this helpless condition most probably cuts off its afflicted objects.”26

This seems quite reasonable on a priori grounds, but nevertheless the blind man at Cape Smyth had lived to middle age in very comfortable circumstances, and though supported to a great extent by his relatives he was nevertheless able to do a certain share of work, and had the reputation of being a good paddler for a whaling umiak.

Injuries are rare. One man had lost both feet at the ankle and moved about with great ease and rapidity on his knees. All are subject to bleeding at the nose and usually plug the bleeding nostril with a bunch of deer hair.27

This habit, as it has been termed, of vicarious hemorrhage seems to be characteristic of the Eskimo race wherever they have been met with, and has been supposed to be a process of nature for relieving the fullness of the circulatory system caused by their exclusively animal diet.28

Natural deformities and abnormalities of structure are uncommon, except strabismus, which is common and often, at least, congenital. One boy in Utkiavwĭñ had his forehead twisted to one side, probably from some accident or difficulty during delivery. His intelligence did not seem to be impaired. The people are, as a rule, right handed, but that left-handed persons occasionally occur is shown by their having a word for a left-handed man. We also collected a “crooked knife,” fitted for use with the left hand.29


As a rule they are quick-witted and intelligent, and show a great capacity for appreciating and learning useful things, especially mechanical arts. In disposition they are light-hearted and cheerful, not easily cast down by sorrow or misfortune, and though sometimes quick-tempered, their anger seldom lasts long.30 They have a very keen sense of humor, and are fond of practical jokes, which they take in good part, 41 even when practiced on themselves. They are generally peaceable. We did not witness a single quarrel among the men during the two years of our stay, though they told us stories of fatal quarrels in former years, in which firearms were used. Liquor may have been the cause of these fights, as it is said to have been of the only suicide I ever heard of among them, which I am informed by Capt. E. E. Smith, the whaling master already referred to, occurred in 1885 at Nuwŭk. Disagreements between man and wife, however, sometimes lead to blows, in which the man does not always get the best of it.

When the station was first established many of the natives began pilfering from our stores, but they soon learned that by so doing they cut themselves off from the privilege of visiting the station and enjoying the opportunity for trading which it afforded, and were glad to promise to refrain from the practice. This promise was very well observed, though I think wholly from feelings of self-interest, as the thieves when detected seemed to have no feeling of shame. Some, I believe, never yielded to the temptation. There was seldom any difficulty in obtaining restitution of stolen articles, as the thief’s comrades would not attempt to shield him, but often voluntarily betrayed him. They acknowledged that there was considerable thieving on board of the ships, but the men of Utkiavwĭñ tried to lay the blame on the Nuwŭk people, and we may suppose that the charge was reciprocated, as was the case regarding the theft of the Plover’s sails.31 We also heard of occasional thefts among themselves, especially of seals left on the ice or venison buried in the snow, but men who were said to be thieves did not appear to lose any social consideration.

Robbery with violence appears to be unknown. We never saw or heard of the “burglar-alarm” described by Dr. Simpson,32 which I am inclined to believe was really a “demon trap” like that described by Lieut. Ray (see below, under Religion).

They are in the main truthful, though a detected lie is hardly considered more than a good joke, and considerable trickery is practiced in trading. For instance, soon after the station was established they brought over the carcass of a dog, with the skin, head, feet, and tail removed, and attempted to sell it for a young reindeer; and when we began to purchase seal-oil for the lamps one woman brought over a tin can nearly filled with ice, with merely a layer of oil on top.

Clothing and other articles made especially for sale to us were often very carelessly and hastily made, while their own things were always carefully finished.33

Their affection for each other, especially for their children, is strong, 42 though they make little show of grief for bereavement, and their minds are easily diverted by amusements. I am inclined to believe, however, from some cases I have observed, that grief is deeper and more permanent than superficial appearances would indicate.

Their curiosity is unbounded, and they have no hesitation in gratifying it by unlimited questioning. All who have read the accounts of the Eskimo character given by explorers in other parts of the Arctic regions will recognize this as a familiar trait. We also found the habit of begging at first quite as offensive among some of these people as other travelers have found it, but as they grew better acquainted with us they ceased to beg except for trifling things, such as a chew of tobacco or a match. Some of the better class never begged at all. Some of them seemed to feel truly grateful for the benefits and gifts received, and endeavored by their general behavior, as well as in more substantial ways, to make some adequate return. Others appeared to think only of what they might receive.

Hospitality is a universal virtue. Many of them, from the beginning of our acquaintance with them, showed the greatest friendliness and willingness to assist us in every way, while others, especially if there were many of them together, were inclined to be insolent, and knives were occasionally drawn in sudden fits of passion. These “roughs,” however, soon learned that behavior of this sort was punished by prompt ostracism and threats of severer discipline, and before the first nine months were past we had established the most friendly relations with the whole village at Cape Smyth. Some of those who were at first most insolent became afterwards our best friends. Living as these people do at peace with their neighbors, they would not be expected to exhibit the fierce martial courage of many other savages, but bold whalemen and venturous ice-hunters can not be said to lack bravery.

In their dealings with white men the richer and more influential among them at least consider themselves their equals if not their superiors, and they do not appreciate the attitude of arrogant superiority adopted by many white men in their intercourse with so-called savages. Many of them show a grace of manner and a natural delicacy and politeness which is quite surprising. I have known a young Eskimo so polite that in conversing with Lieut. Ray he would take pains to mispronounce his words in the same way as the latter did, so as not to hurt his feelings by correcting him bluntly.34


We were unable to discover among these people the slightest trace of tribal organization or of division into gentes, and in this our observations agree with those of all who have studied the Eskimos elsewhere. They call themselves as a race “In´uĭn,” a term corresponding to the 43 “Inuit” of other dialects, and meaning “people”, or “human beings”. Under this name they include white men and Indians as well as Eskimo, as is the case in Greenland and the Mackenzie River district, and probably also everywhere else, though many writers have supposed it to be applied by them only to their own race.

They have however special names for the former two races. The people of any village are known as “the inhabitants of such and such a place;” for instance, Nuwŭ´ñmiun, “the inhabitants of the point;” Utkiavwĭñmiun, “the inhabitants of Utkiávwĭñ;” Kuñmiun (in Greenlandic “Kungmiut”), “the people who live on the river.” The people about Norton Sound speak of the northern Eskimo, especially those of Point Barrow and Cape Smyth, as “Kûñmû´dlĭñ,” which is not a name derived from a location, but a sort of nickname, the meaning of which was not ascertained. The Point Barrow natives do not call themselves by this name, but apply it to those people whose winter village is at Demarcation Point (or Herschel Island, see above, p. 26). This word appears in the corrupted form “Kokmullit,” as the name of the village at Nuwŭk on Petroff’s map. Petroff derived his information regarding the northern coast at second-hand from people who had obtained their knowledge of names, etc., from the natives of Norton Sound.

The people of the two villages under consideration frequently go backward and forward, sometimes removing permanently from one village to the other, while strangers from distant villages sometimes winter here, so that it was not until the end of the second year, when we were intimately acquainted with everybody at Utkiavwĭñ, that we could form anything like a correct estimate of the population of this village.35 This we found to be about 140 souls. As well as we could judge, there were about 150 or 160 at Nuwŭk. These figures show a great decrease in numbers since the end of 1853, when Dr. Simpson36 reckoned the population of Nuwŭk at 309. During the 2 years from September, 1881, to August, 1883, there were fifteen deaths that we heard of in the village of Utkiavwĭñ alone, and only two children born in that period survived. With this ratio between the number of births and deaths, even in a period of comparative plenty, it is difficult to see how the race can escape speedy extinction, unless by accessions from without, which in their isolated situation they are not likely to receive.37


Other Eskimo.

The nearest neighbors of these people, as has been stated above, are the Eskimo living at Demarcation Point (or Herschel 44 Island), eastward, and those who inhabit the small villages between Point Belcher and Wainwright Inlet. These villages are three in number. The nearest to Point Belcher, Nuna´ria, is now deserted, and its inhabitants have established the new village of Sida´ru nearer the inlet. The third village consists of a few houses only, and is called A´tûnĕ. The people of these villages are so closely connected that they are sometimes spoken of collectively as Sida´ruñmiun. At a distance up the river, which flows into Wainwright Inlet, live the Ku´ñmiun, “the people who live on the river.” These appear to be closely related to the people of the first village below Wainwright Inlet, which is named Kĭlauwitawĭñ. At any rate, a party of them who came to Cape Smyth in the spring of 1883 were spoken of indifferently as Kuñmiun or Kĭlauwitawĭ´ñmiun.

Small parties from all the villages occasionally visit Point Barrow during the winter for the purpose of trade and amusement, traveling with sledges along the land ice where it is smooth, otherwise along the edge of the cliffs; and similar parties from the two northern villages return these visits. No special article of trade appears to be sought at either village, though perhaps the southern villages have a greater supply of skins of the bearded seal, fit for making umiak covers, as I knew of a load of these brought up for sale, and in the spring of 1883 a party went down to the inlet in search of such skins. Single families and small parties like that from Kĭlauwitawĭñ, mentioned above, sometimes spend the whaling season at Point Barrow, joining some of the whaling crews at the northern villages. The people that we saw from these settlements were very like the northern Eskimos but many of them spoke a perceptibly harsher dialect, sounding the final consonants distinctly.

The people at Point Hope are known as Tĭkera´ñmiun “inhabitants of the forefinger (Point Hope)”, and their settlement is occasionally visited by straggling parties. No natives from Point Hope came north during the 2 years of our stay, but a party of them visited the Plover in 1853.38 We found some people acquainted by name with the Kuwû´ñmiun and Silawĭ´ñmiun of the Kuwûk (Kowak or “Putnam”) and Silawik Rivers emptying into Hotham Inlet, and one man was familiar with the name of Sisualĭñ, the great trading camp at Kotzebue Sound. We were unable to find that they had any knowledge of Asia (“Kokhlitnuna,”) or the Siberian Eskimo, but this was probably due to lack of properly directed inquiries, as they seem to have been well informed on the subject in the Plover’s time.39

With the people of the Nu´natăk (Inland) River, the Nunatañmiun, they are well acquainted, as they meet them every summer for purposes of trading, and a family or two of Nunatañmiun sometimes spend the 45 winter at the northern villages. One family wintered at Nuwŭk in 1881-’82, and another at Utkiavĭñ the following winter, while a widower of this “tribe” was also settled there for the same winter, having married a widow in the village. We obtained very little definite information about these people except that they came from the south and descended the Colville River. Our investigations were rendered difficult by the engrossing nature of the work of the station, and the trouble we experienced, at first, in learning enough of the language to make ourselves clearly understood. Dr. Simpson was able to learn definitely that the homes of these people are on the Nunatăk and that some of them visit Kotzebue Sound in the summer, while trading parties make a portage between the Nunatăk and Colville, descending the latter river to the Arctic Ocean.40 I have been informed by the captain of one of the American whalers that he has, in different seasons, met the same people at Kotzebue Sound and the mouth of the Colville. We also received articles of Siberian tame reindeer skin from the east, which must have come across the country from Kotzebue Sound.

These people differ from the northern natives in some habits, which will be described later, and speak a harsher dialect. We were informed that in traveling east after passing the mouth of the Colville they came to the Kûñmû´dlĭñ (“Kangmali enyuin” of Dr. Simpson and other authors) and still further off “a great distance” to the Kupûñ or “Great River”—the Mackenzie—near the mouth of which is the village of the Kupûñmiun, whence it is but a short distance inland to the “great house” (iglu´kpûk) of the white men on the great river (probably Fort Macpherson). Beyond this we only heard confused stories of people without posteriors and of sledges that run by themselves without dogs to draw them. We heard nothing of the country of Kĭtiga´ru41 or of the stone-lamp country mentioned by Dr. Simpson.42 The Kûñmûdlĭñ are probably, as Dr. Simpson believes, the people whose winter houses were seen by Franklin at Demarcation Point,43 near which, at Icy Reef, Hooper also saw a few houses.44

As already stated, Capt. E. E. Smith was informed by the natives that there is now no village farther west than Herschel Island, where there is one of considerable size. If he was correctly informed, this must be a new village, since the older explorers who passed along the coast found only a summer camp at this point. He also states that he found large numbers of ruined iglus on the outlying sandy islands along the coast, especially near Anxiety Point. We have scarcely any information about these people, as the only white men who have seen them had little intercourse with them in passing along the coast.45 The 46 Point Barrow people have but slight acquaintance with them, as they see them only a short time each summer. Captain Smith, however, informs me that in the summer of 1885 one boat load of them came back with the Point Barrow traders to Point Barrow, where he saw them on board of his ship. There was a man at Utkiavwĭñ who was called “the Kûñmû´dlĭñ.” He came there when a child, probably, by adoption, and was in no way distinguishable from the other people.

Father Petitot appears to include these people in the “Taρèoρmeut” division of his “Tchiglit” Eskimo, whom he loosely describes as inhabiting the coast from Herschel Island to Liverpool Bay, including the delta of the Mackenzie,46 without locating their permanent villages. In another place, however, he excludes the “Taρèoρmeut” from the “Tchiglit,” saying, “Dans l’ouest, les Tchiglit communiquaient avec leurs plus proches voisins les Taρèoρ-meut,”47 while in a third place48 he gives the country of the “Tchiglit” as extending from the Coppermine River to the Colville, and on his map in the same volume, the “Tareormeut” are laid down in the Mackenzie delta only. According to his own account, however, he had no personal knowledge of any Eskimo west of the Mackenzie delta. These people undoubtedly have a local name derived from that of their winter village, but it is yet to be learned.

It is possible that they do consider themselves the same people with the Eskimo of the Mackenzie delta, and call themselves by the general name of “Taρèoρmeut” (= Taxaiomiun in the Point Barrow dialect), “those who live by the sea.” That they do not call themselves “Kûñmû´dlĭñ” or “Kanmali-enyuin” or “Kangmaligmeut” is to my mind quite certain. The word “Kûñmû´dlĭñ,” as already stated, is used at Norton Sound to designate the people of Point Barrow (I was called a “Kûñmû´dlĭñ” by some Eskimo at St. Michaels because I spoke the Point Barrow dialect), who do not recognize the name as belonging to themselves, but have transferred it to the people under consideration. Now, “Kûñmû´dlĭñ” is a word formed after the analogy of many Eskimo words from a noun kûñme and the affix lĭñ or dlĭñ (in Greenlandic lik), “one who has a ——.” The radical noun, the meaning of which I can not ascertain, would become in the Mackenzie dialect kρagmaρk (using Petitot’s orthography), which with -lik in the plural would make kρagmalit. (According to Petitot’s “Grammaire” the plural of -lik in the Mackenzie dialect is -lit, and not -gdlit, as in Greenlandic). This is the name given by Petitot on his map to the people of the Anderson River,49 while he calls the Anderson River itself Kρagmalik.50 The father, however, had but little personal knowledge of the natives of the Anderson, having made but two, apparently brief, visits to their village in 1865, when he first made the acquaintance of the Eskimo. He afterwards became fairly intimate with the Eskimo of the Mackenzie 47 delta, parties of whom spent the summers of 1869 and 1870 with him. From these parties he appears to have obtained the greater part of the information embodied in his Monographie and Vocabulaire, as he explicitly states that he brought the last party to Fort Good Hope “autant pour les instruire à loisir que pour apprendre d’eux leur idiome.”51 Nothing seems to me more probable than that he learned from these Mackenzie people the names of their neighbors of the Anderson, which he had failed to obtain in his flying visits 5 years before, and that it is the same name, “Kûñmû´dlĭñ,” which we have followed from Norton Sound and found always applied to the people just beyond us. Could we learn the meaning of this word the question might be settled, but the only possible derivation I can see for it is from the Greenlandic Karmaĸ, a wall, which throws no light upon the subject. Petitot calls the people of Cape Bathurst Kρagmaliveit, which appears to mean “the real Kûñmû´dlĭñ” (“Kûñmû´dlĭñ” and the affix -vik, “the real”).

The Kupûñmiun appear to inhabit the permanent villages which have been seen near the western mouth of the Mackenzie, at Shingle Point52 and Point Sabine,53 with an outlying village, supposed to be deserted, at Point Kay.54 They are the natives described by Petitot in his Monographie as the Taρèoρmeut division of the Tchiglit, to whom, from the reasons already stated, most of his account seems to apply. There appears to me no reasonable doubt, considering his opportunities for observing these people, that Taρèoρmeut, “those who dwell by the sea,” is the name that they actually apply to themselves, and that Kupûñmiun, or Kopagmut, “those who live on the Great River,” is a name bestowed upon them by their neighbors, perhaps their western neighbors alone, since all the references to this name seem to be traceable to the authority of Dr. Simpson. Should they apply to themselves a name of similar meaning, it would probably be of a different form, as, according to Petitot,55 they call the Mackenzie Kuρvik, instead of Kupûk or Kupûñ.

These are the people who visit Fort Macpherson every spring and summer,56 and are well known to the Hudson Bay traders as the Mackenzie River Eskimo. They are the Eskimo encountered between Herschel Island and the mouth of the Mackenzie by Franklin, by Dease and Simpson, and by Hooper and Pullen, all of whom have published brief notes concerning them.57

We are still somewhat at a loss for the proper local names of the last 48 labret-wearing Eskimo, those, namely, of the Anderson River and Cape Bathurst. That they are not considered by the Taρèoρmeut as belonging to the same “tribe” with themselves is evident from the names Kρagmalit and Kρagmalivëit, applied to them by Petitot. Sir John Richardson, the first white man to encounter them (in 1826), says that they called themselves “Kitte-garrœ-oot,”58 and the Point Barrow people told Dr. Simpson of country called “Kit-te-ga´-ru” beyond the Mackenzie.59 These people, as well as the Taρèoρmeut, whom they closely resemble, are described in Petitot’s Monographie, and brief notices of them are given by Sir John Richardson,60 McClure,61 Armstrong,62 and Hooper.63 The arts and industries of these people from the Mackenzie to the Anderson, especially the latter region, are well represented in the National Museum by the collections of Messrs. Kennicott, Ross, and MacFarlane. The Point Barrow people say that the Kupûñmiun are “bad;”64 but notwithstanding this small parties from the two villages occasionally travel east to the Mackenzie, and spend the winter at the Kupûñmiun village, whence they visit the “great house,” returning the following season. Such a party left Point Barrow June 15, 1882, declaring their intention of going all the way to the Mackenzie. They returned August 25 or 26, 1883, when we were in the midst of the confusion of closing the station, so that we learned no details of their journey. A letter with which they were intrusted to be forwarded to the United States through the Mackenzie River posts reached the Chief Signal Officer in the summer of 1883 by way of the Rampart House, on the Porcupine River, whence we received an answer by the bearer from the factor in charge. The Eskimo probably sent the letter to the Rampart House by the Indians who visit that post.

The intercourse between these people is purely commercial. Dr. Simpson, in the paper so often quoted, gives an excellent detailed description of the course of this trade, which agrees in the main with our observations, though we did not learn the particulars of time and distance as accurately as he did. There have been some important changes, however, since his time. A small party, perhaps five or six families, of “Nunatañmiun” now come every summer to Point Barrow about the end of July, or as soon as the shallow bays along shore are open. They establish themselves at the summer camping ground at Pérnyɐ, at the southwest corner of Elson Bay, and stay two or three weeks, trading with the natives and the ships, dancing, and shooting ducks. The eastward-bound parties seem to start a little earlier than formerly (July 7, 1853, July 3, 1854,65 June 18, 1882, and June 29, 1883). From all accounts their relations 49 with the eastern people are now perfectly friendly. We heard nothing of the precautionary measures described by Dr. Simpson,66 and the women talked frequently of their trading with the Kûñmû´dlĭñ and even with the Kupûñmiun.67 We did not learn definitely whether they met the latter at Barter Point or whether they went still farther east.

Some of the Point Barrow parties do not go east of the Colville. The articles of trade have changed somewhat in the last 30 years, from the fact that the western natives can now buy directly from the whalers iron articles, arms, and ammunition, beads, tobacco, etc. The Nunatañmiun now sell chiefly furs, deerskins, and clothing ready made from them, woodenware (buckets and tubs), willow poles for setting nets, and sometimes fossil ivory. The double-edged Siberian knives are no longer in the market and appear to be going out of fashion, though a few of them are still in use. Ready-made stone articles, like the whetstones mentioned by Dr. Simpson,68 are rarely, if ever, in the market. We did not hear of the purchase of stone lamps from the eastern natives. This is probably due to a cessation of the demand for them at Point Barrow, owing to the falling off in the population.

The Kûñmû´dlĭñ no longer furnish guns and ammunition, as the western natives prefer the breech-loading arms they obtain from the whalers to the flintlock guns sold by the Hudson Bay Company. The trade with these people seems to be almost entirely for furs and skins, notably black and red fox skins and wolverine skins. Skins of the narwhal or beluga are no longer mentioned as important articles of trade.

In return for these things the western natives give sealskins, etc., especially oil, as formerly, though I believe that very little, if any, whalebone is now carried east, since the natives prefer to save it for trading with the ships in the hope of getting liquor, or arms and ammunition, and various articles of American manufacture, beads, kettles, etc. I was told by an intelligent native of Utkiavwĭñ that brass kettles were highly prized by the Kupûñmiun, and that a large one would bring three wolverine skins,69 three black foxskins, or five red ones. One woman was anxious to get all the empty tin cans she could, saying that she could sell them to the Kûñmû´dlĭñ for a foxskin apiece. We were told that the eastern natives were glad to buy gun flints and bright-colored handkerchiefs, and that the Nunatañmiun wanted blankets and playing cards.


They informed us that east of the Colville they sometimes met “Itkû´dlĭñ,” people with whom they could not converse, but who were friendly and traded with them, buying oil for fox skins. They were said to live back of the coast between the Colville and the Mackenzie, and were described as wearing no labrets, but rings in their ears and noses. They wear their hair long, do not tonsure the crown, and are dressed in jackets of skin with the hair removed, without hoods, and 50 ornamented with beads and fringe. We saw one or two such jackets in Utkiavwĭñ apparently made of moose skin, and a few pouches of the same material, highly ornamented with beads. They have long flintlock guns, white man’s wooden pipes, which they value highly, and axes—not adzes—with which they “break many trees.” We easily understood from this description that Indians were meant, and since our return I have been able to identify one or two of the tribes with tolerable certainty.

They seem better acquainted with these people than in Dr. Simpson’s time, and know the word “kŭtchin,” people, in which many of the tribal names end. We did not hear the names Ko´yukan or Itkalya´ruin which Dr. Simpson learned, apparently from the Nunatañmiun.70 I heard one man speak of the Kŭtcha Kutchin, who inhabit the “Yukon from the Birch River to the Kotlo River on the east and the Porcupine River on the north, ascending the latter a short distance.”71

One of the tribes with which they have dealings is the “Rat Indians” of the Hudson Bay men, probably the Vunta´-Kŭtchin,72 from the fact that they visit Fort Yukon. These are the people whom Capt. Maguire met on his unsuccessful sledge journey to the eastward to communicate with Collinson. The Point Barrow people told us that “Magwa” went east to see “Colli´k-sina,” but did not see him, only saw the Itkûdlĭñ. Collinson,73 speaking of Maguire’s second winter at Point Barrow, says: “In attempting to prosecute the search easterly, an armed body of Indians of the Koyukun tribe were met with, and were so hostile that he was compelled to return.” Maguire himself, in his official report,74 speaks of meeting four Indians who had followed his party for several days. He says nothing of any hostile demonstration; in fact, says they showed signs of disappointment at his having nothing to trade with them, but his Eskimo, he says, called them Koyukun, which he knew was the tribe that had so barbarously murdered Lieut. Barnard at Nulato in 1851. Moreover, each Indian had a musket, and he had only two with a party of eight men, so he thought it safer to turn back. However, he seems to have distributed among them printed “information slips,” which they immediately carried to Fort Yukon, and returning to the coast with a letter from the clerk in charge, delivered it to Capt. Collinson on board of the Enterprise at Barter Island, July 18, 1854. The letter is as follows:

Fort Youcon, June 27, 1854.

The printed slips of paper delivered by the officers of H.M.S. Plover on the 25th of April, 1854, to the Rat Indians were received on the 27th of June, 1854, at the Hudson Bay Company’s establishment, Fort Youcon. The Rat Indians are in the 51 habit of making periodical trading excursions to the Esquimaux along the coast. They are a harmless, inoffensive set of Indians, ever ready and willing to render any assistance they can to the whites.

Wm. Lucas Hardisty,

Clerk in charge.75

Capt. Collinson evidently never dreamed of identifying this “harmless, inoffensive set of Indians” with “an armed body of Indians of the Koyukun tribe.” It is important that his statement, quoted above, should be corrected lest it serve as authority for extending the range of the Koyukun Indians76 to the Arctic Ocean. The Point Barrow people also know the name of the U´na-kho-tānā,77 or En´akotina, as they pronounce it. Their intercourse with all these Indians appears to be rather slight and purely commercial. Friendly relations existed between the Rat Indians and the “Eskimos who live somewhere near the Colville” as early as 1849,78 while it was still “war to the knife” between the Peel River Indians and the Kupûñmiun.79

The name Itkû´dlĭñ, of which I´t-ka-lyi of Dr. Simpson appears to be the plural, is a generic word for an Indian, and is undoubtedly the same as the Greenland word erĸileĸ—plural erĸigdlit—which means a fabulous “inlander” with a face like a dog. “They are martial spirits and inhuman foes to mankind; however, they only inhabit the east side of the land.”80 Dr. Rink81 has already pointed out that this name is in use as far as the Mackenzie River—for instance, the Indians are called “eert-kai-lee” (Parry), or “it-kagh-lie” (Lyon), at Fury and Hecla Strait; ik-kil-lin (Gilder), at the west shore of Hudson Bay, and “itkρe´le´it” (Petitot) at the Mackenzie. Petitot also gives this word as itkpe´lit in his vocabulary (p. 42). These words, including the term Ingalik, or In-ka-lik, applied by the natives of Norton Sound to the Indians,82 and which Mr. Dall was informed meant “children of a louse’s egg,” all appear to be compounds of the word erĸeĸ, a louse egg, and the affix lik. (I suspect erĸileĸ, from the form of its plural, to be a corruption of “erĸiliĸ,” since there is no recognized affix -leĸ in Greenlandic.)

Petitot83 gives an interesting tradition in regard to the origin of this name: “La tradition Innok dédaigne de parler ici des Peaux-Rouges. L’áyant fait observer á mon narrateur Aρviuna: ‘Oh!’ me repondait-il, ‘il ne vaut pas la peine d’en parler. Ils naquirent aussi dans l’ouest, sur l’ile du Castor, des larves de nos poux. C’ést pourquoi nous les nommons Itkρe´le´it.’


Until the visit of the Blossom’s barge in 1826 these people had never seen a white man, although they were already in possession of tobacco and articles of Russian manufacture, such as copper kettles, which they 52 had obtained from Siberia by way of the Diomedes. Mr. Elson’s party landed only at Refuge Inlet, and had but little intercourse with the natives. His visit seemed to have been forgotten by the time of the Plover’s stay at Point Barrow, though Dr. Simpson found people who recollected the visit of Thomas Simpson in 1837.84 The latter, after he had left the boats and was proceeding on foot with his party, first met the Nuwŭñmiun at Point Tangent, where there was a small party encamped, from whom he purchased the umiak in which he went on to Point Barrow. He landed there early in the morning of August 4, and went down to the summer camp at Pernyɐ, where he stayed till 1 o’clock in the afternoon, trading with the natives and watching them dance. On his return to Point Tangent some of the natives accompanied him to Boat Extreme, where he parted from them August 6, so that his whole intercourse with them was confined to less than a week.85

The next white men who landed at Point Barrow were the party in the Plover’s boats, under Lieuts. Pullen and Hooper, on their way to the Mackenzie, and the crew of Mr. Sheddon’s yacht, the Nancy Dawson, in the summer of 1849. The boats were from July 29 to August 3 getting from Cape Smyth past Point Barrow, when the crews were ashore for a couple of days and did a little trading with the natives, whom they found very friendly. They afterwards had one or two skirmishes with evil-disposed parties of Nuwŭñmiun returning from the east in the neighborhood of Return Reef. The exploring ships Enterprise and Investigator also had casual meetings with the natives, who received tobacco, etc., from the ships.

The depot ship Plover, Commander Maguire, spent the winters of 1852-’53 and 1853-’54 at Point Barrow, and the officers and crew, after some misunderstandings and skirmishes, established very friendly and sociable relations with the natives. The only published accounts of the Plover’s stay at Point Barrow are Commander Maguire’s official reports, published in the Parliamentary Reports (Blue Books) for 1854, pp. 165-185, and 1855, pp. 905 et seq., and Dr. Simpson’s paper, already mentioned. Maguire’s report of the first winter’s proceedings is also published as an appendix to Sherard Osborne’s “Discovery of the Northwest Passage.”

We found that the elder natives remembered Maguire, whom they called “Magwa,” very well. They gave us the names of many of his people and a very correct account of the most important proceedings, though they did not make it clear that the death of the man mentioned in his report was accidental. They described “Magwa” as short and fat, with a very thick neck, and all seemed very much impressed with the height of his first lieutenant, “Epi´ana” (Vernon), who had “lots of guns.”

It was difficult to see that the Plover’s visit had exerted any permanent influence on these people. In fact, Dr. Simpson’s account of their habits and customs would serve very well for the present time, except 53 in regard to the use of firearms. They certainly remembered no English. Indeed, Dr. Simpson says86 that they learned hardly any. The Plover’s people probably found it very easy to do as we did and adopt a sort of jargon of Eskimo words and “pigeon English” grammar for general intercourse. Although, according to the account of the natives, there was considerable intercourse between the sailors and the Eskimo women, there are now no people living at either village who we could be sure were born from such intercourse, though one woman was suspected of being half English. She was remarkable only for her large build, and was not lighter than many pure-blooded women.

Since 1854, when the first whalers came as far north as the Point, there has hardly been a season in which ships have not visited this region, and for a couple of months every year the natives have had considerable intercourse with the whites, going off to the ships to trade, while the sailors come ashore occasionally. We found that they usually spoke of white men as “kablu´na;” but they informed us that they had another word, “tû´n-nyĭn,” which they used to employ among themselves when they saw a ship. Dr. Simpson87 says that they learned the word “kabluna” from the eastern natives, but that the latter (he gives it Tan´-ning or Tan´-gin) came from the Nunata´ñmiun. He supposes it to apply to the Russians, who had regular bath days at their posts, and says it is derived from tan-nikh-lu-go, to wash or cleanse the person.

The chief change resulting from their intercourse with the whites has been the introduction of firearms. Nearly all the natives are now provided with guns, some of them of the best modern patterns of breechloaders, and they usually succeed in procuring a supply of ammunition. This is in some respects a disadvantage, as the reindeer have become so wild that the natives would no longer be able to procure a sufficient number of them for food and clothing with their former appliances, and they are thus rendered dependent on the ships. On the other hand, with a plentiful supply of ammunition it is easier for them to procure abundance of food, both deer and seals, and they are less liable to famine than in former times.

There is no reason to fear, as has been suggested, that they will lose the art of making any of their own weapons except in the case of the bow. With firearms alone they would be unable to obtain any seals, a much more important source of food than the reindeer, and their own appliances for sealing are much better than any civilized contrivances. Although they have plenty of the most improved modern whaling gear, they are not likely to forget the manufacture of their own implements for this purpose, as this important fishery is ruled by tradition and superstition, which insists that at least one harpoon of the ancient pattern must be used in taking every whale. All are now rich in iron, civilized tools, canvas and wreck wood, and in this respect their condition is improved.


They have, however, adopted very few civilized habits. They have contracted a taste for civilized food, especially hard bread and flour, but this they are unable to obtain for 10 months of the year, and they are thus obliged to adhere to their former habits. In fact, except in regard to the use of firearms and mechanics’ tools, they struck me as essentially a conservative people.

Petroff88 makes the assertion that in late years their movements have been guided chiefly by those of the whalers. As far as we could observe they have not changed the course or time of their journeys since Dr. Simpson’s time, except that they have given up the autumn whaling, possibly on account of the presence of the ships at that season. Of course, men who are rich in whalebone now stay to trade with the ships, while those who have plenty of oil go east. They are not absolutely dependent on the ships for anything except ammunition, and even during the short time the ships are with them they hardly neglect their own pursuits.

The one unmitigated evil of their intercourse with the whites has been the introduction of spirits. Apart from the direct injury which liquor does to their health, their passionate fondness for it leads them to barter away valuable articles which should have served to procure ammunition or other things of permanent use. It is to be hoped, however, that the liquor traffic is decreasing. The vigilance of the revenue cutter prevents regular whisky traders from reaching the Arctic Ocean, and public opinion among the whaling captains seems to be growing in the right direction.

Another serious evil, which it would be almost impossible to check, is the unlimited intercourse of the sailors with the Eskimo women. The whites can hardly be said to have introduced laxity of sexual morals, but they have encouraged a natural savage tendency, and have taught them prostitution for gain, which has brought about great excesses, fortunately confined to a short season. This may have something to do with the want of fertility among the women.

Our two years of friendly relations with these people were greatly to their advantage. Not only were our house and our doings a constant source of amusement to them, but they learned to respect and trust the whites. Without becoming dependent on us or receiving any favors without some adequate return either in work or goods, they were able to obtain tobacco, hard bread, and many other things of use to them, all through the year. Our presence prevented their procuring more than trifling quantities of spirits, and though the supply of breech-loading ammunition was pretty well cut off, they could get plenty of powder and shot for their muzzle loaders. The abundance of civilized food was undoubtedly good for them, and our surgeon was able to give them a great deal of help in sickness.

In all their intercourse with the whites they have learned very little 55 English, chiefly a few oaths and exclamations like “Get out of here,” and the words of such songs as “Little Brown Jug” and “Shoo Fly,” curiously distorted. They have as a rule invented genuine Eskimo words for civilized articles which are new to them.89 Even in their intimate relations with us they learned but few more phrases and in most cases without a knowledge of their meaning.

There are a few Hawaiian words introduced by the Kanaka sailors on the whaleships, which are universally employed between whites and Eskimo along the whole of the Arctic coast, and occasionally at least among the Eskimo themselves. These are kau-kau,90 food, or to eat; hana-hana, work; pûnĭ-pûnĭ, coitus, and pau, not. Wahíne, woman, is also used, but is less common. Another foreign word now universally employed among them in their intercourse with the whites, and even, I believe, among themselves, is “kuníɐ” for woman or wife. They themselves told us that it was not an Eskimo word—“When there were no white men, there was no kuníɐ”—and some of the whalemen who had been at Hudson Bay said it was the “Greenland” word for woman. It was not until our return to this country that we discovered it to be the Danish word kone, woman, which in the corrupted form “coony” is in common use among the eastern Eskimo generally in the jargon they employ in dealing with the whites. Kuníɐ is “coony” with the suffix of the third person, and therefore means “his wife.” It is sometimes used at Point Barrow for either of a married couple in the sense of our word “spouse.”



These people are acquainted with the following animals, all of which are more or less hunted, and serve some useful purpose.


The wolf, amáxo (Canis lupus griseo-albus), is not uncommon in the interior, but rarely if ever reaches the coast. Red and black foxes, kaiă´ktûk (Vulpes fulvus fulvus and argentatus), are chiefly known from their skins, which are common articles in the trade with the eastern natives, and the same is true of the wolverine, ka´vwĭñ (Gulo luscus), and the marten, kabweatyía (Mustela americana). The arctic fox, tĕrĭgûniɐ (Vulpes lagopus), is very abundant along the coast, while the ermine (Putorius erminea) and Parry’s spermophile (Spermophilus empetra empetra) are not rare. The last is called sĭksĭñ. Lemmings, a´vwĭñɐ, of two species (Cuniculus torquatus and Myodes obensis) are 56 very abundant some years, and they recognize a tiny shrewmouse (Sorex forsteri). This little animal is called ugrúnɐ, a word corresponding to the name ugssungnaĸ given to the same animal in Labrador, which, according to Kleinschmidt,91 is an ironical application of the name of the largest seal, ugssuk (ugru at Point Barrow), to the smallest mammal known to the Eskimo. The same name is also applied at Point Barrow to the fossil ox, whose bones are sometimes found. The most abundant land animal, however, is the reindeer, tŭ´ktu (Rangifer tarandus grœnlandicus), which is found in winter in great herds along the upper waters of the rivers, occasionally coming down to the coast, and affords a very important supply of food.

The moose, tŭ´ktuwŭñ, or “big reindeer” (Alce machlis), is well known from the accounts of the Nunatañmiun, who bring moose skins to trade. Some of the natives have been east to hunt the mountain sheep, i´mnêɐ (Ovis canadensis dalli), and all are familiar with its skin, horns, and teeth, which they buy of the eastern natives. The musk ox, umĭñmau (Ovibos moschatus), is known only from its bones, which are sometimes found on the tundra. Inland, near the rivers, they also find a large brown bear, ă´kqlak, which is probably the barren ground bear, while on the ice-pack, the polar bear, nä´nu (Thalassarctos maritimus), is not uncommon, sometimes making raids on the provision storehouses in the villages.

The most important sea animal is the little rough seal, nĕtyĭĸ (Phoca fœtida), which is very abundant at all seasons. Its flesh is the great staple of food, while its blubber supplies the Eskimo lamps, and its skin serves countless useful purposes. The great bearded seal, úgru (Erignathus barbatus), is less common. It is especially valued for its hide, which serves for covering the large boats and making stout harpoon lines. Two other species of seal, the harbor seal, kasigía (Phoca vitulina), and the beautiful ribbon seal, kaixólĭñ (Phoca fasciata), are known, but both are uncommon, the latter very rare.

Herds of walrus, ai´bwêk (Odobænus obesus), pass along the coast in the open season, generally resting on cakes of floating ice, and are pursued for their hides and ivory as well as their flesh and blubber. Whales, akbwêk, of the species Balæna mysticetus, most pursued for its oil and whalebone, travel along the coast in the leads of open water above described from the middle of April to the latter part of June in large numbers, and return in the autumn, appearing about the end of August. White whales, kĭlĕlua (Delphinapterus sp.), are not uncommon in the summer, and they say the narwhal, tugálĭñ (Monodon monoceros), is occasionally seen. They are also acquainted with another cetacean, which they call áxlo, and which appears from their description to be a species of Orca.


In the spring, that is during May and the early part of June, vast flocks of migrating ducks pass to the northeast, close to the shore, 57 a few only remaining to breed, and return at the end of the summer from the latter part of July to the end of September. Nearly all the returning birds cross the isthmus of Point Barrow at Pernyɐ where the natives assemble in large numbers for the purpose of taking them. These migrating birds are mostly king ducks, kĭñalĭñ (Somateria spectabilis), Pacific eiders, amau´lĭñ (S. v-nigra), and long-tailed ducks, a´dyigi´a, a´hadlĭñ (Clangula hyemalis), with smaller numbers of the spectacled eider, ka´waso (Arctonetta fischeri), and Steller’s ducks, ĭgnikau´kto (Eniconetta stelleri). At the rivers they also find numbers of pintails, i´vwûgɐ (Dafila acuta), which visit the coast in small numbers during the migrations. Geese of three species, the American white-fronted goose, nû´glûgruɐ (Anser albifrons gambeli), the lesser snow-goose, kû´ño (Chen hyperborea), and the black brant, nûglû´gnɐ (Branta nigricans), are not uncommon on the coast both during the migrations and the breeding season, but the natives find them in much greater abundance at the rivers, where they also find a species of swan, ku´gru, probably Olor columbianus, which rarely visits the coast.

Next in importance to the natives are the gulls, of which the Point Barrow gull, nau´yɐ (Larus barrovianus), is the most abundant all through the season, though the rare rosy gull, kă´ñmaxlu (Rhodostethes rosea), appears in multitudes late in the autumn. The ivory gull (Gavia alba), nariyalbwûñ, and Sabine’s gull, yûkû´drĭgûgi´ɐ (Xema Sabinii), are uncommon, while the Arctic tern, utyuta´kĭn (Sterna paradisea), is rather abundant, especially about the sandspits of Nuwŭk. All these species, particularly the larger ones, are taken for food.

Three species of loons are common: the great white-billed loon, tu´dlĭñ (Urinator adamsi), and the Pacific and red-throated divers (U. pacificus and lumme), which are not distinguished from each other but are both called kă´ksau. They also occasionally see the thick-billed guillemot a´kpa (Uria lomvia arra), and more often the sea-pigeon, sêkbwɐk (Cephus mandtii). The three species of jaegers (Stercorarius pomarinus, parasiticus, and longicaudus) are not distinguished from one another but are all called isuñɐ. They pay but little attention to the numerous species of wading birds which appear in considerable abundance in the migrations and breeding season, but they recognize among them the turnstone, tûlĭ´gwa (Arenaria interpres), the gray plover, ki´raio´n (Charadrius squatarola), the American golden plover, tu´dlĭñ (C. dominicus), the knot, tu´awi´a (Tringa canutus), the pectoral and Baird’s sandpipers, (T. maculata and bairdii), both called ai´bwûkiɐ, the red-backed sandpiper mêkapĭñ (T. alpina pacifica), the semipalmated sandpiper, nĭwĭlĭwĭ´lûk (Ereunetes pusillus), the buff-breasted sandpiper, nu´dluayu (Tryngites subruficollis), the red phalarope, sabrañ (Chrymophilus fulicarius), and the northern phalarope, sabrañnɐ; (Phalaropus lobatus). The last is rare at Point Barrow, but they see many of them near the Colville. The little brown crane, tutĭ´drĭgɐ (Grus canadensis), is also rare at the Point, but they say they find many of them at the mouth of Kulu´grua.


Of land birds, the most familiar are the little snow bunting, amauligɐ (Plectrophenax nivalis), the first bird to arrive in the spring, the Lapland longspur, nĕssau´dligɐ (Calcarius lapponicus), and two species of grouse, the willow grouse (Lagopus lagopus) and the rock ptarmigan (L. rupestris), which are both called akû´dĭgĭn. These two birds do not migrate, but are to be seen all winter, as is also the well known snowy owl, u´kpĭk (Nyctea nyctea). A gerfalcon, kĭ´drĭgûmĭñ (Falco rusticolus), is also sometimes seen, and skins and feathers of the golden eagle, tĭ´ñmiɐkpûk, “the great bird” (Aquila chrysætos), are brought from the east for charms and ornaments. The raven, tulúɐ (Corvus corax sinuatus), was not seen at Point Barrow, but the natives are familiar with it and have many of its skins for amulets. Several species of small land birds also occur in small numbers, but the natives are not familiar with them and call them all “sû´ksaxíɐ.” This name appears to mean “wanderer” or “flutterer,” and probably belongs, I believe, to the different species of redpolls (Aegiothus).


A few species only of fish are found in the salt water. Of these the most abundant are the little polar cod (Boreogadus saida), which is plentiful through the greater part of the year, and is often an important source of food, and the capelin, añmû´grûñ (Mallotus villosus), which is found in large schools close to the beach in the middle of summer. There are also caught sometimes two species of sculpins, kû´naio (Cottus quadricornis and decastrensis), and two species of Lycodes, kúgraunɐ (L. turnerii and coccineus). In the gill nets at Elson Bay they also catch two species of salmon (Onchorhynchus gorbuscha and nerka) and a whitefish (Coregonus laurettæ) in small numbers, and occasionally a large trout (Salvelinus malma). The last-named fish they find sometimes in great numbers, near the mouth of the Colville.

The greatest quantities of fish are taken in the rivers, especially Kuaru and Kulugrua, by fishing through the ice in the winter. They say there are no fish taken in Ikpikpûñ, and account for this by explaining that the former two rivers freeze down to the bottom on the shallow bars inclosing deep pools in which the fish are held, while in the latter the ice never touches the bottom, so that the fish are free to run down to the sea. The species caught are the small Coregonus laurettæ, two large whitefish (C. kennicottii and nelsoni), and the burbot, tita´liñ (Lota maculosa). They speak of a fish, sulukpau´ga (which appears to mean “wing-fin” and is applied in Greenland to a species of Sebastes), that is caught with the hook in Kulugrua apparently only in summer, and seems from the description to be Back’s grayling (Thymallus signifer). In the river Ku is caught a smelt, ĭthoa´nĭñ (Osmerus dentex). In the great lake, Tă´syûkpûñ (see above, p. 29), they tell of an enormous fish “as big as a kaiak.” They gave it no name, but describe it as having a red belly and white flesh. One man said he had seen one 18 feet long, but another was more moderate, giving about 3 feet as the length of the longest he had seen.


Insects and other invertebrates.

Of insects, they recognize the troublesome mosquito, kiktorɐ (Culex spp.), flies, bumblebees, and gadflies (Œestrus tarandi), both of which they seem much afraid of, and call i´gutyai, and the universal louse, ku´mɐk. All the large winged insects, including the rare butterflies and moths and crane flies, are called tûkĭlû´kica, or tûkilûkĭdja´ksûn, which is also the name of the yellow poppy (Papaver nudicaule). We were told that “by and by” the poppies would turn into “little birds” and fly away, which led us to suppose that there was some yellow butterfly which we should find abundant in the later summer, but we saw none either season. A small spider is sometimes found in the Eskimo houses, and is called pidrairu´rɐ, “the little braider.” They pay but little attention to other invertebrates, but are familiar with worms, kupidro, a species of crab, kinau´rɐ, (Hyas latifrons), and the little branchipus, iritu´ña (Greenlandic issitôrak, “the little one with big eyes”), of the fresh water-pools. Cockles (Buccinum, etc.) are called siu´tigo (Gr. siuterok, from siut, ear), and clams have a name which we failed to obtain. Jellyfish are called ipiaru´rɐ, “like bags.” They say the “Kûñmudlĭñ” eat them!


Few plants that are of any service to man grow in this region. The willows, ŭ´kpĭk, of various species, which near the coast are nothing but creeping vines, are sometimes used as fuel, especially along the rivers, where they grow into shrubs 5 or 6 feet high. Their catkins are used for tinder and the moss, mû´nĭk, furnishes wicks for the lamps. We could find no fruit that could be eaten. A cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idæa) occurs, but produced no fruit either season. No use is made of the different species of grass, which are especially luxuriant around the houses at Utkiavwĭñ, where the ground is richly manured with various sorts of refuse,92 though the species of mosses and lichens furnish the reindeer with food easily reached in the winter through the light covering of snow. Little attention is paid to the numerous, and sometimes showy, flowering plants. We learned but two names of flowers, the one mentioned above, tûkĭlû´kica, tûkĭlûkĭdja´ksûn, which seemed to be applied to all striking yellow or white flowers, such as Papaver, Ranunculus, and Draba, and mai´sun, the bright pink Pedicularis. All the wood used in this region, except the ready-made woodenware and the willow poles obtained from the Nunatañmiun, comes from the drift on the beach. Most of this on the beach west of Point Barrow appears to come from the southwest, as the prevailing current along this shore is to the northeast, and may be derived from the large rivers flowing into Kotzebue Sound, since it shows signs of having been long in the water. The driftwood, which is reported to be abundant east of Point Barrow, probably comes from the great rivers emptying into the Arctic 60 Ocean. This wood is sufficiently abundant to furnish the natives with all they need for fuel and other purposes, and consists chiefly of pine, spruce, and cottonwood, mostly in the form of water-worn logs, often of large size. Of late years, also, much wood of the different kinds used in shipbuilding has drifted ashore from wrecks.


The people of this region are acquainted with few mineral substances, excluding the metals which they obtain from the whites. The most important are flint, slate, soapstone, jade, and a peculiar form of massive pectolite, first described by Prof. F. W. Clarke93 from specimens brought home by our party. Flint, ánma, was formerly in great demand for arrow and spear heads and other implements, and according to Dr. Simpson94 was obtained from the Nunatañmiun. It is generally black or a slightly translucent gray, but we collected a number of arrowheads, etc., made of jasper, red or variegated. A few crystals of transparent quartz, sometimes smoky, were also seen, and appeared to be used as amulets. Slate, ulu´ksɐ, “material for a round knife,” was used, as its name imports, for making the woman’s round knife, and for harpoon blades, etc. It is a smooth clay slate, varying in hardness, and light green, red, purple, dark gray, or black in color. All the pieces of soft gray soapstone, tună´ktɐ, which are so common at both villages, are probably fragments of the lamps and kettles obtained in former years from the eastern natives. The jade is often very beautiful, varying from a pale or bright translucent green to a dark olive, almost black, and was formerly used for making adzes, whetstones, and occasionally other implements. The pectolite, generally of a pale greenish or bluish color, was only found in the form of oblong, more or less cylindrical masses, used as hammerheads. Both of these minerals were called kau´dlo, and were said to come “from the east, a long way off,” from high rocky ground, but all that we could learn was very indefinite. Dr. Simpson was informed95 that the stones for making whetstones were brought from the Kuwûk River, so that this jade is probably the same as that which is said to form Jade Mountain, in that region.

Bits of porphyry, syenite, and similar rocks are used for making labrets, and large pebbles are used as hammers and net sinkers. They have also a little iron pyrites, both massive and in the form of spherical concretions. The latter were said to come from the mouth of the Colville, and are believed by the natives to have fallen from the sky. Two other kinds of stone are brought from the neighborhood of Nu´ɐsŭknan, partly, it appears, as curiosities, and partly with some ill defined mystical notions. The first are botryoidal masses of brown limonite, resembling bog iron ore, and the other sort curious concretions, looking like the familiar “clay stones,” but very heavy, and apparently containing a 61 great deal of iron pyrites. White gypsum, used for rubbing the flesh side of deerskins, is obtained on the seashore at a place called Tû´tyĕ, “one sleep” east from Point Barrow.

Bituminous coal, alu´a, is well known, though not used for fuel. Many small fragments, which come perhaps from the vein at Cape Beaufort,96 are picked up on the beach. Shaly, very bituminous coal, broken into small square fragments, is rather abundant on the bars of Kulugrua, whence specimens were brought by Capt. Herendeen. A native of Wainwright Inlet gave us to understand that coal existed in a regular vein near that place, and told a story of a burning hill in that region. This may be a coal bed on fire, or possibly “smoking cliffs,” like those seen by the Investigator in Franklin Bay.97 We also heard a story of a lake of tar or bitumen, ádngun, said to be situated on an island a day’s sail east of the point. Blacklead, mĭ´ñun, and red ocher are abundant and used as pigments, but we did not learn where they were obtained. Pieces of amber are sometimes found on the beach and are carried as amulets or (rarely) made into beads. Amber is called aúmɐ, a word that in other Eskimo dialects, and probably in this also, means “a live coal.” Its application to a lump of amber is quite a striking figure of speech.



Substances used for food.

The food of these people consists almost entirely of animal substances. The staple article of food is the flesh of the rough seal, of which they obtain more than of any other meat. Next in importance is the venison of the reindeer, though this is looked upon as a kind of dainty.98 Many well developed fœtal reindeer are brought home from the spring deer hunt and are said to be excellent eating, though we never saw them eaten. They also eat the flesh of the other three species of seal, the walrus, the polar bear, the “bowhead” whale, the white whale, and all the larger kinds of birds, geese, ducks, gulls, and grouse. All the different kinds of fish appear to be eaten, with the possible exception of the two species of Lycodes (only a few of these were caught, and all were purchased for our collection) and very little of a fish is wasted except the hardest parts. Walrus hide is sometimes cooked and eaten in times of scarcity. Mollusks of any kind are rarely eaten, as it is difficult to procure them. After a heavy gale in the autumn of 1881, when the beach was covered with marine animals, mostly lamellibranch mollusks with their shells and softer parts broken off by 62 the violence of the surf, we saw one woman collect a lapful of these “clam-heads,” which she said she was going to eat. The “blackskin” (epidermis) of the whale is considered a great delicacy by them, as by all the other Eskimo who are able to procure it, and they are also very fond of the tough white skin or gum round the roots of the whalebone.99

We saw and heard nothing of the habit so generally noticed among other Eskimo and in Siberia of eating the half-digested contents of the stomach of the reindeer, but we found that they were fond of the fæces taken from the rectum of the deer. I find that this curious habit has been noticed among Eskimo only in two other places—Greenland in former times and Boothia Felix. The Greenlanders ate “the Dung of the Rein-deer, taken out of the Guts when they clean them; the Entrails of Partridges and the like Out-cast, pass for Dainties with them.”100 The dung of the musk ox and reindeer when fresh were considered a delicacy by the Boothians, according to J. C. Ross.101 The entrails of fowls are also considered a great delicacy and are carefully cooked as a separate dish.102

As far as our observations go these people eat little, if any, more fat than civilized man, and, as a rule, not by itself. Fat may occasionally be eaten (they are fond of the fat on the inside of duck skins), but they do not habitually eat the great quantities of blubber spoken of in some other places103 or drink oil, as the Hudson Bay Eskimo are said to do by Hall, or use it as a sauce for dry food, like the natives of Norton Sound. It is usually supposed and generally stated in the popular accounts of the Eskimo that it is a physiological necessity for them to eat enormous quantities of blubber in order to obtain a sufficient amount of carbon to enable them to maintain their animal heat in the cold climate which they inhabit. A careful comparison, however, of the reports of actual observers104 shows that an excessive eating of fat is not the rule, and is perhaps confined to the territory near Boothia Felix.

Eggs of all kinds, except, of course, the smallest, are eagerly sought for, but the smaller birds are seldom eaten, as it is a waste of time and ammunition to pursue them. We saw this people eat no vegetable substances, though they informed us that the buds of the willow were sometimes eaten. Of late years they have acquired a fondness for many kinds of civilized food, especially bread of any kind, flour, sugar, and molasses, and some of them are learning to like salt. They were very 63 glad to purchase from us corn-meal “mush” and the broken victuals from the table. These were, however, considered as special dainties and eaten as luncheons or as a dessert after the regular meal. The children and even some of the women were always on the watch for the cook’s slop bucket to be brought out, and vied with the ubiquitous dogs in searching for scraps of food. Meat which epicures would call rather “high” is eaten with relish, but they seem to prefer fresh meat when they can get it.

Means of preparing food.

Food is generally cooked, except, perhaps, whale-skin and whale gum, which usually seem to be eaten as soon as obtained, without waiting for a fire. Meat of all kinds is generally boiled in abundance of water over a fire of driftwood, and the broth thus made is drunk hot before eating the meat. Fowls are prepared for boiling by skinning them. Fish are also boiled, but are often eaten raw, especially in winter at the deer-hunting camps, when they are frozen hard. Meat is sometimes eaten raw or frozen. Lieut. Ray found one family in camp on Kulugrua who had no fire of any kind, and were eating everything raw. They had run out of oil some time before and did not like to spend time in going to the coast for more while deer were plentiful.

When traveling in winter, according to Lieut. Ray, they prefer frozen fish or a sort of pemmican made as follows: The marrow is extracted from reindeer bones by boiling, and to a quantity of this is added 2 or 3 pounds of crushed seal or whale blubber, and the whole beaten up with the hands in a large wooden bowl to the consistency of frozen cream. Into this they stir bits of boiled venison, generally the poorer portions of the meat scraped off the bone, and chewed up small by all the women and children of the family, “each using some cabalistic word as they cast in their mouthful.”105 The mass is made up into 2-pound balls and carried in little sealskin bags. Flour, when obtained, is made into a sort of porridge, of which they are very fond. Cooking is mostly done outside of the dwelling, in the open air in summer, or in kitchens opening out of the passageway in winter. Little messes only, like an occasional dish of soup or porridge, are cooked over the lamps in the house. This habit, of course, comes from the abundant supply of firewood, while the Eskimo most frequently described live in a country where wood is very scarce, and are obliged to depend on oil for fuel.

Time and frequency of eating.

When these people are living in the winter houses they do not, as far as we could learn, have any regular time for meals, but eat whenever they are hungry and have leisure. The women seem to keep a supply of cooked food on hand ready for any one to eat. When the men are working in the kû´dyĭgi, or “club house,” or when a number of them are encamped together in tents, as at the whaling camp in 1883, or the regular summer camp at Pe´rnyû, the women at intervals through the day prepare dishes of meat, which the 64 men eat by themselves. When in the deer-hunting camps, according to Lieut. Ray, they eat but little in the morning, and can really be said to take no more than one full meal a day, which is eaten at night when the day’s work is done.106 When on the march they usually take a few mouthfuls of the pemmican above described before they start out in the morning, and rarely touch food again till they go into camp at night.

When a family returns from the spring deer hunt with plenty of venison they usually keep open house for a day or two. The women of the household, with sometimes the assistance of a neighbor or two, keep the pot continually boiling, sending in dishes of meat at intervals, while the house is full of guests who stay for a short time, eating, smoking, and chatting, and then retire to make room for others. Messes are sometimes sent out to invalids who can not come to the feast. One household in the spring of 1883 consumed in this way two whole reindeer in 24 hours. They use only their hands and a knife in eating meat, usually filling the mouth and cutting or biting off the mouthful. They are large eaters, some of them, especially the women, eating all the time when they have plenty, but we never saw them gorge themselves in the manner described by Dr. Kane (2d Grinnell Exp., passim) and other writers.

Their habits of hospitality prevent their laying up any large supply of meat, though blubber is carefully saved for commercial use, and they depend for subsistence, almost from day to day, on their success in hunting. When encamped, however, in small parties in the summer they often take more seals than they can consume. The carcasses of these, stripped of their skins and blubber, are buried in the gravel close to the camp, and dug up and brought home when meat becomes scarce in the winter.


The habitual drink is water, which these people consume in great quantities when they can obtain it, and like to have very cold. In the winter there is always a lump of clean snow on a rack close to the lamp, with a tub under it to catch the water that drips from it. This is replaced in the summer by a bucket of fresh water from some pond or lake. When the men are sitting in their open air clubs at the summer camps there is always a bucket of fresh water in the middle of the circle, with a dipper to drink from. Hardly a native ever passed the station without stopping for a drink of water, often drinking a quart of cold water at a time. When tramping about in the winter they eat large quantities of ice and snow, and on the march the women carry small canteens of sealskin, which they fill with snow and carry inside of their jackets, where the heat of the body melts the snow and keeps 65 it liquid. This great fondness for plenty of cold water has been often noticed among the Eskimo elsewhere, and appears to be quite characteristic of the race.107 They have acquired a taste for liquor, and like to get enough to produce intoxication. As well as we could judge, they are easily affected by alcohol. Some of them during our stay learned to be very fond of coffee, “ka´fe,” but tea they are hardly acquainted with, though they will drink it. I have noticed that they sometimes drank the water produced by the melting of the sea ice along the beach, and pronounced it excellent when it was so brackish that I found it quite undrinkable.


The only narcotic in use among these people is tobacco, which they obtain directly or indirectly from the whites, and which has been in use among them from the earliest time when we have any knowledge of them. When Mr. Elson, in the Blossom’s barge, visited Point Barrow, in 1826, he found tobacco in general use and the most marketable article.108 This undoubtedly came from the Russians by way of Siberia and Bering Strait, as Kotzebue found the natives of the sound which bears his name, who were in communication with the Asiatic coast by way of the Diomedes, already addicted to the use of tobacco in 1816. It is not probable that tobacco was introduced on the Arctic coast by way of the Russian settlements in Alaska. There were no Russian posts north of Bristol Bay until 1833, when St. Michael’s Redoubt was built. When Capt. Cook visited Bristol Bay, in 1778, he found that tobacco was not used there,109 while in Norton Sound, the same year, the natives “had no dislike to tobacco.”110 Neither was it introduced from the English posts in the east, as Franklin found the “Kûñmû´dlĭñ” not in the habit of using it—“The western Esquimaux use tobacco, and some of our visitors had smoked it, but thought the flavor very disagreeable,”111—nor had they adopted the habit in 1837.112

When the Plover wintered at Point Barrow, according to Dr. Simpson’s account,113 all the tobacco, except a little obtained from the English discovery ships, came from Asia and was brought by the Nunatañmiun. At present the latter bring very little if any tobacco, and the supply is obtained directly from the ships, though a little occasionally finds its way up the coast from the southwest.


They use all kinds of tobacco, but readily distinguish and desire the sorts considered better by the whites. For instance, they were eager to get the excellent quality of “Navy” tobacco furnished by the Commissary Department, while one of our party who had a large quantity of exceedingly bad fine-cut tobacco could hardly give it away. A little of the strong yellow “Circassian” tobacco used by the Russians for trading is occasionally brought up from the southwest, and perhaps also by the Nunatañmiun, and is very highly prized, probably because it was in this form that they first saw tobacco. Snuff seems to be unknown; tobacco is used only for chewing and smoking. The habit of chewing tobacco is almost universal. Men, women, and even children, though the latter be but 2 or 3 years old and unweaned,114 when tobacco is to be obtained, keep a “chew,” often of enormous size, constantly in the mouth. The juice is not spit out, but swallowed with the saliva, without producing any signs of nausea. The tobacco is chewed by itself and not sweetened with sugar, as was observed by Hooper and Nordenskiöld among the “Chukches.”115 I knew but two adult Eskimo in Utkiavwĭñ who did not chew tobacco, and one of these adopted the habit to a certain extent while we were there.

Tobacco is smoked in pipes of a peculiar pattern called kui´nyɐ, of which the collection contains a series of ten specimens.

Of these, No. 89288 [705],116 figured in Ray’s Point Barrow Report, Ethnology, Pl. I, Fig. 1, will serve as a type. The bowl is of brass, neatly inlaid on the upper surface with a narrow ring of copper close to the edge, from which run four converging lines, 90° apart, nearly to the center. Round the under surface are also three concentric rings of copper. The wooden stem appears to be willow or birch, and is in two longitudinal sections, held together by the lashing of sealskin thong which serves to attach the bowl to the stem. This lashing was evidently put on wet and allowed to shrink on, and the ends are secured by tucking under the turns. The whipping at the mouthpiece is of fine sinew thread. A picker of steel for cleaning out the bowl is attached to the stem by a piece of seal thong, the end of which is wedged under the turns of the lashing. The remaining pipes are all of the same general pattern, but vary in the material of the bowl and in details of execution. The stems are always of the same material and put together in the same way, but are sometimes lozenge-shaped instead of elliptical in section. The lashing is sometimes of three-ply sinew braid. The bowl shows the greatest variation, both in form and material.

Fig. 6a (No. 56737 [10], from Utkiavwĭñ) has an iron bowl, noticeable for the ornamentation of the shank. The metal work has all been done with the file except the fitting of the saucer to the shank. This has evidently been heated and shrunk on. Three pipes have bowls of 67 smoothly ground stone. No. 89289 [1582] (Fig. 6b from Utkiavwĭñ) is of rather soft greenish gray slate. No. 89290 [864] is of the same shape, but of hard greenish stone, while the third stone pipe (No. 89291 [834], from Utkiavwĭñ), of gray slate, is of quite a different pattern. Three of the series have bowls of reindeer antler, lined with thin sheet brass, and one a bowl of walrus ivory, lined with thin copper. (See Fig. 6c, Nos. 89285 [954], 89286 [915], and 89287 [1129].)

see caption

Fig. 6.—Pipes: a, pipe with metal bowl; b, pipe with stone bowl; c, pipe bowl of antler or ivory.

Antler and stone pipes of this pattern and rather small are usually carried by the men out of doors, while the more elaborate metal pipes, which are often very large and handsome (I have seen some with a saucer at least 3 inches in diameter) are more frequently used in the house and by the women. The stem is usually 1 foot or 13 inches long, though pipes at least 18 inches long were seen.

To most pipes are attached pickers, as in the type specimen. The picker is in all cases of metal, usually iron or steel, but sometimes of copper (see the pickers attached to pipes above). When not in use the point is tucked under the lashing on the stem. The pipes are readily taken apart for cleaning.


No. 89292 [1752] (Fig. 7) is an extemporized pipe made in a hurry by a man who wished to smoke, but had no pipe.

see caption

Fig. 7.—Pipe made of willow stick.

It is simply a rough willow stick, slightly whittled into shape, split and hollowed out like a pipestem. It is held together by a whipping of sinew thread and a lashing of deerskin thong, fastened by a slip-knot at one end, the other being tucked in as usual. A small funnel-shaped hole at one end serves for a bowl, and shows by its charred surface that it has been actually used. This pipe was bought from one of the “Nunatañmiun,” who were in camp at Pernyû in 1883, and shows its inland origin in the use of the deerskin thong. A coast native would have used seal thong.

The pipe is carried at the girdle, either with the stem thrust inside the breeches or in a bag attached to the belt. No. 56744 [55] (Utkiavwĭñ) is the only specimen of pipe bag in the collection. It is a long, narrow, cylindric bag, made of four white ermine skins, with two hind legs and two tails forming a fringe round the bottom, which is of dressed deerskin, in one piece, flesh side out. The band round the mouth is of gray deerskin, running only two-thirds of the way round. The piece which fills the remaining third runs out into the strap for fastening the bag to the belt. The ornamental strips on two of the longitudinal seams and round the bottom are of deerskin. The seams are all sewed “over and over” on the “wrong” side with sinew thread. This is an unusually handsome bag.

Tobacco is carried in a small pouch of fur attached to the girdle, and tucked inside of the breeches, or sometimes worn under the jacket, slung round the neck by a string or the necklace. The collection contains three of these, of which No. 89803 [889] (Fig. 8a) will serve as a typical specimen.

It is made by sewing together two pieces of wolverine fur, hair out, of the same shape and size, and round the mouth of this a band of short-haired light-colored deerskin, also hair out, with the ends meeting at one side in a seam corresponding to one of the seams of the wolverine fur. The mouth is ornamented with a narrow band of wolverine fur, the flesh side, which is colored red, turned out. It is closed by a piece of seal thong about 5 inches long, one end of which is sewed to the middle of the seam in the deerskin band and the other passed through a large blue glass bead and knotted. This string is wound two or three times round the neck of the bag, and the bight of it tucked under the 69 turns. The seams are all sewed “over and over” on the “wrong” side with sinew thread.

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Fig. 8.—Tobacco pouches.

These tobacco pouches are usually of a similar pattern, often slightly narrowed at the neck, and generally fringed round the mouth with a narrow strip of wolverine fur as above. They are often ornamented with tags of wolverine fur on the seams (as in No. 89804 [1341, Fig. 8b]), and borders of different colored skin. No. 89805 [1350] is very elaborately ornamented. It is made of brown deerskin, trimmed with white deerskin clipped close and bordered with narrow braids of blue and red worsted, and little tags of the latter. According to Dr. Simpson,117 these bags are called “del-la-mai´-yu.” We neglected to obtain the proper names for them, as we always made use of the lingua franca “tiba´ púksak,” bag for tiba´ (tobacco). No. 89903 [889] contains a specimen of tobacco as prepared for smoking by the Eskimo. This consists of common black Cavendish or “Navy” tobacco, cut up very fine, and mixed with finely chopped wood in the proportion of about two parts of tobacco to one of wood. We were informed that willow twigs were used for this purpose. Perhaps this may have some slight aromatic flavor, as well as serving to make the tobacco go further, though I did not recognize any such flavor in some tobacco from an Eskimo’s pouch that I once smoked and found exceedingly bad. The smell of an Eskimo’s 70 pipe is different from any other tobacco smoke and is very disagreeable. It has some resemblance to the smell of some of the cheaper brands of North Carolina tobacco which are known to be adulterated with other vegetable substances. The method of smoking is as follows: After clearing out the bowl with the picker, a little wad of deer hair, plucked from the clothes in some inconspicuous place, generally the front skirt of the inner jacket, is rammed down to the bottom of the bowl. This is to prevent the fine tobacco from getting into the stem and clogging it up. The bowl is then filled with tobacco, of which it only holds a very small quantity. The mouthpiece is placed between the lips, the tobacco ignited, and all smoked out in two or three strong inhalations. The smoke is very deeply inhaled and allowed to pass out slowly from the mouth and nostrils, bringing tears to the eyes, often producing giddiness, and almost always a violent fit of coughing. I have seen a man almost prostrated from the effects of a single pipeful. This method of smoking has been in vogue since the time of our first acquaintance with these people.118

Though they smoke little at a time, they smoke frequently when tobacco is plentiful. Of late years, since tobacco has become plentiful, some have adopted white men’s pipes, which they smoke without inhaling, and they are glad to get cigars, and, since our visit, cigarettes. In conversation with us they usually called all means for smoking “pai´pa,” the children sometimes specifying “pai´pa-sigya´” (cigar) or “mûkparapai´pa,” paper-pipe (cigarette). The use of the kui´nyɐ, which name appears to be applied only to the native pipes, seems to be confined to the adults. We knew of no children owning them, though their parents made no objection to their chewing tobacco or owning or using clay or wooden pipes which they obtained from us. They carry their fondness for tobacco so far that they will even eat the foul oily refuse from the bottom of the bowl, the smallest portion of which would produce nausea in a white man. This habit has been observed at Plover Bay, Siberia.119 Tobacco ashes are also eaten, probably for the sake of the potash they contain, as one of the men at Utkiavwīñ was fond of carbonate of soda, which he told the doctor was just like what he got from his pipe. Pipes of this type, differing in details, but all agreeing in having very small bowls, frequently of metal, and some contrivance for opening the stem, are used by the Eskimo from at least as far south as the Yukon delta (as shown by the collections in the National Museum) to the 71 Anderson River and Cape Bathurst,120 and have even been adopted by the Indians of the Yukon, who learned the use of tobacco from the Eskimo. They are undoubtedly of Siberian origin, as will be seen by comparing the figure of a “Chukch” pipe in Nordenskiöld’s Vega, vol. 2, p. 117, Fig. 7, and the figure of a Tunguse pipe in Seebohm’s “Siberia in Asia” (p. 149), with the pipes figured from our collection. Moreover, the method of smoking is precisely that practiced in Siberia, even to the proportion of wood mixed with the tobacco.121

The consideration of the question whence the Siberians acquired this peculiar method of smoking would lead me beyond the bounds of the present work, but I can not leave the subject of pipes without calling attention to the fact that Nordenskiöld122 has alluded to the resemblance of these to the Japanese pipes. A gentleman who has spent many years in China also informs me that the Chinese pipes are of a very similar type and smoked in much the same way.123 The Greenlanders and eastern Eskimo generally, who have learned the use of tobacco directly from the Europeans, use large-bowled pipes, which they smoke in the ordinary manner. In talking with us the people of Point Barrow call tobacco “tiba´” or “tibakĭ,” but among themselves it is still known as ta´wak, which is the word found in use among them by the earliest explorers.124 “Tiba” was evidently learned from the American whalers, as it was not in use in Dr. Simpson’s time. It is merely an attempt to pronounce the word tobacco, but has been adopted into the Eskimo 72 language sufficiently to be used as the radical in compound words such as “tiba´xutikă´ktûñɐ,” “I have a supply of tobacco.” There is no evidence that anything else was smoked before the introduction of tobacco, and no pipes seen or collected appear older than the time when we know them to have had tobacco.125


The winter house (ĭ´glu).—

The permanent winter houses are built of wood126 and thickly covered with clods of earth. Each house consists of a single room, nearly square, entered by an underground passage about 25 feet long and 4 to 4½ feet high. The sloping mound of earth which covers the house, grading off insensibly to the level of the ground, gives the houses the appearance of being underground, especially as the land on which they stand is irregular and hilly. Without very careful measurements, which we were unable to make, it is impossible to tell whether the floor is above or below the surface of the ground. It is certainly not very far either way. I am inclined to think that a space 73 at or near the top of a hillock is simply leveled to receive the floor. In this case the back of the house on a hill side, like some in Utkiavwĭñ, would be underground.

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Fig. 9.—Plans of Eskimo-winter house.

The passage is entered at the farther end by a vertical shaft about 6 feet deep in the center of a steep mound of earth. Round the mouth is a square frame or combing of wood, and blocks of wood are placed in the shaft to serve as steps. One or two houses in Utkiavwĭñ had ship’s companion ladders in the shaft. This entrance can be closed with a piece of walrus hide or a wooden cover in severe weather or when the family is away. The passage is about 4 feet wide and the sides and roof are supported by timbers of whalebone. On the right hand near the inner end is a good-sized room opening from the passage, which has a wooden roof covered with earth, forming a second small mound close to the house, with a smoke hole in the middle, and serves as a kitchen, while various dark and irregular recesses on the other side serve as storerooms. The passage is always icy and dark.

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Fig. 10.—Interior of iglu, looking toward door.

At the inner end of the passage a circular trapdoor in the floor opens into the main room of the house, close to the wall at the middle of one end. The floor is at such a height from the bottom of the tunnel that a man standing erect in the tunnel has his head and shoulders in the room. These rooms vary somewhat in dimensions, but are generally about 12 or 14 feet long and 8 or 10 feet wide. The floor, walls, and roof are made of thick planks of driftwood, dressed smooth and neatly fitted together, edge to edge. The ridgepole runs across the house and the roof slopes toward each end. The two slopes are unequal, the front, or that towards the entrance, being considerably the longer. The walls 74 are vertical, those at the ends being between 3 and 4 feet high, while the sides run up to 6 or 7 feet at the ridgepole. The wall planks run up and down, and those of the roof from the ridge to the ends of the house, where there is a stout horizontal timber. In some houses the walls are made of paneled bulkheads from some wrecked whaler.

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Fig. 11.—Interior of iglu, looking toward bench.

In the front of the house over the trapdoor there are no planks for a space of about 2 feet. The lower part of this space is filled in with short transverse beams, so as to leave a square hole close to the ridge. This hole has a stout transverse beam at the top and bottom and serves as a window. When the house is occupied it is covered by a translucent membrane made of strips of seal entrail sewed together and stretched over two arched sticks of light wood—whalebone was used in Dr. Simpson’s time127—running diagonally across from corner to corner. The window is closed with a wooden shutter when the house is shut up in winter, but both apertures are left open in summer. Just above the window, close to the ridgepole, is a little aperture for ventilation. Across the back of the room runs a platform or banquette, about 30 inches high in front and sloping back a little, which serves as a sleeping and lounging place. It is about 5 feet wide, and the front edge comes nearly under the ridgepole. It is made of thick planks running across the house, and supported at each end by a horizontal beam, the end of which projects somewhat beyond the bench and is supported by a round post. At each side of the house stands a lamp, and over these are suspended racks in the shape of small ladders for drying clothing,128 etc. Deerskin blankets 75 for the bed, which are rolled up and put under the bench when not in use, and a number of wooden tubs of various sizes—I counted nine tubs and buckets in one house in Utkiavwĭñ—complete the furniture.

Two families usually occupy such a house, in which case each wife has her own end of the room and her own lamp, near which on the floor she usually sits to work. Some houses contain but one family and others more. I knew one house in Utkiavwĭñ whose regular occupants were thirteen in number, namely, a father with his wife and adopted daughter, two married sons each with a wife and child, his widowed sister with her son and his wife, and one little girl. This house was also the favorite stopping-place for people who came down from Nuwŭk to spend the night. The furniture is always arranged in the same way. There is only one rack on the right side of the house and two on the left. Of these the farther from the lamp is the place for the lump of snow. In this same corner are kept the tubs, and the large general chamber pot and the small male urinal are near the trap door. Dishes of cooked meat are also kept in this corner. This leaves the other corner of the house vacant for women visitors, who sit there and sew. Male visitors, as well as the men of the house when they have nothing to do, usually sit on the edge of the banquette.

In sleeping they usually lie across the banquette with their feet to the wall, but sometimes, when there are few people in the house, lie lengthwise, and occasionally sleep on the floor under the banquette. Petitot says that in the Mackenzie region only married people sleep with their heads toward the edge of the banquette. Children and visitors lie with their heads the other way.129 (See Fig. 9, ground plan and section of house, and Figs. 10 and 11, interior, from sketches by the writer. For outside see Fig. 12, from a photograph by Lieut. Ray).

At the back of the house is a high oblong scaffolding, made by setting up tall poles of driftwood, four, six, or eight in number, and fastening on cross pieces about 8 or 10 feet from the ground, usually in two tiers, of which the lower supports the frames of the kaiaks and the upper spears and other bulky property. Nothing except very heavy articles, such as sledges, boxes, and barrels, is ever left on the ground. A man can easily reach this scaffold from the top of the house, but it is high enough to be out of reach of the dogs. The cross pieces are usually supported on crotches made by lashing the lower jaw of a walrus to the pole, so that one ramus lies along the latter. Scaffolds of this sort, usually spoken of as “caches” or “cache frames,” are of necessity used among the Eskimos generally, as it is the only way in which they can protect their bulky property.130


Around Norton Sound, however, they use a more elaborate structure, consisting of a regular little house 6 feet square, raised 6 to 10 feet from the ground on four posts.131

Belonging to each household, and usually near the house, are low scaffolds for the large boats, rows of posts for stretching lines of thong, and one or more small cellars or underground rooms framed with whales’ bones, the skull being frequently used for a roof, which serve as storehouses for blubber. These may be called “blubber rooms.”

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Fig. 12.—House in Utkiavwĭñ.

These winter houses can only be occupied when the weather is cold enough to keep the ground hard frozen. During the summer the passageways are full of water, which freezes at the beginning of winter and is dug out with a pickax. The people of Utkiavwĭñ began to come to us to borrow our pickax to clean out their iglus about September 24, 1882, and all the houses were vacated before July 1, both seasons.

This particular form of winter house, though in general like those built by other Eskimo, nevertheless differs in many respects from any described elsewhere. For instance, the Greenland house was an oblong flat-roofed building of turf and stones, with the passageway in the middle of one side instead of one end, and not underground. Still, the door and windows were all on one side, and the banquette or “brix” only on the side opposite the entrance. The windows were formerly made of seal entrails, and the passage, though not underground, was still lower than the floor of the house, so that it was necessary to step up at each end.132

A detailed description of the peculiar communal house of the East 77 Greenlanders, of which, there is only one at each village, will be found in Capt. Holm’s paper in the Geografisk Tidskrift, vol. 8, pp. 87-89. This is the long house of West Greenland, still further elongated till it will accommodate “half a score of families, that is to say, 30 to 50 people.” John Davis (1586) describes the houses of the Greenlanders “neere the Sea side,” which were made with pieces of wood on both sides, and crossed over with poles and then covered over with earth.133

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Fig. 13.—Ground plan and section of winter house in Mackenzie region.

At Iglulik the permanent houses were dome shaped, built of bones, with the interstices filled with turf, and had a short, low passage.134 No other descriptions of permanent houses are to be found until we reach the people of the Mackenzie region, who build houses of timbers, of rather a peculiar pattern, covered with turf, made in the form of a cross, of which three or all four of the arms are the sleeping rooms, the floor being raised into a low banquette.135 (See Fig. 13.) Petitot136 gives a very excellent detailed description of the houses of the Anderson River people. According to his account the passageway is built up of blocks of ice. He mentions one house with a single alcove like those at Point Barrow.137

We have no description of the houses at the villages between Point Barrow and Kotzebue Sound, but at the latter place was found the 78 large triple house described by Dr. Simpson, and compared by him with that described by Richardson, though in some respects it more closely resembles those seen by Hooper.138 This house really has a fireplace in the middle, and in this approaches the houses of the southern Eskimo of Alaska. According to Dr. Simpson,139a “a modification of the last form, built of undressed timber, and sometimes of very small dimensions, with two recesses opposite each other, and raised a foot above the middle space, is very common on the shores of Kotzebue Sound,” but he does not make it plain whether houses like those used at Point Barrow are not used there also.

This form of house is very like the large snow houses seen by Lieut. Ray at hunting camps on Kulugrua. Dr. Simpson describes less permanent structures which are used on the rivers, consisting of small trees split and laid “inclining inward in a pyramidal form towards a rude square frame in the center, supported by two or more upright posts. Upon these the smaller branches of the felled trees are placed, and the whole, except the aperture at the top and a small opening on one side, is covered with earth or only snow.”139b These buildings, and especially the temporary ones described by Dr. Simpson, used on the Nunatak, probably gave rise to the statement we heard at Point Barrow that “the people south had no iglus and lived only in tents.” The houses at Norton Sound are quite different from the Point Barrow form. The floor, which is not planked, is 3 or 4 feet under ground, and the passage enters one side of the house, instead of coming up through the floor, and a small shed is built over the outer entrance to the passage. The fire is built in the middle of the house, under the aperture in the roof which serves for chimney and window, and there is seldom any banquette, but the two ends of the room are fenced off by logs laid on the ground, to serve as sleeping places, straw and spruce boughs being laid down and covered with grass mats.140

The houses in the Kuskokwim region are quite similar to those just described, but are said to be built above ground in the interior, though thy are still covered with sods.141 There are no published accounts of the houses of the St. Lawrence islanders, but they are known to inhabit subterranean or partly underground earth-covered houses, built of wood, while the Asiatic Eskimo have abandoned the old underground houses, which were still in use at the end of the last century, and have adopted the double-skin tent of the Chukches.142 In addition to the cases quoted by Dall, Capt. Cook speaks of finding the natives of St. Lawrence Bay in 1778 living in partly underground earth-covered houses.143


Arrangement in villages.

The village of Utkiavwĭñ occupies a narrow strip of ground along the edge of the cliffs of Cape Smyth, about 1,000 yards long, and extending some 150 yards inland. The houses are scattered among the hillocks without any attempt at regularity and at different distances from each other, sometimes alone, and sometimes in groups of two contiguous houses, which often have a common cache frame. Nuwŭk, from Dr. Simpson’s account144 and what we saw in our hurried visits, is scattered in the same way over the knolls of Point Barrow, but has its greatest extension in an east and west direction. From Simpson’s account (ibid.) double houses appear more common at Nuwŭk than at Utkiavwĭñ, and he even speaks of a few threefold ones. All the houses agree in facing south. This is undoubtedly to admit the greatest amount of light in winter, and seems to be a tolerably general custom, at least among the northern Eskimo.145

The custom of having the dwelling face south appears to be a deeply rooted one, as even the tents in summer all face the same way.146

The tents on the sandspit at Plover Bay all face west. The same was observed by the Krause brothers at East Cape.147 At Utkiavwĭñ there are twenty-six or twenty-seven inhabited houses. The uninhabited are mostly ruins and are chiefly at the southwest end of the village, though the breaking away of the cliffs at the other end has exposed the ruins of a few other old houses. Near these are also the ruins of the buildings destroyed by the ice catastrophe described above (p. 31). The mounds at the site of the United States signal station are also the ruins of old iglus. We were told that “long ago,” before they had any iron, five families who “talked like dogs” inhabited this village. They were called Isû´tkwamiun. Similar mounds are to be seen at Pernyû, near the present summer camp. About these we only learned that people lived there “long ago.” We also heard of ruined houses on the banks of Kulugrua.

Besides the dwellings there are in Utkiavwĭñ three and in Nuwŭk two of the larger buildings used for dancing, and as workrooms for the men, so often spoken of among other Eskimo.

Dr. Simpson states148 that they are nominally the property of some of the more wealthy men. We did not hear of this, nor did we ever hear the different buildings distinguished as “So-and-so’s,” as I am inclined to think would have been the case had the custom still prevailed. They are called kû´dyĭgi or kû´drĭgi (karrigi of Simpson), a word which corresponds, mutatis mutandis, with the Greenlandic kagsse, which means, first, a circle of hills round a small deep valley, and then a circle of 80 people who sit close together (and then, curiously enough, a brothel). At Utkiavwĭñ they are situated about the middle of the village, one close to the bank and the others at the other edge of the village. They are built like the other houses, but are broader than long, with the ridgepole in the middle, so that the two slopes of the roof are equal, and are not covered with turf, like the dwellings, being only partially banked up with earth.

The one visited by Lieut. Ray on the occasion of the “tree dance” was 16 by 20 feet and 7 feet high under the ridge, and held sixty people. In the fall and spring, when it is warm enough to sit in the kû´dyĭgi without fire and with the window open, it is used as a general lounging place or club room by the men. Those who have carpentering and similar work to do bring it there and others come simply to lounge and gossip and hear the latest news, as the hunters when they come in generally repair to the kû´dyĭgi as soon as they have put away their equipments.

They are so fond of this general resort that when nearly the whole village was encamped at Imêkpûñ in the spring of 1883, to be near the whaling ground, they extemporized a club house by arranging four timbers large enough for seats in a hollow square near the middle of the camp. The men take turns in catering for the club, each man’s wife furnishing and cooking the food for the assembled party when her husband’s turn comes. The club house, however, is not used as a sleeping place for the men of the village, as it is said to be in the territory south of Bering Strait,149 nor as a hotel for visitors, as in the Norton Sound region.150 Visitors are either entertained in some dwelling or build temporary snow huts for themselves.

The kû´dyĭgi is not used in the winter, probably on account of the difficulty of warming it, except on the occasions of the dances, festivals, or conjuring ceremonies. Crevices in the walls are then covered with blocks of snow, a slab of transparent ice is fitted into the window, and the house is lighted and heated with lamps. Buildings of this sort and used for essentially the same purposes have been observed among nearly all known Eskimo, except the Greenlanders, who, however, still retain the tradition of such structures.151 Even the Siberian Eskimo, who have abandoned the iglu, still retained the kû´dyĭgi until a recent date at least, as Hooper saw at Oong-wy-sac a performance in a “large tent, apparently erected for and devoted to public purposes (possibly as a council room as well as a theater, for in place of the 81 usual inner apartments only a species of bench of raised earth ran round it).”152 These buildings are numerous and particularly large and much used south of Bering Strait, where they are also used as steam bath houses.153

Snow houses (apúya).—

Houses of snow are used only temporarily, as for instance at the hunting grounds on the rivers, and occasionally by visitors at the village who prefer having their own quarters. For example, a man and his wife who had been living at Nuwŭk decided in the winter of 1882-’83 to come down and settle at Utkiavwĭñ, where the woman’s parents lived. Instead of going to one of the houses in the village, they built themselves a snow house in which they spent the winter. The man said he intended to build a wooden house the next season. These houses are not built on the dome or beehive shape so often described among the Eskimo of the middle region of Dr. Rink.154

The idea naturally suggests itself that this form of building is really a snow tupek or tent, while the form used at Point Barrow is simply the iglu built of snow instead of wood. When built on level ground, as in the village, the snow house consists of an oblong room about 6 feet by 12, with walls made of blocks of snow, and high enough for a person to stand up inside. Beams or poles are laid across the top, and over these is stretched a roof of canvas. At the south end is a low narrow covered passage of snow about 10 feet long leading to a low door not over 2½ feet high, above which is the window, made, as before described, of seal entrail. The opening at the outer end of the passage is at the top, so that one climbs over a low wall of snow to enter the house.

At the right side of the passage, close to the house, is a small fireplace about 2½ feet square and built of slabs of snow, with a smoke hole in the top and a stick stuck across at the proper height to hang a pot on. When the first fire is built in such a fireplace there is considerable melting of the surface of the snow, but as soon as the fire is allowed to go out this freezes to a hard glaze of ice, which afterwards melts only to a trifling extent. Opposite to the door of the house, which is protected by a curtain of canvas, corresponding to the Greenlandic ubkuaĸ, “a skin which is hung up before the entrance of the house,”155 the floor is raised into a banquette about 18 inches high, on which are laid boards and skins. Cupboards are excavated under the banquette, or in the walls, and pegs are driven into the walls to hang things on. 82 As such a house is only large enough for one family, there is only one lamp, which stands at the right-hand side of the house156.

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Fig. 14.—Ground plan of large snow house.

At the hunting grounds, or on the road thither in the winter, a place is selected for the house where the snow is deeply drifted under the edge of some bank, so that most of the house can be made by excavation. When necessary, the walls are built up and roofed over with slabs of snow. Such a house is very speedily built. The first party that goes over the road to the hunting ground usually builds houses at the end of each day’s march, and these serve for the parties coming later, who have simply to clear out the drifted snow or perhaps make some slight repairs. On arriving at the hunting ground they establish themselves in larger and more comfortable houses of the same sort; generally for two families. Lieut. Ray, who visited these camps, has drawn the plan represented in Fig. 14. There is a banquette, a, at each end of the room, which is much broader than long (compare the form of house common at Kotzebue Sound, mentioned above, p. 78), but only one lamp, on a low shelf of snow, b, running across the back of the room and excavated below into a sort of cupboard. There are also similar cupboards, c, at different places in the walls, and a long tunnel, f, with the usual storerooms, i, and kitchen, h, from which a branch tunnel often leads to an adjoining house. The floor is marked d, the entrance to the tunnel g, and the door e. The house is lighted by the seal-gut windows of the iglu brought from the village.

On going into camp the railed sled is stuck points down into the snow and net-poles, or ice-picks, thrust through the rails, making a temporary cache frame,157 on which are hung bulky articles—snowshoes and 83 guns.158 Small storehouses of snow or ice are built to contain provisions. In the autumn, many such houses are built in the village, of slabs of clear fresh-water ice about 4 inches thick cemented together by freezing. These resemble the buildings of fresh-water ice at Iglulik, described by Capt. Lyon.159

Other temporary structures of snow, sometimes erected in the village, serve as workshops. One of these, which was built at the edge of the village in April, 1883, was an oblong building long enough to hold an umiak, giving sufficient room to get around it and work, and between 6 and 7 feet high. The walls were of blocks of snow and the roof of canvas stretched over poles. One end was left open, but covered by a canvas curtain, and a banquette of snow ran along each side. It was lighted by oblong slabs of clear ice set into the walls, and warmed by several lamps. Several men in succession used this house for repairing and rigging up their umiaks, and others who had whittling to do brought their work to the same place.

Such boat shops are sometimes built by digging a broad trench in a snowbank and roofing it with canvas. Women dig small holes in the snow, which they roof over with canvas and use for work-rooms in which to dress seal skins. In such cases there is probably some superstitious reason, which we failed to learn, for not doing the work in the iglu. The tools used in building the snow houses are the universal wooden snow-shovel and the ivory snow-knife, for cutting and trimming the blocks. At the present day saws are very much used for cutting the blocks, and also large iron knives (whalemen’s “boarding knives,” etc.) obtained from the ships.

Tents (tupĕk).—

During the summer all the natives live in tents, which are pitched on dry places upon the top of the cliffs or upon the gravel beach, usually in small camps of four or five tents each. A few families go no farther than the dry banks just southwest of the village, while the rest of the inhabitants who have not gone eastward trading or to the rivers hunting reindeer are strung along the coast. The first camp below Utkiavwĭñ is just beyond the double lagoon of Nunava, about 4 miles away, and the rest at intervals of 2 or 3 miles, usually at some little inlet or stream at places called Sê´kqluka, Nakĕ´drixo, Kuosu´gru, Nună´ktuau, Ĭpersua, Wă´lăkpa (Refuge Inlet, according to Capt. Maguire’s map, Parl. Rep. for 1854, opp. p. 186), Er´nĭvwĭñ, Sĭ´ñaru, and Sa´kămna. It is these summer camps seen from passing ships which have given rise to the accounts of numerous villages along this coast. There is usually a small camp on the beach at Sĭ´nnyû and one at Imê´kpûñ, while a few go to Pernyû even early in the season.

As the sea opens the people from the lower camps travel up the coast and concentrate at Pernyû, where they meet the Nuwuñmiun, the Nunatañmiun 84 traders, and the whalemen, and are joined later in the season by the trading parties returning from the east, all of whom stop for a few days at Pernyû. On returning to the village also, in September, the tents are pitched in dry places among the houses and occupied till the latter are dry enough to live in. Tents are used in the autumnal deer hunts, before snow enough falls to build snow houses. In the spring of 1883, when the land floe was very heavy and rough off Utkiavwĭñ, all who were going whaling in the Utkiavwĭñ boats went into camp with their families in tents pitched on the crown of the beach at Imêkpûñ, whence a path led off to the open water.

The tents are nowadays always made of cloth, either sailcloth obtained from wrecks or drilling, which is purchased from the ships. The latter is preferred as it makes a lighter tent and both dark blue and white are used. Reindeer or seal skins were used for tents as lately as 1854. Elson saw tents of sealskin lined with reindeer skin at Refuge Inlet,160 and Hooper mentions sealskin tents at Cape Smyth and Point Barrow.161 Dr. Simpson gives a description of the skin tents at Point Barrow.162 Indeed, it is probable that canvas tents were not common until after the great “wreck seasons” of 1871 and 1876, when so many whaleships were lost. The Nunatañmiun at Pernyû had tents of deerskin, and I remember also seeing one sealskin tent at the same place, which, it is my impression, belonged to a man from Utkiavwĭñ. Deerskin tents are used by the Anderson River natives,163 while sealskins are still in use in Greenland and the east generally.164 The natives south of Kotzebue Sound do not use tents, but have summer houses erected above ground and described as “generally log structures roofed with skins and open in front.”165 That they have not always been ignorant of tents is shown by the use of the word “topek” for a dwelling at Norton Sound.166

The tents at Point Barrow are still constructed in a manner very similar to that described by Dr. Simpson (see reference above). Four or five poles about 12 feet long are fastened together at the top and spread out so as to form a cone, with a base about 12 feet in diameter. Inside of these about 6 feet from the ground is lashed a large hoop, upon which are laid shorter poles (sometimes spears, umiak oars, etc.). The canvas cover, which is now made in one piece, is wrapped spirally round this 85 frame, so that the edges do not meet in front except at the top, leaving a triangular space or doorway, filled in with a curtain of which part is a translucent membrane, which can be covered at night with a piece of cloth. A string runs from the upper corner of the cloth round the apex of the tent and comes obliquely down the front to about the middle of the edge of the other end of the cloth. The two edges are also held together by a string across the entrance. Heavy articles, stones, gravel, etc., are laid on the flap of the tent to keep it down, and spears, paddles, etc., are laid up against the outside. (See Fig. 15, from a photograph by Lieut. Ray.)

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Fig. 15.—Tent on the beach at Utkiavwĭñ.

Inside of the tent there is much less furniture than in the iglu, as the lamp is not needed for heating and lighting, and the cooking is done outdoors on tripods erected over fires. The sleeping place is at the back of the tent, and is usually marked off by laying a log across the floor, and spreading boards on the ground. Not more than one family usually occupy a tent. The tents at the whaling camp mentioned above were, at first, fitted out with snow passages and fireplaces like a snow hut, and many had a low wall of snow around them, but these had all melted before the camp was abandoned.

These tents differ considerably in model from those in use in the east, though all are made by stretching a cover over radiating poles. For example, the tents in Greenland have the front nearly vertical,167 while at Cumberland Gulf two sets of poles connected by a ridgepole are used, those for the front being the shorter.168 The fashion at Iglulik is somewhat 86 similar.169 Small rude tents only large enough to hold one or two people are used as habitations for women during confinement, and for sewing rooms when they are working on deerskins in the autumn. Tents for the latter purpose are called “su´dliwĭñ,” the place for working.


Canteens (i´mutĭn).—

None of the canteens, the use of which has been described above (under “Drinks”), were obtained for the collection. They were seen only by Lieut. Ray and Capt. Herendeen, who made winter journeys with the natives. They describe them as made of sealskins and of small size. I find no published mention of the use of such canteens among the Eskimo elsewhere, except in Baffin Land.170

Wallets, etc.

Food and such things are carried in roughly made bags of skin or cloth, or sometimes merely wrapped up in a piece of skin or entrail, or whatever is convenient. Special bags, however, are used for bringing in the small fish which are caught through the ice. These are flat, about 18 inches or 2 feet square, and made of an oblong piece of sealskin, part of an old kaiak cover, doubled at the bottom and sewed up each side, with a thong to sling it over the shoulders.

Buckets and tubs.

Buckets and tubs of various sizes are used for holding water and other fluids, blubber, flesh, entrails, etc., in the house, and are made by bending a thin plank of wood (spruce or fir) round a nearly circular bottom and sewing the ends together. These are probably all obtained from the Nunatañmiun, as it would be almost impossible to procure suitable wood at Point Barrow. The collection contains four specimens—two tubs and two buckets.

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Fig. 16.—Wooden bucket.

No. 56764 [370] (Fig. 16) will serve as a type of the water bucket (kûtau´ɐ). A thin strip of spruce 8 inches wide is bent round a circular bottom of the same wood 10¼ inches in diameter. The edge of the latter is slightly rounded and fits into a shallow croze one-fourth inch from the lower edge of the strip. The ends of the strip overlap 3½ inches and are sewed together with narrow strips of whalebone in two vertical seams of short stitches, one 87 seam close to the outer end, which is steeply chamfered off and painted red, and the other 1.6 inches from this. Both seams are countersunk in shallow grooves on the outer part. The bucket is ornamented with a shallow groove running round the top, and a vertical groove between the seams. These grooves and the seam grooves are painted red. The bail is of stout iron wire fastened on by two ears of white walrus ivory cut into a rude outline of a whale, and secured by neat lashings of whalebone passing through corresponding holes in the ear and the bucket. The bucket has been some time in use.

No. 56763 [369] is a bucket with a bail, and very nearly of the same shape and dimensions. It has, however, a bail made of rope yarns braided together, and the ears are plain flat pieces of ivory. Buckets of this size, with bails, are especially used for water, particularly for bringing it from the ponds and streams. The name “kûtauɐ” corresponds to the Greenlandic kátauaĸ, “a water-pail with which water is brought to the house.”171

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Fig. 17.—Large tub.

No. 89891 [1735] (Fig. 17), which is nearly new, is a very large tub (ilulĭ´kpûñ, which appears to mean “a capacious thing”) without a bail, and is 11 inches high and 20 in diameter. The sides are made of two pieces of plank of equal length, whose ends overlap alternately and are sewed together as before. The bottom is in two pieces, one large and one small, neatly fastened together with two dowels, and is not only held in by having its edge chamfered to fit the croze, but is pegged in with fourteen small treenails. The seams, edges, and two ornamental grooves around the top are painted red as before.

No. 89890 [1753] is smaller, 9.7 inches high and 14.5 in diameter. It has no bail, and is ornamented with two grooves, of which the lower is painted with black lead. The bottom is in two equal pieces, fastened together with three dowels. This is a new tub and has the knotholes neatly plugged with wood. There are a number of these tubs in every house. They are known by the generic name of imusiáru (which is applied also to a barrel, and which means literally “an unusual cup or dipper,” small cups of the same shape being called i´musyû), but have special names signifying their use. For instance, the little tub about 6 inches in diameter, used by the males as a urinal, is called kúvwĭñ (“the place for urine.”) One of these large tubs always stands to catch the drip from the lump of snow in the house, and those of the largest size, like No. 89891 [1735], are the kind used as chamber pots.

Vessels of this sort are in use throughout Alaska, and have been observed among the eastern Eskimo where they have wood enough to 88 make them. For instance, the Eskimo of the Coppermine River “form very neat dishes of fir, the sides being made of thin deal, bent into an oval form, secured at the ends by sewing, and fitted so nicely to the bottom as to be perfectly water-tight.”172 There are specimens in the Museum from the Mackenzie and Anderson Rivers, described in the MacFarlane MS. as “pots for drinking with, pails for carrying and keeping water, and also as chamber pots. Oil is also sometimes carried in them in winter.”

In some places where wood is scarce vessels of a similar pattern are made of whalebone. Vessels “made of whalebone, in a circular form, one piece being bent into the proper shape for the sides,” are mentioned by Capt. Parry on the west shore of Baffins Bay,173 and “circular and oval vessels of whalebone” were in use at Iglulik.174 This is the same as the Greenlandic vessel called pertaĸ (a name which appears to have been transferred in the form pĭ´túño to the wooden meat bowl at Point Barrow), “a dish made of a piece of whalebone bent into a hoop, which makes the sides, with a wooden bottom inserted.”175 Nordenskiöld speaks of vessels of whalebone at Pitlekaj, but does not specify the pattern.176 Whalebone dishes were used at Point Barrow, but at the present day only small ones for drinking-cups are in general service. One large dish was collected. (Fig. 18. No. 89850 [1199]).

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Fig. 18.—Whalebone dish.

A strip of whalebone 4¼ inches wide is bent round a nearly circular bottom of cottonwood so as to form a small tub. The edges of the bottom are chamfered to fit a shallow croze in the whalebone. The overlapping ends of the whalebone are sewed together with a strip of whalebone in long stitches. This dish is quite old and impregnated with grease. Vessels of this kind are uncommon, and it is probable that none have been made since whalebone acquired its present commercial value. They were very likely in much more general use formerly, as when there was no such market for whalebone as at present it would be cheaper to make tubs of this material than to buy wooden ones. In corroboration of this view it may be noted that Dr. Simpson does not mention woodenware among the articles brought for sale by the Nunatañmiun.177 The small whalebone vessels will be described under drinking cups, which see.


Meat bowls.—(Pĭ´tûño, see remarks on p. 88.)

Large wooden bowls are used to hold meat, fat, etc., both raw and cooked, which are generally served on trays. These are of local manufacture and carved from blocks of soft driftwood. The four specimens collected are all made of cottonwood, and, excepting No. 73570 [408], have been long in use and are thoroughly impregnated with grease and blood.

No. 89864 [1322] (Fig. 19) will serve as the type. This is deep and nearly circular, with flat bottom and rounded sides. The brim is ornamented with seven large sky-blue glass beads imbedded in it at equal intervals, except on one side, where there is a broken notch in the place of a bead.

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Fig. 19.—Meat bowl.

Another, No. 89863 [1320], is larger and not flattened on the bottom, and the brim is thinner. It is also provided with a bail of seal thong, very neatly made, as follows: One end of the thong is knotted with a single knot into one of the holes so as to leave one long part and one short part (about 3 inches). The long part is then carried across and through the other hole from the outside, back again through the first hole and again across, so that there are three parts of thong stretched across the bowl. The end is then tightly wrapped in a close spiral round all the other parts, including the short end, and the wrapping is finished off by tucking the end under the last turn. The specimen shows the method of mending wooden dishes, boxes, etc., which have split. A hole is bored on each side of the crack, and through the two is worked a neat lashing of narrow strips of whalebone, which draws the parts together.

In No. 89865 [1321], which has been split wholly across, there are six such stitches, nearly equidistant, holding the two parts together. This bowl is strengthened by neatly riveting a thin flat “strap” of walrus ivory along the edge across the end of the crack. These three bowls are of nearly the same shape, which is the common one. The new bowl (No. 73570 [408]) is of a less common shape, being not so nearly hemispherical as the others, but shaped more like a common milk pan. It is ornamented with straight lines drawn in black lead, dividing the surface into quadrants. These were probably put on to catch the white man’s eye, as the bowl was made for the market. Dishes of this description are common throughout Alaska (see the National Museum collections) and have been noted at Plover Bay.178


Pots of stone and other materials (u´tkuzĭñ).—

In former times, pots of soapstone resembling those employed by the eastern Eskimo, and probably obtained from the same region as the lamps, were used for cooking food at Point Barrow, but the natives have so long been able to procure metal kettles directly or indirectly from the whites (Elson found copper kettles at Point Barrow in 1826)179 that the former have gone wholly out of use, and at the present day fragments only are to be found. There are four such fragments in the collection, of which three are of the same model and one quite different.

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Fig. 20.—Stone pot.

No. 89885-6 [1559] (Fig. 20) is sufficiently whole to show the pattern of the first type. It is of soft gray soapstone. A large angular gap is broken from the middle of one side, taking out about half of this side, and a small angular piece from the bottom. From the corner of this gap the pot has been broken obliquely across the bottom, and mended in three places with stitches of whalebone made as described under No. 89865 [1321]. One end is cut down for about half its height, and the edge carried round in a straight line till it meets the gap in the broken side. This end appears to have been pieced with a fresh piece of stone, as there are holes for stitches in the edge of the whole side and in the upper edge of the broken side. There are also two “stitch holes” at the other side of the gap, showing how it was originally mended. A low transverse ridge across the middle of the whole end was probably an ornament. Holes for strings by which the pot was hung up are bored one-fourth to one-half inch from the brim. Two of these are bored obliquely through the corners, which are now broken off. The holes in the sides close to the corners were probably made to take the place of these. The pot is neatly and smoothly made, and the brim is slightly rounded. It shows signs of great age, and is blackened with soot and crusted with oil and dirt.180

Nos. 89886 [680] and 89868 [1096] are much less complete. They are the broken ends of pots slightly smaller than the above, but of precisely the same pattern, even to the ornamental transverse ridge across the end.181 The string holes are bored through the corners as before, and 91 in both pots are holes showing where they have been mended by whalebone stitches, fragments of which are still sticking in one pot. This method of mending soapstone vessels by sewing is mentioned by Capt. Parry as practiced at Iglulik.182

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Fig. 21.—Small stone pot.

No. 89883 [1097] (Fig. 21) is a small pot of a quite different shape, best understood from the figure. Round the edge are eight holes for strings nearly equidistant. The outside is rough, especially on the bottom. One of the sides is much gapped, and the acute tip has been broken off obliquely and mended with a stitch of whalebone. The care used in mending these vessels shows that they were valuable and not easily replaced. I can find no previous mention of the use of stone vessels for cooking on the western coast, and there are no specimens in the National Museum collections. The only Eskimo stone vessels are a couple of small stone bowls from Bristol Bay. These are very much the shape of the wooden bowls above described, and appear to have been used as oil dishes and not for cooking, as the inside is crusted with grease, while the outside is not blackened. On the other hand, stone cooking pots are very generally employed even now by the eastern Eskimos, and have been frequently described.183 The close resemblance of the pots from Point Barrow to those described by Capt. Parry, taken in connection with Dr. Simpson’s statement184 that the stone lamps were brought from the east, renders it very probable that the kettles were obtained in the same way. The absence of this utensil among the southern Eskimo of Alaska is probably due to the fact that being inhabitants of a well wooded district they would have no need of contrivances for cooking over a lamp.

I obtained three fragments of pottery, which had every appearance of great age and were said to be pieces of a kind of cooking-pot which they used to make “long ago, when there were no iron kettles.” The material was said to be earth (nu´na), bear’s blood, and feathers,185 and appears to have been baked. They are irregular fragments (No. 92 89697 [1589], Fig. 22) of perhaps more than one vessel, which appears to have been tall and cylindrical, perhaps shaped like a bean-pot, pretty smooth inside, and coated with dried oil or blood, black from age. The outside is rather rough, and marked with faint rounded transverse ridges, as if a large cord had been wound round the vessel while still soft. The largest shard has been broken obliquely across and mended with two stitches of sinew, and all are very old and black.

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Fig. 22.—Fragments of pottery.

Beechey (Voyage, p. 295) speaks of “earthen jars for cooking” at Hotham Inlet in 1826 and 1827, and Mr. E. W. Nelson has collected a few jars from the Norton Sound region, very like what those used at Point Barrow must have been. Choris figures a similar vessel in his Voyage Pittoresque, Pl. III (2d), Fig. 2, from Kotzebue Sound. Metal kettles of various sorts are now exclusively used for cooking, and are called by the same name as the old soapstone vessels, which it will be observed corresponds to the name used by the eastern Eskimo. Light sheet-iron camp-kettles are eagerly purchased and they are very glad to get any kind of small tin cans, such as preserved meat tins, which 93 they use for holding water, etc., and sometimes fit with bails of string or wire, so as to use them for cooking porridge, etc., over the lamp. They had learned the value of these as early as Maguire’s time,186 as had the people of Plover Bay in 1849.187

Bone crushers.

In preparing food it is often desirable to break the large bones of the meat, both to obtain the marrow and to facilitate the trying out of the fat for making the pemmican already described. Deer bones are crushed into a sort of coarse bone-meal for feeding the dogs when traveling. For this purpose heavy short-handled stone mauls are used. These tools may have been formerly serviceable as hammers for driving treenails, etc., as the first specimen obtained was described as “savik-pidjûk-nunamisinĭ´ktuɐ-kau´teɐ” (literally “iron-not-dead-hammer”), or the hammer used by those now dead, who had no iron. For this purpose, however, they are wholly superseded by iron hammers, and are now only used for bone crushers. The collection contains a large series of these implements, namely, 13 complete mauls and 13 unhafted heads. All are constructed on the same general plan, consisting of an oblong roughly cylindrical mass of stone, with flat ends, mounted on the expanded end of a short haft, which is applied to the middle of one side of the cylinder and is slightly curved, like the handle of an adz. Such a haft is frequently made of the “branch” of a reindeer antler, and the expanded end is made by cutting off a portion of the “beam” where the branch joins it. A haft so made is naturally elliptical and slightly curved at right angles to the longer diameter of the ellipse, and is applied to the head so that the greatest thickness and therefore the greatest strength comes in the line of the blow, as in a civilized ax or hammer. The head and haft are held together by a lashing of thong or three-ply braid of sinew, passing through a large hole in the large end of the haft and round the head. This lashing is put on wet and dries hard and tight.188 It follows the same general plan in all the specimens, though no two are exactly alike. The material of the heads, with three exceptions (No. 56631 [222], gray porphyry; No. 89654 [906], black quartzite, and No. 89655 [1241], coarse-grained gray syenite), is massive pectolite (see above, p. 60), generally of a pale greenish or bluish gray color and slightly translucent, sometimes dark and opaque. No. 56635 [243] will serve as the type of these implements.189

The head is of light bluish gray pectolite, and is lashed with a three-ply braid of reindeer sinew to a haft of some soft coniferous wood, probably spruce, rather smoothly whittled out and soiled by handling. The transverse ridge on the under side of the butt is to keep the hand from slipping off the grip. The whole is dirty and shows signs of considerable age.


These mauls vary considerable in size. The largest is 7.1 inches long and 2.5 in diameter, and the smallest 2.1 inches long by 2.4. This is a very small hammer, No. 56634 [83] having a haft only 4.7 inches long. The haft is usually about 5 inches long. The longest (belonging to one of the smaller heads, 4 inches by 2) is 7.2 inches long, and the shortest (belonging to a slightly larger head, 4.7 by 3.1 inches) is 4.5 inches. The largest two heads, each 7.1 by 2.5 inches, have hafts 5 inches long.

The lashing of all is put on in the same general way, namely, by securing one end round the head and through the eye, then taking a variable number of turns round the head and through the hole, and tightening these up by wrapping the end spirally round all the parts, where they stretch from head to haft on each side. Seal thong, narrow or broad, is more generally used than sinew braid (only three specimens out of the thirteen have lashings of sinew). When broad thong is used the loop is made by splicing, as follows: A slit is cut about 1½ inches from the end of the thong, and the end is doubled in a bight and passed through this slit. The end is then slit and the other end of the thong passed through it and drawn taut, making a splice which holds all the tighter for drawing on it. A simple loop is tied in sinew braid.

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Fig. 23.—Stone maul.

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Fig. 24.—Stone maul.

The following figures will illustrate the most important variations in the form of this implement. Fig. 23, No. 56634 [83] from Utkiavwĭñ, has a head of light gray pectolite, slightly translucent, and evidently ground flat on the faces, and the haft is of reindeer antler, with a slight knob at the butt. A square piece of buckskin is doubled and inserted between the head and haft. The lashing is of fine sealskin twine, and the spiral wrapping is carried wholly round the head. This was the first stone maul collected, and was put together at the station, as mentioned above. It is rather smaller than usual. Fig. 24, No. 56637 [196], from Utkiavwĭñ, has the 95 head of grayish pectolite, rough and unusually large. The haft is of some soft coniferous wood soaked with grease. It is nearly round, instead of elliptical, with an irregular knob at the butt, and not curved, but fastened obliquely to the head. The loop of double thong attached to the haft is probably to go round the wrist.

Fig. 25, No. 56639 [161], from Utkiavwĭñ, is of pectolite, the upper and lower faces almost black and the sides light gray. The haft is of hard wood and unusually long (7.2 inches). It is noticeable for being attached at right angles to the head, by a very stout lashing of thong of the usual kind, and further tightened by a short flat stick wedged in below the head on one side. There appears to have been a similar “key” on the other side. This is an unusual form.

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Fig. 25.—Stone maul.

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Fig. 26.—Stone maul.

Fig. 26, No. 89654 [906], is from Nuwŭk. The head is an oblong, nearly cylindrical, water-worn pebble of black quartzite, 7.1 inches long; the haft is of reindeer antler, and the lashing of seal thong.

Fig. 27, No. 89655 [1241], from Utkiavwĭñ. The head of this maul is a long pebble of rather coarse-grained gray syenite, and is peculiar in having a shallow groove roughly worked out round the middle to keep the lashing from slipping. It is 4.7 inches long and 3.1 in diameter. The haft is of reindeer antler 4.5 inches long, and the lashing of seal thong peculiar only in the large number of turns in the spiral wrappings.


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Fig. 27.—Stone maul.

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Fig. 28.—Stone maul.

Fig. 28, No. 89657 [877], from Nuwŭk. This is peculiar in having the haft fitted into a deep angular groove on one side of the head, which is of pectolite and otherwise of the common pattern. The haft of reindeer antler and the lashing of broad thong are evidently newer than the head and are clumsily made and put on, the latter making several turns about one side of the haft as well as through it and round the head.

None of the unmounted heads, which are all of pectolite, are grooved in this way to receive the haft, but No. 56658 [205] has two shallow, incomplete grooves round the middle for lashings, and No. 56655 [218], which is nearly square in section, has shallow notches on the edges for the same purpose. One specimen of the series comes from Sidaru, but differs in no way from specimens from the northern villages.

Stone mauls of this type have previously been seldom found among the American Eskimo. The only specimens in the Museum from America are two small unhafted maul heads of pectolite, one from Hotham Inlet and the other from Cape Nome, and a roughly made maul from Norton Sound, all collected by Mr. Nelson. The last is an oblong piece of dark-colored jade rudely lashed to the end of a short thick stick, which has a lateral projection round which the lashing passes instead of through a hole in the haft. Among the “Chukches” at Pithkaj, however, Nordenskiöld found stone mauls of precisely the same model as ours and also used as bone crushers. He observed that the natives themselves ate the crushed bone after boiling it with blood and water.190 Lieut. Ray saw only dogs fed with it in the interior. Nordenskiöld does not mention 97 the kind of stone used for these tools, but the two in the National Museum, collected by Mr. Nelson at Cape Wankarem, are both of granite or syenite and have a groove for the lashing. (Compare No. 89655 [1241], fig. 27.)

In addition to the above-described stone mauls, there are in the collection five nearly similar mauls of heavy bone, which have evidently served the same purpose. They were all brought over for sale from Utkiavwĭñ at about the same time, and from their exceedingly oily condition were evidently brought to light in rummaging round in the old “blubber-rooms,” where they have long lain forgotten. Four of these differ in no respect from the stone mauls except in having the heads made of whale’s rib; the fifth is all in one piece.

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Fig. 29.—Bone maul.

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Fig. 30.—Bone maul.

The following figures will illustrate the general form of these implements: Fig. 29, No. 89847 [1046]: The head is a section of a small rib, 4.8 inches long, and has a deep notch on each side to receive the lashing. The haft is probably of spruce (it is so impregnated with grease that it 98 is impossible to be sure about it), and is rough and somewhat knobby, with a rounded knob on the butt and two shallow finger notches on the under side of the grip. It is attached by a lashing of stout thong of the ordinary pattern. Fig. 30, No. 89849 [1047]: The head is a straight four-sided block of whale’s rib, 6 inches long. The deep notches for the lashing, one on each side, are 1 inch behind the middle. The haft is a roughly whittled knotty piece of spruce, and instead of a knob has a thick flange on the lower side of the butt. The lashing is of fourteen or fifteen turns of seal twine, and keyed upon each side by a roughly split stick thrust in under the head. Fig. 31, No. 89846 [1048]: This is peculiar in having the haft not attached at or near the middle of the head, but at one end, which is shouldered to receive it. The haft is of the common pattern and attached as usual, the lashing being made of very stout sinew braid. The head is a section of a small rib 6 inches long. Fig. 32, No. 89845 [1049]: This is made in one piece, and roughly carved with broad cuts from a piece of whale’s jaw. The grooves and holes in the bone are the natural canals of blood vessels. All these mauls are battered on the striking face, showing that they have been used.

At the first glance it seems as if we had here a series illustrating the development of the stone hammer. Fig. 32 would be the first form, while 99 the next step would be to increase the weight of the head by lashing a large piece of bone to the end of the haft, instead of carving the whole laboriously out of a larger piece of bone. The substitution of the still heavier stone for the bone would obviously suggest itself next. The weak point in this argument, however, is that the advantage of the transition from the first to the next form is not sufficiently obvious. It seems to me more natural to suppose that the hafted stone hammer has been developed here, as is believed to have been the case elsewhere, by simply adding a handle to the pebble which had already been used as a hammer without one. These bone implements are then to be considered as makeshifts or substitutes for the stone hammer, when stones suitable for making the latter could not be procured. Now, such stones are rare at Point Barrow, and must be brought from a distance or purchased from other natives; hence the occasional use of such makeshifts as these. This view will account for the rarity of these bone hammers, as well as the rudeness of their construction. No. 89845 [1049] would thus be merely the result of individual fancy and not a link in the chain of development.

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Fig. 31.—Bone maul.

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Fig. 32.—Bone maul.


Cooked food is generally served in large shallow trays more or less neatly carved from driftwood and nearly circular or oblong in shape. The collection contains two specimens of the circular form and three oblong ones. All but one of these have been long in use and are very greasy. No. 73576 [392] (Fig. 33) has been selected as the type of the 100 circular dishes (i´libiɐ). This is very smoothly carved from a single piece of pine wood. The brim is rounded, with a large rounded gap in one side, where a piece has probably been broken out. The brim is slightly cracked and chipped. The vessel is very greasy and shows marks inside where meat has been cut up in it. No. 89867 [1323] is a very similar dish, and made of the same material, but elliptical instead of circular, and larger, being 22.5 inches long, 15.5 broad, and 2.1 deep. It has been split in two, and mended with whalebone stitches in the manner previously described.

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Fig. 33.—Meat dish.

No. 73575 [223] (Fig. 34) is a typical oblong dish. It is neatly hollowed out, having a broad margin painted with red ocher. It measures 24 inches in length, is made of pine, rather roughly carved on the outside, and is new and clean. This is a common form of dish. Fig. 35, No. 89868 [1377], is an old tray of an unusual form. It is rudely hewn out of a straight piece of plank, 34.8 inches long, showing inside and out the marks of a dull adz, called by the seller “kau´dlo tu´mai,” “the footprints of the stone (scil. adz).” The excavation is shallow and leaves a margin of 2 inches at one end, and the outside is roughly beveled off at the sides and ends. The holes near the ends were evidently for handles of thong. The material is spruce, discolored and somewhat greasy. Fig. 36, No. 89866 [1376], was said by the native who brought it over for sale to be especially intended for fish. It is much the shape of No. 73575 [223], but broader, slightly deeper, and more curved. The brim is narrow and rounded and the bottom smoothly rounded off. It measures 23.3 inches in length, and is made of pine. It has been deeply split in two places and stitched together with whalebone 101 in the usual way. Trays and dishes of this sort are in general use among all Eskimo,191 and are sometimes made of tanned sealskins.192

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Fig. 34.—Oblong meat dish.

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Fig. 35.—Oblong meat dish; very old.

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Fig. 36.—Fish dish.


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Fig. 37.—Whalebone cup.

Whalebone Cup (I´musyû).—

One of the commonest forms of drinking vessels is a little tub of whalebone of precisely the same shape as the large whalebone dish described above (p. 88). Of these there are five specimens in the collection, all from Utkiavwĭñ. No. 89853 [1302] (Fig. 37) will serve as the type. It is 4.6 inches long and made by binding a strip of black whalebone round a spruce bottom, and sewing together the ends, which overlap each other about 1½ inches, with coarse strips of whalebone.

There are two vertical seams three-fourths inch apart. The bottom is held in by fitting its slightly chamfered edge into a shallow croze cut in the whalebone. All these cups are made almost exactly alike, and nearly of the same size, varying only a fraction of an inch in height, and from 4.2 to 5.5 inches in length. The only variation is in the distance the ends overlap and the number of stitches in the seams. Such cups are to be found in nearly every house, and one is generally kept conveniently near the water bucket. Though the pattern is an ancient one, they are still manufactured. No. 56560 [654] was found among the débris of one of the ruined houses at Utkiavwĭñ, and differs from the modern cups only in having the ends sewed together with one seam instead of two, while No. 89851 [1300], though it has been in actual use, was made after our arrival, as the bottom is made of a piece of one of our cigar boxes.

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Fig. 38.—Horn dipper.

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Fig. 39.—Horn dipper.

Dippers of horn are in very general use for drinking water. These are all of essentially the same shape, and are made of the light yellow translucent horn of the mountain sheep. There are three specimens in our collection, of which No. 56534 [28] (Fig. 38) has been selected as the type. This is made of a single piece of pale yellow translucent horn, 102 apparently softened and molded into shape, cut only on the edges and the handle. A stout peg of antler is driven through the handle, 1 inch from the tip, and projects behind, serving as a hook by which to hang the dipper on the edge of a bucket. The other two are similar in shape and size, but No. 89831 [1293] has no peg, and has one side of the handle cut into a series of slight notches to keep the hand from slipping, while No. 89832 [1577] is rather straighter and has a smaller, shallower bowl, and the grip of the handle roughened with transverse grooves. Fig. 39, No. 89739 [774|, is a horn dipper, but one that is very old and of a pattern no longer in use. The bowl, which is much broken and gapped, is oval and deep, with a thick handle at one end, running out in the line of the axis of the bowl. This handle, which is the thick part of the horn, near the tip, is flat above, rounded below, and has its tip slightly rounded, apparently by a stone tool. Just where the bowl and handle meet there is a deep transverse saw-cut, made to facilitate bending the handle into its place. The material is horn, apparently of the mountain sheep, turned brown by age and exposure. The specimen had been long lying neglected round the village of Utkiavwĭñ.

Horn dippers of the same general pattern as these are common throughout Alaska. The Museum collection contains a large series of such utensils, collected by Mr. Nelson and others. The cups and dippers of musk-ox horn found by Parry at Iglulik are somewhat different in shape.193 Those made of the enlarged base of horn194 have a short handle and a nearly square bowl, while the hollow top of the horn is used for a cup without alteration beyond sometimes bending up the end, which serves as a handle.195 Curiously enough, cups of this last pattern appear not to be found anywhere else except at Plover Bay, eastern Siberia, where very similar vessels (as shown by the Museum collections) are made from the horn of the Siberian mountain sheep. An unusual form of dipper is beautifully made of fossil ivory. Such cups are rare and highly prized. We saw only three, one from each village, Nuwŭk, Utkiavwĭñ, and Sidaru, and all were obtained for the collection. They show signs of age and long use. They differ somewhat in shape and size, but each is carved from a single piece of ivory and has a large bowl and a straight handle. No. 56535 [371] (Fig. 40), which will serve as the type of the ivory dipper (i´musyû, kĭlĭgwû´garo), is neatly carved from a single piece of fine-grained fossil ivory, yellowed by age. The handle, polished by long use, terminates in a blunt, recurved, tapering hook, which serves the purpose of the peg in the 103 horn dipper. The rounded gap in the brim opposite the handle is an accidental break. Another, No. 89830 [1259], from Sidaru, is a long trough-like cup, with rounded ends and a short flat handle at one end, made of a short transverse section of a rather small tusk, keeping the natural roundness of the tusk, but cut off flat on top and excavated. A wooden peg, like those in the horn dippers, is inserted in the end of the handle. This cup is especially interesting from its resemblance to the one obtained by Beechey (Voyage, Pl. I, Fig. 4) at Eschscholtz Bay, from which it differs only in being about 2 inches shorter and deeper in proportion. Thomas Simpson speaks of obtaining an ivory cup from some Point Barrow natives at Dease Inlet exactly like the one figured by Beechey, but with the handle broken off.196 Fig. 41, No. 89833 [933], from Nuwŭk, has a large bowl, nearly circular, with a broad, straight handle and a broad hook. The part of the bowl to which the handle is attached, a semicircular piece 3 inches long and 1¾ wide, has been split out with the grain of the tusk, and mended with three stitches, in this case of sinew, in the usual manner. There was an old gap in the brim opposite to the handle, and the edges of it have been freshly and roughly whittled down. The ornamentation of the outside and handle, consisting of narrow incised lines and small circles, each with a dot in the center, is well shown in the figure. These engravings were originally colored with red ocher, but are now filled with dirt and are nearly effaced by wear on the handle. This dipper is not of such fine quality of ivory as the other two. It is not unlikely that all these vessels were made by the natives around Kotzebue Sound, where ivory is plenty, and where Beechey, as quoted above, found one so like one of ours. We were informed by the owner that No. 56535 [371] was obtained from the Nunatañmiun.

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Fig. 40.—Dipper of fossil ivory.

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Fig. 41.—Dipper of fossil ivory.


Spoons and ladles.

Each family has several spoons of various sizes, and narrow shallow ladles of horn, bone, etc. The large spoon is for stirring and ladling soup, etc. There is only one specimen in the collection, No. 89739 [1352] (Fig. 42). This is a new one, made by a native of Utkiavwĭñ, whom I asked to make himself a new spoon and bring me his old one. He, however, misunderstood me and brought over the new one, which Lieut. Ray purchased, not knowing that I had especially asked for the old one. These spoons seem to be in such constant use that the natives did not offer them for sale. This specimen is smoothly carved from a single piece of pine, and painted all over, except the inside of the bowl, with red ocher. A cross of red ocher is marked in the middle of the bowl, and there is a shallow groove, colored with blacklead, along the middle of the handle on top. The length is 13.2 inches. A small spoon of light-colored horn, No. 89416 [1379], has a bowl of the common spoon shape with a short, flat handle. Spoons of this sort were not seen in use, and as this is new and evidently made for sale it may be meant for a copy of one of our spoons. The narrow ladles of horn or bone may formerly have been used for eating before it was so easy to get tin pots, but at present are chiefly used for dipping oil, especially for filling the lamp. The collection contains one of horn and four of bone.

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Fig. 42.—Wooden spoon.

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Fig. 43.—Horn ladle.

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Fig. 44.—Bone ladle.

No. 89415 [1070], Fig. 43, is made of a single piece of mountain-sheep horn, dark brown from age and use, softened and molded into shape. It is impregnated with oil, showing that it has been long in use. This utensil closely resembles a great number of specimens in the Museum from the more southern parts of Alaska. No. 89411 [1294] (Fig. 44) is 105 a typical bone ladle. The material is rather coarse-grained, compact bone from a whale’s rib or jawbone. No. 89414 [1013] closely resembles this but is a trifle larger. The other two specimens are interesting as showing an attempt at ornamentation. No. 89412 [1102] (Fig. 45, from Nuwŭk) is carved smoothly into a rude, flattened figure of a whale (Balaena mysticetus). The flukes form the handle and the belly is hollowed out into the bowl of the ladle. No. 89413 [934] (Fig. 46, from Utkiavwĭñ) has the handle carved into a rude bear’s head, which has the eyes, nostrils, and outline of the mouth incised and filled in with dark oil dregs. All these ladles have the curved side of the bowl on the left, showing that they were meant to be used with the right hand. The name, kĭliu´tɐ, obtained for these ladles is given in the vocabulary collected by Dr. Oldmixon as “scraper,” which seems to be the etymological meaning of the word. These implements may be used for scraping blubber from skins, or the name may correspond in meaning to the cognate Greenlandic kiliortût, “a scraper; especially a mussel shell (a natural scraper).” The resemblance of these ladles to a mussel shell is sufficiently apparent for the name to be applied to them. Indeed, they may have been made in imitation of mussel shells, which the Eskimo, in all probability, like so many other savages, used for ladles as well as scrapers.

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Fig. 45.—Bone ladle in the form of a whale.

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Fig. 46.—Bone ladle.

Lamps (kódlö).—

Mention has already been made of the stone lamps or oil-burners used for lighting and warming the houses, which, in Dr. Simpson’s time, were obtained by trading from the “Kûñmû´dlĭñ,” who in turn procured them from other Eskimo far to the east. These are flat, shallow dishes, usually like a gibbous moon in outline, and are of two sizes: the larger house lamp, 18 inches to 3 feet in length, and the small traveling lamp, 6 or 8 inches long. The latter is used in the temporary snow huts when a halt is made at night. In each house are usually two lamps, one standing at each side, with the curved side against the wall, and raised by blocks a few inches from the floor. In one large house, that of old Yûksĭ´ña, the so-called “chief,” at Nuwŭk, 106 there were three lamps, the third standing in the right-hand front corner of the house. The dish is filled with oil, which is burned by means of a wick of moss fibers arranged along the outer edge. Large lamps are usually divided into three compartments, of which the middle is the largest, by wooden partitions called sä´potĭn (corresponding to the Greenlandic saputit, “(1) a dam across a stream for catching fish, (2) a dam or dike in general”), along which wicks can also be arranged. The women tend the lamps with great care, trimming and arranging the wick with little sticks. The lamp burns with scarcely any smoke and a bright flame, the size of which is regulated by kindling more or less of the wick, and is usually kept filled by the drip from a lump of blubber stuck on a sharp stick (ajû´ksûxbwĭñ) projecting from the wall about a foot above the middle of the lamp.197

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Fig. 47.—Stone house lamp.

In most houses there is a long slender stick (kukun, “a lighter”), which the man of the house uses to light his pipe with when sitting on the banquette, without the trouble of getting down, by dipping the end in the oil of the lamp and lighting this at the flame. The sticks used for trimming the wick also serve as pipe-lighters and for carrying fire across the room in the same way.198 No food, except an occasional 107 luncheon of porridge or something of the sort, is now cooked over these lamps. Two such lamps burning at the ordinary rate give light enough to enable one to read and write with ease when sitting on the banquette, and easily keep the temperature between 50° and 60° F. in the coldest weather. In the collection are three house lamps, two complete and one merely a fragment, and three traveling lamps.

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Fig. 48.—Sandstone lamp.

Fig. 47 (No. 89879) [872] is a typical house lamp, though rather a small specimen. It is carved out of soft gray soapstone and is 17 inches long. The back is nearly vertical, while the front flares strongly outward. The back wall is cut down vertically inside with a narrow rounded brim and the front curves gradually in from the very edge to the bottom of the cavity, which is 1½ inches deep in the middle. The posterior third of the cavity is occupied by a flat, straight shelf with a sloping edge about 0.7 inch high. About a third of one end of the lamp has been broken off obliquely and mended, as usual, with stitches. There are two of these neatly countersunk in channels. The specimen has been long in use and is thoroughly incrusted with oil and soot. No. 89880 [1731] (Fig. 48) is peculiar, from the material of which it is made. This is a coarse, gritty stone, rather soft, but much more difficult to work than the soapstone. It is rudely worked into something the same shape as the type, but has the cavity but slightly hollowed out, without a shelf, and only a little steeper behind than in front. The idea at once suggests itself that this lamp, which is very old and sooty, was made at Point Barrow and was an attempt to imitate the imported lamps with stone obtained from the beds reported by Lieut. Ray in Kulugrua. There is, of course, no means of proving this supposition. There is no mention of any material except soapstone being made into lamps by the Greenlanders or other eastern Eskimo, but the lamps from Kadiak and Bristol Bay in the National Museum are made of some hard gray stone.

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Fig. 49.—Traveling lamp.

Fig. 49, No. 56673 [133], is a traveling lamp, and is a miniature of the large lamp, No. 89879 [872], 8.7 inches long, 4.2 wide, and 1 inch high, also of soapstone and without a shelf. The front also is straighter, and the whole more roughly made. No. 89882 [1298] is another traveling lamp, also of soapstone, and made of about half of a large lamp. It has been 108 used little if at all since it was made over, as the inside is almost new while the outside is coated with soot and grease. It is 6.3 inches long. No. 89881 [1209] is a miniature of No. 89880, 8.1 inches long, and is made of the same gritty stone.

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Fig. 50.—Socket for blubber holder.

Suitable material is not at hand for the proper comparison of the lamps used by the different branches of the Eskimo race. All travelers who have written about the Eskimo speak of the use of such lamps, which agree in being shallow, oblong dishes of stone. Dr. Bessels199 figures a lamp of soapstone from Ita, Smith Sound, closely resembling No. 89880, and a little lamp in the Museum from Greenland is of essentially the same shape, but deeper. The same form appears at Hudson Strait in the lamps collected by Mr. L. M. Turner, while those used at Iglulik are nearly semicircular.200 South of Kotzebue Sound lamps of the shape so common in the east are used, but these, Mr. Turner informs me, are never made of soapstone, but always of sandstone, shale, etc. The people of Kadiak and the Aleuts anciently used lamps of hard stone, generally oval in shape, and sometimes made by slightly hollowing out one side of a large round pebble.201 Such a rough lamp was brought by Lieut. Stoney, U.S. Navy, from Kotzebue Sound. No such highly finished and elaborate lamps as the large house lamps at Point Barrow are mentioned except by Nordenskiöld, who figures one from Siberia.202 This lamp is interesting as the only one described with a ledge comparable to the shelf of No. 89879. Lamps from the region between Point Barrow and Boothia Felix are especially needed to elucidate the distribution and development of this utensil. The rudely hollowed pebble 109 of the ancient Aleut and the elaborate lamp of the Point Barrow Eskimo are evidently the two extremes of the series of forms, but the intermediate patterns are still to be described.

Fig. 50, No. 56492 [108], is a peculiar article of which only one specimen was collected. We were given to understand at the time of purchasing it that it was a sort of socket or escutcheon to be fastened to the wall above a lamp to hold the blubber stick described above. No such escutcheons, however, were seen in use in the houses visited. The article is evidently old. It is a flat piece of thick plank of some soft wood, 11.4 inches long, 4.2 broad, and about 1½ thick, very rudely carved into a human head and body without arms, with a large round hole about 1¼ inches in diameter through the middle of the breast. The eyes and mouth are incised, and the nose was in relief, but was long ago split off. There is a deep furrow all around the head, perhaps for fastening on a hood.



The clothing of these people is as a rule made entirely of skins, though of late years drilling and calico are used for some parts of the dress which will be afterwards described. Petroff203 makes the rather surprising statement that “a large amount of ready-made clothing finds its way into the hands of these people, who wear it in summer, but the excessive cold of winter compels them to resume the fur garments formerly in general use among them.” Fur garments are in as general use at Point Barrow as they ever were, and the cast-off clothing obtained from the ships is mostly packed away in some corner of the iglu. We landed at Cape Smyth not long after the wreck of the Daniel Webster, whose crew had abandoned and given away a great deal of their clothing. During that autumn a good many men and boys wore white men’s coats or shirts in place of the outer frock, especially when working or lounging about the station, but by the next spring these were all packed away and were not resumed again except in rare instances in the summer.

The chief material is the skin of the reindeer, which is used in various stages of pelage. Fine, short-haired summer skins, especially those of does and fawns, are used for making dress garments and underclothes. The heavier skins are used for everyday working clothes, while the heaviest winter skins furnish extra warm jackets for cold weather, warm winter stockings and mittens. The white or spotted skins of the tame Siberian reindeer, obtained from the “Nunatañmiun,” are especially valued for full-dress jackets. We heard no mention of the use of the skin of the unborn reindeer fawn, but there is a kind of dark deerskin used only for edgings, which appears to be that of an exceedingly young deer. This skin is extremely thin, and the hair so short that it is almost invisible. Siberian deerskins can always be recognized by 110 having the flesh side colored red,204 while American-dressed skins are worked soft and rubbed with chalk or gypsum, giving a beautiful white surface like pipe-clayed leather.

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Fig. 51.—Man in ordinary deerskin clothes

The skins of the white mountain sheep, white and blue fox, wolf, dog, ermine, and lynx are sometimes used for clothing, and under jackets made of eider duck skins are rarely used. Sealskin dressed with the hair on is used only for breeches and boots, and for those rarely. Black dressed sealskin—that is, with the epidermis left on and the hair shaved off—is used for waterproof boots, while the white sealskin, tanned in urine, with the epidermis removed, is used for the soles of winter boots. Waterproof boot soles are made of oil-dressed skins of the white whale, bearded seal, walrus, or polar bear. The last material is not usually mentioned as serving for sole leather among the Eskimo. Nordenskiöld,205 however, found it in use among the Chukches for this purpose. It is considered an excellent material for soles at Point Barrow, and is sometimes used to make boat covers, which are beautifully white. Heavy mittens for the winter are made of the fur of the polar bear or of dogskin. Waterproof outer frocks are of seal entrails, split and dried and sewed together. For trimmings are used deerskin of different colors, mountain-sheep skin, and black and white sealskin, wolf, wolverine, and marten fur, and whole ermine skins, as well as red worsted, and occasionally beads.


Dr. Simpson206 gave an excellent general description of the dress of these people, which is the same at the present day. While the same in general pattern as that worn by all other Eskimo, it differs in many details from that worn by the eastern Eskimo,207 and most closely resembles the style in vogue at and near Norton Sound.208 The man’s dress (Fig. 51, from a photograph of Apaidyao) consists of the usual loose hooded frock, without opening except at the neck and wrists. This reaches just over the hips, rarely about to mid-thigh, where it is cut 111 off square, and is usually confined by a girdle at the waist. Under this garment is worn a similar one, usually of lighter skin and sometimes without a hood. The thighs are clad in one or two pairs of tight-fitting knee breeches, confined round the hips by a girdle and usually secured by a drawstring below the knee which ties over the tops of the boots. On the legs and feet are worn, first, a pair of long, deerskin stockings with the hair inside; then slippers of tanned sealskin, in the bottom of which is spread a layer of whalebone shavings, and outside a pair of close-fitting boots, held in place by a string round the ankle, usually reaching above the knee and ending with a rough edge, which is covered by the breeches. Dress boots often end with an ornamental border and a drawstring just below the knee. The boots are of reindeer skin, with white sealskin soles for winter and dry weather, but in summer waterproof boots of black sealskin with soles of white whale skin, etc., are worn. Overshoes of the same material, reaching just above the ankles, with a drawstring at the top and ankle strings, are sometimes worn over the winter boots. When traveling on snowshoes or in soft dry snow the boots are replaced by stockings of the same shape as the under ones, but made of very thick winter deerskins with the flesh side out.

Instead of breeches and boots a man occasionally wears a pair of pantaloons or tight-fitting trousers terminating in shoes such as are worn by the women. Over the usual dress is worn in very cold weather a circular mantle of deerskin, fastened by a thong at the neck—such mantles are nowadays occasionally made of blankets—and in rainy weather both sexes wear the hooded rain frock of seal gut. Of late years both sexes have adopted the habit of wearing over their clothes a loose hoodless frock of cotton cloth, usually bright-colored calico, especially in blustering weather, when it is useful in keeping the drifting snow out of their furs.

Both men and women wear gloves or mittens. These are of deerskin for ordinary use, but in extreme weather mittens of polar bear skin are worn. When hunting in winter it is the custom to wear gloves of thin deerskin under the bearskin mitten, so that the rifle can be handled without touching the bare hand to the cold iron. The women have a common trick of wearing only one mitten, but keeping the other arm withdrawn from the sleeve and inside of the jacket.

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Fig. 52.—Woman’s hood.

The dress of the women consists of two frocks, which differ from those of the men in being continued from the waist in two rather full rounded skirts at the front and back, reaching to or below the knee. A woman’s frock is always distinguished by a sort of rounded bulge or pocket at the nape of the neck (see Fig. 52, from a sketch by the writer), which is intended to receive the head of the infant when carried in the jacket. The little peak at the top of the hood is also characteristic of the 112 woman’s frock. On her legs a woman wears a pair of tight-fitting deerskin pantaloons with the hair next the skin, and outside of these a similar pair made of the skins of deer legs, with the hair out, and having soles of sealskin, but no anklestrings. The outer pantaloons are usually laid aside in spring, and waterproof boots like the men’s, but fastened below the knee with drawstrings, are worn over the under pantaloons. In the summer pantaloons wholly of waterproof sealskin are often put on. The women’s pantaloons, like the men’s breeches, are fastened with a girdle just above the hips. It appears that they do not stay up very well, as the women are continually “hitching” them up and tightening their girdles.

Until they reach manhood the boys wear pantaloons like the women, but their jackets are cut just like those of the men. The dress of the girls is a complete miniature of that of the women, even to the pocket for the child’s head. Those who are well-to-do generally own several complete suits of clothes, and present a neat appearance when not engaged in dirty work. The poorer ones wear one suit on all occasions till it becomes shabby. New clothes are seldom put on till winter.

The outer frock is not often worn in the iglu, being usually taken off before entering the room, and the under one is generally dispensed with. Men habitually leave off their boots in the house, and rarely their stockings and breeches, retaining only a pair of thin deerskin drawers. This custom of stripping in the house has been noticed among all Eskimos whose habits have been described, from Greenland to Siberia. The natives are slow to adopt any modifications in the style of dress, the excellence and convenience of which has been so frequently commented upon that it is unnecessary to refer to it. One or two youths learned from association with us the convenience of pockets, and accordingly had “patch pockets” of cloth sewed on the outside of the skirt of the inner frock, and one young man in 1883 wore a pair of sealskin hip boots, evidently copies from our india-rubber wading boots. I now proceed to the description of the clothing in detail.

Head clothing.

The only head covering usually worn is the hood of the frock, which reaches to about the middle of the head, the front being covered by the hair. Women who are carrying children in the jacket sometimes wrap the head in a cloth. (I have an indistinct recollection of once seeing a woman with a deerskin hood, but was too busy at the time to make a note or sketch of it.) One man at Utkiavwĭñ (Nägawau´ra, now deceased), who was quite bald on the forehead, used to protect the front of his head with a sort of false front of deerskin, tied round like a fillet. No specimens of any of these articles were obtained. Fancy conical caps are worn in the dances and theatrical performances, but these belong more properly under the head of Games and Pastimes (where they will be described) than under that of Clothing.


Frocks (atigĕ).—

Two frocks are always worn by both sexes except in the house, or in warm weather, the inner (ílupa) with the hair next the skin, and the outer (kalûru´rɐ) with the hair out. The outer frock is also sometimes worn with the hair in, especially when it is new and the flesh side clean and white. This side is often ornamented with little tufts of marten fur and stripes of red ocher. The difference in shape between the frocks of the two sexes has been already mentioned. The man’s frock is a loose shirt, not fitted to the body, widening at the bottom, and reaching, when unbelted, just below the hips. The skirts are cut off square or slightly rounded, and are a little longer behind than in front. The hood is rounded, loose around the neck, and fitted in more on the sides than on the nape. The front edge of the hood, when drawn up, comes a little forward of the top of the head and runs round under the chin, covering the ears.

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Fig. 53.—Man’s frock.

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Fig. 54.—Pattern of man’s deerskin frock.

There are in the collection three specimens, all rather elaborate dress frocks, to be worn outside. All have been worn. No. 56751 [184] (Fig. 53), brown deerskin, will serve as the type. The pattern can best be explained by reference to the accompanying diagrams (Fig. 54). The body consists of two pieces, front and back, each made of the 114 greater part of the skin of a reindeer fawn, with the back in the middle and the sides and belly coming at the edges. The head of the animal is made into the hood, which is continuous with the back. Each sleeve is in two pieces, front and back, of the same shape, which are sewed together along the upper edge, but separated below by the arm flap of the front, which is bent down and inserted like a gusset from the armpit nearly to the wrist. A band of deerskin an inch broad is sewed round the edge of the hood, flesh side out. The trimming consists, first, of a narrow strip of long-haired wolfskin (taken from the middle of the back) sewed to the outer side of the binding of the hood, its ends separated by the chin piece, so that the long hairs form a fringe around the face. Similar strips are sewed round each wrist with the fur inward. The binding round the skirt (Fig. 55a) is 2¼ inches broad. The light-colored strips are clipped mountain sheep skin, the narrow pipings are of the dark brown skin of a very young fawn, the little tags on the second strip are of red worsted and the fringe is of wolverine fur, sewed on with the flesh side, which is colored red, probably with ocher, outward. A band of similar materials, arranged a 115 little differently (Fig. 55b) and 1¼ inches broad, is inserted into the body at each shoulder seam, so that the fringe makes a sort of epaulet. This jacket is 24.5 inches long from the chin to the bottom of the skirt, 21 inches wide across the shoulders, and 24.5 inches wide at the bottom.

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Fig. 55.—Detail of trimming, skirt and shoulder of man’s frock.

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Fig. 56.—Man wearing plain, heavy frock.

Apart from the trimming this is a very simple pattern. There are no seams except those absolutely necessary for producing the shape, and the best part of each skin is brought where it will show most, while the poorer portions are out of sight under the arms.

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Fig. 57.—Man’s frock of mountain sheepskin, front and back.

The chief variation in deerskin frocks is in the trimming. All have the hood fitted to the head and throat, with cheek and throat pieces, and these are invariably white or light colored, even when the frock is made of white Siberian deer skin. When possible the head of the deer is always used for the back of the hood, as Capt. Parry observed to be the custom at Iglulik.209 A plain frock is sometimes used for rough work, hunting, etc. This has no fringe or trimming round the hood, skirt, or wrists, the first being smoothly hemmed or bound with deerskin and the last two left raw-edged. Fig. 56 shows such a jacket, which is often made of very heavy winter deerskin. Most frocks, however, have the border to the hood either of wolf or wolverine skin, in the latter case especially having the end of the strips hanging down like tassels under the chin. The long hairs give a certain amount of protection to the face when walking in the wind.210 Instead of a fringe the hood sometimes has three tufts of fur, one on each side and one above.


Trimmings of edging like that above described, or of plain wolverine fur round the skirts and wrists, are common, and the shoulder straps rather less so. Frocks are sometimes also fringed on the skirts and seams with little strips of deerskin, after what the Point Barrow people called the “Kûñmûdlĭñ” fashion.211 Nearly all the natives wear outer frocks of deerskin, but on great occasions elaborately made garments of other materials are sometimes seen. Nos. 56758 [87] (Fig. 57, a and b) and 56757 [11] (Fig. 58, a and b) are two such frocks. No. 56758 [87] is of mountain sheep skin, nearly white. As shown in the diagrams (Fig. 59, a, bc), the general pattern is not unlike the type described, but there are more pieces in the hood and several small gussets are inserted to improve the set of the garment. The trimmings are shoulder straps, and a border round the skirt of edging like that described above, and the seams of the throat pieces are piped with the dark almost hairless deerskin, which sets them off from the rest of the coat. The wrists have narrow borders of wolf fur, and there was a wolfskin fringe to the hood, which was removed before the garment was offered for sale.

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Fig. 58.—Man’s frock of ermine skins, front and back.

No. 56757 [11] is a very handsome garment (Fig. 58). The body and sleeves are of white and brown (winter and summer) ermine skins arranged in an elegant pattern, and the hood of reindeer and mountain sheep skin. This is the only frock seen in which the hood is not fitted to the sides of the throat by curved and pointed throat pieces, after the fashion universal among the western Eskimo, from Cape Bathurst at least to Norton Sound. The pattern of the hood is shown by the diagram 117 (Fig. 60 a). The middle piece is the skin of a reindeer head, the two cheek pieces and median chin piece of mountain sheep skin. When the hood is put together the lower edge of it is sewed to the neck of the body, which has the back and front of nearly the same size and shape (diagram, Fig. 60 b), though the back is a little longer in the skirt. There is no regular seam on the shoulders, where irregular bits of white ermine skin are pieced together so as to fit. From the armpit on each side runs a narrow strip of sheepskin between back and front. The sleeve is a long piece made of three white ermine skins put together lengthwise, doubled above, with a straight strip of sheepskin let in below, and enlarged near the body by two triangular gussets (front and back) let in between the ermine and sheepskin. The wristbands are broad pieces of sheepskin. The skirts are of white ermine skins pieced together irregularly, but the skins composing the front, back, and sleeves are split down the back of the animal and neatly cut into long rectangular pieces, with the feet and tails still attached. They are arranged in a pattern of vertical stripes, two skins fastened together end to end making a stripe, which is the same on the front and the back. There is a brown stripe down the middle, then two white stripes on each side, and a brown stripe on each edge. The hood is bound round the edge with white sheepskin and bordered with wolfskin. There are shoulder straps and a border round the skirt of edging of the usual materials, but slightly different arrangement, and tagged with small red glass beads.

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Fig. 59.—Pattern of sheepskin frock.

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Fig. 60.—Pattern of ermine frock. a, hood; b, body.


The former owner of this beautiful frock (since dead) was always very elegantly dressed. His deerskin clothes were always much trimmed, and he owned an elegant frock of foxskins, alternately blue and white, with a hood of deerskin, which we did not succeed in obtaining for the collection. (The “jumper of mixed white and blue fox pelts,” seen by Dr. Kane at Ita,212 must have been like this.)

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Fig. 61.—Woman’s frock, front and back.

The woman’s frock differs from that worn by the men, in the shape of the hood and skirts, as mentioned above, and it is also slightly fitted in to the waist and made to “bag” somewhat in the back, in order to give room for carrying the child. The pattern is considerably different from that of the man’s frock, as will be seen from the description of the type specimen (the only one in the collection), No. 74041 [1791] (Fig. 61, a and b), which is of deerskin. The hood is raised into a little point on top and bulges out into a sort of rounded pocket at the nape. This is a holiday garment, made of strips of skin from the shanks and belly of the reindeer, pieced together so as to make a pattern of alternating 119 light and dark stripes. The pattern is shown in the diagram, Fig. 62. The sleeves are of the same pattern as those of No. 56751 [184]. The edge of the hood is bound with deerskin, hair outwards. Trimming: a strip of edging (Fig. 63) in which the light stripes are clipped white mountain sheepskin, the dark pipings brown, almost hairless, fawnskin, and the tags red worsted, is inserted in the seam between 7 on each side and 6 and 2, and a similar strip between the inner edge of 3, 2, 7, 9, and 1. A broader strip of similar insertion, fringed below with marten fur, with the flesh side out and colored red, runs along the short seam ffff. The seam between 9 and 7 has a narrow piping of thin brown deerskin, tagged with red worsted. A strip of edging, without tags and fringed with marten fur (Fig. 64), is inserted in the seam gggg. The border of the skirt is 1 inch wide (Fig. 64). The dark stripe is brown deerskin, the white, mountain sheep, and the fur, marten, with the red flesh side out. The fringes are double strips of white deerskin sewed to the inside of the last seam, about 3 inches apart. The shoulder straps are of edging like that at g, but have the fur sewed on so as to show the red flesh side. The hood has a fringe of wolfskin sewed to the outside of the binding. This frock measures 45 inches in the back, 32 in the front, 19 across the shoulders, and 17 at the waist. The skirts are 21 inches wide, the front 18, and the back 20 inches long. The pieces 7, 8, and 9 of the hood are white. This is an unusually handsome garment.

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Fig. 62.—Pattern of woman’s frock.

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Fig. 63.—Detail of edging, woman’s frock.

Deerskin garments rarely have the ornamental piecing seen in this frock. Each one of the numbered parts of the pattern is generally in one piece. The pieces 8 and 9 are almost universally white, and 7 is often so. About the same variety in material and trimming is to be found as in the men’s frocks, though deer and mountain sheep skins were the only materials seen used, and the women’s frocks are less often seen without the fringe round the hood. Plain deerskin frocks are often bordered round the skirts with a fringe cut from deerskin. The 120 women nowadays often line the outer frock with drilling, bright calico, or even bedticking, and then wear it with this side out.

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Fig. 64.—Details of trimming, woman’s frock.

The frocks for both sexes, while made on the same general pattern as those of the other Eskimo, differ in many details from those of eastern America. For instance, the hood is not fitted in round the throat with the pointed throat pieces or fringed with wolf or wolverine skin until we reach the Eskimo of the Anderson River. Here, as shown by the specimens in the National Museum, the throat pieces are small and wide apart, and the men’s hoods only are fringed with wolverine skin. The women’s hoods are very large everywhere in the east for the better accommodation of the child, which is sometimes carried wholly in the hood.213

The hind flap of the skirt of the woman’s frock, except in Greenland, has developed into a long narrow train reaching the ground, while the front flap is very much decreased in size (see references just quoted). The modern frock in Greenland is very short and has very small flaps (see illustrations in Rink’s Tales, etc., pp. 8 and 9), but the ancient fashion, judging from the plate in Crantz’s History of Greenland, referred to above, was much more like that worn by the western Eskimo. In the Anderson and Mackenzie regions the flaps are short and rounded and the front flap considerably the smaller. There is less difference in the general shape of the men’s frocks. The hood is generally rounded and close fitting, except in Labrador and Baffin Land, where it is pointed on the crown. The skirt is sometimes prolonged into rounded flaps and a short scallop in front, as at Iglulik and some parts of Baffin Land.214 Petitot215 gives a full description of the dress of a “chief” from the Anderson River. He calls the frock a “blouse échancrée par côté et terminée en queues arrondies par devant et par derrière.” The style of frock worn at Point Barrow is the prevalent one along the western coast of America nearly to the Kuskokwim. On this river long hoodless frocks reaching nearly or quite to the ground are worn.216 The frock worn in Kadiak was hoodless and long, with short sleeves and large armholes beneath these.217

The men of the Siberian Eskimo and sedentary Chukches, as at Plover Bay, wear in summer a loose straight-bottomed frock without a hood, but with a frill of long fur round the neck. The winter frock is described as having “a square hood without trimmings, but capable of being drawn, like the mouth of a bag, around the face by a string 121 inserted in the edge.”218 According to Nordenskiöld,219 the men at Pitlekaj wear the hoodless frock summer and winter, putting on one or two separate hoods in winter. The under hood appears to be like one or two which I saw worn at Plover Bay, namely, a close-fitting nightcap of thin reindeer skin tied under the chin. The dress of the Siberian women consists of frock and baggy kneebreeches in one piece, sewed to tightfitting boots reaching to the knees.220

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Fig. 65.—Man’s cloak of deerskin.


“Circular” mantles of deerskin, fastened at the neck by a thong, and put on over the head like a poncho, are worn by the men in very cold weather over their other clothes when lounging in the open air about the village or watching at a seal hole or tending the seal nets at night. The cloaks are especially affected by the older men, who, having grown-up sons or sons-in-law, do not have to go sealing in winter, and spend a great deal of their time in bright weather chatting together out of doors. There is one specimen in the collection, No. 56760 [94] (Fig. 65). It is made of fine summer doe-reindeer skin, in three pieces, back and two sides of dark skin, sewed to a collar of white skin from the belly of the animal. For pattern see diagram (Fig. 66). The seams at a are gored to make the cloak hang properly from the shoulder. The collar is in two pieces, joined in the middle, and the edge c is turned over toward the hair side and “run” down in a narrow hem. The points b of the collar are brought together in the middle and joined by a little strap of deerskin about an inch long, so that the edge c makes a round hole for the neck. The width of the mantle is 60 inches and its depth 39. It is worn with the white flesh side out, as is indicated by the seams being sewed “over 122 and over” on the hair side. All the mantles seen were essentially of the same pattern. The edge is sometimes cut into an ornamental fringe, and the flesh side marked with a few narrow stripes of red ocher. This garment appears to be peculiar to northwestern America. No mention is to be found of any such a thing except in Mr. MacFarlane’s MS. notes, where he speaks of a deerskin blanket “attached with a line across the shoulders in cold weather,” among the Anderson River Eskimo. We have no means at present of knowing whether such cloaks are worn by the coast natives between Point Barrow and Kotzebue Sound, but one was worn by one of the Nunata´ñmiun who were at Nuwŭk in the autumn of 1881.

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Fig. 66.—Pattern of man’s cloak.


The rain-frock (silû´ña) is made of strips of seal or walrus intestines about 3 inches broad, sewed together edge to edge. This material is light yellowish brown, translucent, very light, and quite waterproof. In shape the frock resembles a man’s frock, but the hood comes well forward and fits closely round the face. It is generally plain, but the seams are nowadays sewed with black or colored cotton for ornament. The garment is of the same shape for both sexes, but the women frequently cover the flesh side of a deerskin frock with strips of entrail sewed together vertically, thus making a garment at once waterproof and warm, which is worn alone in summer with the hair side in. These gut shirts are worn over the clothes in summer when it rains or when the wearer is working in the boats. There are no specimens in the collection.

The kaiak jacket of black sealskin, so universal in Greenland, is unknown at Point Barrow. The waterproof gut frocks are peculiar to the western Eskimo, though shirts of seal gut, worn between the inner and outer frock, are mentioned by Egede (p. 130) and Crantz221 as used in Greenland in their time. Ellis also222 says: “Some few of them [i.e., the Eskimo of Hudsons Strait] wear shifts of seals’ bladders, sewed together in pretty near the same form with those in Europe.” They have been described generally under the name kamleïka (said to be a Siberian word) by all the authors who have treated of the natives of this region, Eskimo, Siberians, or Aleuts. We saw them worn by nearly all the natives at Plover Bay. One handsome one was observed trimmed on the seams with rows of little red nodules (pieces of the beak of one of the puffins) and tiny tufts of black feathers.

The cotton frock, already alluded to as worn to keep the driving snow out of the furs, is a long, loose shirt reaching to about midleg, with a round hole at the neck large enough to admit the head. This is generally of bright-colored calico, but shirts of white cotton are sometimes worn when hunting on the ice or snow. Similar frocks are worn by the natives at Pitlekaj.223



The hands are usually protected by mittens (aitkă´ti) of different kinds of fur. The commonest kind are of deerskin, worn with the flesh side out. Of these the collection contains one pair, No. 89828 [973] (Fig. 67). They are made of thick winter reindeer skin, with the white flesh side outward, in the shape of ordinary mittens but short and not narrowed at the wrists, with the thumb short and clumsy. The seams are all sewed “over and over” on the hair side. These mittens are about 7½ inches long and 4½ broad. The free part of the thumb is only 2¼ inches long on the outer side. Such mittens are the ordinary hand covering of men, women, and children. In extreme cold weather or during winter hunting, very heavy mittens of the same shape, but gathered to a wristband, are worn. These are made of white bearskin for men and women, for children of dogskin, with the hair out. When the hand covered with such a mitten is held upon the windward side of the face in walking, the long hair affords a very efficient protection against the wind. The long stiff hair of the bearskin also makes the mitten a very convenient brush for removing snow and hoar frost from the clothes. It is even sometimes used for brushing up the floor.

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Fig. 67.—Deerskin mittens

In the MacFarlane collection are similar mittens from the Mackenzie region. Petitot224 says the Anderson River “chief” wore pualuk “mitaines en peau de morse, aussi blanches et aussi soyeuses que de belle laine.” These were probably of bearskin, as a mitten of walrus skin is not likely to be “blanche” or “soyeuse.” Gloves are worn under these as at Point Barrow. All these mittens are short in the wrist, barely meeting the frock sleeve, and leaving a crack for the cold to get in, which is partially covered by the usual wolf or wolverine skin fringe of the sleeve. I have already mentioned the common habit among the women of carrying only one mitten and drawing one arm inside of the frock.225 The men, except when hunting, frequently wear only one of these heavy mittens, which are called pu´alu. Waterproof mittens of black sealskin, coming well up over the forearm, were also observed, but not obtained. I do not remember ever seeing them in use.


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Fig. 68.—Deerskin gloves.


Gloves of thin deerskin, worn with the hair in, and often elegantly ornamented, are used with full dress, especially at the dances. As already stated, the men wear such gloves under the pualu when shooting in the winter. When ready to shoot, the hunter slips off the mitten and holds it between his legs, while the glove enables him to cock the rifle and draw the trigger without touching the cold metal with his bare hands. There are two pairs of gloves in the collection. No. 89829 [974] (Fig. 68) illustrates a very common style called a´drigûdrĭn. They are made of thin reindeer skin, with the white flesh side out, and are rights and lefts. The short and rather clumsy fingers and thumbs are separate pieces from the palm, which is one straight, broad piece, doubled so as to bring the seam on the same side as the thumb. The thumbs are not alike on both hands. The outside piece of the thumb runs down to the wrist on the left glove, but is shorter on the right, the lower 2 inches of the edge seam being between the edges of the palm piece. Each finger is a single piece doubled lengthwise and sewed over the tip and down one side. The wrists are ornamented with an edging of two narrow strips of clipped mountain sheep skin, bordered with a narrow strip of wolverine fur with the reddened flesh side out. These gloves were made for sale and are not well mated, one being 8½ inches, with fingers (all of the same length) 4½ inches long, while the other is 8 inches long with fingers of 3½ inches. No. 56747 [128] is a pair of gloves made in the same way but more elaborately ornamented. There is a band of deerskin but no fringe round the wrist. The back of the hand is covered with brown deerskin, hair out, into which is inserted the square ornamental pattern in which the light stripes are white deerskin and the dark pipings the usual almost hairless fawnskin. Gloves like this type are the most common and almost universally have a fringe round the wrist. They are also usually a little longer-wristed than the mittens.


Mittens are universally employed among the Eskimo, but gloves with fingers, which, as is well known, are a much less warm covering for the hand than mittens, are very rare. They are in use at Norton Sound226 and in the Mackenzie district227, and have even been observed among the Arctic Highlanders of Smith Sound, who, however, generally wear mittens228. Dr. Simpson229 mentions both deerskin and bearskin mittens as used at Point Barrow, but makes no reference to gloves. The natural inference from this is that the fashion of wearing gloves has been introduced since his time. It is quite probable that the introduction of firearms has favored the general adoption of gloves. The following hypothesis may be suggested as to the way the fashion reached Point Barrow: We may suppose that the Malimiut of Norton Sound got the idea directly from the Russians. They would carry the fashion to the Nunatañmiun at Kotzebue Sound, who in their turn would teach it to the Point Barrow traders at the Colville, and these would carry it on to the eastern natives.

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Fig. 69.—Man’s breeches of deerskin

Breeches (kă´kli).—

The usual leg-covering of the men is one or two pairs of knee breeches, rather loose, but fitted to the shape of the leg. They are very low in front, barely covering the pubes, but run up much higher behind, sometimes as high as the small of the back. They are held in place by a girdle of thong round the waist, and are usually fastened below the knee, over the boots, by a drawstring. There is one pair in the collection, No. 56759 [91], Fig. 69. They are of short-haired brown reindeer skin, from the body of the animal, worn with the hair out. The waist is higher behind than in front, and each leg is slightly gathered to a band just below the knee. Pattern (see diagram, Fig. 70): There are two pieces in each leg, the inside and the outside. The spaces between the edges e of the two legs is filled by the gusset, 126 made of five pieces, which covers the pubes. The crotch is reinforced by a square patch of white deerskin sewed on the inside. The trimming consists of strips of edging. The first strip (Fig. 71) is 1½ inches wide, and runs along the front seam, inserted in the outside piece, to the knee-band, beginning 5 inches from the waist. The light strips are of clipped mountain sheepskin; the dark one of dark brown deerskin; the pipings of the thin fawn skin, and the tags of red worsted. The edges of the strip are fringed with narrow double strips of mountain sheepskin 2 inches long, put on about 1½ inches apart. A straight strip, 2 inches wide, is inserted obliquely across the outside piece from seam to seam. It is of the same materials, but differs slightly in pattern. The knee-band is of the same materials and 2½ inches deep. The length from waist to knee is 24 inches behind, 23 in front; the girth of the leg 24 inches round the thigh and 14 round the knee. These represent a common style of full-dress breeches, and are worn with a pair of trimmed boots held up by drawstrings. They are always worn with the hair out and usually over a pair of deerskin drawers. The ordinary breeches are of heavier deerskin, made perfectly plain, being usually worn alone, with the hair turned in. When a pair of under breeches is worn, however, the hair of the outer ones is turned out. Trimmed breeches are less common than trimmed frocks, as the plain breeches when new are often worn for full dress. The clean, white flesh side presents a very neat appearance. The skin of the rough seal is sometimes, but rarely, used for summer breeches, which are worn with the hair out. With this exception, breeches seem to be invariably made of deerskin. This garment is practically universal among the Eskimo and varies very little in pattern.

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Fig. 70.—Pattern of man’s breeches.

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Fig. 71.—Trimming of man’s breeches.

Pantaloons (kûmûñ).—

The women and children, and occasionally the men, wear pantaloons (strictly speaking), i.e., tight-fitting trousers continuous with the foot covering. Of the two pairs of pantaloons in the collection, No. 74042 [1792] (Fig. 72) will serve as the type. The shoes with sealskin moccasin soles and deerskin uppers are sewed at the ankles to a pair of tight-fitting deerskin trousers, reaching above the hips and higher behind than in front. Pattern (diagram, Fig. 73a): Each leg is composed of four long pieces (front 1, outside 2, back 3, and inside 4), five gussets (one on the thigh 5, and four on the calf, 6, 6, 6, 6), which enlarges the garment to fit the swell of the calf and thigh and the half-waistband (7). The two legs are put together by 127 joining the edges d d d of the opposite legs and sewing the gusset (8) into the space in front with its base joined to the edges e e of the two legs. The sole of each shoe is a single piece of white tanned sealskin with the grain side out, bent up about 1¼ inches all round the foot, rounded at the toe and heel and broadest across the ball of the foot. The toe and heel are “gathered” into shape by crimping the edge vertically. A space of about 3½ inches is left uncrimped on each side of the foot. (The process of crimping these soles will be described under the head of boots and shoes, where it properly belongs). Around the top of this sole is sewed a narrow band of white sealskin, sewed “over and over” on the edge of the uncrimped space, but “run” through the gathers at the ends, so as to draw them up. The upper is in two pieces (heel, 9, and toe, 10). The heel piece is folded round the heel, and the toe piece doubled along the line f, and the curved edges g g joined to the straight edges h h, which makes the folded edge f, fit the outline of the instep. The bottom is then cut off accurately to fit the sole and sewed to the edge of the band. The trousers and shoes are sewed together at the ankles. The whole is made of the short-haired skin from the deer’s legs. Pieces 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10 are of dark brown skin (10 put on so that the tuft of coarse hair on the deer’s ankle comes on the outside of the wearer’s ankle), while the remaining pieces are white, making a pleasing pattern of broad stripes. The inner edge of 5 is piped with dark brown fawnskin, and a round piece of white skin is inserted at the bottom of 2. No. 56748 [136] is a pair of pantaloons of nearly the same pattern (see diagram, Fig. 73b) and put together in a similar way. These pantaloons have soles of sealskin with the hair left on and worn inside, and are made of deer leg skin, wholly dark brown, except the gussets on the calf, which are white. There is a piece of white skin let out, 2, as before, and the ankle tuft is in the same position.

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Fig. 72.—Woman’s pantaloons.

From the general fit of these garments they appear to be all made on essentially the same pattern, probably without greater variations than those already described. When worn by the women the material is usually, if not always, the skin of reindeer legs, and most commonly of 128 the pattern of No. 56748 [136], namely, brown, with white leg gussets. Pantaloons wholly of brown skin are quite common, especially for everyday wear, while striped ones, like No. 74042 [1792], are much less usual and worn specially for full dress. Children’s pantaloons are always brown, and I have seen one pair, worn by a young lad, of lynx skin. The two or three pairs which we saw worn by men were wholly brown. These pantaloons of leg skin with sealskin soles are always worn with the hair out and usually over a pair of under pantaloons of the same shape, but made of softer skins with longer hair, which is worn next the skin, and with stocking feet. The outer pantaloons are discarded in summer and the inner ones only worn, the feet being protected by sealskin waterproof boots, as already stated. The waterproof sealskin pantaloons mentioned in the same connection do not fit so neatly, as they are made with as few seams as possible (usually only one, up the leg) to avoid leakage. They are sewed with the waterproof seam, and held up round the ankle by strings, like the waterproof boots to be described further on. This last-mentioned garment seems to be peculiar to the Point Barrow region (including probably Wainwright Inlet and perhaps the rest of the coast down to Kotzebue Sound). No mention of such a complete protection against wet is to be found in any of the published accounts of the Eskimo elsewhere, nor are there any specimens in the Museum.230

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Fig. 73.—Patterns of woman’s pantaloons.


Boots and breeches united in this way so as to form pantaloons are peculiar to the west of America, where they are universally worn from the Mackenzie district westward and southward. We have no specimens of women’s leg coverings from the Mackenzie district, but Petitot231 describes them thus: “Le pantalon * * * fait corps avec la chaussure.” In the east the women always wear breeches separate from the boots, which usually differ from those of the men in their size and length, often reaching to the hips.232

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Fig. 74.—Pattern of stocking.


Next to the skin on the feet and legs the men wear stockings of deerskin, usually of soft, rather long-haired skin, with the hair in. These are usually in three pieces, the leg, 1, toe piece, 2, and sole, 3 (see diagram, Fig. 74). A straight strip about 1 inch wide often runs round the foot between the sole and the other pieces. Stockings of this pattern, but made of very thick winter deerskin, are substituted for the outer boots when deer-hunting in winter in the dry snow, especially when snowshoes are used. They are warm; the flesh side sheds the snow well and the thick hair acts as a sort of wadding which keeps the feet from being galled by the bars and strings of the snowshoes. Many of the deer-hunters in 1883 made rough buskins of this pattern out of the skins of freshly killed deer simply dried, without further preparation.

Boots and shoes.

Over the stockings are worn boots or shoes with uppers of various kinds of skin, with the hair on, or black tanned sealskin, always fitted to heelless crimped moccasin soles of some different leather, of the pattern which, with some slight modifications of form, is universal among the Eskimo. These soles are made as follows: A “blank” for the sole is cut out, of the shape of the foot, but a couple of inches larger all round. Then, beginning at one side of the ball of the foot, the toe part is doubled over toward the inside of the sole, so that the edges just match. The two parts are then pinched together with 130 the teeth along a line parallel to the folded edge and at a distance from it equal to the depth of the intended fold. This bitten line runs from the edge of the leather as far as it is intended to turn up the side of the sole. A series of similar folds is carried round the toe to a point on the other side of the sole opposite the starting point. In the same way a series of crimps is carried round the heel, leaving an uncrimped space of 2 or 3 inches on each side of the foot. The sole is then sewed to a band or to the edge of the upper, with the thread run through each fold of the crimps. This gathers the sole in at the heel and toe and brings the uncrimped part straight up on each side of the shank. When the folds are all of the same length and but slightly gathered the sole is turned up nearly straight, as at the heel usually, and at the toe also of waterproof boots. When the folds are long and much gathered the sole slopes well in over the foot. Some boots, especially those intended for full dress, have the sole deeper on the sides than at the toe, so that the top of the sole comes to a point at the toe. The ordinary pattern is about the same height all round and follows the shape of the foot, being rather more gathered in over the toe than at the heel. The “blank” for the sole is cut out by measuring the size of the foot on the leather and allowing by eye the margin which is to be turned up. The crimping is also done by eye. Any irregularity in the length of the crimps can be remedied by pressing out the crease. I have never seen at Point Barrow the ivory knives, such as are used at Norton Sound for arranging the crimps.

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Fig. 75.—Man’s boot of deerskin.

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Fig. 76.—Pattern of deerskin boot.

Different kinds of leather are used for the soles, and each kind is supposed to be best suited for a particular purpose. The beautiful white urine-tanned sealskin is used for winter wear when the snow is dry, but is not suited for standing the roughness and dampness of the salt-water ice. For this purpose sealskin dressed with the hair on and worn flesh side out is said to be the very best, preferable even to the various waterproof skins used for summer boot soles. For waterproof soles are used oil-dressed skins233 of the walrus, bearded seal, polar bear, or, best of all, the white whale. This last makes a beautiful light yellow translucent leather about 0.1 inch thick, which is quite durable and keeps out water for a long time. It is highly prized and quite an article of trade among the natives, a pair of soles usually commanding a good price. These Eskimo appear to be the only ones who have discovered the excellence of this material for waterproof soles, as there is no mention to be found of its use elsewhere. The “narwhal skin” spoken of by Dr. Simpson234 is probably this material, as he calls it “Kel-lel´-lu-a,” which is the ordinary word for white whale at Point Barrow. The narwhal is very rare in these waters, while the white whale is comparatively abundant. Dr. Simpson appears not to have seen the animal from which the skin was obtained. It is, however, by no means impossible that some skins of the narwhal, which when dressed would be indistinguishable 131 from the white whale skins, are obtained from the eastern natives or elsewhere. Such crimped soles are in use among the Eskimo everywhere, varying but little in general pattern. The Greenland boots are specially noticeable for the neatness of the crimping, while specimens in the Museum from the central region are decidedly slovenly in their workmanship. The boots worn by the natives of Plover Bay have the sole narrowed at the shank and hardly coming over the foot except at the toe and heel, where they are crimped, but less deeply than usual. This style of sole very much resembles those of a pair of Kamchatdale boots in the National Museum, which, however, are turned up without crimping, as is the case with the boots used by the Aleuts on the Commander Islands, of which Dr. L. Stejneger has kindly shown me a specimen. There is a folded “welt” of sealskin in the seam between the upper and sole of the Plover Bay boots. I am informed by Capt. Herendeen that the natives have been taught to put this in by the whalemen who every year purchase large numbers of boots on the Siberian coast, for use in the Arctic. Similar welts, which are very unusual on Eskimo boots, are to be seen on some brought by Mr. Nelson from Kings Island and Norton Sound. The winter boots usually have uppers of deerskin, generally the short-haired skin from the legs. Mountain-sheep skin is sometimes used for full-dress boots, and sealskin with the hair out for working boots. The latter is not a good material, as the snow sticks to it badly. There are four pairs of men’s winter boots in the collection, from which No. 56750 [111] (Fig. 75) has been selected as the type of the everyday pattern. They are made of deer-leg skin with white sealskin soles. Leg and upper are in four pieces,235 back 1, two sides 2 2, and front 3; 1 and 3 are gored at a a a to fit the swell of the calf; 1 and 3 are of dark skin, and 2 2 lighter colored, especially along the middle. The bottom is cut off accurately to fit the sole but the top is left irregular, as this is concealed by the breeches. The boots are 132 held up round the ankles by two tie-strings of sealthong, sewed in between the sole and the band, one on each side just under the middle of the ankle. They are long enough to cross above the heel, pass once or twice round the ankle, which fits more loosely than the rest of the boot, and tie in front. On each heel is a large round patch of sealskin with the hair on and pointing toward the toe (to prevent slipping). These patches are carefully “blind-stitched” on so that the stitches do not show on the outside.

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Fig. 77.—Man’s dress boot of deerskin.

Boots of this style are the common everyday wear of the men, sometimes made wholly of dark deerskin and sometimes variegated. They are often made of a pattern like that of the lower part of the women’s pantaloons; that is, with the uppers separate from the leg pieces, which are brown, with four white gussets on the calf. Fig. 77, No. 56759 [91], is one of a pair of full-dress boots of a slightly different pattern. The leg pieces are the same in number as in No. 56750, and put together in the same way, but 2 and 3 are of a different shape.236 They are made of deer-leg skins, each piece with a lighter streak down the middle. The soles are of white sealskin, finely crimped, with the edge coming to a point at the toe, and the five ornamental bands are of sealskin, alternately black and white. A strip of edging three-fourths of an inch wide is inserted in the seam between 2 and 3 on each side. The light stripes are mountain-sheep skin and the dark ones the usual young fawnskin, tagged with red worsted. The leg reaches to just below the knee, and is hemmed over on the inside, to hold the drawstring, which comes out behind. There are strings at the ankles as before.

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Fig. 78.—Pattern of man’s dress boot of deerskin.

Fig. 79, No. 89834 [770], is one of a pair of almost precisely the same pattern as the last, but made of mountain-sheep skin. The soles are more deeply turned up all round and have three ornamental bands of sealskin around the edge, black, white, and black. Edging is inserted into both the seams on each side. It is strips of mountain-sheep 133 skin and a dark brown deerskin, tagged with red worsted, with the edge which laps over the side piece cut into oblique tags. There are no tiestrings, as the soles are turned up high enough to stay in place without them. These boots were brought from the east by one of the Nuwŭk trading parties in 1882. Fig. 80, No. 56749 [110], is also a full-dress boot, with soles like the last and no tiestrings. The leg is of two pieces of dark brown deerskin with the hair clipped short. These pieces are shaped like 2 in No. 56750, and the inner is larger, so that it laps round the leg, bringing the seam on the outside. The leg is enlarged to fit the swell of the calf by a large triangular gusset from the knee to the midleg, meeting the inside piece in an oblique seam across the calf. Instead of a hem, the top of the leg has a half-inch band sewed round it and a binding for the drawstring above this. Edging is inserted in the front seam, and obliquely across the outside of the leg. That in the front seam is three narrow strips of deerskin, dark in the middle and light on each side. The other is of mountain-sheep skin in three strips, piped with fawnskin and tagged with worsted.

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Fig. 79.—Man’s dress boot of skin of mountain-sheep.

The boots belong with the breeches, No. 56759. They fairly represent the style of full-dress boots worn with the loose-bottomed breeches. They all have drawstrings just below the knee, and often have no tie-strings at the ankles. The eastern Eskimo are everywhere described as wearing the boots tied at the top with a drawstring and the bottoms of the breeches usually loose and hanging down on them. Tying down the breeches over the tops of the boots, as is done at Point Barrow, is an improvement on the eastern fashion, as it closes the garments at the knee so as to prevent the entrance of cold air. The same result is obtained in an exactly opposite way by the people of Smith Sound, who, according to Bessels (Naturalist, vol. 18, p. 865), tie the boots over the breeches.

All fur garments, including boots, are sewed in the same way, usually with reindeer sinew, by fitting the edges together and sewing them “over and over” on the “wrong” side. The waterproof boots of black sealskin, however, are sewed with an elaborate double seam, which is quite waterproof, and is made as follows: The two pieces are put together, flesh side to flesh side, so that the edge of one projects beyond 134 the other, which is then “blind-stitched” down by sewing it “over and over” on the edge, taking pains to run the stitches only part way through the other piece. The seam is then turned and the edge of the outer piece is turned in and “run” down to the grain side of the under with fine stitches which do not run through to the flesh side of it. Thus in neither seam are there holes through both pieces at once. The sewing is done with fine sinew thread and very fine round needles (the women used to ask for “little needles, like a hair”), and the edge of the leather is softened by wetting it in the mouth. A similar waterproof seam is used in sewing together boat covers.

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Fig. 80.—Pair of man’s dress boots of deerskin.

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Fig. 81.—Woman’s waterproof sealskin boot.

There is one pair of waterproof boots in the collection (No. 76182 [1794] Fig. 81). The tops are of black dressed sealskin, reaching to the knee and especially full on the instep and ankle, which results from their being made with the least possible number of seams, to reduce the chance of leaking. The soles are of white whale skin, turned up about 1½ inches all around. The leg and upper are made all in one piece so that the double water-tight seam runs down the front of the leg to the instep, and then diagonally across the foot to the quarter on one side. The bottom is cut off accurately to fit the top of the sole. The edges of the upper and the sole are put together so that the inside of the former comes against the inside of the latter, and the two are “run” together with fine stitches, with a stout double under-thread running through them along the surface of the upper. The ornamental band at the top is of white sealskin “run” on with strong dark thread, and the checkered pattern is made by drawing a strip of black skin through slits in the white. Round the top of the band is sewed a binding of black sealskin, which holds a drawstring of sinew braid. The sole is kept up in shape and the boot made to fit round the ankle by a string of sealskin twine passed through four loops, one on each side just back of the ball of the foot, and one on each quarter. These loops are made of little strips of white whale skin, doubled over and sewed to the edge of the sole on the outside. The ends of the string are passed through the front loop so that the bight 135 comes across the ball of the foot, then through the hinder loops, and are crossed above the heel, carried once or twice around the ankle, and tied in front.

Such boots are universally worn in summer. The men’s boots are usually left with an irregular edge at the top, and are held up by the breeches, while the women’s usually have white bands around the tops with drawstrings. Half-boots of the same material, reaching to midleg, without drawstrings, or shoes reaching just above the ankle with a string round the top are sometimes worn over the deerskin boots. Similar shoes of deerskin are sometimes worn in place of boots.

Waterproof boots of black sealskin are universally employed by Eskimo and by the Aleuts. These boots stand water for a long time without getting wet through, but when they become wet they must be turned inside out and dried very slowly to prevent them from shrinking, and worked soft with a stone skin-dressing tool or the teeth. The natives prefer to dry them in the sun. When the black epidermis wears off this leather is no longer waterproof, so that the women are always on the watch for white spots, which are mended with water-tight patches as soon as possible.

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Fig. 82.—Sketch of “ice-creepers” on boot sole

In the early spring, before it thaws enough to render waterproof boots necessary, the surface of the snow becomes very smooth and slippery. To enable themselves to walk on this surface without falling, the natives make a kind of “creeper” out of strips of sealskin. These are doubled lengthwise, and generally bent into a half-moon or horseshoe shape, with the folded edges on the outside of the curve, sewed on the toe and heel of the sealskin sole, as represented in Fig. 82.

Belts (tapsĭ).—

The belt which is used to hold up the pantaloons or breeches is simply a stout strip of skin tied round the waist. The girdle, which is always worn outside of the frock, except when the weather is warm or the wearer heated by exercise, is very often a similar strap of deerskin, or perhaps wolfskin. Often, however, and especially for 136 full dress, the men wear a handsome belt woven from feathers, and the women one made of wolverines’ toes. There are in the collection two the former and one of the latter.

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Fig. 83.—Man’s belt woven of feathers. The lower cut shows detail of pattern.

No. 89544 [1419] (Fig. 83a) has been chosen as the type of a man’s belt. It is 35 inches long and 1 inch broad, and made of the shafts of feathers woven into an elegant pattern, bordered on the edges with deerskin, and terminating in a leather loop at one end and a braided string at the other. The loop is a flat piece of skin of the bearded seal, in which is cut a large oblong eye. The weaving begins at the square end of the loop. The warp consists of nine long strands sewed through the inner face of the leather so as to come out on the hinder edge. The middle strand is of stout sinew braid, ending in a knot on the inner side of the leather. The four on each side are of fine cotton twine or stout thread, each two being one continuous thread passing through the leather and out again. The woof is the shafts of small feathers regularly woven, the first strand woven over and under, ending over the warp, the next under and over, ending under the warp, and so on alternately, each strand extending about one-fourth inch beyond the outer warp-strand on each side. This makes the pattern shown in Fig. 83b, a long stitch on each side, three very short ones on each side of the middle, and a slightly longer one in the middle. The strips of feathers forming the woof are not joined together, but one strip is woven in as far as it will go, ending always on the inner side of the belt, a new strip beginning where the other ends. The shafts of black feathers, with a few of the barbs attached, are 137 woven into the woof at tolerably regular intervals. Each black strand starts under the first strand of the warp, making the outer and inner of the three short stitches on each side black. This produces a checkered pattern along the middle of the belt (see enlarged section, Fig. 83b). The woof strands are driven home tightly and their ends are secured on each side by a double thread of cotton sewed into the corner of the leather loop. One thread runs along the outside of the belt and the other along the inside, passing between the ends of the feathers about every ten feathers and making a turn round the outer thread, as in Fig. 84. The edges of the belt are trimmed off even and bound with a narrow strip of deerskin with the flesh side out and painted red. The binding of the upper edge makes an irregular loose lining on the inside of the belt. Across the end of the belt is sewed on each side a narrow strip of sealskin, and the ends of the warp are gathered into a three-ply braid 16 inches long, which is used to fasten the belt by drawing it through the loop and knotting it. An ancient bone spearhead is attached to the belt as an amulet by a stout strap.

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Fig. 84.—Diagram showing method of fastening the ends of feathers in belt.

No. 89543 [1420] is a similar belt worn in precisely the same way, but with the black feathers introduced in a different pattern. The weaving is done by hand with the help of some little tools, to be described under implements for making and working fiber. Belts of this style appear to be peculiar to the Point Barrow region. Indeed, girdles of any kind are seldom worn over the jacket by the men in the eastern regions.

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Fig. 85.—Woman’s belt of wolverine toes.

The women never wear anything except a simple strip of skin or the wolverine belt mentioned above. No. 89542 [1421], Fig. 85, is one of these. It is made of nine strips of dark brown skin from round the foot of the wolverine, sewed together end to end. Each strip, except the one at the end, has a claw at the lower corner (on some of the strips the bit of skin bearing the claws is pieced in) so that there are 138 eight nearly equidistant claws making a fringe round the lower edge of the belt. There is a hole at each end into which is half-hitched the end of a narrow strip of deerskin about 8 inches long. These strings serve to tie the girdle. This belt is 33 inches long and 1½ inches wide, and has been worn so long that the inside is very dirty. Such belts are very valuable and highly prized, and are worn exclusively by the women.

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Fig. 86.—Belt-fastener.

Fig. 86, No. 89718 [1055], is an object which is quite uncommon and seldom if ever now seen in use. It is of walrus ivory, very old and yellow. It served as a belt-fastener (tápsĭgɐ). I have seen a brass clock wheel used on a girl’s belt for the same purpose. This specimen is very old, neatly made, and polished smooth, probably from long use.


In addition to the trimmings above described there are certain ornamental appendages which belong to the dress, but can not be considered as essential parts of any garments, like the trimmings. For instance, nearly every male in the two villages wears dangling from his back between the shoulders an ermine skin either brown or white, or an eagle’s feather, which is transferred to the new garment when the old one is worn out. This is perhaps an amulet as well as an ornament, as Dr. Simpson states.237 An eagle’s feather is often worn on the outside of the hood, pendant from the crown of the head. Attached to the belt are various amulets (to be described under the head of “Religion”) and at the back always the tail of an animal, usually a wolverine’s. Very seldom a wolf’s tail is worn, but nearly all, even the boys, have wolverine tails, which are always saved for this purpose and used for no other. This habit among the Eskimo of western America of wearing a tail at the girdle has been noticed by many travelers, and prevails at least as far as the Anderson River, since Petitot,238 in describing the dress of the Anderson River “chief,” says: “par derrière il portait aux reins une queue épaisse et ondoyante de renard noir.” According to him239 it is the women of that region, who wear, “à titre de talismans, des defroques empaillées de corbeau, de faucon, ou d’hermine.” The custom of wearing an ermine skin on the jacket was observed by Dr. Armstrong of the Investigator at Cape Bathurst.240



The custom of tattooing is almost universal among the women, but the marks are confined almost exclusively to the chin and form a very simple pattern. This consists of one, three, five, or perhaps as 139 many as seven vertical lines from the under lip to the tip of the chin, slightly radiating when there are more than one. When there is a single line, which is rather rare, it is generally broad, and the middle line is sometimes broader than the others. The women as a rule are not tattooed until they reach a marriageable age, though there were a few little girls in the two villages who had a single line on the chin. I remember seeing but one married woman in either village who was not tattooed, and she had come from a distant settlement, from Point Hope, as well as we could understand.

Tattooing on a man is a mark of distinction. Those men who are, or have been, captains of whaling umiaks that have taken whales have marks to indicate this tattooed somewhere on their persons, sometimes forming a definite tally. For instance, Añoru had a broad band across each cheek from the corners of the mouth (Fig. 87, from a sketch by the writer), made up of many indistinct lines, which was said to indicate “many whales.” Amaiyuna had the “flukes” of seven whales in a line across his chest, and Mû´ñialu had a couple of small marks on one forearm. Niăksára, the wife of Añoru, also had a little mark tattooed in each corner of her mouth, which she said were “whale marks,” indicating that she was the wife of a successful whaleman. Such marks, according to Petitot (Monographie, etc., p. xv) are a part of the usual pattern in the Mackenzie district—“deux traits aux commissures de la bouche.” One or two men at Nuwŭk had each a narrow line across the face, over the bridge of the nose, which were probably also “whale marks,” though we never could get a definite answer concerning them.241

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Fig. 87.—Man with tattooed cheeks.

The tattooing is done with a needle and thread, smeared with soot or gunpowder, giving a peculiar pitted appearance to the lines. It is rather a painful operation, producing considerable inflammation and swelling, which lasts several days. The practice of tattooing the women is almost universal among the Eskimo, from Greenland to Kadiak, including the Eskimo of Siberia, the only exception being the 140 natives of Smith Sound, though the custom is falling into disuse among the Eskimo who have much intercourse with the whites.242

The simple pattern of straight, slightly diverging lines on the chin seems to prevail from the Mackenzie district to Kadiak, and similar chin lines appear always to form part of the more elaborate patterns, sometimes extending to the arms and other parts of the body, in fashion among the eastern Eskimo243 and those of Siberia, St. Lawrence Island, and the Diomedes.

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Fig. 88.—Woman with ordinary tattooing.

Fig. 88, from a sketch made on the spot by the writer, shows the Point Barrow pattern.


On great occasions, such as dances, etc., or when going whaling, the face is marked with a broad streak of black lead, put on with the finger, and usually running obliquely across the nose or one cheek.244 Children, when dressed up in new clothes, are also frequently marked in this way. This may be compared with the ancient custom among the people of Kadiak of painting their faces “before festivities or games and before any important undertaking, such as the crossing of a wide strait or arm of the sea, the sea-otter chase, etc.”245

Method of wearing the hair.

The men and boys wear their hair combed down straight over the forehead and cut off square across in front, but hanging in rather long locks on the sides, so as to cover the ears. There is always a small circular tonsure on the crown of the head, and a strip is generally clipped down to the nape of the neck. (See Fig. 89, from a sketch from life by the writer.) The natives believe that this clipping of the back of the head prevents snow blindness in the spring. The people of the Mackenzie district have a different theory. “La large 141 tonsure que portent nos Tchiglit a pour but, m’ont-ils dit, de permettre au soleil de rechauffer leur cerveau et de transmettre par ce moyen sa bienfaisante chaleur à leur cœur pour les faire vivre.”246 Some of the Nunatañmiun and one man from Kilauwĭtaiwĭñ that we saw wore their front hair long, parted in the middle, and confined by a narrow fillet of leather round the brow. The hair on the tonsure is not always kept clipped very close, but sometimes allowed to grow as much as an inch long, which probably led Hooper to believe that the tonsure was not common at Point Barrow.247 It is universal at the present day, as it was in Dr. Simpson’s time.248 The western Eskimo generally crop or shave the crown of the head, while those of the east allow their hair to grow pretty long, sometimes clipping it on the forehead. The practice of clipping the crown appears to be general in the Mackenzie district,249 and was occasionally observed at Iglulik by Capt. Parry (2d Voy., p. 493). The natives of St. Lawrence Island and the Siberian coast carry this custom to an extreme, clipping the whole crown, so as to leave only a fringe round the head.250 The women dress their hair in the fashion common to all the Eskimo except the Greenlanders and the people about the Mackenzie and Anderson Rivers, where the women bring the hair up from behind into a sort of high top-knot, with the addition in the latter district of large bows or pigtails on the sides.251 The hair is parted in the middle from the forehead to the nape of the neck, and gathered into a club on each side behind the ear. The club is either simply braided or without further dressing twisted and lengthened out with strips of leather, and wound spirally for its whole length with a long string of small beads of various colors, a large flat brass button being stuck into the hair above each club. The wife of the captain of a whaling umiak wears a strip of wolfskin in place of the string of beads when the boat is “in commission” (as Capt. Herendeen observed).

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Fig. 89.—Man’s method of wearing the hair.

Some of the little girls wear their hair cut short behind. The hair is not arranged every day. Both sexes are rather tidy about arranging their hair, but there is much difference in this between individuals. The marrow of the reindeer is sometimes used for pomatum. Baldness 142 in either sex is rare. I do not remember ever seeing a bald woman, and there were only two bald men at the two villages. Neither of these men was very old.


Some of the men and boys wear across the forehead a string of large blue glass beads, sometimes sewed on a strip of deerskin. Occasionally, also a fillet is worn made of the skin of the head of a fox or a dog, with the nose coming in the middle of the forehead. Such head-dresses are by no means common and seem to be highly prized, as they were never offered for sale. MacFarlane (MS.) speaks of a similar head-dress worn at the Anderson River, “generally made of the skin of the fore part of the head skins of wolves, wolverines, and marmots. Very often, however, a string of beads is made use of instead.” Another style of head-dress is the badge of a whaleman, and is worn only when whaling (and, I believe, at the ceremonies in the spring preparatory to the whaling). This seems to be very highly prized, and is, perhaps, “looked upon with superstitious regard.”252 None were ever offered for sale and we had only two or three opportunities of seeing it. It consists of a broad fillet of mountain-sheep skin, with pendants of flint, jasper, or crystal, rudely flaked into the shape of a whale (see under “Amulets,” where specimens are described and figured), one in the middle of the brow and one over each ear. Some of them are also fringed with the incisor teeth of the mountain sheep attached by means of a small hole drilled through the end of the root, as on the dancing cap (see under “Games and Pastimes”). The captain and harpooner of a whaling crew which I saw starting out in the spring of 1882 each wore one of these fillets. The harpooner’s had only the whale pendants, but the captain’s was also fringed with teeth. This ornament closely resembles the fillet fringed with deer’s teeth, observed by Capt. Parry at Iglulik,253 which “was understood to be worn on the head by men, though we did not learn on what occasions.”

Earrings (nógolu).—

Nearly all the women and girls perforate the lobes of the ears and wear earrings. The commonest pattern is a little hook of ivory to which are attached pendants, short strings of beads, etc. Large, oblong, dark-blue beads and bugles are specially desired for this purpose. Cheap brass or “brummagem” earrings are sometimes worn nowadays. The fashion in earrings seems to have changed somewhat since Dr. Simpson’s time, as I do not remember ever having seen the long strings of beads hanging across the breast or looped up behind as he describes them.254 At present, one earring is much more frequently worn than a pair. There are in the collection two pairs of the ivory hooks for earrings, which, though made for sale, are of the ordinary pattern. Of these No. 89387 [1340] (Fig. 90) will serve as the type. They are of coarse, white walrus ivory.


No. 89386 [1340] is a similar pair of earrings, in which the hook projects at right angles and terminates in a flat, round button. Both of the specimens are of the usual pattern, but very roughly made. The custom of wearing earrings is very general among the Eskimo. I need only refer to the descriptions of dress and ornaments already quoted.

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Fig. 90.—Earrings.


As has been stated by all travelers who have visited Point Barrow since the time of Elson, all the adult males wear the labrets or stud-shaped lip ornaments. The discussion of the origin and extent of this habit, or even a comparison of the forms of labrets in use among the Eskimo, would lead me far beyond the scope of the present work.255 They are or have been worn by all the Eskimo of western America, including St. Lawrence Island and the Diomedes, from the most southern point of their range to the Mackenzie and Anderson district, and were also worn by Aleuts in ancient times.256 East of the Mackenzie district no traces of the habit are to be observed. Petitot257 says that Cape Bathurst is the most eastern point at which labrets are worn. The custom of wearing them at this place is perhaps recent, as Dr. Armstrong, of the Investigator, expressly states that he saw none there in 1850. At Plover Bay, eastern Siberia, however, I noticed one or two men with a little cross or circle tattooed under each corner of the mouth, just in the position of the labret. This may be a reminiscence of an ancient habit of wearing labrets, or may have been done in imitation of the people of the Diomedes and the American coast.

At Point Barrow at the present day the lip is always pierced for two labrets, one at each corner of the mouth, though one or both of them are frequently left out. They told us, however, that in ancient times a single labret only was worn, for which the lip was pierced directly in the middle. Certain old and large-sized labrets in the collection are said to have been thus worn. The incisions for the labrets appear to be made about the age of puberty, though I knew one young man who had been married for some months before he had the operation performed. From the young man’s character, I fancy shyness or timidity, as suggested by Dr. Simpson,258 had something to do with the delay. Contrary to Dr. Simpson’s experience, I did not see a single man above the age of 18 or 19 who did not wear the labrets. It seems hardly probable that ability 144 to take a seal entitles a boy to wear labrets, as he suggests. We knew a number of boys who were excellent seal hunters and even able to manage a kaiak, but none had their lips pierced under the age of 14 or 15, when they may be supposed to have reached manhood. The incisions are at first only large enough to admit a flat-headed pin of walrus ivory, about the diameter of a crow quill, worn with the head resting against the gum. These are soon replaced by a slightly stouter pair, and these again by stouter ones, until the holes are stretched to a diameter of about one-half inch, when they are ready for the labrets.

We heard of no special ceremonies or festivals connected with the making of these incisions, such as Dall observed at Norton Sound,259 but in the one case where the operation was performed at the village of Utkiavwĭñ during our stay, we learned that it was done by a man outside of the family of the youth operated upon. We were also informed that the incisions must be made with a little lancet of slate. The employment of an implement of ancient form and obsolete material for this purpose indicates, as Dall says in the passage referred to above, “some greater significance than mere ornamentation.”

The collection contains two specimens of such lancets. No. 89721 [1153] (figured in Rept. Point Barrow Expedition, Ethnology, Pl. V, Fig. 4) is the type. A little blade of soft gray slate is carefully inclosed in a neat case of cottonwood. The blade is lanceolate, 1.3 inches long, 0.6 broad, and 0.1 thick, with a short, broad tang. The faces are somewhat rough, and ground with a broad bevel to very sharp cutting edges. The case is made of two similar pieces of wood, flat on one side and rounded on the other, so that when put together they make a rounded body 3 inches long, slightly flattened, and tapering toward the rounded ends, of which one is somewhat larger than the other. Round each end is a narrow, deep, transverse groove for a string to hold the two parts together. A shallow median groove connects these cross grooves on one piece, which is hollowed out on the flat face into a rough cavity of a shape and size suitable to receive the blade, which is produced into a narrow, deep groove at the point, probably to keep the point of the blade from being dulled by touching the wood. The other piece, which serves as a cover, has merely a rough, shallow, oval depression near the middle. The whole is evidently very old, and the case is browned with age and dirt.

see caption

Fig. 91.—Plug for enlarging labret hole.

No. 89579 [1200] is a similar blade of reddish purple slate, mounted in a rough haft of bone. Fig. 91, No. 89715 [1211], is one of a pair of bone models, made for sale, of the ivory plugs used for enlarging the holes for the labrets, corresponding in size to about the second pair used. It is roughly whittled out of a coarse-grained compact bone, and closely 145 resembles the plugs figured by Dall from Norton Sound,260 but lacks the hole in the tip for the transverse wooden peg, which is not used at Point Barrow. One youth was wearing the final size of plugs when we landed at the station. These were brought to a point like the tip of a walrus tusk, and had exactly the appearance of the tusks of a young walrus when they first protrude beyond the lip. The labrets worn at Point Barrow at the present day are usually of two patterns. One is a large, flat, circular disk about 1½ inches in diameter, with a flat stud on the back something like that of a sleevebutton, and the other a thick cylindrical plug about 1 inch long, and one-half inch in diameter, with the protruded end rounded and the other expanded into an oblong flange, presenting a slightly curved surface to the gum. These plug labrets are the common fashion for everyday wear, and at the present day, as in Dr. Simpson’s time, are almost without exception made of stone, Granite or syenite, porphyry, white marble, and sometimes coal (rarely jade) are used for this purpose.

see caption

Fig. 92.—Labret of beads and ivory.

One of the Nunatañmiun wore a glass cruet-stopper for a labret, and many natives of Utkiavwĭñ took the glass stopples of Worcestershire sauce bottles, which were thrown away at the station, and inserted them in the labret holes for everyday wear, sometimes grinding the round top into an oblong stud. There is one specimen of the plug labret in the collection. Labrets of all kinds are very highly prized, and it was almost impossible to obtain them.261 Though we repeatedly asked for them and promised to pay a good price, genuine labrets that had been worn or that were intended for actual use were very rarely offered for sale, though at one time a large number of roughly made models or imitations were brought in. The single specimen of the plug labret (tu´tɐ) is No. 89700 [1163] (figured in Point Barrow Report, Ethnology, Pl. V, Fig. 3). It is a cylindrical plug of hard, bright green stone (jade or hypochlorite), 1.1 inches long and 0.6 in diameter at the outer end, which is rounded off, tapering slightly inward and expanded at the base into an elliptical disk 1.2 inches long and 0.9 broad, slightly concave on the surface which rests against the teeth and gum. The specimen is old and of a material very unusual at Point Barrow. Fig. 92, No. 89719 [1166], from Nuwŭk, may also be called a plug labret, but is of a very unusual pattern, and said to be very old. It has an oblong stud of walrus ivory surmounted by a large, transparent, slightly greenish glass bead, on top of which is a small, translucent, sky-blue bead. The beads are held on by a short wooden peg, running through the perforations of the beads and a hole drilled through the ivory. There is a somewhat similar labret in the Museum collection (No. 48202) 146 from Cape Prince of Wales, also very old. It is surmounted by a single oblong blue bead.

I saw but one other labret made of whole beads, and this had three good sized oval blue beads, in a cluster, projecting from the hole. It was worn by a man from Nuwŭk. This may be compared with a specimen from the Mackenzie district, No. 7714, to which two similar beads are attached in the same way. The disk labret is the pattern worn on full-dress occasions, seldom when working or hunting. One disk and one plug labret are frequently worn. Disk labrets are made of stone, sometimes of syenite or porphyry, but the most fashionable kind is made of white marble, and has half of a large, blue glass bead cemented on the center of the disk. These are as highly prized as they were in Dr. Simpson’s time, and we consequently did not succeed in procuring a specimen.

I obtained one pair of syenite disk labrets, No. 56716 [197] (figured in Point Barrow Rept., Ethnology, Pl. V, Fig. 2). Each is a flat circular disk (1.7 and 1.6 inches in diameter, respectively) of rather coarse-grained black and white syenite, ground very smooth, but not polished. On the back of each is an elliptical stud, like that of a sleeve-button, 1.2 and 1.1 inches long and 0.8 and 0.6 broad, respectively.

see caption

Fig. 93.—Blue and white labret from Anderson River.

Fig. 93, No. 2083, is one of the blue and white disks said to come from the Anderson River. This is introduced to represent those worn at Point Barrow, which are of precisely the same pattern. The disk is of white marble, 1½ inches in diameter, and in the center of it is cemented, apparently with oil dregs, half of a transparent blue glass bead, three-quarters of an inch in diameter, around the middle of which is cut a shallow groove. Similar marble disks without the bead are sometimes worn. These blue and white labrets appear to be worn from Cape Bathurst to the Kaniag peninsula, including the Diomede Islands (see figure on p. 140 of Dall’s Alaska). There are specimens in the Museum from the Anderson River and from the north shore of Norton Sound and we saw them worn by the Nunatañmiun, as well as the natives of Point Barrow and Wainwright Inlet. The beads, which are larger than those sold by the American traders, were undoubtedly obtained from Siberia, as Kotzebue, in 1816, found the people of the sound which bears his name wearing labrets “ornamented with blue glass beads.”262 The high value set on these blue-bead labrets has been mentioned by Franklin263 and T. Simpson,264 as well as by Dr. Simpson.265 The last named seems to be the 147 first to recognize that the disks were made of marble. All previous writers speak of them as made of walrus ivory.

There are still at Point Barrow a few labrets of a very ancient pattern, such as are said to have been worn in the middle of the lip. These are very rarely put on, but are often carried by the owners on the belt as amulets. All that we saw were of light green translucent jade, highly polished. I obtained one specimen, No. 89705 [866] (figured in Point Barrow Rept., Ethnology, Pl. V, Fig. 1), a thin oblong disk of light green, translucent, polished jade, 2.6 inches long, 1.1 wide in the middle, and 0.8 wide at the ends, with the outer face slightly convex. On the back is an oblong stud with rounded ends, slightly curved to fit the gums.

Labrets of this material and pattern do not seem to be common anywhere. Beechey saw one in Kotzebue Sound 3 inches long and 1½ wide,266 and there is a large and handsome one in the Museum brought by Mr. Nelson from the lower Yukon. A similar one has recently been received from Kotzebue Sound.

see caption

Fig. 94.—Oblong labret of bone.

Fig. 94, No. 89712 [1169], from Sidaru is a labret of similar shape, 3 inches long and 1½ broad, but made of compact bone, rather neatly carved and ground smooth. It shows some signs of having been worn. There are marks on the stud where it appears to have been rubbed against the teeth, and it is probably genuine. The purchase of this specimen apparently started the manufacture of bone labrets at Utkiavwĭñ, where no bone labrets, old or new, had previously been seen. For several days after we bought the specimen from Sidaru the natives continued to bring over bone labrets, but all so newly and clumsily made that we declined to purchase any more than four specimens. About the same time they began to make oblong labrets out of soapstone (a material which we never saw used for genuine labrets), like Fig. 95, No. 89707 [1215]. The purchase of three specimens of these started a wholesale manufacture of them, and we stopped purchasing.

see caption

Fig. 95.—Oblong labret of soapstone.

The oblong labret appears to have been still in fashion as late as 1826, for Elson saw many of the men at Point Barrow wearing oblong labrets of bone (cf. No. 89712 [1169] and stone, 3 inches long and 1 broad.267 Unfortunately, he does not specify whether they were worn in pairs or 148 singly, and if singly, as would be natural from their size and shape, whether in the middle of the lip or at one side.

see caption

Fig. 96.—Ancient labrets.

Nos. 89304 [1713], 89716 [1042], and 89717 [1031] (Fig. 96) are very old labrets, which are interesting from their resemblance to the ancient Aleutian single labrets found by Dall in the cave on Amaknak Island.268 No. 89304 [1713] is an elliptical plug of bituminous coal, with a projecting flange round the base, which is slightly concave to fit the curve of the jaw. This labret is very old and was said to have been found in one of the ruined houses in Utkiavwĭñ. The other two labrets are of walrus ivory and of similar shape, but have the flange only at the ends of the base. All of these three are large, the largest being 2.2 inches wide and 0.7 thick, and the smallest 1.3 by 0.5, so that they required a much larger incision in the lip than is at present made. In connection with what has been said of the ancient habit of wearing labrets in the middle of the lip, it is interesting to note that Nordenskiöld saw men at Port Clarence who had, besides the ordinary labret holes, “a similar hole forward in the lip.”269 The various portraits of natives previously inserted show the present manner of wearing the labrets at Point Barrow.


Most of the women and girls wear necklaces made of strings of beads, large or small, frequently strung together with much taste. The tobacco pouch is often attached to this necklace.


The women all wear bracelets, which are sometimes strings of beads, but more commonly circles of iron, brass, or copper wire, of which several are often worn on the same wrist, after the fashion of bangles. The men also sometimes wear bracelets. These consist of circles 149 of narrow thong, upon which are strung one or two large beads or a couple of Dentalium shells (pû´tû).270

We brought home one pair of men’s bracelets (newly made), one of which (89388 [1355]) is figured in Point Barrow Rept. Ethnology, Pl. I, Fig. 4. They are made of strips of seal thong 0.2 inch broad, bent into rings (9.4 and 8.6 inches in circumference, respectively), with the ends slightly overlapping and sewed together. On each is strung a cylindrical bead of soapstone about one-half inch long and of the same diameter. A single bracelet is generally worn.


Both sexes now frequently wear brass finger-rings, called katû´kqlĕrûñ, from katû´kqlûñ, the middle finger, upon which the ring is always worn.


see caption

Fig. 97.—Beads of amber.


In addition to the ornaments already described, the women use short strings of beads, buttons, etc., to ornament various parts of the dress, especially the outer side of the inner frock (i´lupa), and strings of beads are often attached to various objects, such as pipes, tobacco pouches, etc. One or two women were also observed to wear large bunches of beads and buttons attached to the inner girdle in front so as to hang down between the legs inside of the pantaloons. A similar strange custom was observed by Beechey at Hotham Inlet, where a young woman wore a good-sized metal bell in the same uncomfortable manner.271 These people appear to have attempted the manufacture of beads in former times, when they were not so easily obtained as at present. There is in the collection a string of four small beads made from amber picked up on the beach (Fig. 97, No. 89700 [1716]). They are of dark honey-colored transparent amber, about one-third inch long and one-half inch diameter at the base. Such beads are very rare at the present day. The above specimens were the only ones seen.


The only object in use among these people that can be considered a toilet article is the small hair comb (ĭdlai´utĭn), usually made of walrus ivory.

The collection contains ten specimens, from which No. 56566b [182] (Fig. 98a) has been selected as the type. It is made of walrus ivory (from near the root of the tusk). When in use, it is held with the tip of the forefinger in the ring, the thumb and middle finger resting on each 150 side of the neck. This is perhaps the commonest form of the comb, though it is often made with two curved arms at the top instead of a ring, as in Fig. 98b, No. 56569 [194], or sometimes with a plain top, like No. 56572 [210] (Fig. 98c). Nine of the ten combs, all from Utkiavwĭñ, are of walrus ivory, but No. 89785 [1006], which was the property of Ilû´bwga, the Nunatañmiun, who spent the winter of 1882-’83 at Utkiavwĭñ, is made of reindeer antler. This was probably made in the interior, where antler is more plentiful than ivory. All these combs are made with great care and patience. The teeth are usually cut with a saw, but on one specimen the maker used the sharp edge of a piece of tin, as we had refused to loan him a fine saw. This kind of comb is very like that described by Parry from Iglulik.272

see caption

Fig. 98.—Hair combs.

Footnotes 1-272

1. Report of the International Polar Expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska, by Lieut. P. H. Ray, Washington, 1885.

2. Parl. Reports, 1854, vol. 42, p. 186.

3. Further Papers, &c., Parl. Rep. (1855).

4. Report on the population, etc., of Alaska.

5. Capt. E. E. Smith, who in command of a steam whaler penetrated as far east as Return Reef in the summer of 1885, says that the natives told him there was no permanent village west of Herschel Island.

6. Arctic papers, p. 233.

7. Report U.S. International Polar Expedition to Point Barrow, p. 28.

8. Op. cit., p. 235.

9. Parl. Rop., 1854, vol. 42, opp. p. 186.

10. Op. cit., p. 265.

11. Corwin Report, p. 72.

12. Op. cit., p. 264.

13. Simpson, op. cit., p. 238.

14. See Report of Point Barrow Expedition, p. 50, for a table of measurements of a number of individuals selected at random from the natives of both villages and their visitors.

15. Op. cit., p. 238.

16. Davis (1586) speaks of the “small, slender hands and feet” of the Greenlanders. Hakluyt’s Voyages, etc. (1589), p. 782.

“Their hands and feet are little and soft.” Crantz, vol. 1, p. 133 (Greenland).

Hands and feet “extremely diminutive,” Parry 1st Voy., p. 282 (Baffin Land).

“Their hands and feet are small and well formed.” Kumlien Contrib., p. 15 (Cumberland Gulf).

“Feet extraordinarily small.” Ellis, Voyage, etc., p. 132 (Hudson Strait).

Franklin (1st Exp., vol. 2, p. 180) mentions the small hands and feet of the two old Eskimo that he met at the Bloody Fall of the Coppermine River.

“. . . boots purchased on the coast were seldom large enough for our people.” Richardson Searching Exp., i, p. 344 (Cape Bathurst).

“Their hands and feet are small.” Petroff, Report, etc., p. 134 (Kuskoquim River).

Chappell (Hudson Bay, pp. 59, 60) has a remarkable theory to account for the smallness of the extremities among the people of Hudson Strait. He believes that “the same intense cold which restricts vegetation to the form of creeping shrubs has also its effect upon the growth of mankind, preventing the extremities from attaining their due proportion”!

17. Op. cit., p. 238.

18. One young man at Point Barrow looks remarkably like the well known “Eskimo Joe,” as I remember him in Boston in the winter of 1862-’63.

19. The expression of obliquity in the eyes, mentioned by Dr. Simpson (op. cit., p. 239), seems to me to have arisen from the shape of the cheek bones. I may be mistaken, however, as no careful comparisons were made on the spot.

20. Frobisher says of the people of Baffin Land: “Their colour is not much unlike the sunburnt countrie man.” Hakluyt’s Voyages, etc. (1589), p. 627.

21. Journey, etc., p. 289.

22. Op. cit., p. 238.

23. Cf. Simpson, op. cit., p. 240.

24. Op. cit., p. 254.

25. Op. cit. p. 254.

26. Journ. Ethnol. Soc., vol. 4, p. 206.

27. Compare what Davis wrote in 1586 of the Greenlanders: “These people are much given to bleed, and, therefore, stoppe theyr noses with deere hayre or the hayre of an elan.” Hakluyt, Voyages, etc., 1589, p. 782.

28. Egede, Greenland, p. 120; Crantz, vol. 1, p. 234 (Greenland); Southerland. Journ. Ethnol. Soc., vol. IV, p. 207 (Baffin Land); Chappell, “Hudson Bay,” p. 74 (North Shore of Hudson Strait); Lyon, Journal, p. 18 (Hudson Strait); Franklin, 1st Exp., I, p. 29 (Hudson Strait); Parry, 2d Voy., p. 544 (Igluilik); Hooper, Tents of the Tuski, p. 185 (Plover Bay, Siberia).

29. I have an indistinct recollection of having once seen a left-handed person from Nuwŭk.

30. Holm calls the East Greenlanders “et meget livligt Folkefærd” Geogr. Tidskrift, vol. 8, p. 96.

31. Simpson, op. cit., p. 248.

32. Op. cit., p. 247.

33. Compare Nordenskiöld’s experience in Siberia. The “Chukches” sold him skinned foxes with the head and feet cut off for hares, (Vega, vol. 1, p. 448), young ivory gulls for ptarmigan, and a dog’s skull for a seal’s (vol. 2, p. 137). Besides, “While their own things were always made with the greatest care, all that they did especially for us was done with extreme carelessness” (ibid). The Eskimos at Hotham Inlet also tried to sell Capt. Beechey fishskins sewed together to represent fish. (Voyage, p. 285.)

34. Compare Vega, vol. 1, p. 489. The Chukches were “so courteous as not to correct but to adopt the mistakes in the pronunciation or meaning of words that were made on the Vega.”

35. See “Approximate Census, etc.,” Report of Point Barrow Exp., p. 49.

36. Op. cit., p. 237.

37. Petroff’s estimate (Report, etc., p. 4) of the number of natives on this part of the Arctic coast is much too large. He gives the population of “Ootiwakh” (Utkiavwĭñ) as 225. Refuge Inlet (where there is merely a summer camp of Utkiavwĭñmiun), 40, and “Kokmullit,” 200. The supposed settlement of 50 inhabitants at the Colville River is also a mere summer camp, not existing in the winter.

38. Maguire, NW. Passage, p. 384.

39. It is to be regretted that the expedition was not supplied with a copy of Dr. Simpson’s excellent paper, as much valuable information was missed for lack of suggestions as to the direction of inquiries.

40. Op. cit., pp. 234 and 236.

41. This was the name of a girl at Nuwŭk.

42. Op. cit., p. 269.

43. Second Exp., p. 142.

44. Tents of the Tuski, p. 255.

45. All the published information there is about them from personal observation can be found in Franklin, Second Exp., p. 142; T. Simpson, Narrative, pp. 118-123; and Hooper, Tents, etc., pp. 255-257 and 260.

46. Monographie, p. xi.

47. Ibid, p. xvi.

48. Bull. de la Société de Géographie, 6e sér., vol. 10, p. 256.

49. See also Monographie, etc., p. xi, where the name is spelled Kρamalit.

50. Vocabulaire, etc., p. 76.

51. Bull. Soc. de Géog., 6e sér., vol. 10, p. 39.

52. T. Simpson, Narrative, p. 112.

53. Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 264.

54. ibid, p. 263.

55. Bull. Soc. de Géog., 6e sér., vol. 10, p. 182.

56. Petitot, Monographie, etc., pp. xvi and xx.

57. Franklin, 2d Exp., pp. 99-101, 105-110, 114-119 and 128; T. Simpson, Narrative, pp. 104-112; Hooper, Tents, etc., pp. 263-264. There is also a brief note by the Rev. W. W. Kirkby, in a “Journey to the Youcan.” Smithsonian Report for 1864. These, with Petitot’s in many respects admirable Monographie, comprise all the information regarding these people from actual observation that has been published. Richardson has described them at second hand in his “Searching Expedition” and “Polar Regions.” The “Kopagmute” of Petroff (Report, etc., p. 125) are a purely hypothetical people invented to fill the space between “the coast people in the north and the Athabascans in the south.”

58. Franklin, 2d Exp., p. 203.

59. Ibid., p. 269.

60. Franklin, 2d Exp., pp. 193, 203 and 230; Searching Exp., and Polar Regions, p. 300.

61. N. W. Passage, pp. 84-98.

62. Personal Narrative, p. 176.

63. Tents, etc., pp. 343-348.

64. Compare what Petitot has to say—Monographie, etc., p. xiii and passim—about the turbulent and revengeful character of the “Tchiglit.”

65. Dr. Simpson, op. cit., p. 264.

66. Op. cit., p. 265.

67. In the Plover’s time they were left a day’s journey in the rear.

68. Op. cit., p. 266.

69. T. Simpson saw iron kettles at Camden Bay which had been purchased from the western natives at two wolverine skins apiece. Narrative, p. 171.

70. “The inland Eskimo also call them Ko´-yu-kan, and divide them into three sections or tribes. * * *

One is called I´t-ka-lyi [apparently the plural of Itkûdlĭñ], * * * the second It-kal-ya´-ruīn [different or other Itkûdlĭñ],” op. cit., p. 269.

71. Dall, Cont. to N. A. Ethn., vol. 1, p. 30, where they are identified with Itkalyaruin of Simpson.

72. Ibid., p. 31.

73. Arctic Papers, p. 119.

74. Further papers, etc., pp. 905 et seq.

75. Arctic Papers, p. 144.

76. Koyū´-ku´kh-otā´nā, Dall, Cont. to N. A. Eth., p. 27.

77. Ibid., p. 28.

78. Hooper, Tents, etc. p. 276.

79. Ibid., p. 273.

80. Crantz, vol. 1, p. 208.

81. Journ. Anthrop. Inst., 1885, p. 244.

82. Dall, Alaska, p. 28 and Contrib., vol. 1, p. 25.

83. Monographie, p. xxiv.

84. Op. cit., p. 264.

85. Narrative, pp. 146-168.

86. Op. cit., p. 251.

87. Op. cit., p. 271.

88. Report, etc., p. 125.

89. See list of “New Words,” Rep. Point Barrow Exp., p. 57.

90. The history of this word, which also appears as a Chuckch word in some of the vocabularies collected by Nordenskiöld’s expedition, is rather curious. Chamisso (Kotzebue’s Voyage, vol. 2, p. 392, foot-note) says that this is a Hawaiian corruption of the well-known “Pigeon-English” (he calls it Chinese) word “chow-chow” recently (in 1816-’17) adopted by the Sandwich Islanders from the people with whom they trade. I am informed that the word is not of Chinese origin, but probably came from India, like many other words in “Pigeon-English.” Chamisso also calls pûnĭ-pûnĭ a Chinese word, but I have been able to learn nothing of its origin.

91. Grønlandsk Ordbog, p. 386.

92. “The oil had acted as a manure on the soil, and produced a luxuriant crop of grass from 1 to 2 feet high” (village at Point Atkinson, east of the Mackenzie). Richardson Searching Exp., vol. 1, p. 254.

93. U.S. Geol. Surv., Bull. 9, p. 9, 1884.

94. Op. cit., p. 266.

95. Op. cit., p. 266.

96. Hooper found coal on the beach at Nuwŭk in 1849, showing that this coal has not necessarily been thrown over from ships. Tents of the Tuski, p. 221.

97. Discovery of the Northwest Passage, p. 100.

98. The Eskimo of Iglulik “prefer venison to any kind of meat.” Parry, 2d Voyage, p. 510.

99. Compare Hooper, Tents, etc. “This, which the Tuski call their sugar,” p. 174; and Hall, Arctic Researches, p. 132 (Baffin Land).

100. Egede, Greenland, p. 136.

101. Appendix to Ross’s 2d Voyage, p. xix.

102. Compare the passage from Egede, just quoted, and also Kumlien, Contributions, etc., p. 20, at Cumberland Gulf.

103. For instance, Schwatka says that the Nĕtcĭlĭk of King William Land devour enormous quantities of seal blubber, “noticeably more in summer than the other tribes,” viz, those of the western shores of Hudson’s Bay (Science, vol. 4, p. 544). Parry speaks of the natives of the Savage Islands, Hudson’s Strait, eating raw blubber and sucking the oil remaining on the skins they had emptied (2d Voyage, p. 14).

104. See for example Egede’s Greenland, p. 134; Crantz, History of Greenland, vol. 1, p. 144; Dall, Alaska, passim; Hooper, Tents of the Tuski, p. 170; Nordenskiöld, Vega, p. 110.

105. Lieut. Ray’s MS. notes.

106. “They have no set Time for Meals, but every one eats when he is hungry, except when they go to sea, and then their chief Repast is a supper after they are come home in the Evening.” (Egede, Greenland, p. 135. Compare also, Crantz, vol. 1, p. 145.)

107. See, for instance, Egede: “Their Drink is nothing but Water” (Greenland, p. 134), and, “Furthermore, they put great Lumps of Ice and Snow into the Water they drink, to make it cooler for to quench their Thirst” (p. 135). “Their drink is clear water, which stands in the house in a great copper vessel, or in a wooden tub. * * * They bring in a supply of fresh water every day * * * and that their water may be cool they choose to lay a piece of ice or a little snow in it” * * * (Crantz, vol. 1, p. 144). Compare, also, Parry, 2d voy., p. 506, where the natives of Iglulik are said to drink a great deal of water, which they get by melting snow, and like very cold. The same fondness for water was observed by Nordenskiöld in Siberia (Vega, vol. 2, p. 114).

108. Beechey, Voyage, p. 308.

109. Third Voyage, vol. 2, p. 437.

110. Ibid, 2, p. 479.

111. Second Exp., p. 130.

112. See T. Simpson, Narrative, p. 156.

113. Op. cit., pp. 235, 236, 266.

114. Compare J. Simpson, op. cit., p. 250, and Nordenskiöld, Vega, vol. 2, p. 116.

115. Tents, etc., p. 83; Vega, vol. 2, p. 116.

116. The numbers first given are those of the National Museum; the numbers in brackets are those of the collector.

117. Op. cit., p. 243.

118. See T. Simpson: “Not content with chewing and smoking it, they swallowed the fumes till they became sick, and seemed to revel in a momentary intoxication.” Point Barrow (1837), Narrative, p. 156. Also Kotzebue: “They chew, snuff, smoke, and even swallow the smoke.” Kotzebue Sound (1816) Voyage, vol. 1, p. 237. Beechey also describes the people of Hotham Inlet in 1826 as smoking in the manner above described, obtaining the hair from a strip of dogskin tied to the pipe. Their tobacco was mixed with wood. Voyage, p. 300. Petitot (Monographie, etc., p. xxix) describes a precisely similar method of smoking among the Mackenzie Eskimos. Their tobacco was “melangé à de la ráclure de saule” and the pipe was called “kwiñeρk.” (Vocabulaire, p. 54).

119. See Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 177, and Dall, Alaska, p. 81.

120. This is an interesting fact, as it shows that the Eskimo from Demarcation Point east learned to smoke from the people of Point Barrow, and not from the English or the northern Indians, who use pipes “modeled after the clay pipes of the Hudson Bay Company.” (Dall, Alaska, p. 81, Fig. A.) They acquired the habit some time between 1837, when T. Simpson found them ignorant of the use of tobacco (see reference above, p. 65), and 1849, when they were glad to receive it from Pullen and Hooper. (Tents, etc., p. 258.) Petitot (Monographie, etc., p. xxvi) states that the Eskimo of the Mackenzie informed him that the use of tobacco and the form of the pipe, with blue beads, labrets, and other things, came through the neighbors from a distant land called “Nate´ρovik,” which he supposes to mean St. Michaels, but which, from the evidence of other travelers, is much more likely to mean Siberia.

The Eskimo geography, on which Fr. Petitot relies so strongly, is extremely vague west of Barter Island, and savors of the fabulous almost as much as the Point Barrow stories about the eastern natives. The evidence which leads Fr. Petitot to believe “Nate´ρovik” to be St. Michaels is rather peculiar. The Mackenzie natives call the people who are nearest to Nate´ρovik on the north “the Sedentary.” Now, the people who live nearest to St. Michaels on the north are the “Sedentary American Tchukatchīs”(!); therefore Nate´ρovik is probably St. Michaels. (“Le nom Natéρovik semble convenir à l’ancien fort russe Michaëlowski, en ce que la tribu iunok la plus voisine de ce poste, vers le nord, est désignée par nos Tchiglit sous le nom d’ Apkwam-méut ou de Sédentaires; or telle est la position géographique qui convient aux sédentaires Tchukatches américains, dont la limite la plus septentrionale, selon le capitaine Beechey, est la pointe Barrow.”) A slight acquaintance with the work of Dall and other modern explorers in this region would have saved Fr. Petitot from this and some other errors.

121. See Wrangell, Narrative of an Expedition, etc., p. 58. “The Russians here [at Kolymsk, 1820] smoke in the manner common to all the people of northern Asia; they draw in the tobacco smoke, swallow it, and allow it to escape again by the nose and ears(!).” The tobacco is said to be mixed with “finely powdered larch wood, to make it go further” (ibid.). See also Hooper, Tents, etc.: “Generally, I believe, about one-third part of wood is used” (pp. 176 and 177; and Nordenskiöld, Vega, vol. 2, p. 116.)

122. Vega, vol. 2, p. 116.

123. See also Petitot, Monographie, etc., p. xxix.

124. See Beechey, Voyage, p. 323; T. Simpson, Narrative, p. 156—“tobacco, which * * * they call tawāc, or tawākh, a name acquired of course from Russian traders;” Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 239; also Maguire and J. Simpson, loc. cit. passim. Petitot calls ta´wak “mot français corrompu”!

125. Since the above was written, the word for pipe, “kuinyɐ,” has been found to be of Siberian origin. See the writer’s article “On the Siberian origin of some customs of the Western Eskimos” (American Anthropologist, vol. 1, pp. 325-336).

126. In some of the older houses, the ruins of which are still to be seen at the southwest end of the village of Utkiavwĭñ, whales’ bones were used for timbers. Compare Lyon Journal, p. 171, where the winter huts at Iglulik are described as “entirely constructed of the bones of whales, unicorns, walruses, and smaller animals,” with the interstices filled with earth and moss.

127. Op. cit., p. 256.

128. Compare Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 46: “Small lattice shelves * * * on which moccasins * * * are put to dry.” Plover Bay. See also plate to face p. 160 Parry’s Second Voyage.

129. Monographie, etc., p. xxiii.

130. See for instance, Crantz, History of Greenland, vol. 1, p. 141; Franklin, 1st Exped., vol. 2, p. 194 (Coppermine River); 2d Exped., p. 121 (Mouth of the Mackenzie, where they are made of drift logs stuck up so that the roots serve as crotches to hold the cross pieces); Hooper, Tents, etc., pp. 48, 228, and 343 (Plover Bay, Point Barrow, and Toker Point); J. Simpson, op. cit., p. 256 (Point Barrow); Nordenskiöld, Vega, vol. 2, p. 92 (Pitlekaj).

131. Dall, Alaska, p. 13.

132. Egede, Greenland, p. 114; Crantz, History of Greenland, vol. 1, p. 139; Rink, Tales and Traditions, p. 7.

133. Hakluyt, Voyages, etc. (1589), p. 788.

134. Lyon, Journal, p. 171.

135. See Fig. 13, ground plan and section, copied from Petitot, Monographie, etc., p. XXIII.

136. Monographie, etc., p. XXI.

137. See also Franklin, 2d Exped., p. 121 (Mouth of the Mackenzie), and pp. 215 and 216 (Atkinson Island, Richardson. A ground plan and section closely resembling Petitot’s are given here); and Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 243 (Toker Point).

138. See ante.

139. Op. cit., p. 258.

140. Dall, Alaska, pp. 13 and 14, diagram on p. 13.

141. Petroff, Report, etc., p. 15.

142. See Dall, Cont. to N. A. Ethn., vol. 1, p. 105. Mr. E. W. Nelson tells me, however, that the village at East Cape, Siberia, is composed of real iglus.

143. Third Voyage, vol. 2, p. 450.

144. Op. cit., p. 256.

145. For example, I find it mentioned in Greenland by Kane, 1st Grinnell Exp., p. 40; at Iglulik by Parry, 2d Voy., p. 499; and at the mouth of the Mackenzie by Franklin, 2d Exp., p. 121, as well as by Dr. Simpson at Nuwŭk, op. cit., p. 256.

146. Frobisher says the tents in Meta Incognita (in 1577) were “so pitched up, that the entrance into them, is alwaies South, or against the Sunne.” Hakluyt’s Voyages, etc., (1589) p. 628.

147. Geographische Blätter, vol. 5, p. 27.

148. Op. cit., p. 259.

149. Petroff, Report, etc., p. 128.

150. Dall, Alaska, p. 16.

151. See Rink, Tales and Traditions, p. 8; also Geografisk Tidskrift, vol. 8, p. 141. Speaking of buildings of this sort, Dr. Rink says: “Men i Grønland kjendes de vel kun af Sagnet. Paa Øer Disko vil man have paavist Ruinen af en saadan Bygning, som besynderlig nok særlig sagdes at have været benyttet til Festligheder af erotisk Natur.” Boas, “The Central Eskimo,” passim; Lyon, Journal, p. 325 (Iglulik); Richardson, in Franklin’s 2d Exp., pp. 215-216 (Atkinson Island); Petitot, Monographie, etc., xxx; “Kêchim, ou maison des assemblées;” Beechey, Voyage, p. 268 (Point Hope); Dall, Alaska, p. 16 and elsewhere; Petroff, Rep. p. 128 and elsewhere.

152. Tents, etc., p. 136.

153. See references to Dall and Petroff, above.

154. Parry, 2nd Voy., p. 160 and plate opposite; Franklin, 1st Exped. vol. 2, pp. 43-47, ground plan, p. 46; Boas, “Central Eskimo,” pp. 539-553; Kumlien, Contributions, etc., p. 31; Petitot, Monographie, etc., p. xvii (a full description with a ground plan and section on p. xix), and all the popular accounts of the Eskimo.

155. Grønlandsk Ordbog, p. 404; Kane’s 1st Grinnell Exp., p. 40, calls it a “skin-covered door.” Compare, also, the skin or matting hung over the entrance of the houses at Norton Sound, Dall, Alaska, p. 13, and the bear-skin doors of the Nunatañmiun and other Kotzebue Sound natives, mentioned by Dr. Simpson, op. cit., p. 259.

156. Compare Dr. Simpson’s description, op. cit., p. 259.

157. Compare the woodcut on p. 406, vol. 1, of Kane’s 2d Exp., where two sleds are represented as stuck up on end with their “upstanders” meeting to form a platform—Smith Sound.

158. Firearms can not be carried into a warm room in cold weather, as the moisture in the air immediately condenses on the cold surface of the metal.

159. Journal, p. 204; see also the plate opposite p. 358 of Parry’s 2d Voyage.

160. Beechey’s Voyage, p. 315.

161. Tents, etc., pp. 216, 225.

162. Op. cit., p. 260.

163. MacFarlane MSS. and Petitot, Monographie, etc., p. xx, “des tentes coniques (tuppeρk) en peaux de renne.”

164. See Rink, Tales, etc., p. 7 (“skins” in this passage undoubtedly means sealskins, as they are more plentiful than deerskins among the Greenlanders, and were used for this purpose in Egede’a time—Greenland, p. 117; and Kumlien, op. cit., p. 33.). In east Greenland, according to Holm, “Om Sommeren bo Angsmagsalikerne i Telte, der ere betrukne med dobbelte Skind og have Tarmskinds Forhæng.” Geogr. Tids., vol. 8, p. 89. In Frobisher’s description of Meta Incognita (in 1577), he says: “Their houses are tents made of seale skins, pitched up with 4 Firre quarters, foure square, meeting at the toppe, and the skinnes sewed together with sinewes, and layd thereupon.” Hakluyt’s Voyages, etc. (1589), p. 628. See also Boas, “Central Eskimo.”

165. Petroff, op. cit., p. 128.

166. Dall, Alaska, p. 13.

167. Egede, Greenland, p. 117; Crantz, vol. 1, p. 141; Rink, Tales, etc., p. 7.

168. Kumlien, op. cit., p. 33.

169. See Parry’s 2nd Voyage, p. 271 and plate opposite. Compare also Chappell, “Hudson Bay,” pp. 75-77, figure on p. 75.

170. “When out traveling, they mostly carry their water supply in a seal’s stomach, prepared for the purpose.” Kumlien, op. cit., p. 41. Compare also Hall, Arctic Researches, p. 584.

171. Grønl. Ordbog., p. 135.

172. Franklin, 1st Exp., vol. 2, p. 181.

173. First Voy., p. 286.

174. Second Voy., p. 503.

175. Grønl. Ordbog., p. 293.

176. Vega, vol. 2, p. 124.

177. Op. cit., p. 266.

178. Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 147.

179. Beechey’s Voyage, p. 572.

180. This specimen was broken in transportation, and the pieces received different Museum numbers. It is now mended with glue.

181. Compare these pots with the two figured in Parry’s 2d Voyage (plate opposite p. 160). The smaller of these has a ridge only on the end, but on the larger the ridge runs all the way round. The plate also shows how the pots were hung up. See also Fig. 1, plate opposite p. 548.

182. 2d Voyage, p. 502.

183. I need only refer to Crantz, who describes the “bastard-marble kettle,” hanging “by four strings fastened to the roof, which kettle is a foot long and half a foot broad, and shaped like a longish box” (vol. 1, p. 140); the passage from Parry’s 2d Voyage, referred to above; Kumlien, op. cit., p. 20 (Cumberland Gulf); Boas, “Central Eskimo,” p. 545; and Gilder, Schwatka’s Search, p. 260 (West Shore of Hudson Bay).

184. Op. cit., pp. 267-269.

185. Compare the cement for joining pieces of soapstone vessels mentioned by Boas (“Central Eskimo,” p. 526) consisting of “seal’s blood, a kind of clay, and dog’s hair.”

186. See Further Papers, etc., p. 909.

187. Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 57.

188. We saw this done on No. 56634 [83], the head and haft of which were brought in separate and put together by an Eskimo at the station.

189. Figured in Ray’s Point Barrow Report, Ethnology, Pl. II, Fig. 6.

190. Vega, vol. 2, p. 113; figures on p. 112.

191. See for example, Crantz, vol. 1, p. 144, Greenland; Parry, 2d. Voy., p. 503, Iglulik; and Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 170, Plover Bay.

192. Bessels, Naturalist, Sept. 1884, p. 867.

193. Second Voyage, p. 503.

194. See Fig. 26, plate opposite p. 550.

195. See Figs. 8 and 9, opposite p. 548.

196. Narrative, p. 148.

197. Compare the custom noticed by Parry, at Iglulik, of hanging a long thin strip of blubber near the flame of the lamp to feed it (2d Voyage, p. 502). According to Petitot (Monographie, etc., p. xviii), the lamps in the Mackenzie district are fed by a lump of blubber stuck on a stick, as at Point Barrow.

198. Compare Nordenskiöld, Vega, vol. 2, p. 119: “The wooden pins she uses to trim the wick . . . are used when required as a light or torch . . . to light pipes, etc. In the same way other pins dipped in train-oil are used” (Pitlekaj), and foot-note on same page: “I have seen such pins, also oblong stones, sooty at one end, which, after having been dipped in train-oil, have been used as torches . . . in old Eskimo graves in northwestern Greenland.”

199. Naturalist, September, 1884, p. 867, Fig. 2.

200. Parry, Second Voyage, Pl. opposite p. 548, Fig. 2.

201. See Dall, Alaska, p. 387; and Petroff Report, etc., p. 141. See also the collections of Turner and Fischer from Attu and Kadiak.

202. Vega, vol. 2, p. 23, Fig. b on p. 22, and diagrams, p. 23.

203. Report, etc., p. 125.

204. Compare Nordenskiöld, Vega, vol 2. p. 213.

205. Vega, vol. 2, p. 98.

206. Op. cit., pp. 241-245.

207. See for example, Egede, p. 219; Crantz, vol. 1, p. 136; Bessels, Op. cit., pp. 805 and 868 (Smith Sound); Kane, 1st Grinnell Exp., pp. 45 (Greenland) and 132 (Cape York); Brodbeck, “Nach Osten,” pp. 23, 24, and Holm, Geografisk Tidskrift, vol. 8, p. 90 (East Greenland); Parry, 2d Voy., pp. 494-6 (Iglulik); Boas. “Central Eskimo,” pp. 554-6; Kumlien, loc. cit., pp. 22-25 (Cumberland Gulf); also, Frobisher, in Hakluyt’s Voyages, 1589, etc., p. 628.

208. Dall, Alaska, pp. 21 and 141.

209. Second Voy., p. 537.

210. Compare Dall, Alaska, p. 22.

211. There are several frocks so trimmed in the National Museum, from the Mackenzie and Anderson region.

212. Second Grinnell Exp., vol. 1, p. 203.

213. Egede, p. 131; Crantz, i, p. 137 and Pl. III. (Greenland); Bessels, op. cit., p. 865 (Smith Sound—married women only); Parry, 2nd Voy., p. 491, and numerous illustrations, passim (Iglulik); Packard. Naturalist Vol. 19, p. 6, Pl. XXIII (Labrador), and Kumlien, l. c., p. 33 (Cumberland Gulf). See also several specimens in the National Museum from Ungava (collected by L. M. Turner) and the Mackenzie and Anderson rivers (collected by MacFarlane). The hoods from the last region, while still much larger and wider than those in fashion at Point Barrow, are not so enormous as the more eastern ones. The little peak on the top of the woman’s hood at Point Barrow may be a reminiscence of the pointed hood worn by the women mentioned by Bessels, op. cit.

214. Parry, 2d Voy., p. 494, and 1st Voy., p. 283.

215. Monographic, etc., p. xiv.

216. Petroff, op. cit., p. 134, Pls. 4 and 5. See also specimens in the National Museum.

217. Petroff, op. cit., p. 139, and Liscansky, Voy., etc., p. 194.

218. Dall, Alaska, p. 379.

219. Vega, vol. 2, p. 98.

220. Nordenskiöld, Vega, vol. 2, p. 100 and Fig. on p. 57; Dall, Alaska, p. 379 and plate opposite. I also noticed this dress at Plover Bay in 1881. Compare also Krause Brothers, Geogr. Blätter, vol. 5, No. 1, p. 5, where the dress along the coast from East Cape to Plover Bay is described as we saw it at Plover Bay.

221. Vol. 1, p. 137.

222. Voyage to Hudsons Bay, p. 136.

223. Nordenskiöld, Vega, vol. 2, p. 98.

224. Monographie, etc., p. xv.

225. Compare Parry, 2d Voy., p. 494, where a similar habit is mentioned at Iglulik.

226. Dall, Alaska, pp. 23, 152, and 153. He speaks of the thumb (p. 23) as “a triangular, shapeless protuberance”; a description which applies well to those in our collection.

227. MacFarlane MS., and Petitot, Monographie, etc., p. xv.

228. Bessels, Naturalist, vol. 18, p. 865.

229. Op. cit., p. 242.

230. Dr. Simpson’s language (op. cit., p. 243) is a little indefinite (“The feet and legs are incased in water-tight sealskin boots”), but probably refers to these as well as to the knee boots. The “outside coat of the same material,” and the boots and outside coat “made all in one, with a drawing string round the face,” mentioned in the same place, appears to have gone wholly out of fashion since his time. At all events, we saw neither, though we continually saw the natives when working in the boats, and these garments, especially the latter, could hardly have failed to attract our attention.

231. Monographie, etc., p. xv.

232. Bessels, Naturalist, vol. 18, p. 865, Smith Sound; Egede, p. 131, and Crantz, vol. 1, p. 138, Greenland; Parry, 2d Voy., p. 495 and 496, Iglulik, and Kumlien, op. cit., p. 23, Cumberland Gulf. Also in Labrador, see Pl. XVII, Naturalist, vol. 19, No. 6. The old couple whom Franklin met at the Bloody Fall of the Coppermine appear to have worn pantaloons, for he speaks of their “tight leggings sewed to shoes” (1st Exp., vol. 2, p. 180).

233. Probably prepared like the boat covers described by Crantz, vol. 1, p. 167, by drying them without removing all of their own blubber.

234. Op. cit., pp. 242-266.

235. See diagram, Fig. 76.

236. See diagram, Fig. 78.

237. Op. cit., p. 243.

238. Monographie, etc., p. xiv.

239. Ibid.

240. Personal Narrative, p. 176.

241. Compare the custom observed by H.M.S. Investigator, at Cape Bathurst, where, according to McClure (Discovery of the Northwest Passage, p. 93), a successful harpooner has a blue line drawn across his face over the bridge of the nose; or, according to Armstrong (Personal Narrative, p. 176), he has a line tattooed from the inner angle of the eye across the cheek, a new one being added for every whale he strikes. Petitot, however (Monographie, etc., p. xxv), says that in this region whales are “scored” by tattooing crosses on the shoulder, and that a murderer is marked across the nose with a couple of horizontal lines. It is interesting to note in this connection that one of the “striped” men at Nuwŭk told us that he had killed a man. According to Holm, at Angmagsalik (east Greenland), “Mændene ere kun undtagelsvis tatoverede og da kun med enkelte mindre Streger paa Arme og Haandled, for at kunne harpunere godt” (Geogr. Tids., vol. 8, p. 88). Compare also Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 37, “Men only make a permanent mark on the face for an act of prowess, such as killing a bear, capturing a whale, etc.;” and Parry, 2d Voyage, p. 449, where some of the men at Iglulik are said to be tattooed on the back of the hand, as a souvenir of some distant or deceased person.

242. Bessels, Naturalist, vol. 18, p. 875 (Smith Sound); Egede, p. 132, and Crantz, vol. 1, p. 138, already given up by the Christian Greenlanders (Greenland); Holm. Geogr. Tids., vol. 8, p. 88, still practiced regularly in east Greenland; Parry, 1st Voyage, p. 282 (Baffin Land); 2d Voyage, p. 498 (Iglulik); Kumlien, Contrib., p. 26 (Cumberland Gulf, aged women chiefly); Boas, “Central Eskimo,” p. 561; Chappell, “Hudson Bay,” p. 60 (Hudson Strait); Back, Journey, etc., p. 289 (Great Fish River); Franklin, 1st Exped., vol. 2, p. 183 (Coppermine River); 2d Exped., p. 126 (Point Sabine); Petitot, Monographie, etc., p. xv (Mackenzie district); Dall, “Alaska,” pp. 140, 381 (Norton Sound, Diomede Islands, and Plover Bay); Petroff, Report, etc., p. 139 (Kadiak); Lisiansky, Voyage, p. 195 (Kadiak in 1805, “the fair sex were also fond of tattooing the chin, breasts, and back, but this again is much out of fashion”); Nordenskiöld, Vega, vol. 2, pp. 99, 100, 251, and 252, with figures (Siberia and St. Lawrence Island); Krause brothers, Geographische Blätter, vol. 5, pp. 4, 5 (East Cape to Plover Bay); Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 37, “Women were tattooed on the chin in diverging lines” (Plover Bay); Rosse, Cruise of the Corwin, p. 35, fig. on p. 36 (St. Lawrence Island).

Frobisher’s account, being the earliest on record, is worth quoting: “* * * The women are marked on the face with blewe streekes downe the cheekes and round about the eies” (p. 621). * * * “Also, some of their women race their faces proportionally, as chinne, cheekes, and forehead, and the wristes of their hands, whereupon they lay a colour, which continueth dark azurine” (p. 627). Hakluyt’s Voyages, etc., 1589.

243. Holm (East Greenland) says: “et Paar korte Streger paa Hagen” (Geogr. Tids. vol. 8, p. 88).

244. Compare Kotzebue’s Voy., vol. 3, p. 296, where Chamisso describes the natives of St. Lawrence Bay, Siberia, as having large quantities of fine graphite, with which they painted their faces.

245. Petroff Report, etc., p. 139.

246. Petitot, Monographie, etc., p. xxxi.

247. Tents, etc., p. 225.

248. Op. cit., p. 238.

249. Petitot, Monographie, etc., p. xxxi. See also Franklin, 2d Exp., p. 118.

250. See also Nordenskiöld, Vega, vol. 2, pp. 9 and 252, and figures passim, especially pp. 84 and 85; Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 27; and Dall, Alaska, p. 381.

251. See Kane, 2d Grinnell Exp. Many illustrations, passim, Smith Sound; Egede, p. 132, and Crantz, vol. 1, p. 128, Greenland; Brodbeck, “Nach Osten,” p. 23, and Holm, Geogr. Tids., vol. 8, p. 90, East Greenland; Frobisher, in Hakluyt, Voyages, etc. (1589), p. 627, Baffin Land; Parry, 2d Voy., p. 494, and Lyon, Journal, p. 230, Iglulik; Petitot, Monographie, etc., p. xxix, Mackenzie district; Hooper, Tents, etc., pp. 257, Icy Reef, and 347, Maitland Id.; Franklin, 2d Exp., p. 119, Point Sabine; Dall, Alaska, pp. 140 and 381, Norton Sound and Plover Bay. See also references to Nordenskiöld, given above, and Krause Bros., Geographische Blätter, vol. 5, pt. 1, p. 5.

252. See Dr. Simpson, op. cit., p. 243. Compare also Brodbeck, “Nach Osten” (p. 23). Speaking of “ein Kopf- oder Stirnband,” he says: “Vielleicht gilt es ihnen als eine Art von Zauberschützmittel, denn es ist um kein Geld zu haben. Drängt man sie, so sagen sie wohl, es sei nicht ihr eigen.”

253. Second Voy., p. 498 and Fig. 7, pl. opposite p. 548.

254. Op. cit., p. 211.

255. This subject has been thoroughly treated by Mr. W. H. Dall in his admirable paper in the Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, No. 3 for 1881-’82, pp. 67-203.

256. See Dall, Contrib., etc., vol. 1, p. 87, and the paper just referred to.

257. Monographie, etc., p. xxvi.

258. Op. cit., p. 241.

259. Alaska p. 141.

260. Alaska, p. 140.

261. The men whom Thomas Simpson met at or near Barter Island sold their labrets, but demanded a hatchet or a dagger for a pair of them (Narrative, p. 119).

262. Voyage, vol. 1, p. 210. Labrets of precisely the same pattern as the one described are figured in the frontispiece of this volume. (See also Choris, Voyage Pittoresque).

263. 2d Exp., p. 118.

264. Narrative, p. 119.

265. Op. cit., p. 239.

266. Voyage, p. 249.

267. Beechey’s Voy., p. 308.

268. See Contrib., etc., vol. 1, p. 89, and the two copper figures on the plate opposite.

269. Vega, vol. 2, p. 233.

270. There is in the collection a bunch of five of these shells (No. 89530 [1357], which are scarce and highly valued as ornaments. Mr. R. E. C. Stearns, of the U. S. National Museum, has identified the species as Dentalium Indianorum Cpr. (probably = D. pretiosum, Sby.), called “alĭkotci´k” by the Indians of northwest California, and “hiqua” (J. K. Lord) or “hya-qua” (F. Whymper) by the Indians round Queen Charlotte Sound.

271. Voyage, p. 295.

272. 2nd Voyage, p. 194, Fig. 12, Pl. opp. p. 548.

Errors in this section:

Holm, G., and Garde, V.
G. and

ihrem Verhältnisse zu den übrigen Eskimostämmen.

Footnote 12: Op. cit., p. 264.
footnote printed on following page (new section) and numbered as 1 on that page

The retrieving harpoon; an undescribed type of Eskimo weapon.
final . missing

Footnote 49: ... spelled Kρamalit.
final . missing

Footnote 55: ... 6^e sér., vol. 10, p. 182.
6 sér.,

Petitot also gives this word as itkpe´lit in his vocabulary (p. 42.)
printed as shown, with “p” for expected ρ
(p. 42.)

C’ést pourquoi nous les nommons Itkρe´le´it.’”
inner close quote missing

Footnote 107: observed by Nordenskiöld in Siberia (Vega, vol. 2, p. 114).
final . missing

Footnote 113: Op. cit., pp. 235, 236, 266.

A slight acquaintance with the work of Dall
text has “of of” at line break

“Epi´ana” (Vernon), who had “lots of guns.”

Mammals.—The wolf, amáxo (Canis lupus griseo-albus)
printed as shown, but may be meant for ‘amaχo’ (chi for x)

have abandoned the old underground houses

The man said he intended to build a wooden house

Kumlien, Contributions, etc., p. 31
Kumlien Contributions

Footnote 157: ... Kane’s 2d Exp., where two sleds


By John Murdoch.



All the men are now supplied with excellent knives of civilized manufacture, mostly butcher knives or sheath knives of various patterns, which they employ for numerous purposes, such as skinning and butchering game, cutting up food, and rough whittling. Fine whittling and carving is usually done with the “crooked knife,” to be described further on. In whittling the knife is grasped so that the blade projects on the ulnar side of the hand and is drawn toward the workman. A pocketknife, of which they have many of various patterns, is used in the same way. I observed that the Asiatic Eskimo at Plover Bay held the knife in the same manner. Capt. Lyon, in describing a man whittling 151 at Winter island, says: “As is customary with negroes, he cut toward the left hand and never used the thumb of the right, as we do, for a check to the knife.”273 This apparently refers to a similar manner of holding the knife. Before the introduction of iron, knives appear to have been always made of slate, worked by grinding. We obtained twenty-six more or less complete knives, most of which are genuine old implements, which have been preserved as heirlooms or amulets. These knives are either single or double edged, and the double-edged knives may be divided into four classes, according to their shape. The first class consists of rather small knives with the edges straight or only slightly curved, tapering to a sharp or truncated point, with the butt terminating in a short broad tang slightly narrower than the blade, which is inserted in the end of a straight wooden haft, at least as long as the blade. The commonest material is a hard, dark purple slate, though some are of black or dark gray slate. Of this class we have three complete knives and five blades without the haft.

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Fig. 99.—Slate knives.

No. 89584 [1107] (figured in Point Barrow Rept., Ethnology, Pl. III, Fig. 3), will represent this class. It is a blade of dark purple slate, ground smooth, 3.5 inches long, tapering from a width of 1.3 inches at the butt, with curved edges to a sharp point, and beveled on both faces from the middle line to the edges, and the flat tang is inserted into a cleft in the end of a straight haft of spruce. The blade is secured by a whipping of about fifteen turns of sinew braid lodged in a broad shallow groove round the end of the haft. In a hole in the other end of the haft is looped a short lanyard of seal thong. Fig. 99a, No. 89581 [1011], is a knife of the same class and about the same size, having a haft 4 inches and a blade 3 inches long. The blade is secured by two lashings, of which the first is a narrow strip of whalebone, and the other of sinew braid. The materials of blade and haft are the same as before. No. 89585 [1710] (Fig. 99b), has a blade of dark gray slate, and the haft, which appears to be of cotton wood, is in two longitudinal sections. The 152 lashing which holds these two sections together is of braided sinew. Of the blades, the only sharp-pointed one, No. 56684 [228] (Fig. 100), is like the blade of 89584 [1107], but rather larger. The others all have rounded or truncated points and are not over 3½ inches long, including the tang, but otherwise closely resemble the blades already described. They all show signs of considerable age and several of them are nicked and gapped on the edge from use. Knives of this class are not like any in use at the present day, and it was not possible to learn definitely whether this shape served any special purpose. We were, however, given to understand that the sharp-pointed ones were sometimes, at least, used for stabbing. Perhaps they were used specially for cutting up the smaller animals.

The second class, of which there are four specimens, is not unlike the first, but the blade is short and broad, with strongly curved edges, and always sharp pointed, while the haft is always much longer than the blade. Instead of being evenly beveled off on both faces from the middle line to the edges, they are either slightly convex, worked down gradually to the edge, or flat with narrowly beveled edges. They are all small knives, the longest being 8.3 inches long, with the blade projecting 3.1 inches from the haft, and the shortest 4.9 inches, with the blade projecting only 1.4 inches.

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Fig. 100.—Slate knife-blade.

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Fig. 101.—Slate knife.

Fig. 101, No. 89583 [1305], is a knife of this class, with the blade a nearly equilateral triangle (1.4 inches long and 1.3 inches wide at the base), with a flat wooden haft as wide as the blade and 3½ inches long, cleft at the tip and lashed with thirteen or fourteen turns of sinew braid. The holes near the butt of the haft were probably to receive a lanyard. Fig. 102, No. 89591 [1016], is another form of the same class. The blade is secured by a single rivet of wood.

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Fig. 102.—Slate knife.

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Fig. 103.—Slate hunting-knife.

The third class consists of large knives, with long, broad, lanceolate blades, and short straight hafts. There is only one complete specimen, No. 89592 [1002], Fig. 103. This has a blade of soft, light greenish 153 slate, 6 inches long and 2.6 inches broad, with the edges broadly beveled on both faces. The haft of spruce is in two longitudinal sections, put together so as to inclose the short tang of the blade, and is secured by a tight whipping of eighteen turns of fine seal twine, and painted with red ocher. This knife is new and was made for sale, but is undoubtedly a correct model of an ancient pattern, as No. 56676 [204] (Fig. 104), which is certainly ancient, appears to be the blade of just such a knife. We were told that the latter was intended for cutting blubber. This perhaps means that it was a whaling knife. Mr. Nelson brought home a magnificent knife of precisely the same pattern, made of light green jade.

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Fig. 104.—Blade of slate hunting-knife.

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Fig. 105.—Large slate knife.

The two knives, representing the fourth class, are both new and made for sale, having blades of soft slate. As we obtained no genuine knives of this pattern, it is possible that they are merely commercial fabrications. The two knives are very nearly alike, but the larger, No. 89590 [984] (Fig. 105), is the more carefully made. The blade is of light greenish gray slate, 6.2 inches long and 2 inches broad, and is straight nearly to the tip, where it curves to a sharp point, making a blade like that of the Roman gladius. The haft is a piece sawed out of the beam of an antler, and has a cleft sawed in one end to receive the short broad tang of the blade. The whipping is of sinew braid.

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Fig. 106.—Large single-edged slate knife.

The single-edged knives were probably all meant specially for cutting food, and are all of the same general pattern, varying in size from a blade only 2½ inches long to one of 7 inches. The blade is generally more strongly curved along the edge than on the back and is usually sharp-pointed. It is fitted with a broad tang to a straight haft, usually shorter than the blade. There are in the collection four complete knives and five unhafted blades. No. 89597 [1052] (Fig. 106) is a typical knife of this kind. The blade is of black slate, rather rough, and is 5.6 inches long (including the tang). The tang, which is about one-half inch long and the same breadth, is lashed against one end of the flat haft of bone which is cut away to receive it, with five turns of stout seal thong. No. 89594 [1053] differs from the preceding only in having the tang inserted in a cleft in the end of the haft, and No. 89589a 154 [1054] has the back more curved than the edge, the haft of antler and the lashing of whalebone. All three are of very rude workmanship. No. 89587 [1587], is a small knife with a truncated point and the tang imbedded without lashing in the end of a roughly made haft of bone.

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Fig. 107.—Blades of knives.

Most of the blades are those of knives similar to the type, more smoothly finished, but No. 56712 [226] (Fig. 107a) is noticeable for the extreme “belly” of the edge and the smoothness with which the faces are beveled from back to edge. Such knives approach the woman’s round knife (ulu, ulu´ra). No. 89601 [776] (Fig. 107b) is almost double-edged, the back being rounded off. Fig. 108, No. 89631 [1081], is a very remarkable form of slate knife, of which this was the only specimen seen. In shape it somewhat resembles a hatchet, having a broad triangular blade with a strongly curved cutting edge, along the back of which is fitted a stout haft of bone 12½ inches long. The blade is of soft, dark purple slate, ground smooth, and resembles the modern knives in having the sharp cutting edge beveled almost wholly on one face. The haft is the foreshaft of an old whale harpoon, and is made of whale’s bone. The back of the blade is fitted into a deep narrow saw cut, and held on by three very neat lashings of narrow strips of whalebone, each of which passes through a hole drilled through the blade close to the haft and through a pair of vertical holes in the haft on each side of the blade. These holes converge towards the back of the haft and are joined by a deep channel, so that the lashing is countersunk below the surface of the haft. This implement was brought down from Nuwŭk and offered for sale as a knife anciently used for cutting off the blubber of a whale. The purchaser got the impression that it was formerly attached to a long pole and used like a whale spade. On more careful examination after our return it was discovered that the haft was really part of an old harpoon and that the lashings and holes to receive them were evidently newer than the haft.

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Fig. 108.—Peculiar slate knife.


It is possible that the blade may have been long ago fitted to the haft and that the tool may have been used as described. That knives of this sort were occasionally used by the Eskimo is shown by a specimen in the Museum from Norton Sound. This is smaller than the one described but has a slate blade of nearly the same shape and has a haft, for hand use only, put on in the same way.

With such knives as these the cut is made by drawing the knife toward the user instead of pushing it away, as in using the round knife. We found no evidence that these Eskimo ever used knives of ivory (except for cutting snow) or ivory knives with bits of iron inlaid in the edge, such as have been observed among those of the East.

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Fig. 109.—Knife with whalebone blade.

Fig. 109, No. 89477 [1422], is a very extraordinary implement, which was brought down from Point Barrow and which has evidently been exposed alongside of some corpse at the cemetery. The blade is a long, flat, thin piece of whalebone wedged between the two parts of the haft, which has been sawed lengthwise for 6½ inches to receive it. The haft is a slender piece of antler. No other specimens of the kind were seen, nor have similar implements, to my knowledge, been observed elsewhere. The natives insisted that it was genuine, and was formerly used for cutting blubber.

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Fig. 110.—Small iron knife.

I have introduced four figures of old iron or steel knives, of which we have six specimens, in order to show the way in which the natives in early days, when iron was scarce, utilized old case-knives and bits of tools, fitting them with hafts of their own make. All agree in having the edge beveled on the upper face only. All the knives which they obtain from the whites at the present day are worked over with a file so as to bring the bevel on one face only. Fig. 110, No. 89296 [970], from Nuwŭk, has a blade of iron, and the flat haft is made of two longitudinal sections of reindeer antler, held together with four large rivets nearly equidistant. The two which pass through the tang are of brass and the other two of iron. The blade is 3.6 inches long, the haft 4.1 long and 0.9 broad. Fig. 110, No. 89294 [901], from Utkiavwĭñ, has a short, thick, and sharp-pointed blade, and is hafted in the same way with antler, one section of the haft being cut out to receive the short, thick tang. The first two rivets are of iron, the other three of brass and not quite long enough to go wholly through the haft. The blade is barely 2 inches long. Fig. 111a, No. 89297 [1125], from Nuwŭk, has a short blade, 2½ inches long, and the two sections of the 156 haft are held together, not by rivets, but by a close spiral lasting of stout seal thong extending the whole length of the haft. No. 89293 [1330], Fig. 111b, from Utkiavwĭñ, has a peculiarly shaped blade, which is a bit of some steel tool imbedded in the end of a straight bit of antler 4 inches long. One of these knives, not figured, is evidently part of the blade of an old-fashioned curved case knife. It is stamped with the name “Wilson,” and underneath this are three figures, of which only <> can be made out. This may be a table knife bought or stolen from the Plover in 1852-’54.

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Fig. 111.—Small iron knives.

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Fig. 112.—Iron hunting knife.

There is in the collection one large double-edged knife (Fig. 112, No. 89298 [1162]) of precisely the same form as the slate hunting knife (Fig. 103) and Mr. Nelson’s jade knife previously mentioned. The blade is of thick sheet iron, which has in it a couple of rivet holes, and the haft of reindeer antler in two sections, held together by a large copper rivet at each end and a marline of sinew braid. Each edge has a narrow bevel on one face only, the two edges being beveled on opposite faces. There are a small number of such knives still in use, especially as hunting knives (for cutting up walrus, one man said). They are considered to be better than modern knives for keeping off evil spirits at night. As is not unusual, the antiquity of the object has probably invested it with a certain amount of superstitious regard. These knives are undoubtedly the same as the “double-edged knives (pan´-na)” mentioned by Dr. 157 Simpson (op. cit., p. 266) as brought for sale by the Nunatañmiun, who obtained them from the Siberian natives, and which he believes to be carried as far as the strait of Fury and Hecla. It would be interesting to decide whether the stone hunting knives were an original idea of the Eskimo, or whether they were copies, in stone, of the first few iron knives obtained from Siberia; but more material is needed before the matter can be cleared up.

The natives of Point Barrow, in ordinary conversation, call all knives savĭk, which also means iron, and is identically the same as the word used in Greenland for the same objects. If, then, there was a time, as these people say, when their ancestors were totally ignorant of the use of iron—and the large number of stone implements still found among them is strongly corroborative of this—the use of this name indicates that the first iron was obtained from the east, along with the soapstone lamps, instead of from Siberia. Had it first come from Siberia, as tobacco did, we should expect to find it, like the latter, called by a Russian or Siberian name.

Like all the Eskimo of North America from Cape Bathurst westward, the natives of Point Barrow use for fine whittling and carving on wood, ivory, bone, etc., “crooked knives,” consisting of a small blade, set on the under side of the end of a long curved haft, so that the edge, which is beveled only on the upper face, projects about as much as that of a spokeshave. The curve of blade and haft is such that when the under surface of the blade rests against the surface to be cut the end of the haft points up at an angle of about 45°. This knife differs essentially from the crooked carving knife so generally used by the Indians of North America. As a rule the latter has only the blade (which is often double edged) curved and stuck into the end of a straight haft. These knives are at the present time made of iron or steel and are of two sizes, a large knife, mĭ´dlĭñ, with a haft 10 to 20 inches long, intended for working on wood, and a small one, savigro´n (lit. “an instrument for shaving”), with a haft 6 or 7 inches long and intended specially for cutting bone and ivory. Both sizes are handled in the same way. The knife is held close to the blade between the index and second fingers of the right hand with the thumb over the edge, which is toward the workman. The workman draws the knife toward him, using his thumb as a check to gauge the depth of the cut. The natives use these knives with very great skill, taking off long and very even shavings and producing very neat workmanship.274

There are in the collection four large knives and thirteen small ones. No. 89278 [787] (Fig. 113) will serve as the type of the large knives. The haft is a piece of reindeer antler, flat on one face and rounded on the other, and the curve is toward the rounded face. The flat face is hollowed out by cutting away the cancellated tissue from the bend to 158 the tip, and the lower edge is sloped off so that the end of the haft is flat and narrow, with a slight twist. The blade is riveted to the flat face of the haft with three iron rivets, and is a piece of a saw countersunk flush with the surface of the haft, so that it follows its curvature. The cutting edge is beveled only on the upper face. The lower edge of the haft, from the blade to the place where it begins to narrow, is pierced with eleven equidistant holes, through which is laced a piece of sealskin thong, the two parts crossing like a shoe-lacing, to prevent the hand from slipping. The ornamental pattern on the upper face of the haft is incised and was originally colored with red ocher, but is now filled with dirt.

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Fig. 113.—Large crooked knife.

Fig. 114, No. 89780 [1004d], is a very long hafted knife (the haft is 12.3 inches long), but otherwise resembles the type, though not so elaborately ornamented. The blade is also a bit of a saw. It is provided with a sheath 3¼ inches long, made of black sealskin with the black side out, doubled over at one side, and sewed “over and over” down the other side and round one end. To the open end is sewed a bit of thong with a slit in the end of it, into which one end of a lanyard of seal twine 15 inches long is fastened with a becket-hitch. When the sheath is fitted over the blade the lanyard is passed through a hole in the haft and made fast by two or three turns around it. Such sheaths are often used by careful workmen. This particular knife was the property of the “inlander” Ilû´bwgɐ, previously mentioned. No. 89283 [967], from Nuwŭk, is interesting as being the only left-handed tool we obtained. The fourth knife has a blade with a cutting edge of 3½ inches, while that of each of the others is 3 inches.

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Fig. 114.—Large crooked knife, with sheath.

The small knife differs little from the mĭ´dlĭñ except in having the haft very much shorter and not tapered off at the tip. Fig. 115a, No. 56552 [145], from Utkiavwĭñ, shows a common form of this kind of knife, though the blade usually has a sharp point like those of the large 159 knives, projecting beyond the end of the haft. This knife has a blade of iron riveted on with two iron rivets to a haft of reindeer antler. The edges of the haft close to the blade are roughened with crosscuts to prevent slipping.

The blades of the small knives are frequently inserted into a cleft in the edge of the haft, as in Fig. 115b, 89632 [827], and 89277 [1172]. The blade, in such cases, is secured by wedging it tightly, with sometimes the addition of a lashing of thong through a hole in the haft and round the heel of the blade. The blade is usually of steel, in most cases a bit of a saw and the haft of reindeer antler, generally plain, unless the circular hollows, such as are to be seen on No. 89277 [1172], which are very common, are intended for ornament. Fig. 116, No. 89275 [1183], from Utkiavwĭñ, is a rather peculiar knife. The haft, which is the only one seen of walrus ivory, is nearly straight, and the unusually long point of the blade is strongly bent up. The rivets are of copper. This knife, the history of which we did not obtain, was very likely meant both for wood and ivory. It is old and rusty and has been long in use.

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Fig. 115.—Small crooked knives.

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Fig. 116.—Crooked knife.

All of the crooked knives in the collection are genuine implements which have been actually in use, and do not differ in type from the crooked knives in the Museum from the Mackenzie district, Kotzebue Sound, and other parts of Alaska. Similar knives appear to be used among the Siberian Eskimo and the Chukches, who have adopted their habits. Hooper (Tents, etc., p. 175), mentions “a small knife with a bent blade and a handle, generally made of the tip of a deer’s horn,” as one in general use at Plover Bay, and handled in the same skillful way 160 as at Point Barrow.275 Among the Eskimo of the central region they are almost entirely unknown. The only mention I have seen of such tools is in Parry’s Second Voyage (p. 504), where he speaks of seeing at Iglulik “several open knives with crooked wooden handles,” which he thinks “must have been obtained by communication alongshore with Hudson Bay.” I can find no specimen, figure, or description of the sa´nat (“tool”), the tool par excellence of the Greenlanders, except the following definition in Kleinschmidt’s “Grønlandsk Ordbog”: “2. Specially a narrow, long-hafted knife, which is sharpened on one side and slightly curved at the tip (and which is a Greenlander’s chief tool).” This seems to indicate that this knife, so common in the West, is equally common in Greenland.276

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Fig. 117.—Crooked knives, flint bladed.

Whether these people used crooked knives before the introduction of iron is by no means certain, though not improbable. Fig. 117a, No. 89633 [1196], from Utkiavwĭñ, is a knife made by imbedding a flake of gray flint in the lower edge of a haft of reindeer antler, of the proper shape and curvature for a mĭdlĭñ handle. The haft is soiled and undoubtedly old, while the flaked surfaces of the flint do not seem fresh, and the edge shows slight nicks, as if it had been used. Had this knife been followed by others equally genuine looking, I should have no hesitation in pronouncing it a prehistoric knife, and the ancestor of the present steel one. The fact, however, that its purchase gave rise to the manufacture of a host of flint knives all obviously new and more and more clumsily made, until we refused to buy any more, leads me to suspect that it was fabricated with very great care from old material, and skillfully soiled by the maker.

Ten of these knives of flint were purchased within a fortnight before we detected the deceit. Fig. 117b, No. 89636 [1212] is one of the best of these counterfeits, made by wedging a freshly flaked flint blade into the haft of an old savigrón, which has been somewhat trimmed to receive the blade and soiled and charred to make it look old. Other more carelessly made ones had clumsily carved handles of whale’s bone, with roughly flaked flints stuck into them and glued in with oil dregs. All of these came from Utkiavwĭñ. Another suspicious circumstance is that a few days previously two slate-bladed crooked knives had been brought down from Nuwŭk and accepted without question as ancient. On examining the specimens since our return, I find that while the hafts are certainly old, the blades, which are of soft slate easily worked, 161 are as certainly new. Fig. 118a, 118b, represent these two knives (89580 [1062], 89586 [1061]), which have the blades lashed on with deer sinew. It is worthy of note in this connection that there are no stone knives of this pattern in the museum from any other locality.

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Fig. 118.—Slate-bladed crooked knives.

The women employ for all purposes for which a knife or scissors could be used a semicircular knife of the same general type as those described by every writer from the days of Egede, who has had to deal with the Eskimo. The knives at the present day are made of steel, usually, and perhaps always, of a piece of a saw blade, which gives a sheet of steel of the proper breadth and thickness, and are manufactured by the natives themselves. Dr. Simpson says277 that in his time they were brought from Kotzebue Sound by the Nunatañmiun, who obtained them from the Siberian Eskimo. There are in the collection three of these steel knives, all of the small size generally called ulúrɐ (“little úlu”). No. 56546 [14] has been picked out for description (Fig. 119). The blade is wedged into a handle of walrus ivory. The ornamentation on the handle is of incised lines and dots blackened. The cutting edge of the blade is beveled on one face only. This knife represents the general shape of knives of this sort, but is rather smaller than most of them. I have seen some knives with blades fully 5 or 6 inches long and deep in proportion. The handle is almost always of walrus ivory and of the shape figured. I do not remember ever seeing an úlu blade secured otherwise than by fitting it tightly into a narrow slit in the handle, except in one case, when the handle was part of the original handle of the saw of which the knife was made, left still riveted on.

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Fig. 119.—Woman’s knife, steel blade.

It is not necessary to specify the various purposes for which these knives are used. Whenever a woman wishes to cut anything, from her food to a thread in her sewing, she uses an úlu in preference to anything else. The knife is handled precisely as described among the eastern Eskimo, making the cut by pushing instead of drawing,278 thus differing from the long-handled round knife mentioned above. Knives of this 162 pattern are very generally used among the western Eskimo, but in the east the blade is always separated from the handle by a short shank, as in our mincing knives.

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Fig. 120.—Woman’s knife, slate blade.

The natives of Point Barrow used round knives long before the introduction of iron. There are in the collection twenty-three more or less complete round knives of stone, most of which are genuine implements that have been used. Of these a few, which are perhaps the more recent ones, have blades not unlike the modern steel knife. For instance, No. 89680 [1106] Fig. 120, has a blade of hard gray mica slate of almost precisely the modern shape, but both faces are gradually worked down to the cutting edge without a bevel on either. The handle is very large and stout and made of coarse whale’s bone. This knife was said to have come from the ruined village at Pernyɐ. Fig. 121, No. 89679 [971], from Nuwŭk, was made for sale, but is perhaps a model of a form sometimes used. The shape of the blade is quite different from those now in use, in having the cutting edge turned so strongly to the front. The handle is of oak and the blade of rather hard, dark purple slate. Fig. 122, 89689 [985], also from Nuwŭk, and made for the market, is introduced to show a method of hafting which may have been formerly employed. The haft is of reindeer antler in two longitudinal sections, between which the blade is wedged. These two sections are held together by lashings of sinew at each end, passing through holes in each piece and round the ends. These lashings being put on wet, have shrunk so that the blade is very tightly clasped between the two parts of the handle. The commoner form of these stone knives, however, has the back of the blade much longer, so that the sides are straight instead of oblique and usually round off gradually at the ends of the cutting edge without being produced into a point at either end. No. 89682 [958] is a form intermediate between this and the modern shape, having a blade with a long back, but produced into a sharp point at one end. The handle is of reindeer antler and the blade rather soft black slate. This specimen is a very cleverly counterfeited antique.

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Fig. 121.—Woman’s knife, slate blade.

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Fig. 122.—Woman’s knife, slate blade.

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Fig. 123.—Woman’s knife, slate blade.

No. 89636 [1122], Fig. 123, approaches yet nearer the ancient shape, but still has one end slightly produced. The handle is also of reindeer antler, which seems to have been very commonly used with the slate blades. The lashing round the blade close to the handle is of seal 163 thong, with the end wound spirally round all the parts on both sides and neatly tucked in. It seems to serve no purpose beyond enlarging the handle so as to make it fit the hand better. One beautiful blade of light olive green, clouded jade, No. 89675 [1170], belonged to a knife of this pattern. The older pattern is represented by No. 89676 [1586], a small knife blade from Ukiavwĭñ, which has been kept as an amulet. No. 56660 [129], is a blade of the same type, but elongated, being 7½ inches long and 2 broad. This is a very beautiful implement of pale olive jade, ground smooth. The bevel along the back of each of these blades indicates that they were to be fitted into a narrow slit in a long haft, like that of No. 89684 [886], Fig. 124, from Nuwŭk. Though both blade and handle of this specimen are very old, and have been put together in their present shape for a long time, the handle, which is of whale’s bone, evidently belonged to a longer blade, which fitted in the cleft without the need of any lashing. Fig. 125, No. 89693 [874], shows a form of handle evidently of very great antiquity, as the specimen shows signs of great age. It was purchased from a native of Utkiavwĭñ. It is made of a single piece of coarse whale’s bone. It was intended for a blade at least 7 inches long.

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Fig. 124.—Woman’s ancient slate-bladed knife.

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Fig. 125.—Ancient bone handle for woman’s knife.

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Fig. 126.—Large knife of slate.

Fig. 126, No. 56672 [191], from Utkiavwĭñ, is a very crude, large knife, intended for use without a handle. It is of rough, hard, dark purplish slate. The upper three-quarters of both faces are almost untouched cleavage surfaces, but the lower quarter is pretty smoothly ground down to a semicircular cutting edge, which is somewhat nicked from use. 164 The angular grooves on the two faces were evidently begun with the intention of cutting the knife in two. We were told that this large knife was specially for cutting blubber. It is a genuine antique.

While ground slate is a quite common material for round knives, flint appears to have been rarely used. We obtained only three of this material. No. 89690 [1311] is a flint knife hafted with a rough, irregular lump of coarse whale’s bone. The blade is a rather thin “spall” of light gray flint, flaked round the edges into the shape of a modern ulúrɐ blade, with a very strongly curved cutting edge. Though the handle is new, the flaking of the blade does not seem fresh, so that it is possibly a genuine old blade fitted with a new haft for the market. A similar flint blade, more neatly flaked, was brought from Kotzebue Sound by Lieut. Stoney, U.S. Navy, in 1884. The other two flint knives are interesting from being made for use without handles.

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Fig. 127.—Woman’s knife of flaked flint.

No. 89691 [1360], Fig. 127, from Sidaru, is an oblong, wedge-shaped spall of gray flint, of which the back still preserves the natural surface of the pebble. It is slightly shaped by coarse flaking along the back and one end, and the edge is finely flaked into a curved outline rounding up at the ends. The specimen is old and dirty, and was probably preserved as a sort of heirloom or amulet. No. 89692 [1178] is a similar spall from a round pebble. Such knives as these are evidently the first steps in the development of the round knife. The shape of the spalls, produced by breaking a round or oval pebble of flint, would naturally suggest using them as knives, and the next step would be to improve the edge by flaking. The greater adaptability of slate, from its softness and easy cleavage, for making such knives would soon be recognized, and we should expect to find, as we do, knives like No. 56672 [191]. The next step would naturally be to provide such a knife with a haft at the point where the stone was grasped by the hand, while reducing this haft so as to leave only just enough for the grasp and cutting away the superfluous corners of the blade would give us the modern form of the blade. Round knives of slate are not peculiar to Point Barrow, but have been collected in many other places in northwestern America.279

The relationship between these knives and the semilunar slate blades found in the North Atlantic States has already been ably discussed by Dr. Charles Rau.280 It must, however, be borne in mind that while these are sufficiently “fish-cutters” to warrant their admission into a book on fishing, the cutting of fish is but a small part of the work they do. The name “fish-cutter,” as applied to these knives, would be no more 165 distinctive than the name “tobacco-cutter” for a Yankee’s jackknife.281

Adzes (udlimau).—

Even at the present day the Eskimo of Point Barrow use no tool for shaping large pieces of woodwork, except a shorthandled adz, hafted in the same manner as the old stone tools which were employed before the introduction of iron. Though axes and hatchets are frequently obtained by trading, they are never used as such, but the head is removed and rehafted so as to make an adz of it. This habit is not peculiar to the people of Point Barrow. There is a hatchet head, mounted in the same way, from the Anderson River, in the Museum collection, and the same thing was noted in Hudson’s Strait by Capt. Lyon282 and at Iglulik by Capt. Parry.283 Mr. L. M. Turner informs me that the Eskimo of Ungava, on the south side of Hudson’s Strait, who have been long in contact with the whites, have learned to use axes. The collection contains two such adzes made from small hatchets. No. 89873 [972], Fig. 128, is the more typical of the two. The blade is the head of a small hatchet or tomahawk lashed to the haft of oak with a stout thong of seal hide. The lashing is one piece, and is put on wet and shrunk tightly on. This tool is a little longer in the haft than those commonly used, and the shape and material of the haft is a little unusual, it being generally elliptical in section and made of soft wood.

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Fig. 128.—Hatchet hafted as an adz.

Fig. 129, No. 56638 [309], from Utkiavwĭñ, is a similar adz, but the head has been narrowed by cutting off pieces from the sides (done by filing part way through and breaking the piece off), and a deep transverse groove has been cut on the front face near the butt. Part of the lashing is held in this groove as well as by the eye, the lower half of which is filled up with a wooden plug. The haft is peculiar in being a 166 piece of reindeer antler which has been reduced in thickness by sawing out a slice for 8 inches from the butt and bringing the two parts together with four stout wooden treenails about 1½ inches apart. This is preferable to trimming it down to a proper thickness from the surface, as the latter process would remove the compact tissue of the outside and expose the soft inside tissue. The whipping of seal thong just above the flange of the butt helps to give a better grip and, at the same time, to hold the parts together. As before, there are two large holes for the lashing. Adzes of this sort are used for all large pieces of wood work, such as timbers for boats, planks, and beams for houses, etc. After roughly dressing these out with the adz they are neatly smoothed off with the crooked knife, or sometimes, of late years, with the plane. The work of “getting out” the large pieces of wood is almost always done where the drift log lies on the beach. When a man wants a new stem or sternpost for his umiak, or a plank to repair his house, he searches along the beach until he finds a suitable piece of driftwood, which he claims by putting a mark on it, and sometimes hauls up out of the way of the waves. Then, when he has leisure to go at the work, he goes out with his adz and spends the day getting it into shape and reducing it to a convenient size to carry home, either slung on his back or, if too large, on a dog-sled. A man seldom takes the trouble to carry home more of a piece of timber than he actually needs for the purpose in hand.

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Fig. 129.—Hatchet hafted as an adz.

The adz was in general use long before the introduction of iron. There is in the collection a very interesting series of ancient tools, showing the gradual development of the implement from a rude oblong block of stone worked down to a cutting edge on one end, to the steel adzes of the present day. They have, however, not even yet learned to make an eye in the head of the tool in which to insert the haft, but all tools of this class—adzes, hammers, picks, and mattocks—are lashed, with one face resting against the expanded end of the haft. Firmness is obtained by putting the lashing on wet and allowing it to shrink tight. Nearly all these ancient adzes are of jade, a material well adapted for the purpose by its hardness, which, however, renders 167 it difficult to work. Probably the oldest of these adzes is No. 56675 [69], Fig. 130, which has been selected as the type of the earliest form we have represented in the collection. This is of dark olive green, almost black, jade, 7.2 inches long, 2.8 wide, and 1.3 thick, and smoothly ground on the broader faces. The cutting edge is much broken from long use. One broad face is pretty smoothly ground, but left rough at the butt end. The other is rather flatter, but more than half of it is irregularly concave, the natural inequalities being hardly touched by grinding. Like the other dark-colored jade tools, this specimen is very much lighter on a freshly fractured surface. The dark color is believed to be due to long contact with greasy substances.

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Fig. 130.—Adz-head of jade.

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Fig. 131.—Adz-head of jade.

No. 89662 [900], from Nuwŭk, is an exceedingly rough adz of similar shape, but so slightly ground that it is probably one that was laid aside unfinished. From the battered appearance of the ends it seems to have been used for a hammer. It is of the same dark jade as the preceding. No. 89689 [792], from Utkiavwĭñ, is of rather light olive, opaque jade and a trifle better finished than the type, while No. 89661 [1155], Fig. 131, also from Utkiavwĭñ, is a still better piece of workmanship, the curve of the faces to the cutting edge being very graceful. The interesting point about this specimen is that a straight piece has been cut off from one side by sawing down smoothly from each face almost to the middle and breaking the piece off. We were informed that this was done to procure rods of jade for making knife sharpeners. We were informed that these stones were cut in the same way as marble and freestone are cut with us, namely, by sawing with a flat blade of iron and sand and water. A thin lamina of hard bone was probably used before the introduction of iron. Possibly a reindeer scapula, cut like the one made 168 into a saw (No. 89476 [1206], Fig. 147), but without teeth, was used for this purpose.

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Fig. 132.—Hafted jade adz.

That such stone blades were used with a haft is shown by the only hafted specimen, No. 56628 [214], Fig. 132, from Nuwŭk. This is a rather small adz. The head of dark green jade differs from those already described only in dimensions, being 4 inches long, 2.1 wide, and 1.7 thick. The haft is of reindeer antler and in shape much like that of No. 56638 [309], but has only one hole for the lashing. The lashing is of the usual stout seal thong and put on in the usual fashion. No. 89673 [1423] is an old black adz from Sidaru of the same pattern as those described, but very smoothly and neatly made. About one-half of this specimen has been cut off for whetstones, etc.

The next step is to make the lashing more secure by cutting transverse grooves on the upper face of the head to hold the thong in place. This has been done on No. 56667 [215], figured in Point Barrow Rept., Ethnology, Pl. II, Fig. 5, an adz of dark olive green jade, from Utkiavwĭñ, which shows two such grooves, broad and shallow, running across the upper face. Of these two classes the collection contains thirteen unhafted specimens and one hafted specimen, all of jade. As cutting these grooves in the stone is a laborious process, the device of substituting some more easily worked substance for the back part of the head would naturally suggest itself.

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Fig. 133.—Adz-head of jade and bone.

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Fig. 134.—Adz-head of bone and iron, without eyes.

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Fig. 135.—Adz-head of bone and iron, with vertical eyes.

Fig. 133, No. 89658 [1072], from Utkiavwĭñ, has a long blade of black stone with the butt slightly tapered off and imbedded in a body of whale’s bone, which has a channel 1 inch wide, for the lashing, cut round 169 it and a shallow socket on the face to receive the end of the haft. Adz heads of this same type continued in use till after the introduction of iron, which was at first utilized by inserting a flat blade of iron into just such a body, as is shown in Fig. 134 (No. 89877 [752], from the cemetery at Utkiavwĭñ).

From this type to that shown in Fig. 135 (No. 89876 [696] brought by the natives from the ruins on the Kulugrua) the transition is easy. Suppose, for the greater protection of the lashings, we inclose the channels on the sides of the head—in other words, bore holes instead of cutting grooves—we have exactly this pattern, namely, vertical eyes on each side of the head joined by transverse channels on the upper face. The specimen figured has on each side two oblong slots with a round eye between them. The blade is of iron, Fig. 136, No. 56640 [260] has two eyes on each side, and shows a different method of attaching the blade, which is countersunk flush with the upper surface of the body and secured with three stout iron rivets. The next step is to substitute horizontal eyes for the vertical ones, so as to have only one set of holes to thread the lashings through. This is seen in No. 89869 [878], Fig. 137, from Nuwŭk, which in general pattern closely resembles No. 89876 [696], but has three large horizontal eyes instead of the vertical ones. The blade is of iron and the haft of whale’s bone. The lashing is essentially the same as that of the modern adz, No. 56638 [309].

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Fig. 136.—Adz-head of bone and iron, with vertical eyes.

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Fig. 137.—Hafted bone and iron adz.

That this final type of hafting was reached before stone had gone out of use for such implements is shown by Fig. 138, No. 89839 [769], from Utkiavwĭñ, which, while very like the last in shape, has a blade 170 of hard, dark purple slate. The haft is of reindeer antler. The lashing has the short end knotted to the long part after making the first round, instead of being slit to receive the latter. Otherwise it is of the usual pattern. These composite adzes of bone and stone or iron seemed to have been common at the end of the period when stone was exclusively used and when iron first came into use in small quantities, and a good many have been preserved until the present day. We obtained four hafted and six unhafted specimens, besides seven jade blades for such composite adzes, which are easily recognizable by their small size and their shape. They are usually broad and rather thin, and narrowed to the butt, as is seen in Fig. 139, No. 56685 [71], a beautiful little adz of bright green jade 2.8 inches long and 2.3 wide, from Utkiavwĭñ. No. 56670 [246] also from Utkiavwĭñ, is a similar blade of greenish jade slightly larger, being 3.4 inches long and 2 inches wide. No. 89670 [1092] is a tiny blade of hard, fine-grained black stone, probably oil-soaked jade, only 1.7 inches long and 1.5 wide. It is very smoothly ground. Such little adzes, we were told, were especially used for cutting bone. The implement,284 which Nordenskiöld calls a “stone chisel,” found in the ruins of an old Eskimo house at Cape North, is evidently the head of one of these little bone adzes, as is plainly seen on comparing this figure with the larger adzes figured above.

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Fig. 138.—Hafted bone and stone adz.

I have figured two more composite adzes, which are quite different from the rest. No. 89838 [1109], Fig. 140, has a blade of neatly flaked gray flint, but this as well as the unusually straight haft is newly 171 made. These are fitted to a very old bone body, which when whole was not over 3 inches long, and was probably part of a little bone adz. There is no evidence that these people ever used flint adzes. Fig. 141, No. 89872 [785], is introduced to show how the native has utilized an old cooper’s adz, of which the eye was probably broken, by fitting it with a bone body.

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Fig. 139.—Small adz-blade of green jade.

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Fig. 140.—Hafted adz of bone and flint.

While the adzes already described appear to have been the predominating types, another form was sometimes used. Fig. 142, No. 89874 [964], from Nuwŭk, represents this form. The haft is of whale’s rib, 1 foot long, and the head of bone, apparently whale’s scapula, 5.6 inches long and 2.8 inches wide on the edge. There is an adze in the Museum from the Mackenzie River region with a steel blade of precisely the same pattern. That adzes of this pattern sometimes had stone blades is probable. No. 89840 [1317], is a clumsily made commercial tool of this type, with a small head of greenish slate. It has an unusually straight haft, which is disproportionately long and thick.

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Fig. 141.—Old cooper’s adz, rehafted.

All these adzes, ancient and modern, are hafted upon essentially the same pattern. The short curved haft, the shape of which is sufficiently well indicated by the figures, seems to have been generally made of whale’s rib or reindeer antler, both of which have a natural curve suited 172 to the shape of the haft. A “branch” of a reindeer’s antler is particularly well suited for the haft of a small adze. Not only does it have naturally the proper dimensions and a suitable curve, but it is very easy, by cutting out a small segment of the “beam” where the “branch” starts from it, to make a flange of a convenient shape for fitting to the head. Antler is besides easily obtained, not only when the deer is killed for food, but by picking up shed antlers on the tundra, and is consequently employed for many purposes. The haft usually has a knob at the tip to keep the hand from slipping, and the grip is sometimes roughened with cross cuts or wound with thong. There are usually as many holes for the lashing as there are eyes in the head, though there are two holes when the head has only one large eye. On the bone heads, the surfaces to which the haft is applied and the channels for the lashings are roughened with cross cuts to prevent slipping. The lashing always follows the same general plan, though no two adzes are lashed exactly alike. The plan may be summarized as follows: One end of the thong makes a turn through one of the holes in the haft, and around or through the head. This turn is then secured, usually by passing the long end through a slit in the short end and hauling this loop taut, sometimes by knotting the short end to the long part, or by catching the short end down under the next turn. The long part then makes several turns round or through the head and through the haft, sometimes also crossing around the latter, and the whole is then finished off by wrapping the end two or three times around the turns on one side and tucking it neatly underneath. This is very like the method of lashing on the heads of the mauls already described, but the mauls have only one hole in the haft, and there are rarely any turns around the latter.

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Fig. 142.—Adz with bone blade.

Jade adz blades, like those already described, have been brought by Mr. Nelson from Kotzebue Sound, the Diomedes, St. Michaels, etc., and one came from as far south as the Kuskoquim River.


We collected a number of small short handled chisels, resembling the implements called “trinket makers,” of which there are so many in the National Museum. We never happened to see them in actual use, but were informed that they were especially designed for working 173 on reindeer antler. Of the eight specimens collected No. 89302 [884], Fig. 143, has been selected as a type of the antler chisel (kĭ´ñnusa). The blade is of steel, and the haft is of reindeer antler, in two longitudinal sections, put together at right angles to the plane of the blade, held together by a stout round bone treenail 2½ inches from the butt. The square tip of the blade is beveled on both faces to a rough cutting edge. Fig. 144 (No. 89301) [1000] has a small blade with an oblique tip not beveled to an edge, and a haft of walrus ivory yellowed from age, and ornamented with rows of rings, each with a dot in the center, all incised and colored with red ocher. The two parts of the haft are fastened together by a stout wooden treenail and a stitch of whalebone.

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Fig. 143.—Antler chisel.

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Fig. 144.—Antler chisel.

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Fig. 145.—Spurious tool, flint blade.

The rest of the steel-bladed chisels, four in number, are all of about the same size and hafted with antler. The blades are somewhat irregular in shape, but all have square or oblique tips and no sharp edge. Three of them have the sections of the haft put together as described, and fastened by a treenail and a whipping of seal twine or sinew braid at the tip. One has the two sections put together in the plane of the blade and fastened with a large copper rivet, which also passes through the butt of the blade, and three stout iron ones. The hafts of all these tools show signs of much handling. The remaining two specimens have blades of black flint. No. 89637 [1207], has a haft of walrus ivory, of the usual pattern, fastened together by a bone treenail and two stitches, one of sinew braid and one of seal thong. The lashing of seal twine near the tip serves to mend a crack. The haft is old and rusty about the slot into which the blade is fitted, showing that it originally had an iron blade. The flint blade was probably put in to make it seem ancient, as there was a special demand for prehistoric articles. No. 89653 [1290], Fig. 145, is nothing but a fanciful tool made to meet this demand. The haft is of light-brown mountain sheep horn, and the blade of black flint. Such flint-bladed tools may have been used formerly, but there is no proof that they were.

Whalebone shaves.

There is in use at Point Barrow, and apparently not elsewhere among the Eskimo, a special tool for shaving whalebone, a substance which is very much used in the form of long, thin strips for fastening together boat timbers, whipping spear shafts, etc. The 174 thin, long shavings which curl up like “curled hair,” are carefully saved and used for the padding between stocking and boot. Whalebone is also sometimes shaved for this special purpose. The tool is essentially a little spokeshave about 4 inches long, which is held by the index and second finger of the right hand, one on each handle, with the thumb pressed against one end, and is drawn toward the workman. The collection contains three specimens of the ordinary form (sávigɐ), represented by No. 89306 [885] (figured in Point Barrow Report, Ethnology, Pl. III, Fig. 6). This has a steel blade and a haft of walrus ivory. The upper face of the haft is convex and the under flat, and the blade, which is beveled only on the upper face, is set at a slight inclination to the flat face of the haft. The edge of the blade projects 0.2 inch from the haft above and 0.3 below. The hole at one end of the haft is for a lanyard to hang it up by. The other two are of essentially the same pattern, but have hafts of reindeer antler.

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Fig. 146.—Whalebone shave, slate blade.

The collection also contains six tools of this description, with stone blades, but they are all new and very carelessly made, with hafts of coarse-grained bone. The shape of the tools is shown in Fig. 146, No. 89649 [1213], from Utkiavwĭñ, which has a rough blade of soft, light greenish slate. The other five have blades of black or gray flint, roughly flaked. All these blades are glued in with oil dregs. No. 89652 [1225] is like the others in shape, but more neatly made, and is peculiar in having a blade of hard, compact bone. This is inserted by sawing a deep, narrow slit along one side of the haft from end to end. The blade is wedged into the middle of the slit, the ends of which are neatly filled in with slips of the same material as the haft. This was the only tool of the kind seen. It is very probable that shaves of stone were formerly used, though we obtained no genuine specimens. The use of oblong chips of flint for this purpose would naturally suggest itself to a savage, and the convenience of fitting these flakes into a little haft would soon occur to him. No. 89616 [1176] is such an oblong flint, flaked to an edge on one face, which is evidently old, and which was said to have been used for shaving whalebone. The material is black flint. Whalebone is often shaved nowadays with a common knife. The slab of bone is laid upon the thigh and the edge of the knife pressed firmly against it, with the blade perpendicular to the surface of the slab, which is drawn rapidly under it.


If the Eskimo had not already invented the saw before they became acquainted with the whites they readily adopted the tool even when they had scanty materials for making it. Crantz285 speaks of “a little lock saw” as one of a Greenlander’s regular tools in his time, and Egede286 mentions handsaws as a regular article of trade. Capt. Parry287 175 found the natives of Iglulik, in 1821-1823, using a saw made of a notched piece of iron. On our asking Nĭkawa´alu, one day, what they had for tools before they got iron he said that they had drills made of seal bones and saws made of the shoulder blade of the reindeer. Some time afterwards he brought over a model of such a saw, which he said was exactly like those formerly used. Fig. 147, No. 89476 [1206], represents this specimen. It is made by cutting off the anterior edge of a reindeer’s scapula in a straight line parallel to the posterior edge and cutting fine saw teeth on this thin edge. The spine is also cut off nearly flat. This makes a tool very much like a carpenter’s backsaw, the narrow part of the scapula forming a convenient handle.

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Fig. 147.—Saw made of deer’s scapula.

Fig. 148, No. 56559 [15], shows how other implements were utilized before it was easy to obtain saws in plenty. It is a common case knife stamped on the blade, “Wilson, Hawksworth, ——n & Co., Sheffield,” which perhaps came from the Plover, with saw teeth cut on the edge. It was picked up at the Utkiavwĭñ cemetery, where it had been exposed with a corpse. Saws are now a regular article of trade, and most of the natives are provided with them of various styles and makes. The name for saw is uluă´ktun.

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Fig. 148.—Saw made of a case-knife.

Drills and borers.

The use of the bow drill appears to be universal among the Eskimo. Those at present employed at Point Barrow do not differ from the large series collected at the Mackenzie and Anderson rivers by MacFarlane. The drill is a slender rod of steel worked to a drill point and imbedded in a stout wooden shaft, which is tapered to a rounded tip. This fits into a stone socket imbedded in a wooden block, which is held between the teeth, so that the point of the drill can be pressed down against the object to be drilled by the head, leaving both hands free to work the short bow, which has a loose string of thong long enough to make one turn round the shaft. The collection contains ten of these modern steel or iron drills, fifteen bows, and seven mouthpieces. No. 89502 [853], figured in Point Barrow Rept., Ethnology, Pl. II, Fig. 1, has been selected as a typical drill (niă´ktun). The drill is a cylindrical rod of steel beaten out into a small lanceolate point, which is filed sharp on the edges. The shaft is made of hard wood. The remaining drills are of essentially the same pattern, varying in total length from about 11 inches to 16½.

Fig. 149, No. 89499 [968] shows a somewhat unusual shape of shaft. The lashings round the large end are to keep it from splitting any more 176 than it has done already. The drill is of iron and the shaft of spruce, which was once painted with red ocher.

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Fig. 149.—Bow drill.

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Fig. 150.—Bow drill and mouthpiece.

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Fig. 151.—Bow drill.

No. 89497 [819] (Fig. 150) has a ferrule of coarse-grained bone neatly pegged on with two small pegs of the same material. This is unusual with steel drills. The shaft is of spruce and of the same shape as in the preceding specimen. No. 89595 [875] (Fig. 151) is figured to show the way in which the shaft has been mended. A wedge-shaped piece 3½ inches long and 0.3 to 0.4 inch wide has been split out of the large end and replaced by a fresh piece of wood neatly fitted in and secured by two tight whippings of sinew braid, each in a deep groove.

No. 89515 [861], figured in Point Barrow Report, Ethnology, Pl. II, Fig. 2, is a typical bow (pizĭksuá) for use with these drills. It is of walrus ivory, 16 inches long and oval in section. Through each end is drilled a transverse hole. A string of seal thong 21 inches long is looped into one of these holes by passing one end of the thong through the hole, cutting a slit in it, and passing the other end through this. The other end is passed through the other hole and knotted at the tip.

These bows vary slightly in dimensions, but are not less than a foot or more than 16 inches long, and are almost always of walrus ivory. No. 89508 [956] (Fig. 152), is an old and rudely made bow of whalebone, which is more strongly arched than usual, and has the string attached to notches at the ends instead of into holes. This was said to belong with an old bone drill, No. 89498 [956]. Both came from Nuwŭk. These bows are often highly ornamented both by carving and with incised patterns colored with red ocher or soot. The following figures are introduced to show some of the different styles of ornamentation.

Fig. 153a, No. 56506 [298] is unusually broad and flat and was probably made for a handle to a tool bag. Such handles, however, appear 177 to be also used for drill bows. The tips of this bow represent seals heads, and have good sized sky-blue glass beads inserted for eyes. The rest of the ornamentation is incised and blackened. Fig. 153b, No. 89421 [1260], from Utkiavwĭñ, is a similar bow, which has incised on the back figures of men and animals, which, perhaps, tell of some real event. Mr. L. M. Turner informs me that the natives of Norton Sound keep a regular record of hunting and other events engraved in this way upon their drill bows, and that no one ever ventures to falsify these records. We did not learn definitely that such was the rule at Point Barrow, but we have one bag-handle marked with whales, which we were told indicated the number killed by the owner. Fig. 153c, No. 89425 [1732], from Utkiavwĭñ, is a similar bow, ornamented on the back with simply an incised border colored red. On the other side are the figures of ten bearded seals, cross-hatched and blackened. These are perhaps a “score.” Fig. 153d, No. 89509 [914], from Nuwŭk, is a bow of the common pattern, but ornamented by carving the back into a toothed keel.

Fig. 153e, No. 89510 [961], from Utkiavwĭñ, is ornamented on one side only with an incised pattern, which is blackened. Fig. 153f, No. 89511 [961], also from Utkiavwĭñ, has, in addition to the incised and blackened pattern, a small transparent sky-blue glass bead inlaid in the middle of the back. Fig. 153g, No. 89512 [836], from the same place, is a flat bow with the edges carved into scallops. The incised line along the middle of the back is colored with red ocher. The string is made of sinew braid.

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Fig. 152.—Drill bow.

Fig. 154, No. 89777 [1004b], which belongs in the “kit” of Ilû´bw’ga, the Nunatañmiun, previously mentioned, is interesting from having been lengthened 3¼ inches by riveting on a piece of reindeer antler at one end. The two pieces are neatly joined in a “lap splice” about 2 inches long and fastened with three iron rivets. The owner appears to have concluded that his drill bow was too short when he was at home, in the interior, where he could obtain no walrus ivory. The incised pattern on the back is colored with red ocher.

The mouthpiece (kĭ´ñmia) consists of a block of hard stone (rarely iron), in which is hollowed out a round cup-like socket, large enough to receive the tip of the drill shaft, imbedded in a block of wood of a suitable size to hold between the teeth. This block often has curved flanges 178 on each side, which rest against the cheeks. Such mouthpieces are common all along the coast from the Anderson River to Norton Sound, as is shown by the Museum collection. No. 89500 [800], figured in Point Barrow Report, Ethnology, Pl. II, Fig. 3, is a type of the flanged mouthpiece. The block is of pine, carved into a thick, broad arch, with a large block on the inside. Into the top of the arch is inlaid a piece of gray porphyry with black spots, which is slightly convex on the surface, so as to project a little above the surface of the wood. In the middle of the stone is a cup-shaped cavity one-half inch in diameter and of nearly the same depth. This is a rather large mouthpiece, being 6 inches across from one end of the arch to the other.

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Fig. 153.—Drill bows.

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Fig. 154.—Spliced drill bow.

There are two other specimens of the same pattern, both rather smaller. No. 89503 [891], Fig. 150, from Nuwŭk, has the stone of black and white syenite. This specimen is very old and dirty, and worn through to the stone on one side, where the teeth have come against it. No. 89787 [1004c], Fig. 155, is almost exactly the same shape as the type, but has 179 for a socket a piece of iron 1.1 inches square, hollowed out as usual. The outside of the wood has been painted with red ocher, but this is mostly worn off. This mouthpiece belonged to Ilû´bw’ga.

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Fig. 155.—Drill mouthpiece, with iron socket.

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Fig. 156.—Drill mouthpiece without wings.

Fig. 156, No. 89505 [892], from Utkiavwĭñ, represents the pattern which is perhaps rather commoner than the preceding. The wood, which holds the socket of black and white syenite, is simply an elliptical block of spruce. The remaining three specimens are of the same pattern and of the same material as the last, except No. 89507 [908], from Nuwŭk, in which the wood is oak. As it appears very old, this wood may have come from the Plover.

When not in use, the point of the drill is sometimes protected with a sheath. One such sheath was obtained, No. 89447 [1112], figured in Point Barrow Report, Ethnology, Pl. II, Fig. 1. It is of walrus ivory, 3-6 inches long. The end of a piece of thong is passed through the eye and the other part fastened round the open end with a marline-hitch, catching down the end. This leaves a lanyard 9¼ inches long, which is hitched or knotted round the shaft of the drill when the sheath is fitted over the point.

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Fig. 157.—Bone-pointed drill.

The drills above described are used for perforating all sorts of material, wood, bone, ivory, metal, etc., and are almost the only boring implements used, even awls being unusual. Before the introduction of iron, the point was made of one of the small bones from a seal’s leg. We obtained four specimens of these bone drills, of which two, at least, appear to be genuine. No. 89498 [956], Fig. 157, is one of these, from Nuwŭk. The shaft is of the ordinary pattern and made of some hard wood, but the point is a roughly cylindrical rod of bone, expanding at the point, where it is convex on one face and concave on the other and beveled on both faces into two cutting edges, which meet in an acute angle. The larger end of the shaft has been split and mended by whipping it for about three-quarters of an inch with sinew braid. No. 89518 [1174], is apparently also genuine, and is like the preceding, but beveled only on the concave face of the point, which is rather obtuse. No. 89519 [1258] was made for the market. It has a rude shaft of whale’s bone, but a carefully made bone point of precisely the pattern of the modern iron ones. No. 89520 [1182] has no shaft, and appears to be an old unfinished drill fitted into a carelessly made bone ferrule.


The drill at the present day is always worked with a bow, which allows one hand to be used for steadying the piece of work. We were informed, however, that formerly a cord was sometimes used without the bow, but furnished with a transverse handle at each end.

We collected six little handles of ivory, carved into some ornamental shape, each with an eye in the middle to which a thong could be attached. All were old, and we never saw them in use. The first two were collected at an early period of our acquaintance with these people, and from our imperfect knowledge of the language we got the impression that they were handles to be attached to a harpoon line.

We were not long, however in finding out that the harpoon has no such appendage, and when the other four came in a year later, at a time when the press of other work prevented careful inquiry into their use, we supposed that they were meant for handles to the lines used for dragging dead seals, as they somewhat resemble such an implement. On our return home, when I had opportunities for making a careful study of the collection, I found that none of the drag lines, either in our own collection or in those of the Museum, had handles of this description. On the other hand, I found many similar implements in Mr. Nelson’s collection labeled “drill-cord handles,” and finally one pair (No. 36319, from Kashunuk, near Cape Romanzoff), still attached to the drill cord. These handles are almost identical in shape with No. 89458 [835], from Utkiavwĭñ. This leaves no doubt in my mind that the so-called “drag-line handles” in our collection are nothing more than handles for drill cords, now wholly obsolete and supplanted by the bows already described. I have figured all six of these handles to show the different patterns of ornamentation. They are all made of walrus ivory, and are all “odd” handles, no two being mates. Fig. 158a (No. 56526) [86], is 5.2 inches long, and light blue beads are inserted for eyes in the seal’s heads. The eye for the drill cord is made by boring two median holes at the middle of one side so that they meet under the surface and make a longitudinal channel.

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Fig. 158.—Handles for drill cords.

Fig. 158b (No. 56527 [23] from Utkiavwĭñ), is 4.3 inches long, and is very accurately carved into the image of a man’s right leg and foot, dressed in a striped deerskin boot. The end opposite to the foot is the 181 head of some animal, perhaps a wolf, with bits of dark wood inlaid for eyes. The eye is a simple large transverse hole through the thigh.

Fig. 158c (No. 89455 [929] from Nuwŭk), is 5.9 inches long. The eye is drilled lengthwise through a large lump projecting from the middle of one side. Small blue beads are inlaid for the eyes, and one to indicate the male genital opening.

Fig. 158d (No. 89456 [930] from Nuwŭk) is like No. 56527 [23], but represents the left foot and is not so artistically carved. It is 3.7 inches long.

Fig. 158e (No. 89457 [925] from Nuwŭk) is 4.7 inches long, and resembles No. 89455 [929], but has instead of the seal’s tail and flippers a large ovoid knob ornamented with incised and blackened rings. The “eye” is bored transversely.

Fig. 158f (No. 89458 [835] from Utkiavwĭñ) differs from No. 89455 [925] in having a transverse eye, and being less artistically carved. Bits of lead are inlaid for the eyes. It is 4.4 inches long. The name of this implement is kû´ñ-i.

We obtained six specimens of an old flint tool, consisting of a rather long thick blade mounted in a straight haft about 10 inches long, of which we had some difficulty in ascertaining the use. We were at last able to be quite sure that they were intended for drilling, or rather reaming out, the large cavity in the base of the ivory head of a whale harpoon, which fits upon the conical tip of the fore-shaft. The shape of the blade is well fitted for this purpose. It is not unlikely that such tools, worked as these are, by hand, preceded the bone drills for boring all sorts of objects, and that the habit of using them for making the whale harpoon was kept up from the same conservatism founded on superstition which surrounds the whole whale fishery. (See under “Whale fishing,” where the subject will be more fully discussed.) No. 89626 [870], figured in Point Barrow Report, Ethnology, Pl. II, Fig. 4, is a typical implement of this class (ītaun, i´tûgetsau´). The blade is of black flint, flaked, 2 inches long, imbedded in the end of a haft of spruce, 10.5 inches long. The blade is held in place by whipping the cleft end of the haft with sinew braid.

Two of the other specimens, No. 89627 [937] and No. 89628 [912], are of essentially the same pattern and material, but have rounded hafts. No. 89629 [960] and No. 89630 [1068], Figs. 159a, 159b, have blades of the same pattern, but have hafts fitted for use with the mouthpiece and bow, showing that sometimes, at least in later times, these tools were so used. No. 89625 [1217] (Fig. 160) has no haft, but the blade, which is rather narrow in proportion to its length (2.3 inches by 0.5), is fitted into a short ferrule of antler, with a little dovetail on the edge for attaching it to the haft.

Of awls we saw only one specimen, which, perhaps, ought rather to be considered a little hand drill. This is No. 89308 [1292], Fig. 161, from Utkiavwĭñ. The point is the tip of a common three-cornered file, 182 sharpened down. It is imbedded in a handle of fossil ivory which has turned a light yellowish brown from age. Its total length is 2.8 inches.

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Fig. 159.—Flint-bladed reamers.


At the present day nearly every man has been able to procure an iron hammer of some kind, which he uses with great handiness. Before the introduction of iron, in addition to the bone and stone mauls above described as bone crushers, unhafted pebbles of convenient shape were also employed. No. 56661 [274] is such a stone. It is an ovoid water-worn pebble of greenish gray quartzite, 3½ inches long. The ends are battered, showing how it had been used. It was brought from one of the rivers in the interior by one of the natives of Utkiavwĭñ.


Files of all kinds are eagerly sought after by the natives, who use them with very great skill and patience, doing nearly all their metal work with these tools. For instance, one particularly ingenious native converted his Winchester rifle from a rim fire to a central fire with nothing but a file. To do this he had to make a new firing pin, as the firing pin of the rim-fire gun is too short to reach the head of the cartridge. He accomplished this by accurately cutting off, to the proper length, an old worn-out three-cornered file. He then filed off enough of each edge so that the rod fitted evenly in the cylindrical hole where the firing pin works. The work was done so carefully that the new firing pin worked perfectly, and he had only to complete the job by cutting off his central fire cartridge shells to a proper length to fit the chamber of the gun.

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Fig. 160.—Flint-bladed reamer.

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Fig. 161.—Awl.

They have almost no knowledge of working metal with the aid of heat, as is natural from the scarcity of fuel. I have, however, seen them roughly temper small articles, such as fire steels, etc., by heating them in the fire and quenching them in cold 183 water. One native very neatly mended a musket barrel which had been cracked by firing too heavy a charge. He cut a section from another old barrel of somewhat larger caliber, which he heated until it had expanded enough to slip down over the crack, and then allowed it to shrink on.

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Fig. 162.—Jade whetstones.

Whetstones (ipiksaun).—

Knives are generally sharpened with a file, cutting a bevel, as before mentioned, on one face of the blade only. To “set” or “turn” the edge they use pieces of steel of various shapes, generally with a hole drilled in them so that they can be hung to the breeches belt by a lanyard. One man, for instance, used about half of a razor blade for this purpose, and another a small horseshoe magnet. In former times they employed a very elegant implement, consisting of a slender rod of jade from 3 to 7 inches long, with a lanyard attached to an eye in the larger end. These were sometimes made by cutting a piece from one of the old jade adzes in the manner already described. There are a few of these whetstones still in use at the present day, and they are very highly prized. We succeeded in obtaining nine specimens, of which No. 89618 [801], Fig. 162a, has been selected as the type. It is of hard black stone, probably jade, 6.3 inches long. Through the wider end is drilled a large eye, into which is neatly spliced one end of a stout flat braid of sinew 4¾ inches long.


The remaining whetstones are of very much the same pattern. I have figured five of them, to show the slight variations. Fig. 162b (No. 56662 [393], from Utkiavwĭñ) is of light grayish green jade, smoothly polished and 4.1 inches long. It is chamfered only on the small end at right angles to the breadth, and has the eye prolonged into ornamental grooves on the two opposite faces. The long lanyard is of common sinew braid. No. 56663 [229] (from the same village) is of olive green, slightly translucent jade, 6.8 inches long, and elliptical in section, also chamfered only at the small end. The lanyard, which is a strip of seal thong 9 inches long, is secured in the eye, as described before, with two slits, one in the standing part through which the end is passed and the other in the end with the standing part passed through it. No. 89617 [1262] (from Sidaru) is of olive green, translucent jade, 6.1 inches long, and shaped like the type, but chamfered only at the small end. The lanyard of seal thong is secured in the eye by a large round knot in one end. No. 89619 [837] (from Utkiavwĭñ) is of bright green, translucent jade, 5.1 inches long, and unusually thick, its greatest diameter being 0.6 inch. The tip is gradually worked off to an oblique edge, and it has ornamental grooves running through the eye like No. 56662 [393].

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Fig. 163.—Jade whetstones.

No. 89620 [865] (from Nuwŭk) is shaped very much like the type, but has the tip tapered off almost to a point. It is of olive green, slightly translucent jade and is 7 inches long. The lanyard is a piece of sinew 185 braid with the ends knotted together and the bight looped into the eye. A large sky-blue glass bead is slipped on over both parts of the lanyard and pushed up close to the loop. Fig. 163a (No. 89621 [757], from Utkiavwĭñ) is very short and broad (3.6 inches by 0.6), is chamfered at both ends, and has the ornamental grooves at the eye. The material is a hard, opaque, bluish gray stone, veined with black.

A whetstone of similar material was brought by Lieut. Stoney from Kotzebue Sound. The long lanyard is of sinew braid. Fig. 163b (No. 89622 [951], also from Utkiavwĭñ) is a very small, slender whetstone, 3.3 inches long, of dark olive green semitranslucent jade, polished. The tip is not chamfered, but tapers to a blunt point. It has the ornamental grooves at the eye. These are undoubtedly the “stones for making . . . whetstones, or these ready-made” referred to by Dr. Simpson (Op. cit., p. 266) as brought by the Nunatañmiun from the people of the “Ko-wak River.” A few such whetstones have been collected on other parts of the northwest coast as far south as the northern shore of Norton Sound. The broken whetstone mentioned above is of a beautiful bluish green translucent jade. Bits of stone are also used for whetstones, such as No. 89786 [1004f], which belong in Ilû´bw’ga’s tool bag. They are two rough, oblong bits of hard dark gray slate, apparently split off a flat, weathered surface.

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Fig. 164.—Wooden tool boxes.

Tool boxes and bags.

We collected six specimens of a peculiarly shaped long, narrow box, carved from a single block of wood, which we were informed were formerly used for holding tools. They have gone out of fashion at the present day, and there are but few of them left. No. 89860 [1152], Fig. 164a, represents the typical shape of this box. It is carved from a single block of pine. The cover is slightly hollowed on the under side and is held on by two double rings of twine (one of seal twine and the other of sinew braid), large enough to slip over the 186 end. Each ring is made by doubling a long piece of twine so that the two parts are equal, passing one end through the bight and knotting it to the other. The box and cover seem to have been painted inside and out with red ocher. On the outside this is mostly faded and worn off and covered with dirt, but inside it has turned a dark brown. Fig. 164b (No. 89858 [1319], from Utkiavwĭñ), is a similar box, 21.1 inches long. The cover is held on by a string passing over little hooked ivory studs close to the edge of the box. There were originally five of these studs, two at each end and one in the middle of one side. The string started from one of these studs at the pointed end. This stud is broken and the string fastened into a hole close to it. To fasten on the cover the string was carried over and hooked under the opposite stud, then crossed over the cover to the middle stud, then across to the end stud on the other side, and the loop on the end hooked onto the last stud.

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Fig. 165.—Large wooden tool boxes.

No. 89859 [1318] is a smaller box (19 inches long) of the same pattern, with only four studs. The cover has three large blue glass beads, like those used for labrets, inlaid in a line along the middle. No. 89858 [1144], from Utkiavwĭñ, is the shape of the type, but has a thicker cover and six stud holes in the margin. No. 89861 [1151], Fig. 165a, from the same place, is shaped something like a violin case, 22.2 inches long. The cover has been split and “stitched” together with whalebone, and a crack in the broader end of the box has been neatly mended by pegging on, with nine little wooden treenails, a strap of reindeer antler of the same width as the edge and following the curve of its outline. There are four studs, two at each end. The string is made fast to one at the smaller end, carried over to the opposite one, then crossed to the opposite stud at the other end and back under the last one, a bight of the end being tucked under the string between the two last-mentioned studs. The string is made of sinew braid, rope-yarns, and a long piece of seal thong. It was probably at first all of sinew 187 braid, and, gradually growing too short by being broken and knotted together again, was lengthened out with whatever came to hand.

No. 89862 [1593], Fig. 165b, is a large box, of a very peculiar shape, best understood from the figure. The outside is much weathered, but appears to have been roughly carved, and the excavation of the box and cover is very rudely done, perhaps with a stone tool. A hole in the larger end is mended by a patch of wood chamfered off to fit the hole and sewed on round the edges with “over-and-over” stitches of whalebone. The string is arranged in permanent loops, under which the cover can be slipped off and on.

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Fig. 166.—Tool bag of wolverine skin.

The arrangement, which is rather complicated, is as follows: On one side of the box, one-half inch from the edge and about 7 inches from each end, are two pairs of holes, one-half inch apart. Into each pair is fastened, by means of knots on the inside, a loop of very stout sinew braid, 3 inches long, and similar loops of seal thong, 5 inches long, are fastened into corresponding pairs of holes on the other side. A piece of seal thong is fastened with a becket-hitch into the loop of seal thong at the small end of the box, passes through both braid loops on the other side, and is carried over through the loop of seal thong at the large end. The end of the thong is knotted into one of the pairs of holes left by the breaking away of a stitch at the edge of the wooden patch above mentioned.

All these boxes are very old and were painted inside with red ocher, which has turned dark brown from age. Tools are nowadays kept in a large oblong, flat satchel, ĭkqûxbwĭñ, which has an arched handle of ivory or bone stretched lengthwise across the open mouth. These bags are always made of skin with the hair out, and the skins of wolverines’ heads are the most desired for this purpose. The collection contains four such bags. No. 89794 [1018], Fig. 166, is the type of these bags. The bottom of the bag is a piece of short-haired brown deerskin, with 188 the hair out, pieced across the middle. The sides and ends are made of the skins of four wolverine heads, without the lower jaw, cut off at the nape and spread out and sewed together side by side with the hair outward and noses up. One head comes on each end of the bag and one on each side, and the spaces between the noses are filled out with gussets of deerskin and wolverine skin. A narrow strip of the latter is sewed round the mouth of the bag. The handle is of walrus ivory, 14½ inches long and about one-half inch square. There is a vertical hole through it one-half inch from each end, and at one end also a transverse hole between this and the tip. One end of the thong which fastens the handle to the bag is drawn through this hole and cut off close to the surface. The other end is brought over the handle and down through the vertical hole and made fast with two half-hitches into a hole through the septum of the nose of the head at one end of the bag. The other end of the handle is fastened to the opposite nose in the same way, but the thong is secured in the hole by a simple knot in the end above. On one side of the handle is an unfinished incised pattern.

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Fig. 167.—Tool bag of wolverine skin.

Fig. 167, No. 89776 [1004], is a similar bag, made of four wolverine heads with the lower jaws attached. The bottom is of stout leather without hair. The mouth is tied up by a bit of thong passed through the nostrils of the two side heads so that it can spread open only about 1¾ inches. The handle is broad and flat, made of walrus ivory, and ornamented with an incised border on top. One end is broken and pieced out with reindeer antler secured by a clumsy “fishing” of seal twine, which is passed through holes in the two parts. The pieces seem to have been riveted together as in the drill bow, No. 89777 [1004b] (Fig. 154), which belongs to this bag. There is a rivet still sticking in the antler. It is possible that the ivory may have broken in the process of riveting the two together. The handle has two vertical holes at each end for the thong, by which it is fastened to the end noses, both in the 189 median line and joined by a short channel on top of the handle. This bag was the property of the Nunatañmiun Ilûbw’ga, so frequently mentioned, and was purchased with all its contents.

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Fig. 168.—Drills belonging to the tool bag.

These are two bow drills, one large and one small (Figs. 168a and 168b, Nos. 89778 and 89779 [1004a]); a drill bow (Fig. 154, No. 89777 [1004b]); a mouthpiece (Fig. 155, No. 89787 [1004c]); a large crooked knife with a sheath (Fig. 114, No. 89780 [1004d]); a flint flaker (No. 89752 [1004e]); a comb for deerskins (Fig. 169, No. 89781 [1005]); a haircomb made of antler (No. 89785 [1006]); a fishhook (No. 89783 [1007]); and a small seal harpoon head (No. 89784 [1008]).

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Fig. 169.—Comb for deerskins in the tool bag.

No. 89796 [1118], from Nuwŭk, is of rather unusual materials. The bottom is of brown reindeer skin and the sides and ends are the heads of two wolves and a red fox. The wolf heads meet on one side, and the fox head is put in between them on the other. The fox head has no lower jaw, and one wolf head has only the left half of the lower jaw. The vacant spaces around the mouth are filled by triangular gussets of wolf and reindeer skin. The eyeholes are patched on the inside with deerskin. It has no handle. No. 89795 [1309], the remaining bag, is of the usual pattern, but carelessly made of small pieces of deerskin, with a handle of coarse-grained whale’s bone. It was probably made for sale.

I have figured four handles of such bags to show the style of ornamentation. Fig. 170a(No. 89420 [1111], from Nuwŭk) has incised figures of men and reindeer on the back, once colored with ocher, of which traces can still be seen. This is perhaps a hunting score. (See remarks on this subject under “Bow drills.”) Fig. 170b (No. 89423 [996], from Utkiavwĭñ) is a very elaborate handle, with scalloped edges and fluted back, which is also ornamented with an incised pattern colored with red ocher. The other side is covered with series of the incised circles, each with a dot in the center, so frequently mentioned. Fig. 170c (No. 89424 [890], from Nuwŭk) has on the under side two rows of figures representing the flukes and “smalls” of whales. This is the specimen already mentioned, which the natives called an actual score. The series of twenty-six tails were said to be the record of old Yûksĭ´ña (“Erksinra” of Dr. Simpson), the so-called “chief” at Nuwŭk. All the above handles are of walrus ivory, and have been in actual use. Fig. 170c (No. 56513 190 [43], from Utkiavwĭñ) is a handle of different material (reindeer antler) and of somewhat different pattern. One end is neatly carved into an exceedingly accurate image of the head of a reindeer which has shed its antlers, with small blue beads inlaid for the eyes. The back of the handle is ornamented with an incised pattern colored with red ocher. We were told that such handles were sometimes fitted to the wooden buckets, but I never saw one so used.

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Fig. 170.—Bag handles.

No. 89798 [1075], Fig. 171, is a bag of rather unusual pattern, the only one of the kind we saw. The bottom is a single round piece, 9 inches in diameter, of what seems to be split skin of the bearded seal, flesh side out, and the rest of the bag is of white-tanned seal leather. The sides are of five broad pieces (6, 4½, 4, 5½, and 5 inches broad at the bottom, respectively, narrowing to 2½, 1½, 1¼, 2, and 2⅓, respectively, at the top), alternating with five straight strips, respectively 1½, 1, 1⅓, 1¼, and 1½ inches broad. The edges of these strips overlap the edges of the broad pieces, and are neatly stitched with two threads, as on the soles of the waterproof boots. The outer thread, which is caught in the loop of each stitch of the other, is a slender filament of black whale-bone. This produces a sort of embroidery. The neck is stitched to the bag with the same seam, but the hem at the mouth is merely “run” round with sinew. This bag was probably for holding small tools and similar articles.

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Fig. 171.—Bag of leather.



As would naturally be expected from what has been said of the peaceful character of these people, offensive weapons, specially intended for use against men, are exceedingly rare. In case of quarrels between individuals or parties the bows, spears, and knives intended for hunting or general use would be turned against their enemies. Even their rifles, nowadays, are kept much more for hunting than as weapons of offense, and the revolvers of various patterns which many of them have obtained from the ships are chiefly carried when traveling back and forth between the two villages as a protection against a possible bear. We, however, obtained a few weapons which were especially designed for taking human life. One of these was a little club (tĭ´glun) (No. 89492 [1310], Fig. 172, from Utkiavwĭñ) made of the butt end of an old pickax head of whale’s bone, with the point cut down to a blunt end. It is 6.4 inches long and meant to be clenched in the hand like a dagger, and used for striking blows, probably at the temple. The transverse grooves for hafting give a good hold for the fingers. This was the only weapon of the kind seen.

We collected a single specimen of a kind of slung shot, No. 89472 [905] (Fig. 173), made of a roughly ovoid lump of heavy bone, the symphysis of the lower jaw of a walrus, 3⅓ inches long. At the smaller end two large holes are bored in obliquely so as to meet under the surface and form a channel through which is passed a slip of white seal skin about 15 inches long, the ends of which fasten together with two slits, so as to make a loop. This may be compared with the stone balls used by the ancient Aleuts for striking a man on the temple.

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Fig. 172.—Little hand-club.

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Fig. 173.—Slungshot made of walrus jaw.

The commonest weapon of offense was a broad dagger made of a bone of the polar bear. This was said to be especially meant for killing a “bad man,” possibly for certain specified offenses or perhaps in cases of insanity. Insane persons were sometimes killed in Greenland, and the act was considered “neither decidedly admissible 192 nor altogether unlawful.”288 The use of bears’ bones for these weapons points to some superstitious idea, perhaps having reference to the ferocity of the animal. We collected five specimens of these daggers, of which No. 89484 [767], Fig. 174, has been selected as the type. It is the distal end of the ulna of a polar bear, with the neck and condyles forming the hilt, and the shaft split so as to expose the medullary cavity and cut into a pointed blade. It is very old, blackened, and crumbling on the surface, and is a foot long.

Fig. 175a, No. 89475 [988], from Nuwŭk, is made of a straight splinter from the shaft of one of the long bones, 9¾ inches long. No. 89480 [1141], from Utkiavwĭñ, has a roughly whittled hilt and a somewhat twisted blade, rather narrow, but widened to a sharp lanceolate point. It is 12 inches long. No. 89481 [1175], from the same place, has the roughly shaped hilt whipped with two turns of sinew. No. 89482 [1709], Fig. 175b, also from Utkiavwĭñ, is dirk-shaped, having but one edge and a straight back. The hilt, as before, is roughly sawed from the solid head of the bone. No. 89485 [965], Fig. 176, from Nuwŭk, was also said to be a dagger, but could not have been a very effective weapon. It is of whale’s bone, 5 inches long. It is rather rudely carved, old, and dirty, but the notches on the haft are newly cut.

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Fig. 174.—Dagger of bear’s bone.

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Fig. 175.—Bone daggers.

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Fig. 176.—So-called dagger of bone.

Dirks or daggers of bear’s bone, like those described, are really rather formidable weapons, as it is easy to give the splinter of bone a very keen point. The Museum contains a bone dagger curiously like these Eskimo weapons, but made of the bone of the grizzly bear, and used by the Indians of the McCloud River, northern California. They believe that the peculiar shape of the point, having a hollow (the medullary cavity) on one face, like the Eskimo daggers, causes the wound to bleed internally.



When Dease and Simpson first met these people, in 1837, they had no firearms, but the next party of whites who came in contact with them (Pullen and Hooper, in 1849) found the “chief” in possession of an old shaky musket of English make, with the name “Barnett” on the lock.289 Hooper believed this to be the gun lost by Sir John Franklin’s party in 1826.290 This gun was, however, often seen by the people of the Plover (in fact, Capt. Maguire kept it on board of the Plover for some time291), and was found to have on the lock, besides the name “Barnett,” also the date, “1843,” so that of course it was not lost in 1826. Armstrong292 also mentions seeing this gun, which, the natives told him, they had procured “from the other tribes to the southward.” In the summer of 1853 they began to purchase guns and ammunition from the eastern natives. Yûksĭña and two other men each bought a gun this year.293

As the whalers began to go to Point Barrow in 1854, the opportunity for obtaining firearms has been afforded the natives every year since then, so that they are now well supplied with guns, chiefly of American manufacture. That all their firearms have not been obtained from this source is probable from the fact they have still in their possession a number of smoothbore percussion guns, double and single barreled, of Russian manufacture. They are all stamped in Russian with the name of Tula, a town on the Oopa, 105 miles south of Moscow, which has received the name of the “Sheffield and Birmingham of Russia,” from its vast manufactory of arms, established by Peter the Great. These guns must have come from the “Nunatañmiun,” who obtained them either from the Siberian traders or from the Russians at Norton Sound through the Malemiut. Both smoothbore and rifled guns are in general use. The smoothbores are of all sorts and descriptions, from an old flintlock musket to more or less valuable single and double percussion fowling-pieces. Three of the natives now (1883) have cheap double breechloaders and one a single breechloader (made by John P. Lovell, of Boston). Guns in general are called “cupûñ,” an onomatopœic word in general use in western America, but many of the different kinds have special names. For instance, a double gun is called madro´lĭñ (from madro, two). The rifles are also of many different patterns. The kind preferred by the natives is the ordinary Winchester brass-mounted 15-shot repeater, which the whalers and traders purchase cheaply at wholesale. This is 194 called akĭmiɐlĭñ (“that which has fifteen,” sc., shots). The whalers are also in the habit of buying up all sorts of cheap or second-hand guns for the Arctic trade, so that many other kinds of guns are also common. Of breechloaders, we saw the Sharpe’s rifle, savĭgro´lĭñ (from a fancied resemblance between the crooked lever of this gun and the crooked knife, savigro´n); other patterns of Winchester; the Spencer repeater, kai´psualĭñ (from kaipsĭ, cartridge); the peculiar Sharps-Hankins, once used in the U.S. Navy, and which was the favorite weapon of the rebel Boers in South Africa; the Peabody-Martini, made in America for the Turkish Government, marked on the rear sight with Turkish figures, and, exposed with a corpse at the cemetery, one English Snider. The regulation Springfield rifles belonging to the post, which were often loaned to the natives for the purpose of hunting, were called mûkpara´lĭñ (from mûkpara´, book, referring to the breech action, which opens like a book).

They formerly had very few muzzle-loading rifles, but of late years, since the law against trading arms to the natives has been construed to refer solely to breech-loading rifles, the whalers have sold them yäger rifles, of the old U.S. Army pattern, Enfield rifles, ship’s muskets with the Tower mark on them, and a sort of bogus rifle made especially for trade, in imitation of the old-fashioned Kentucky rifle, but with grooves extending only a short distance from the muzzle. They of course depend on the ships for their supplies of ammunition, though the Nunatañmiun sometimes bring a few cartridges smuggled across from Siberia. They naturally are most desirous to procure cartridges for the rim-fire Winchester guns, as these are not intended to be used more than once. They have, however, invented a method of priming these rim-fire shells so that they can be reloaded. A common “G. D.” percussion cap is neatly fitted into the rim of the shell by cutting the sides into strips which are folded into slits in the shell, a little hole being drilled under the center of the cap to allow the flash to reach the powder. This is a very laborious process, but enables the natives to use a rifle which would otherwise be useless. Such cartridges reloaded with powder and home-made bullets—they have many bullet molds and know how to use them—are tolerably effective. Great care must be taken to insert the cartridge right side up, so that the cap shall be struck by the firing pin, which interferes with using the gun as a repeater.

They are very careless with their rifles, allowing them to get rusty, and otherwise misusing them, especially by firing small shot from them in the duck-shooting season. As a rule they are very fair shots with the rifle, but extremely lavish of ammunition when they have a supply. The only economy is shown in reloading cartridges and in loading their shotguns, into which they seldom put a sufficient charge. In spite of this some of them shoot very well with the shotgun, though many of them show great stupidity in judging distance, firing light 195 charges of shot at short rifle range (100 to 200 yards). Though they mold their own bullets, I have never known any of them to attempt making shot or slugs. This, which they call kăkrúra (little bullets, from kă´kru, originally meaning arrow and now used for bullet as well) is always obtained from the whites. The gun is habitually carried in a case or holster long enough to cover the whole gun, made of sealskin, either black-tanned or with the hair on the outside. This, like the bow case, from which it is evidently copied, is slung across the back by a thong passing round the shoulders and across the chest. This is the method universally practiced for carrying burdens of all sorts. The butt of the gun is on the right side, so that it can be easily slipped out of the holster under the right arm without unslinging it. Revolvers are also carried slung in holsters on the back in the same way. Ammunition is carried in a pouch slung over the shoulder. They are careless in handling firearms and ammunition. We knew two men who shot off the tip of the forefinger while filing cartridges which had failed to explode in the gun.

Whaling guns.

In addition to the kinds of firearms for land hunting above described a number of the natives have procured from the whalemen, either by purchase or from wrecks, whaling guns, such as are used by the American whalers, in place of the steel lance for dispatching the whale after it is harpooned. These are of various patterns, both muzzle and breech loading, and they are able to procure nearly every year a small supply of the explosive lances to be shot from them. They use them as the white men do for killing harpooned whales, and also, when the leads of open water are narrow, for shooting them as they pass close to the edge of the ice.

Bows (pízĭ´ksĕ).—

In former times the bow was the only projectile weapon which these people possessed that could be used at a longer range than the “dart” of a harpoon. It was accordingly used for hunting the bear, the wolf, and the reindeer, for shooting birds, and in case of necessity, for warfare. It is worthy of note, in this connection, as showing that the use of the bow for fighting was only a secondary consideration, that none of their arrows are regular “war arrows” like those made by the Sioux or other Indians; that is, arrows to be shot with the breadth of the head horizontal, so as to pass between the horizontal ribs of a man. Firearms have now almost completely superseded the bow for actual work, though a few men, too poor to obtain guns, still use them.

Every boy has a bow for a plaything, with which he shoots small birds and practices at marks. Very few boys, however, show any great skill with it. We never had an opportunity of seeing an adult shoot with the bow and arrow; but they have not yet lost the art of bow-making. The newest boys’ bows are as skillfully and ingeniously constructed as the old bows, but are of course smaller and weaker. The bow in use among these people was the universal sinew-backed bow of 196 the Eskimo carried to its highest degree of efficiency.294 It was of what I have called the “Arctic type,” namely, a rather short bow of spruce, from 43 to 52 inches in length, nearly elliptical in section, but flatter on the back than on the belly, and slightly narrowed and thickened at the handle. The greatest breadth was usually about 1¼ inches and the thickness at the handle about three-fourths of an inch. The ends were often bent up as in the Tatar bow, and were sometimes separate pieces mortised on. Strength and elasticity was given to the brittle spruce by applying a number of strands of sinew to the back of the bow in such a way that drawing the bowstring stretched all these elastic cords, thus adding their elasticity to that of the wood. This backing was always a continuous piece of a three-ply braid of sinew, about the size of stout pack thread, and on a large bow often 40 or 50 yards long. It began, as on all Eskimo bows which I have been able to examine (except those from St. Lawrence Island and the mainland of Siberia—my “western type”), with an eye at one end of the cord looped over one nock of the bow, usually the upper. The cord was then laid on the back of the bow in long strands running up and down and round the nocks, as usual on the other types of bow, but after putting on a number of these, began running backward and forward between the bends (if the bow was of the Tatar shape), or between corresponding points on a straight bow, where they were fastened with complicated hitches around the bow in such a way that the shortest strands came to the top of the backing, which was thus made to grow thicker gradually toward the middle of the bow, where the greatest strength and elasticity were needed. When enough strands had been laid on they were divided into two equal parcels and twisted from the middle into two tight cables, thus greatly increasing the tension to be overcome in drawing the bow. These cables being secured to the handle of the bow, the end of the cord was used to seize the whole securely to the bow.

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Fig. 177.—Boy’s bow from Utkiavwĭñ.

This seizing and the hitches already mentioned served to incorporate the backing very thoroughly with the bow, thus equalizing the strain and preventing the bow from cracking. This made a very stiff and powerful bow, capable of sending an arrow with great force. We were told by a reliable native that a stone-headed arrow was often driven by 197 one of these bows wholly through a polar bear, “if there was no bone.” Three bows only were obtained: One from Nuwŭk, one from Utkiavwĭñ (a lad’s bow), and one from Sidaru.

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Fig. 179.—Large bow from Nuwŭk.

The bow from Utkiavwĭñ, No. 89904 [786] (Fig. 177), though small, is in some respects nearer the type than the other two, and has been selected for description. The body of the bow is a single piece of the heart of a log of spruce driftwood 36¼ inches long, elliptical in section, flattened more on the back than on the belly. It is tapered to the nocks, which are small club-shaped knobs, and narrowed and thickened at the handle. The backing is of round three-ply braid of sinew in one continuous piece. The string is a round four-ply braid with a loop at each end, made by tying a single knot in the standing part, passing the end through this and taking a half hitch with it round the standing part (Fig. 178). The upper loop is a little the larger.

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Fig. 178.—Loop at end of bowstring.

No. 89245 [25] (Fig. 179), from Nuwŭk, is a full-sized man’s bow, which is old and has been long in use. It is of the same material, and is 47.3 inches long. Its greatest breadth is 1⅓ inches, and it is 0.8 inch thick at the handle. It is slightly narrowed and thinned off from the broadest part to about 6 inches from each tip, and is then gradually thickened to the nocks and bent up so that the ends make an angle of about 45° with the bow when unstrung. The ends are separate pieces fitted on at the bends. The ends of the body are chamfered off laterally to a wedge which fits into a corresponding notch in the end piece, making a scarf 3¼ inches long, which is strengthened by a curved strap of antler, convex above and thickest in the middle, fitting into the bend on the back. The joint is held together wholly by the backing.

We never saw bows of this pattern made and consequently did not learn how the bending was accomplished. The method is probably the same as that seen by Capt. Beechey in 1826, at Kotzebue Sound (Voyage, p. 575). The bow was wrapped in wet shavings and held over the fire, and then pegged down on the ground (probably on one side), into shape. A strip of rawhide (the split skin of the bearded seal, with the grain side out), 1 inch wide, runs along the back from bend to bend under the backing. The chief peculiarity of this bow is the third cable, above the other two, and the great and apparently unnecessary complication of the hitches.


No. 72771 [234], from Sidaru (Fig. 180a and b), is a bow with bent ends like the last, but all in one piece and smaller. Its length is 43½ inches and its greatest breadth 1⅓. The backing has only two cables, and its chief peculiarity is in having the loose end of the last strand twisted into one of the cables, while the seizing, of the same pattern as in the last bow, is made of a separate piece. The workmanship of this bow is particularly neat, and it is further strengthened with strips of rawhide (the skin of the bearded seal, split), under the backing. The method of making the string is very ingenious. It appears to have been made on the bow, as follows: Having the bow sprung back one end of a long piece of sinew twine was made fast temporarily to the upper nock, leaving an end long enough to finish off the bowstring. The other end was carried round the lower nock and the returning strand half-hitched round the first snugly up to the nock, and then carried round the upper nock and back again. This was repeated, each strand being half-hitched round all the preceding at the lower nock until there were eight parallel strands, and an eye fitted snugly to the lower nock. The bight was then slipped off the upper nock, the end untied and the whole twisted tight. This twisted string is now about 2 inches too long, so the upper eye is made by doubling over 2 inches of the end and stopping it down with the free end mentioned above, thus making a long eye of seven strands. With the end, six similar strands are added to the eye, each being stopped to the twist with a half hitch. The end is neatly tucked in and the strands of the eye twisted tightly together.

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Fig. 180.—Large bow from Sidaru.

In my paper on Eskimo bows, already mentioned, I came to the conclusion that the bows formerly used by the Eskimo of western North America and the opposite coast of Asia were constructed upon three well defined types of definite geographical distribution, and each easily recognized as a development of a simple original type still to be found in Baffin Land in a slightly modified form. These three types are:

I. The Southern type, which was the only form used from the island of Kadiak to Cape Romanzoff, and continued in frequent use as far as Norton Sound, though separated by no hard and fast line from

II. The Arctic type, to which the bows just described belong, in use 199 from the Kaviak peninsula to the Mackenzie and Anderson rivers; and

III. The Western type, confined to St. Lawrence Island and the mainland of Siberia.

I have shown how these three types differ from each other and from the original type, and have expressed the opinion that these differences result from the different resources at the command of the people of different regions. I have also endeavored to account for the fact that we find sporadic examples of the Arctic type, for instance as far south as the Yukon, by the well known habits of the Eskimo in regard to trading expeditions.

Outside of the region treated in my paper above referred to, there is very little material for a comparative study of Eskimo bows, either in the Museum or in the writings of travelers. Most writers have contented themselves with a casual reference to some of the more salient peculiarities of the weapon without giving any detailed information. Beginning at the extreme north of Greenland, we find that the so-called “Arctic Highlanders” have hardly any knowledge of the bow. Dr. Kane saw none during his intercourse with them, but Dr. Bessels295 mentions seeing one bow, made of pieces of antler spliced together, in the possession of a man at Ita. In Danish Greenland, the use of the bow has been abandoned for many years. When Crantz296 wrote it had already gone out of use, though in Egede’s297 time it was still employed. It appears to have been longer than the other Eskimo bows. Nordenskiöld298 reproduces a picture of a group of Greenlanders from an old painting of the date of 1654 in the Ethnographical Museum of Copenhagen. The man holds in his left hand a straight bow, which appears to have the backing reaching only part way to the ends like a western bow without the end cables, and yet twisted into two cables. If this representation be a correct one, this arrangement of the backing, taken in connection with what Crantz and Egede say of the great length of the bow, would be an argument in favor of my theory that the St. Lawrence Island bow was developed from the primitive form by lengthening the ends of the bow without lengthening the backing. The addition of the end cables would then be an after invention, peculiar to the western bow. In Baffin Land the bow is very rudely made, and approaches very closely to my supposed primitive form. Owing to the scarcity of wood in this region the bow was frequently made of reindeer antler, a substance still more unsuitable for the purpose than the soft coniferous woods used elsewhere. There are in the Museum three specimens of such antler bows, brought from Cumberland Gulf by Mr. Kumlien.


The first mention of the Eskimo bow with sinew backing will be found in Frobisher’s account of his visit to Meta Incognita in 1577:299 “Their bowes are of wood of a yard long, sinewed on the back with strong sinewes, not glued too, but fast girded and tyed on. Their bowe strings are likewise sinewes.”

Of the bow used at the straits of Fury and Hecla we have a most excellent figure in Parry’s Second Voyage (Pl. opposite p. 550, Fig. 22), and the most accurate description to be found in any author. It is, in fact, as exact a description as could be made from an external examination of the bow. From the figure the bow appears to have been almost of the arctic type, having an unusual number of strands (sometimes sixty, p. 511) which are not, however, twisted, but secured with a spiral wrapping, as on southern bows. The backing is stopped to the handle, but not otherwise seized. It appears to have been rather a large bow, as Parry gives the length of one of their best bows, made of a single piece of fir, as “4 feet 8 inches” (p. 510). “A bow of one piece is, however, very rare; they generally consist of from two to five pieces of bone of unequal lengths, fastened together by rivets and treenails” (p. 511). Parry also speaks of the use of wedges for tightening the backing. Schwatka300 speaks of the Netyĭlĭk of King Williams Land as using bows of spliced pieces of musk-ox horn or driftwood, but gives no further description of them. Ellis301 describes the bow in use at Hudson’s Strait in 1746 as follows:

Their greatest Ingenuity is shown in the Structure of their Bows, made commonly of three Pieces of Wood, each making a part of the same Arch, very nicely and exactly joined together. They are commonly of Fir or Larch, which the English there call Juniper, and as this wants Strength and Elasticity, they supply both by bracing the Back of the Bow with a kind of Thread or Line made of the Sinew of their Deer, and the Bowstring of the same material. To make them draw more stiffly, they dip them into Water, which causes both the Back of the Bow and the String to contract, and consequently gives it the greater force.302

Ellis’s figure (plate opposite p. 132) shows a bow of the Tatar shape, but gives no details of the backing, except that the latter appears to be twisted.

We have no published descriptions of the bows used in other regions.

As far as I have been able to ascertain, the practice of backing the bow with cords of sinew is peculiar to the Eskimo, though some American Indians stiffen the bow by gluing flat pieces of sinew upon the back.

One tribe of Indians, the “Loucheux” of the Mackenzie district, however, used bows like those of the Eskimos, but Sir Alexander Mackenzie303 expressly states that these were obtained from the Eskimo.



With these bows were used arrows of various patterns adapted for different kinds of game. There are in the collection fifty-one arrows, which are all about the same length, 25 to 30 inches. In describing these arrows I shall employ the terms used in modern archery304 for the parts of the arrow. The greatest variation is in the shape and size of the pile. The stele is almost always a straight cylindrical rod, almost invariably 0.4 inch in diameter, and ranging in length from 20 to 28 inches. Twenty-five inches is the commonest length, and the short steles, when not intended for a boy’s bow, are generally fitted with an unusually long pile. From the beginning of the feathering the stele is gradually flattened above and below to the nock, which is a simple notch almost always 0.2 inch wide and of the same depth. The stele is sometimes slightly widened just in front of the nock to give a better hold for the fingers. The feathering is 6 or 7 inches long, consisting of two, or less often, three feathers. (The set of sixteen arrows from Sidaru, two from Nuwŭk, and one from Utkiavwĭñ, have three feathers. The rest of the fifty-one have two.) The shaft of the feather is split and the web is cut narrow, and tapered off to a point at each end (Fig. 181). The ends of the feathers are fastened to the stele with whippings of fine sinew, the small end of the feather which, of course, comes at the nock, being often wedged into a slit in the wood (with a special tool to be described below), or else doubled back over a few turns of the whipping and lashed down with the rest. The small end of the feather is almost always twisted about one turn, evidently to make the arrow revolve in flight, like a rifle ball. Generally, if not universally, the feathering was made of the feathers of some bird of prey, falcon, eagle, or raven, probably with some notion of giving to the arrow the death-dealing quality of the bird. Out of the fifty-one arrows in the collection, only nine are feathered with gull’s feathers, and of these all but two are new, or newly feathered for sale to us.305 Dr. Simpson306 says that in his time “feathers for arrows and head-dresses,” probably the eagles’ feathers previously mentioned, were obtained in trade from the “Nunatañmiun.”

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Fig. 181.—Feathering of the Eskimo arrow.

Four kinds of arrows were used: the bear arrow, of which there were three varieties, the deer arrow, the arrow for geese, gulls, and other large fowl, and the blunt headed arrow for killing small birds without mangling them.


Bear arrows.

These are of three kinds, all having a broad, sharp pile, often barbed. The first kind has a pile of flaked flint, called kūki (“claw” or “nail”), and was known as kukĭ´ksadlĭñ (“provided or fitted with claw material”). Of this kind we have eight complete arrows and one shaft.

No. 89240 [25], Fig. 182, will serve as the type. The pile is of black flint, double edged and sharp pointed, 2 inches long, with a short tang inserted into a cleft in the end of the stele, and secured by a whipping of about fifteen turns of fine sinew. The stele is of spruce, 25½ inches long and four-tenths inch in diameter, and painted with red ocher from the feathering to 5 inches from the pile. The three feathers, apparently those of the gyrfalcon, have their ends simply whipped to the stele. They are 6 inches long. This is one of the two arrows from Nuwŭk with three feathers.

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Fig. 182.—Flint-headed arrow (kukĭksadlĭñ).

No. 72780 [234a], from Sidaru, is feathered with three raven feathers, of which the small ends are wedged into slits in the wood. The pile is of brown jasper, long and lancet-tipped, expanding into rounded wings at each side of the base. The stele is peculiar only in being slightly widened in front of the nock. It is of pine, 26.8 inches long, and painted with two rings, one red and one green, at the middle of the feathering.

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Fig. 183.—Long flint pile.

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Fig. 184.—Short flint pile.

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Fig. 185.—Heart-shaped flint pile.

The only variations of importance in these arrows are in the shape of the pile, which is made of black or gray flint, or less often of jasper, mostly variegated, brown and gray. There are four patterns to be found in the series of eight arrows and twenty-two stone piles. The first is long and narrow, like No. 56704 [232], Fig. 183, from Utkiavwĭñ, which is of gray flint. The next is similar in shape, but shorter, as shown in Fig. 182 (No. 89240 [25], from Nuwŭk), which is only 2 inches long, exclusive of the tang. The third pattern, which is less common than the others, is about the size of the last, but rhomboidal in shape (Fig. 184, No. 56691c [64c], from Utkiavwĭñ, of dark grayish brown flint, rather coarsely flaked). The fourth kind is very short, being not over 1½ inches, including the half-inch tang, but is 1 inch broad, thick and convex on both faces. It is triangular, with a square base and curved edges (Fig. 185, No. 56702b [113b], from Utkiavwĭñ, newly made for sale).


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Fig. 186.—Arrows: (a) Arrow with “after-pile” (ipudlĭgadlĭñ); (b) arrow with iron pile (savidlĭñ); (c) arrow with iron pile (savidlĭñ); (d) arrow with copper pile (savidlĭñ); (e) deer-arrow (nûtkodlĭñ).

No stone arrow or dart heads made by these people have anything like barbs except the square shoulders at the base. They seem never to have attained to the skill in flint-working which enabled many other savages to make the beautiful barbed heads so often seen. To keep the flint-headed arrow from dropping out of the wound they hit upon the contrivance of mounting it not directly in the stele but in a piece of bone upon which barbs could be cut, or, as is not unlikely, having already the deer arrow with the barbed head of antler, they added the flint head to this, thus combining the penetration of the flint arrow with the holding power of the other. I was at first inclined to think that this piece of bone bore the same relation to the rest of the arrow as the fore shaft of many Indian arrows, and was to be considered as part of the stele. Considering, however, that its sole function is to furnish the pile with barbs, it evidently must be considered as part of the latter. I shall designate it as “after-pile.” Arrows with this barbed “after-pile” form the second kind of bear arrows, which are called ipudlĭ´gadlĭñ (“having the ipu´dlĭgɐ” [Gr. ipuligak, the similar bone head of a seal lance with iron tip]). After the introduction of iron, metal piles sometimes replaced the flint in arrows of this kind. We collected eight with flint and two with metal piles. No. 72787 [234a], Fig. 186a, has been selected to illustrate this form of arrow. This pile is of gray flint with the tang wedged by a slip of sealskin into the tip of the after-pile, which is cleft to receive it and kept from splitting by a whipping of sinew. The after-pile is fitted into the tip of the stele with a rounded sharp-pointed tang, slightly enlarged just above the tip. It is of reindeer 204 antler. The rest of the arrow does not differ from those previously described. The stele is of pine and is feathered with three gyrfalcon feathers.

Two others from Sidaru have only a single barb on the after-pile, but the other four have two, one behind the other on the same side. No. 89237 [164], from Utkiavwĭñ, differs in no respect from the single-barbed flint arrows from Sidaru, but No. 72763 [164], from the same village, has four small barbs on the after-pile, which is unusually (nearly 7 inches) long, and a pile of sheet brass. This has the basal angles on each side cut into three small, sharp, backward-pointing teeth. The total length of this arrow is 28 inches.

The after-piles of all arrows except one were of reindeer antler, which is another reason for supposing that this form of arrow is a modification of the deer arrow. After the introduction of iron, this metal or copper was substituted for the flint pile of the kukĭ´ksadlĭñ, making the third and last form of bear arrow, the sa´vĭdlĭñ (“fitted with iron”). This arrow differs from the others only in the form of the pile, which is generally broad and flat, and either rhomboidal, with the base cut into numerous small teeth, or else triangular, with a shank. The barbs are usually bilateral.

No. 72758 [25], from Nuwŭk, represents the first form. The pile is of iron, rough and flat, 2½ inches long. No. 72770 [241b], from Utkiavwĭñ, is of the same form. No. 72760 [165], Fig. 186c, from Utkiavwĭñ, has a similar pile 3.3 inches long, but has each of the under edges cut into four sharp, backward-pointing teeth. No. 72778 [234b], Fig. 186d, has a pile of sheet copper 2.3 inches long, of the same shape, but with six teeth. This arrow came from Sidaru. No. 72765 [25], from Nuwŭk, is a long, narrow iron pile with three bilateral barbs, all simple.

Nos. 72755 [25], from Nuwŭk, 72759 [25], also from Nuwŭk, and 72764 [165], from Utkiavwĭñ, show the shanked form. The first is triangular, with a flat shank and a simple barb at each angle of the base. It is of steel (piece of a saw) and 2.8 inches long. The second resembles No. 72760 [165], with more teeth, mounted on a slender cylindrical shank 1½ inches long. It is of iron and 3.9 inches long. The third is a long pile with a sinuate outline and one pair of simple bilateral barbs, and a flat shank one-half inch long. Nos. 72757 [25] (Fig. 186b) and 72762 [25], both from Nuwŭk, are peculiar in being the only iron-pointed arrows with unilateral barbs. The piles are made of the two blades of a pair of large scissors, cut off at the point, with enough of the handle left to make a tang. The unilateral barb is filed out on the back of the blade, which has been beveled down on both faces to a sharp edge. All of these broadheaded arrows have the breadth of the pile at right angles to the plane of the nock, showing that they are not meant to fly like the Sioux war arrows. Although iron makes a better material for arrow piles and is more easily worked than flint, the quivers which some men still carry at Point Barrow contain flint as well as iron headed arrows. They are probably 205 kept in use from the superstitious conservatism already mentioned. It is certain that the man who raised a couple of wolf cubs for the sake of their fur was obliged by tradition to have a flint-headed arrow to kill them with. These arrows, we were informed, were especially designed for hunting “nä´nu,” the polar bear, but of course they also served for use against other dangerous game, like the wolf and brown bear, and there is no reason to believe that they were not also shot at reindeer, though the hunter would naturally use his deer arrows first.

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Fig. 187.—Pile of deer arrow (nûtkăñ).

Deer arrows have a long trihedral pile of antler from 4 to 8 inches long, with a sharp thin-edged point slightly concaved on the faces like the point of a bayonet. Two of the edges are rounded, but the third is sharp and cut into one or more simple barbs. Behind the barb the pile takes the form of a rounded shank, ending in a shoulder and a sharp rounded tang a little enlarged above the point.

No. 72768 [162], Fig. 186e from Utkiavwĭñ, has a pile 3½ inches long with two barbs. The pile of No. 89238 [162] from the same village is 3½ inches long and has but one barb, while that of No. 89241a [162] is 7.8 inches long and has three barbs. The rudely incised figure on the shank of No. 89238 [162] represents a wolf, probably a talisman to make the arrow as fatal to the deer as the wolf is. No. 56588 [13], Fig. 187, is a pile for one of these arrows slightly peculiar in shape, being elliptical in section, with one edge sharp and two-barbed and a four-sided point. The figure shows well the shape of the tang. The peculiarity of these arrows is that the pile is not fastened to the shaft, but can easily be detached.307 When such an arrow was shot into a deer the shaft would easily be shaken out, leaving the sharp barbed pile in the wound.

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Fig. 188.—Kûñmûdlĭñ arrow pile.

The Eskimo told us that a deer wounded in this way would “sleep once and die,” meaning, apparently, that death would ensue in about twenty-four hours, probably from peritonitis. The bone pile is called nû´tkăñ, whence comes the name of the arrow, nû´tko´dlĭñ. We collected ten arrows and three piles of this pattern. No. 89460 [1263], Fig. 188, is a peculiar bone arrow pile, perhaps intended for a deer arrow. It is 7 inches long and made of one of the long bones of some large bird, split lengthwise so that it is rounded on one side and deeply concave on the other, with two thin rounded edges tapered to a sharp point. Each 206 edge has three little barbs about the middle of the pile. This was the only arrowhead of the kind seen at Point Barrow, and the native who sold it said it was a “Kûñmûd´lĭñ” arrow. I was pleased to find the truth of this corroborated by the Museum collection. There are two arrows from the Mackenzie region (Nos. 1106 and 1906) with bone piles of almost the same form.

For shooting gulls, geese, and other large fowl they used an arrow with a straight polygonal pile of walrus ivory, 5 or 6 inches long and about one-half inch in diameter, terminating in a somewhat obtuse polygonal point, and having one or more unilateral barbs. These piles are generally five-sided, though sometimes trihedral, and have a long, rounded tang inserted into the end of the shaft. Fig. 189a (No. 89349 [119] from Utkiavwĭñ), represents one of these arrows with a five-sided pile 5.5 inches long, with four simple barbs. The rest of the arrow does not differ from the others described. No. 89238 [25], from Nuwŭk, has a trihedral pile 6.6 inches long, with a single barb. Another from Nuwŭk (No. 89241 [25]) has a trihedral pile 5.3 inches long, with two barbs, and one from Utkiavwĭñ (No. 89241 [119]) has a five-sided pile with three barbs. The remaining three, from Sidaru, all have five-sided piles with one barb.

Arrows of this pattern are called tuga´lĭñ (from tu´ga, walrus ivory). There are also in the collection two small arrows of this pattern suited for a boy’s bow. They are only 25 inches long, and have roughly trihedral sharp-pointed ivory piles about 4 inches long, without barbs. (No. 89904a [786] from Utkiavwĭñ). These arrows are new and rather carelessly made, and were intended for the lad’s bow (No. 89904 [786]) already described. The three kinds of arrows which have been described all have the pile secured to the stele by a tang fitting into a cleft or hole in the end of the latter, which is kept from splitting by whipping it with sinew for about one-half inch.

The fourth kind, the blunt bird arrow (kĭ´xodwain), on the other hand, has the pile cleft to receive the wedge-shaped tip of the stele and secured by a whipping of sinew. The four arrows of this kind in the collection are almost exactly alike, except that three of them, belonging to the set from Sidaru, have three feathers. Fig. 189b, No. 72773 [234c] from Sidaru represents the form of arrow. The pile is of hard bone 2.3 inches long. A little rim at each side of the butt keeps the whipping of sinew from slipping off. The rest of the arrow differs from the others described only in having the end of the stele chamfered down to a wedge-shaped point to fit into the pile.

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Fig. 189.—Arrows: (a) fowl arrow (tugalĭñ); (b) bird arrow (kixodwain).

This is the kind of arrow mostly used by the boys, whose game is almost exclusively small birds or lemmings. Nowadays the bone pile 207 is often replaced by an empty cartridge shell, which makes a very good head. I have seen a phalarope transfixed at short range by one of these cartridge-headed arrows. An assortment of the different kind of arrows is usually carried in the quiver. The lot numbered 25, from Nuwŭk, which I believe to be a fairly average set, contains two flint-headed bear arrows, one barbed bear arrow with a steel pile, six bear arrows with iron piles, one deer arrow, two fowl arrows, and one bird arrow.

As I have already said, all these arrows are flattened above and below at the nocks. This indicates that they were intended to be held to the string and let go after the manner of what is called the “Saxon release,” namely, by hooking the ends of the index and second fingers round the string and holding the arrow between them, the string being released by straightening the fingers. This is the “release” which we actually saw employed both by the boys and one or two men who showed us how to draw the bow. This method of release has been observed at Cumberland Gulf308 and at East Cape, Siberia, and is probably universal among the Eskimo, as all the Eskimo arrows in the National Museum are fitted for this release. There is ample material in the Museum collections for a comparative study of Eskimo arrows, which I hope some day to be able to undertake, when the material is in a more available condition. One or two references to other regions will not, however, be out of place. The arrow with a barbed bone after-pile seems a very general form, being represented in the Museum from most of the Alaskan regions, as well as from the Mackenzie. Scoresby mentions finding the head of one of these at the ancient settlements in east Greenland.309 The arrow, however, described by Capt. Parry310 has a real foreshaft of bone, not a barbed after pile. One of these arrows from the Mackenzie has the after pile barbed on both sides, the only instance, I believe, in the Museum of a bilaterally-barbed Eskimo arrow where the pile is not wholly of metal.

Bow cases and quivers.

The bow and arrows were carried in a bow case and quiver of black sealskin, tied together side by side and slung across the back in the same manner as the gun holster already described. We obtained one case and quiver which belong with the bow and arrows (No. 25, from Nuwŭk) and a single quiver with the bow and arrows (No. 234, from Sidaru.) The case, No. 89245 [25], Fig. 190a (pizĭ´ksĭzax), is of such a shape that the bow can be carried in it strung and ready for use. It is made by folding lengthwise a piece of black sealskin with the flesh side in and sewing up one side “over and over” from the outside. The bag is wide enough—6 inches at the widest part—to allow the bow to slip in easily when strung, and the small end 208 is bent up into the shape of the end of the bow. Along the folded edge are three round holes about 10 inches apart, through which a round stick was formerly thrust, coming out from the inside through the first hole, in through the second and out through the third again. This served to hold the case in shape when the bow was withdrawn, and to its ends were fastened the thong for slinging it across the shoulders. It was gone from the specimen before we obtained it.

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Fig. 190.—Bow case and quivers.

The quiver (No. 89240-1 [25], Fig. 190b) is a long, straight bag of the same material, open at one end, with a seam down one side, and the edge of the mouth opposite to the seam forming a rounded flap 2 inches long. The other end is closed by an elliptical cap of white tanned seal skin, turned up about 2 inches all round, and crimped round the ends like a boot sole. Its extreme length is 30 inches, and its circumference 1 foot. Inside along the seam is a roughly rounded rod of wood about ½ inch in diameter, with one end, which is pointed, projecting about 1½ inches through a hole in the bottom, and the other projecting about 1 209 inch beyond the mouth, where it is secured by a bit of thong knotted through a couple of small holes in the bag close to the edge and passing round a notch on the stick. The stick serves to stiffen the quiver when there are no arrows in it. A bit of thong is knotted round the middle, one end being hitched into a loop on the other, for tightening up the quiver and confining the arrows.

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Fig. 191.—Quiver rod.

The quiver from Sidaru (No. 72788 [234] Fig. 190c) is like the preceding, but larger at the bottom than at the mouth. The latter is 8½ inches in circumference and the former 12¾, and the seam is left open for about 7½ inches from the mouth to facilitate getting at the arrows. The stiffening rod is made of pine, and does not project through the bottom or reach the edge of the mouth. It is held in by two pieces of thong about 10 inches long, which also serve to fasten it to the bow case. This quiver is nearly new.

It is probable that the form of the bow case and quiver varied but little, among the American Eskimo at least. Those figured by Capt. Lyon311 are almost exactly like the ones we collected at Point Barrow, even to the crimped cap on the bottom of the quiver. A similar set belong with a lad’s bow in the Museum from Point Hope (No. 63611). Nordenskiöld, however, figures a very elaborate flat quiver312, in use at Pitlekaj, which is evidently of genuine Asiatic origin.

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Fig. 192.—Cap for quiver rod.

Some pains seem to have been bestowed on ornamenting the quiver in former times, when the bow was in more general use. Fig. 191, No. 56505 [231], from Nuwŭk, represents what we understood had been a stiffening rod for a quiver or bow case. It is of reindeer antler, 17 inches long, and one end is very neatly carved into the head and shoulders of a reindeer, with small, blue glass beads inserted for the eyes. The lanceolate point at the tip was probably made with an idea of improving it for sale. The hole at the back of the neck is for a thong to fasten it on with. A similar reindeer head of antler, Fig. 192, No. 89449 [1066], also from Nuwŭk, seems to have been a cap for a quiver stick. The back of the neck makes a half-ferrule, in which are three holes for rivets or treenails.


In shooting the bow, the wrist of the bow hand was protected 210 from being chafed by the bowstring by a small shield or “bracer” of bone or horn, strapped on with a thong. We never saw these in use, as the bow is so seldom employed except by the children. Two of these, newly made, were offered for sale. I will describe one of these, No. 89410b [1233], Fig. 193.

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Fig. 193.—Bracer.

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Fig. 194.—Bracer of bone.

It is of pale yellow mountain sheep horn, convex on the outer face and concave on the inner and considerably arched lengthwise. In the middle are two straight longitudinal narrow slots, which serve no apparent purpose except ornament. The short slot near the edge at the middle of each side, however, is for the thongs which strap the bracer to the wrist. One of these is short and made into a becket by fastening the ends together with double slits. One end of the other is passed through the slot, slit, and the other end passed through this and drawn taut. A knot is tied on the free end. This thong is just long enough to fasten on the bracer by passing round the wrist and catching the knot in the loop opposite. The other, No. 89410a [1233], is like this, but 1 inch shorter and nearly flat. The arch of the specimen figured is probably unintentional and due to the natural shape of the material, as it does not fit well to the wrist. It is probable that these people used a flat bracer, as Fig. 194, No. 89350 [1382], from Utkiavwĭñ, is apparently such an implement. It is a thin elliptical plate of hard bone, 2½ inches long and 1½ wide, with two rows of holes crossing at right angles in the middle. The holes at the side were probably for the thong and the others for ornament, as some of them go only part way through. Four small pebbles are lodged in the four holes around the center in the form of a cross.

Mr. Nelson collected several specimens of bracers from Kotzebue Sound and St. Lawrence Island. These are all slightly larger than our specimens, and bent round to fit the wrist. They are of bone or copper. When Beechey visited Kotzebue Sound, in 1826, he found the bracer in general use.313 I find no other mention of this implement in the writers who have described the Eskimo.

Bird darts.

For capturing large birds like ducks or geese, sitting on the water, especially when they have molted their wing feathers so as to be unable to escape by flight, they use the universal Eskimo weapon, found from Greenland to Siberia, namely, a dart with one or more points at the tip, but carrying a second set of three ivory prongs 211 in a circle round the middle of the shaft. The object of these prongs is to increase the chance of hitting the bird if he is missed by the head of the dart. They always curve forward, so that the points stand out a few inches from the shaft, and are barbed on the inner edge in such a way that, though the neck of a fowl will easily pass in between the prong and the shaft, it is impossible to draw it back again. The weapon is in very general use at Point Barrow, and is always thrown from the boat with a handboard (to be described below). It can be darted with considerable accuracy 20 or 30 yards. We seldom saw this spear used, as it is chiefly employed in catching molting fowl, in the summer season, away from the immediate neighborhood of the station. It is called nuiă´kpai, which is a plural referring to the number of points, one of which is called nuiă´kpûk (“the great nuiăk”).314

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Fig. 195.—Bird dart.

No. 89244 [1325], Fig. 195, from Utkiavwĭñ, has been selected as the type of this weapon. The shaft is of spruce, 61⅓ inches long and 0.7 inch in diameter at the head. The end of the butt is hollowed out to fit the catch of the throwing board. The head, of white walrus ivory, is fitted into the cleft end of the shaft with a wedge-shaped tang as broad as the shaft. The head and shaft are held together by a spaced lashing of braided sinew. To the enlargement of the shaft, 22 inches from the butt, are fastened three curved prongs of walrus ivory at equal distances from each other round the shaft. The inner side of each prong is cut away obliquely for about 2 inches, so that when this edge is applied to the shaft, with the point of the prong forward, the latter is about 1 inch from the shaft. Each prong has two little ridges on the outside, one at the lower end and the other about 1 inch above this. They are secured to the shaft by three separate lashings of sinew braid, two narrow ones above the ridges just mentioned and one broad one just below the barb. In making this the line is knotted round one prong, then carried one-third of the distance round the shaft to the prong; half hitched round this, and carried round next the next prong; half hitched round this, and carried round to the starting point, and half hitched round 212 this. It goes around in this way seven times, and then is carried one prong farther, half hitched again, and the end taken down and made fast to the first narrow lashing. The shaft is painted with red ocher to within 13½ inches (the length of the throwing board) from the butt. This is an old shaft and head fitted with new prongs, and was made by Nĭkawa´alu, who was anxious to borrow it again when getting ready to start on his summer trip to the east, where he would find young ducks and molting fowl.

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Fig. 196.—Point for bird dart.

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Fig. 197.—Ancient point for bird dart.

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Fig. 198.—Point for bird dart.

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Fig. 199.—Bird dart with double point.

The form of head seen in this dart appears to be the commonest. It is called by the same name, nû´tkăñ, as the bone head of the deer arrow. There is considerable variation in the number of barbs, which are always bilateral, except in one instance, No. 56590 [122], Fig. 196, from Utkiavwĭñ, which has four barbs on one side only. It is 7¼ inches long exclusive of the tang. Out of eight specimens of such heads one has one pair of barbs, one two pairs, two three pairs, one four unilateral barbs, one five pairs, one six pairs, and one seven pairs. The total length of these heads is from 9 inches to 1 foot, of which the tang makes about 2 inches, and they are generally made of walrus ivory, wherein they differ from the nugfit of the Greenlanders, which, since Crantz’s time315 has always had a head of iron. Iron is also used at Cumberland Gulf, as shown by the specimens in the National Museum. Fig. 197 represents a very ancient spearhead from Utkiavwĭñ, No. 89372 [760]. It is of compact whale’s bone, darkened with age and impregnated with oil. It is 8.7 inches long and the other end is beveled off into a wedge-shaped tang roughened with crosscuts on both faces, with a small hole for the end of a lashing as on the head of No. 89244 [1325]. This was called by the native who sold it the head of a seal spear, ă´kqlĭgûk, and it does bear some slight resemblance to the head of weapon used in Greenland and called by a similar name316 (agdligaḵ). The roughened tang, however, indicates that it was intended to be fixed permanently in the shaft, and this, taken in connection with its strong resemblance to the one-barbed head of the Greenland nugfit317 as well as to the head of the Siberian bird dart figured by Nordenskiöld318, makes it probable that it is really the form of bird dart head anciently used at Point Barrow. It is possible 213 that this pattern has been so long out of use that the natives have forgotten what this old point was made for and supposed it to belong to a seal spear.

One of the eight heads of the ordinary pattern in the collection, No. 56592 [284], a genuine one, old and dirty, is made of coarse-grained whale’s bone, an unusual material. No. 89373 [948], from Utkiavwĭñ, an ivory head of a good typical shape, has been figured (Fig. 198) to show a common style of ornamenting these heads. A narrow incised line, colored with red ocher, runs along the base of the barbs on each side for about three-fourths the length of the blade. These heads are sometimes secured by treenails as well as by a simple lashing, as is shown by the holes through the tang of this specimen.

An improvement on this style of dart, which appears to be less common, has two prongs at the tip instead of a sharp head, so that the bird may be caught if struck on the neck with the point of the spear. No. 89905 [1326], Fig. 199, from Utkiavwĭñ, is one of this pattern. The two prongs are fastened on with a lashing of fine sinew braid. The rest of the dart does not differ from the one described except in the method of attaching the three prongs at the middle (Fig. 199b). These are fitted into slight grooves in the wood and secured by two neat lashings of narrow strips of whalebone, one just above a little ridge at the lower end of each prong and one through little holes in each prong at the top of the oblique edge. Each lashing consists of several turns with the end closely wrapped around them. There is one specimen, No. 89242 [526], in the collection which not only has not the prongs at the middle, but lacks the enlargement of the shaft to receive them. The head is undoubtedly old and genuine, but the shaft and fittings, though dirty, look suspiciously fresh. I am inclined to believe that this head was mounted for sale by a man who had no prongs ready made, and was in too much of a hurry to get his price to stop to make them. Imperfect or unfinished objects were frequently offered for sale.

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Fig. 200.—Ancient ivory dart head.

The bird darts used at Point Barrow, and by the western Eskimo generally, are lighter and better finished than those used in the east. The latter have a heavy shaft, which is four-sided in Baffin Land, and the prongs are crooked and clumsy.319


Fig. 200, No. 89380 [793], is a fragment of a very ancient narwhal ivory spearhead, dark brown from age and shiny from much handling, which appears to have been worn as an amulet. It was said to have come from the east and to belong to a bird dart, though it does not resemble any in use at the present day in this region. It is a slender four-sided rod, having on one side three short oblique equidistant simple barbs. The resemblance of this specimen to the bone dart heads from Scania figured by Dr. Rau320 is very striking.

Seal darts.

The Eskimo of nearly all localities use a dart or small harpoon to capture the smaller marine animals, with a loose, barbed head of bone fitted into a socket in the end of the shaft, to which it is attached by a line of greater or less length. It is always contrived so that when the head is struck into the quarry, the shaft is detached from the head and acts as a drag upon the animal. This is effected by attaching an inflated bladder to the shaft, or else by attaching the line with a martingale so that the shaft is dragged sideways through the water. Nearly all Eskimo except those of Point Barrow, as shown in the National Museum collections and the figures in Crantz321 and Rink322, use weapons of this kind of considerable size, adapted not only to the capture of the small seals (Phoca vitulina and P. fœtida), but also to the pursuit of the larger seals, the narwhal and beluga. At Point Barrow, however, at the present day, they employ only a small form of this dart, not over 5 feet long, with a little head, adapted only for holding the smallest seals. That they formerly used the larger weapon is shown by our finding a single specimen of the head of such a spear, No. 89374 [1281] Fig. 201. It is of hard, compact bone, impregnated with oil, 8.1 inches long. The flat shank is evidently intended to fit into a socket. The two holes through the widest part of the shank are for attaching the line.

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Fig. 201.—Bone dart head.

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Fig. 202.—Nozzle for bladder float.

This is very like the head of the weapon called agligak (modern Greenlandic agdligak), figured by Crantz, and referred to above, except that the barbs are opposite each other. Mr. Lucien M. Turner tells me that it is precisely like the head of the dart used at Norton Sound for capturing the beluga. The native who sold this specimen called it “nuiă´kpai nû´tkoa,” “the point of a bird dart,” to which it does bear some resemblance, though the shape of the butt and the line holes indicate plainly that it was a detachable dart head. Probably, as in the case of the ancient bird dart point, No. 89372 [760], referred to above, this weapon has been so long disused that the natives have forgotten what it was. The name ă´kqlĭgûk, evidently the same as the 215 Greenlandic agdligak, is still in use, but was always applied to the old bone harpoon heads, which are, however, of the toggle-head pattern (described below). It seems as if the Point Barrow natives had forgotten all about the ă´kqlĭgûk except that it was a harpoon with a bone head for taking seals. At the present time the small bladder float, permanently attached to the shaft of the harpoon, is never used at Point Barrow. That it was used in ancient times is shown by our finding in one of the ruined houses in Utkiavwĭñ a very old broken nozzle for inflating one of these floats. Fig. 202, No. 89720 [756], is this specimen, which was picked up by Capt. Herendeen. This is a rounded tube of fossil ivory, 1.3 inches long and about one-half inch in diameter, slightly contracted toward one end and then expanded into a stout collar. At the other is a stout longitudinal flange, three-fourths inch long, perforated with an oblong slot. Between the flange and the collar the surface is roughened with crosscuts, and the other end is still choked with the remains of a wooden plug. This nozzle was inserted into a hole in the bladder as far as the flange and secured by tying the bladder above the collar. The whole was then secured to the shaft by a lashing through the slot, and could be inflated at pleasure and corked up with the wooden plug.

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Fig. 203.—Seal dart.

As I have already said, the only harpoon of this kind now used at Point Barrow is a small one intended only for the capture of small seals. It has no bladder, but the rather long line is attached to the shaft by a martingale which makes the shaft drag sideways through the water. Three of these little darts, which are thrown with a handboard like the bird dart, make a set. The resistance of the shafts 216 of these three spears darted into the seal in succession is said to be sufficient to fatigue the seal so that he can be easily approached and dispatched. We never saw these weapons used, though they are very common, as they are intended only for use from the kaiak, which these people seldom use in the neighborhood of the villages. When in the umiak, shooting with the rifle is a more expeditious means of taking seals. We collected three sets of these darts (kúkigû).

No. 89249b [523], Fig. 203, has been selected for description. The shaft is of spruce, 54½ inches long, and 0.8 inch in diameter at the tip, tapering slightly almost to the butt, which is hollowed on the end to fit the catch of the throwing board. The foreshaft is of white walrus ivory 5 inches long, and is fitted into the tip of the shaft with a wedge-shaped tang. This foreshaft, which has a deep oblong slot to receive the head in the middle of its flat tip, serves the double purpose of making a strong solid socket for the head and giving sufficient weight to the end of the dart to make it fly straight. The head is a simple flat barbed arrowhead of hard bone 2.3 inches long and one-half inch broad across the barbs, with a flat tang, broadest in the middle, where there is a hole for attaching the line. This head simply serves to attach the drag of the shaft to the seal as it is too small to inflict a serious wound. It is fastened to the shaft by a martingale made as follows: One end of a stout line of sinew braid 5½ feet long is passed through the hole in the head and secured by tying a knot in the end. The other end of this line divides into two parts not quite so stout, one 3 feet long, the other 2 feet 8 inches. The latter is fastened to the shaft 18½ inches from the butt by a single marling hitch with the end wedged into a slit in the wood and seized down with fine sinew. The longer part serves to fasten the foreshaft to the shaft, and was probably put on separately and worked into the braiding of the rest of the line at the junction. The foreshaft is kept from slipping out by a little transverse ridge on each side of the tang. When the weapon is mounted for use the two parts of the bridle are brought together at the middle of the shaft and wrapped spirally around it till only enough line is left to permit the head to be inserted in the socket, and the bight of the line is secured by tucking it under the last turn. When a seal is struck with this dart his sudden plunge to escape unships the head. The catch of the martingale immediately slips; the latter unrolls and drags the shaft through the water at right angles to the line. The shaft, besides acting as a drag on the seal’s motions, also serves as a float to indicate his position to the hunter, as its buoyancy brings it to the surface before the seal when the latter rises for air.

The shaft is usually painted red except so much of the end as lies in the groove of the throwing-board, in the act of darting. These darts vary but little in size and material, and are all of essentially the same pattern. They are always about 5 feet in length when mounted for use. (The longest is 64⅓ inches, and the shortest 57.) The head, as 217 well as the foreshaft, is sometimes made of walrus ivory, and the latter sometimes of whale’s bone. The chief variation is in the length of the martingale, and the details of the method of attaching it. No two are precisely alike. The foreshaft is generally plain, but is occasionally highly ornamented, as is shown in Fig. 204, No. 56516 [105]. The figures are all incised and colored, some with ocher and some with soot.

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Fig. 204.—Foreshaft of seal dart.

Both of the kinds of darts above described are thrown by means of a hand board or throwing-board. This is a flat, narrow board, from 15 to 18 inches long, with a handle at one end and a groove along the upper surface in which the spear lies with the butt resting against a catch at the other end. The dart is propelled by a quick motion of the wrist, as in casting with a fly-rod, which swings up the tip of the board and launches the dart forward. This contrivance, which practically makes of the hand a lever 18 inches long, enables the thrower by a slight motion of the wrist to impart great velocity to the dart. The use of this implement is universal among the Eskimo, though not peculiar to them. The Greenlanders, however, not only use it for the two kinds of darts already mentioned, but have adapted it to the large harpoon.323 This is undoubtedly to adapt the large harpoon for use from the kaiak, which the Greenlanders use more habitually than most other Eskimo. On the other hand, the people of Baffin Land and the adjoining regions, as well as the inhabitants of northeastern Siberia, use it only with the bird dart.324 Throughout western North America the throwing-board is used essentially as at Point Barrow. Prof. O. T. Mason has given325 an interesting account of the different forms of throwing-board used by the Eskimo and Aleuts of North America.

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Fig. 205.—Throwing board for darts.


We obtained five specimens of the form used at Point Barrow. No. 89233 [523], Fig. 205a, belonging to the set of seal darts bearing the same collector’s number, has been selected as the type. This is made of spruce, and the hole is for the forefinger. A little peg of walrus ivory, shaped like a flat-headed nail, is driven through the middle of the tip so that the edge of the head just projects into the groove. This fits into the hollow in the butt of the dart and serves to steady it. It is painted red on the back and sides. Fig. 205b, No. 89235 [60], differs from this in having a double curve instead of being flat. A slight advantage is gained by this as in a crooked lever. The catch is a small iron nail. The others are essentially the same as the type. No. 89234 [528], has a small brass screw for the catch, and No. 89902 [1326], has an ivory peg of a slightly different shape, the head having only a projecting point on one side. They are generally painted with red ocher except on the inside of the groove. There appears to be no difference between throwing-boards meant for seal darts and those used with the bird dart.

Unfortunately I had no opportunity of observing accurately how the handle was grasped, but it is probably held as seen by Beechey at Eschscholtz Bay,326 namely, with the forefinger in the hole, the thumb and middle finger clasped round the spear, and the third and little fingers clasping the handle under the spear. This seems a very natural way of holding it. Of course, the fingers release the spear at the moment of casting. All the throwing-boards from Point Barrow are right-handed.


All kinds of marine animals, including the smaller seals, which are also captured with the darts just described and with nets, are pursued with harpoons of the same general type, but of different patterns for the different animals. They may be divided into two classes—those intended for throwing, which come under the head of projectile weapons, and those which do not leave the hand, but are thrust into the animal. These fall properly under the head of thrusting weapons. Both classes agree in having the head only attached permanently to the line, fitted loosely to the end of the shaft, and arranged so that when struck into the animal it is detached from the shaft, and turns under the skin at right angles to the line, like a toggle, so that it is almost impossible for it to draw out.

No. 89793 [873], Fig. 206, is a typical toggle head of this kind, intended for a walrus harpoon (túkɐ), and will be described in full, as the names of the different parts will apply to all heads of this class. The body is a conoidal piece, 4½ inches in length, and flattened laterally so that at the widest part it is 1 inch wide and 0.7 thick. On one side, which may be called the lower, it is cut off straight for about half the 219 longer diameter, while the upper side is produced into a long, four-sided spur, the barb. The line hole is a round hole about one-fourth inch in diameter, a little back of the middle of the body, at right angles to its longer diameter. From this, on each side, run shallow line grooves to the base of the body, gradually deepening as they run into the line hole. In the middle of the base of the body is the deep, cup-shaped shaft-socket, which fits the conical tip of the shaft or fore shaft. In the tip of the body is cut, at right angles to the longer diameter of the body, and therefore at right angles to the plane of the barb, the narrow blade slit, 1.1 inches deep, into which fits, secured by a single median rivet of whalebone, the flat, thin blade of metal (brass in this case). This is triangular, with curved edges, narrowly beveled on both faces, and is 1.9 inches long and 1 broad.

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Fig. 206.—Harpoon head.

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Fig. 207.—Harpoon head.

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Fig. 208.—Ancient bone harpoon head.

The body is sometimes cut into faces so as to be hexagonal instead of elliptical in section as in Fig. 207 (No. 89791 [873]), and intermediate forms are common. When such a head is mounted for use a bight of the line or leader, a short line for connecting the head with the main line, runs through the line hole so that the head is slung in a loop in the end of the line. The tip of the shaft is then fitted into the shaft socket and the line brought down the shaft with the parts of the loop on each side resting in the line grooves and is made fast, usually so that a slight pull will detach it from the shaft. When the animal is struck the blade cuts a wound large enough to allow the head to pass in beyond the barb. The struggles of the animal make the head slip off the tip of the shaft and the strain on the line immediately toggles it across the wound. The toggle head of the whale harpoon is called kia¢ron, of the walrus harpoon, tukɐ, and of the seal harpoon, naulɐ. They are all of essentially the same pattern, differing chiefly in size.

There is in the collection an interesting series of old harpoon heads, showing a number of steps in the development of the modern pattern of harpoon head from an ancient form. These heads seem to have been preserved as amulets; in fact one of them is still attached to a belt. They are not all of the same kind, but since the different kinds as mentioned above practically differ only in size, their development was probably the same. The earliest form in the collection is No. 89382 [1383], Fig. 208, from Nuwŭk, which is evidently very old, as it is much worn and weathered. It is a single flat piece of fine-grained bone 3 inches long, pointed at the end and provided with a single unilateral barb. 220 Behind this it is narrowed and then widened into a broad flat base produced on one side into a sharp barb, in the same plane as the other barb, which represents the blade, but on the opposite side. The line hole is large and irregularly triangular, and there are no line grooves. Instead of a shaft socket bored in the solid body, one side of the body is excavated into a deep longitudinal groove, which was evidently converted into a socket by a transverse band, probably of sealskin, running round the body, and kept in place by a shallow transverse groove on the convex side of it. A harpoon head with the socket made by inclosing a groove with thongs was seen by Dr. Kane at Smith Sound.327

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Fig. 209.—Harpoon heads: (a) ancient bone harpoon head: (b) variant of the type.

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Fig. 210.—Bone harpoon head.

The next form, No. 89331 [932], Fig. 209a, has two bilateral barbs to the blade part, thus increasing its holding power. Instead of an open transverse groove to hold the thong, it has two slots parallel to the socket groove running obliquely to the other side, where they open into a shallow depression. Figs. 209b and 210, Nos. 89544 [1419] and 89377 [766], are variants of this form, probably intended for the larger seal, as the blade part is very long in proportion. No. 89544 [1419] is interesting from its close resemblance to the spear head figured by Nordenskiöld328 from the ancient “Onkilon” house at North Cape. No. 89377 [766] is a peculiar form, which was perhaps not general, as it has left no descendants among the modern harpoon. Instead of the bilateral blade barbs it has an irregular slot on each side, which evidently served to hold a blade of stone, and the single barb of the body is replaced by a cluster of four, which are neither in the plane of the blade nor at right angles to it, but between the two. No modern harpoon heads from Point Barrow have more than two barbs on the body. The next improvement was to bore the shaft socket instead of making it by inclosing a groove with thongs. This is shown in Fig. 211 (No. 89379 [795], from Utkiavwĭñ), which is just like No. 89544 [1419] except in this respect. The line grooves first appear at this stage of the development.

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Fig. 211.—Bone harpoon head.

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Fig. 212.—Harpoon head, bone and stone.


The next step was to obtain greater penetration by substituting a triangular blade of stone for the barbed bone point, with its breadth still in the plane of the body barb. This blade was either of slate (No. 89744 [969] from Nuwŭk) or of flint, as in Fig. 212 (No. 89748 [928], also from Nuwŭk). Both of these are whale harpoons, such as are sometimes used even at the present day.

Before the introduction of iron it was discovered that if the blade were inserted at right angles to the plane of the body barb the harpoon would have a surer hold, since the strain on the line would always draw it at right angles to the length of the wound cut by the blade. This is shown in Fig. 213 (No. 56620 [199], a walrus harpoon head from Utkiavwĭñ), which has the slate blade inserted in this position. Substituting a metal blade for the stone one gives us the modern toggle head, as already described. That the insertion of the stone blade preceded the rotation of the plane of the latter is, I think, conclusively shown by the whale harpoons329 already mentioned, in spite of the fact that we have a bone harpoon head in the collection, No. 89378 [1261], figured in Point Barrow report, which is exactly like No. 89379 [795], except that it has the blade at right angles to the plane of the body barb. This is, however, a newly made model in reindeer antler of the ancient harpoon, and was evidently made by a man so used to the modern pattern that he forgot this important distinction. The development of this spear head has been carried no further at Point Barrow. At one or two places, however, namely, at Cumberland Gulf in the east330 and at Sledge Island in the west (as shown in Mr. Nelson’s collection), they go a step further in making the head of the seal harpoon, body and blade, of one piece of iron. The shape, however, is the same as those with the ivory or bone body.

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Fig. 213.—Harpoon head, bone and stone.


All of the Eskimo race, as far as I have any definite information, use toggle harpoon-heads. There are specimens in the National Museum from Greenland, Cumberland Gulf, the Anderson and Mackenzie region, and from the Alaskan coast from Point Barrow to Kadiak, as well as from St. Lawrence Island, which are all of essentially the same type, but slightly modified in different localities. The harpoon head in use at Smith Sound is of the same form as the walrus harpoon heads used at Point Barrow, but appears always to have the shaft socket made by a groove closed with thongs.331 In Danish Greenland, however, the body has an extra pair of bilateral barbs below the blade. The Greenlanders have, as it were, substituted a metal blade for the point only of the barbed blade portion of such a bone head as No. 89379 [795].332

Curiously enough, this form of the toggle head appears again in the Mackenzie and Anderson region, as shown by the extensive collections of Ross, MacFarlane, and others. In this region the metal blade itself is often cut into one or more pairs of bilateral barbs. At the Straits of Fury and Hecla, Parry found the harpoon head, with a body like the walrus harpoon heads at Point Barrow,333 but with the blade in the plane of the body barb. Most of the pictures scattered through the work represent the blade in this position, but Fig. 19 on the same plate has the blade at right angles to the barb, so that the older form may not be universal. At Cumberland Gulf the form of the body is considerably modified, though the blade is of the usual shape and in the ordinary position. The body is flattened at right angles to the usual direction, so that the thickness is much greater than the width. It always has two body barbs. On the western coast the harpoon heads are much less modified, though there is a tendency to increase the number of body barbs, at the same time ornamenting the body more elaborately as we go south from Bering Strait. Walrus harpoon heads with a single barb, hardly distinguishable from those used at Point Barrow, are in the collection from the Diomedes and all along the northern shore of Norton Sound, and one also from the mouth of the Kuskoquim. They are probably also used from Point Barrow to Kotzebue Sound. At St. Lawrence Island and on the Asiatic shore they are the common if not the universal form.334 The seal harpoon head (naulɐ) at Point Barrow appears always to have the body barb split at the tip into two, and this is the case rarely with the tu´kɐ. This form, which appears occasionally north of Norton Sound (Port Clarence, Cape Nome), appears to be more common south of this locality, where, however, a pattern with the barb divided into three points seems to be the prevailing form. I will now proceed to the description of the different forms of harpoon with which these toggle heads are used.


Throwing-harpoons are always thrown from the hand without a throwing-board or other assistance, and are of two sizes, one for the walrus and bearded seal, and one for the small seals. Both have a long shaft of wood to the tip of which is attached a heavy bone or ivory foreshaft, usually of greater diameter than the shaft and somewhat club-shaped. This serves the special purpose of giving weight to the head of the harpoon, so it can be darted with a sure aim. The native name of this part of the spear, ukumailuta (Greenlandic, okimailutaĸ, weight), indicates its design. This contrivance of weighting the head of the harpoon with a heavy foreshaft is peculiar to the western Eskimo. On all the eastern harpoons (see figures referred to above and the Museum collections) the foreshaft is a simple cap of bone no larger than the shaft the tip of which it protects. Between the foreshaft and the toggle-head is interposed the loose shaft (i´gimû), a slender rod of bone whose tip fits into the shaft socket of the head, while its butt fits loosely in a socket in the tip of the foreshaft. It is secured to the shaft by a thong just long enough to allow it to be unshipped from the foreshaft. This not only prevents the loose shaft from breaking under a lateral strain, but by its play facilitates unshipping the head. On these harpoons intended for throwing, this loose shaft is always short. This brings the weight of the foreshaft close to the head, while it leaves space enough for the head to penetrate beyond the barb.

The walrus harpoon varies in size, being adapted to the strength and stature of the owner. Of the six in our collection, the longest, when mounted for use, is 9 feet 6 inches long, and the shortest 5 feet 8 inches. The ordinary length appears to be about 7 feet. It has a long, heavy shaft (ipua) of wood, usually between 5 and 6 feet long and tapering from a diameter of 1½ inches at the head to about 1 inch at the butt. The head is not usually fastened directly to the line, but has a leader of double thong 1 to 2 feet long, with a becket at the end into which the main line is looped or hitched. At the other end of the line, which is about 30 feet long, is another becket to which is fastened a float consisting of a whole sealskin inflated. When the head is fitted on the tip of the loose shaft the line is brought down to the middle of the shaft and hooked by means of a little becket to an ivory peg (ki´lerbwĭñ) projecting from the side of the shaft. The eastern Eskimo have, in place of the simple becket, a neat little contrivance consisting of a plate of ivory lashed to the line with a large slot in it which hooks over the catch, but nothing of the sort was observed at Point Barrow.

The harpoon thus mounted is poised in the right hand with the forefinger resting against a curved ivory projection (ti´ka) and darted like a white man’s harpoon, the float and line being thrown overboard at the same time. When a walrus is struck the head slips off and toggles as already described; the line detaches itself from the catch, leaving the shaft free to float and be picked up. The float is now fastened to the walrus, and, like the shaft of the seal dart, both shows his whereabouts 224 and acts as a drag on his movements until he is “played” enough for the hunters to come up and dispatch him. This weapon is called u´nakpûk, “the great u´na or spear.” U´na (unâk, u´nañ) appears to be a generic term in Eskimo for harpoon, but at Point Barrow is now restricted to the harpoon used for stabbing seals as they come up to their breathing holes.

We collected six of these walrus harpoons complete and forty-two separate heads. Of these, No. 56770 [534], Fig. 214a, has the most typical shaft and loose shaft. The shaft is of spruce 71 inches long, roughly rounded, and tapering from a diameter of 1½ inches at the tip to 0.8 at the butt. The foreshaft is of white walrus ivory, 6.7 inches long, exclusive of the wedge-shaped tang which fits into a cleft in the tip of the shaft. It is somewhat club-shaped, being 1.6 inches in diameter at the tip and tapering to 1.3 just above the butt, which expands to the diameter of the shaft, and is separated from the tang by a square transverse shoulder. The shaft and foreshaft are fastened together by a whipping of broad seal thong, put on wet, one end passing through a hole in the foreshaft one-quarter inch from the shaft, and kept from slipping by a low transverse ridge on each side of the tang. In the tip of the foreshaft is a deep, round socket to receive the loose shaft, which is a tapering rod of walrus ivory 4.4 inches long, shouldered off at the butt, which is 0.7 inch in diameter, to a blunt, rounded tang 0.9 inch long. It fits loosely into the foreshaft up to the shoulder, and is secured by a piece of narrow seal thong which passes through a transverse hole one-half inch above the shoulder. The end is spliced to the standing part with double slits about 6 inches from the loose shaft, and the other end makes a couple of turns outside of the lashing on the shaft mentioned above and is secured with two half-hitches.

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Fig. 214.—Walrus harpoons.

The line catch (ki´lerbwĭñ) is a little, blunt, backward-pointing hook of ivory inserted in the shaft 17 inches from the tip and projecting about one-third inch. Ten and one-fourth inches farther back and 90 225 degrees round the shaft from the line catch is the finger rest—a conical recurved piece of ivory 1 inch high, with a flat base, resting against the shaft and secured by a lashing of whalebone, which passes through two corresponding holes, one in the rest and one in the shaft. The head and line belonging to this harpoon are intended for hunting the bearded seal, and will be described below. No. 56772 [536], Fig. 214b, from Utkiavwĭñ, is fitted with fairly typical walrus gear. The head is of the typical form, 6 inches long, with a conoidal body of walrus ivory, ornamented with incised lines colored with red ocher, and a blade of steel secured by a whalebone rivet. The “leader,” which is about 15 inches long, is made by passing one end of a piece of stout walrus-hide thong about one-quarter inch wide through the line hole and doubling it with the head in the bight, so that one part is about 6 inches the longer. The two parts are stopped together about 2 inches from the head with a bit of sinew braid. The ends are joined and made into a becket, as follows: The longer end is doubled back for 7 inches and a slit cut through both parts about 2 inches from the end. The shorter end is passed through this slit, and a slit is cut 5 inches from the end of this, through which the loop of the other end is passed and all drawn taut. The whole joint is then tightly seized with sinew braid so as to leave a becket 3 inches and a free end 4 inches long. This becket is looped into an eye 1½ inches long at the end of the main line, made by doubling over 5 inches of the end and stopping the two parts firmly together with sinew braid. The line is of the hide of the bearded seal, about the same diameter as the leader, and 27 feet long. It is in two nearly equal parts, spliced together with double slits, firmly seized with sinew braid. There is a becket about 8 inches long at the other end of the line for attaching the float, made by doubling over the end and tying a carrick bend, the end of which is stopped back to the standing part with sinew braid. The becket to hook upon the line catch is a bit of sinew braid, fastened to the line 2½ feet from the head, as follows: One end being laid against the line it is doubled in a bight and the end is whipped down to the line by the other end, which makes five turns round them.

I will now consider the variations of the different parts of these harpoons in detail, beginning with the head. Our series is so large, containing in all forty-eight heads, besides some spare blades, that it probably gives a fair representation of the common variations. The longest of this series is 6 inches long and the shortest 3½, but by far the greater number are from 4½ to 5 inches long. Their proportions are usually about as in the types figured, but the long head just figured (No. 56772 [534]) is also unusually slender. Sheet brass is the commonest material for the blade (thirty blades are of this material), though iron or steel is sometimes used, and rarely, at present, slate. There is one slate-bladed head in the series (No. 56620 [199]) figured above, and four blades for such heads. The blade is commonly of the shape of the 226 type figured, triangular with curved edges, varying from a rather long triangle like the slate blade just mentioned to a rather short one with very strongly curved edges like Fig. 215a (No. 89750 [1038]), which is peculiar as the only walrus harpoon head with a body of reindeer antler. It also has an iron blade and a rivet of iron, not seldom with rounded basal angles so as to be almost heart-shaped, like Fig. 215b (No. 56621 [283]). A less common shape of blade is lanceolate, with the base cut off square as in Fig. 216a (No. 89764 [940]). Only eight blades out of the series are of this shape. A still more peculiar shape of blade, of which we saw only one specimen, is shown in Fig. 216b (No. 89790 [943]). This is made of brass. It was perhaps meant for an imitation of the barbed blades used at the Mackenzie, of which I have already spoken.

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Fig. 215.—Typical walrus-harpoon heads.

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Fig. 216.—Typical walrus-harpoon heads.

The blade, when of metal, is generally fastened in with a single rivet. One only out of the whole number has two rivets, and three are simply wedged into the blade slit. The slate blades appear never to have been riveted; Nordenskiöld, however, figures a walrus harpoon from Port Clarence335 with a jade blade riveted in. The rivet is generally made of whalebone, but other materials are sometimes used. For instance, in the series collected two have rivets of iron, two of wood, and five of rawhide. The body is generally made of white walrus ivory, (five of those collected are of hard bone, and one already mentioned and figured, No. 89750 [1038], Fig. 215a, is of reindeer antler), and the hexagonal shape, often with rounded edges, and the line grooves continued to the tip, as in Fig. 217a, No. 89757 [947], appears to be the commonest. Three out of the forty-eight have four-sided bodies. It is unusual for the body barb to be bifurcated, as is common farther south. 227 Only three out of the forty-eight show this peculiarity, of which No. 56613 [53], Fig. 217b, is an example.

The specimens figured show the different styles of ornamentation, which always consist of incised patterns colored with red ocher or rarely with soot. These never represent natural objects, but are always conventional patterns, generally a single or double border on two or more faces with short oblique cross-lines and branches. Harpoon heads at Point Barrow are probably never ornamented with the “circles and dots,” so common on other implements and on the harpoons of the southern Eskimo.

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Fig. 217.—Typical walrus-harpoon heads.

Twenty-eight of the heads still have the leaders attached to them. The object of this short line is to enable the hunter to readily detach a broken head and put on a fresh one without going to the trouble of undoing a splice, which must be made strong to keep the head from separating from the line. It is made of a stout piece of rawhide thong, the skin of the walrus or bearded seal, about one-third inch in diameter, and usually from 2 to 3 feet long. It is always passed through the line hole, as in the specimen described, and the ends are made into a becket for attaching the line, with an end left to serve as a handle for pulling the two beckets apart when the main line ends in a becket. Occasionally (two are made this way) the longer end is simply doubled in a bight, and the three parts are then seized together with sinew braid, but it is generally made with a splice, the details of which differ slightly on the different leaders.

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Fig. 218.—Walrus-harpoon head, with leader.

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Fig. 220.—Walrus-harpoon head, with line.


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Fig. 219.—Walrus-harpoon head, with line.

The commonest method is that already described. When the longer end is doubled over, a slit is cut through both parts close to the end of this through which the shorter end is passed. A slit is then cut a few inches from the tip of this part, the bight of the becket passed through this slit and all drawn taut. This makes a very strong splice. Fourteen beckets are spliced in this way. A variation of this splice has a slit only through the end part of the longer end, the shorter end being passed through and slit as before. In one becket the standing part of the longer end is passed through the slit of the end part before going through the line hole, while the rest of the becket is made as before. A reversed splice is found on three of the leaders, which is made as follows: When the long end is doubled over, the short end is slit as usual and the longer end passed through this and slit close to the tip. Through this slit is passed the head and all drawn taut. The splice is always firmly seized with sinew braid. The main line, which serves to attach the head to the float, is always made of stout thong, preferably the skin of the bearded seal (very fine lines are sometimes made of beluga skin), about one-third inch square, and, when properly made, trimmed off on the edges so as to be almost round. It is about 10 yards long. It is fastened into the becket of the leader with a becket hitch tied upside down (No. 56771 [535], Fig. 218), or by means of a small becket, made either as on the specimen described (No. 56770 [536], Fig. 219), or spliced with double slits. The long becket at the other end for attaching 229 the float is made either by tying a carrick bend with the end stopped back to the standing part (Fig. 220, No. 56767 [531]), or by splicing (Fig. 221, No. 56769).

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Fig. 221.—Walrus-harpoon head, with line.

The loose shaft varies very little in shape, though it is sometimes rounded off at the butt without a shoulder, but the line which secures this to the foreshaft is put on differently on each of the six spears. Five of them have the end simply passed through the hole in the loose shaft and spliced to the standing part, but two (the type figured and No. 56768 [532]) have the other end carried down and hitched round the tip of the shaft; another has it passed through a hole in the foreshaft, taken 1½ turns round this and knotted (No. 56771 [535]); another has a loop as long as the foreshaft with the short end passed under the first turn of the shaft lashing before it is spliced, and the long end secured as on the first mentioned; and the fifth has the end passed through a hole in the foreshaft and carried down and wrapped round the shaft lashing. The sixth has one end passed through a hole in the smallest part of the foreshaft and knotted at the end, the other end carried up through the hole in the loose shaft and down to a second hole in the foreshaft close to the first, then up through the loose shaft, and down through the first hole, and tucked under the two parts on the other side.

The foreshaft is made of walrus ivory or the hard bone of the walrus jaw and varies little in form and dimensions. It is sometimes ornamented by carving, as in No. 56772 [536], or by incised patterns, as in Fig. 222, No. 56538 [98], and generally has one or two deep longitudinal notches in the thickest part, in which the lines can be drawn snugly down. It usually is joined to the shaft by a stout, wedge-shaped tang, which fits into a corresponding cleft in the shaft, and is secured by wooden treenails and a wrapping of seal thong or sinew braid, sometimes made more secure by passing 230 one end through holes in the foreshaft. No. 56768 [532] is peculiar in having the tang on the shaft and the corresponding cleft in the foreshaft. The shaft itself varies little in shape and proportions, and at the present day is sometimes made of ash or other hard wood obtained from the ships. The line catch is generally a little hook of ivory or hard bone like the one described, but two specimens have small screws fastened into the shaft to serve this purpose. The finger rest is ordinarily of the same shape as on the type and fastened on in the same way, but No. 56771 [535] has this made of a knob of ivory elaborately carved into a seal’s head. The eyes are represented by round bits of ivory with pupils drilled in them inlaid in the head. This is evidently the knob of a seal drag (see below) as the longitudinal perforation from chin to nape now serves no purpose. It is fastened on by a lashing of whalebone, which runs round the shaft and through a transverse hole in the knob.

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Fig. 222.—Foreshaft of walrus harpoon.

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Fig. 223.—Harpoon head for large seals.

Harpoons closely resembling these in type are used by the Eskimo of western North America wherever they habitually hunt the walrus. At many places this heavy spear is armed at the butt with a long sharp pick of ivory like the smaller seal spear. Two of these large harpoons appear to be rigged especially for the pursuit of the bearded seal, as they have heads which are of precisely the same shape and material as the small seal harpoons in the collection. Both these heads have lanceolate iron blades, conoidal antler bodies with double barbs, and are more slender than the walrus harpoon heads. No. 56770 [534], Fig. 219, has a head 4 inches long and 0.7 broad at the widest part, and fastened to a very long line (12 fathoms long) without a leader, the end being simply passed through the line hole and seized down to the standing part with sinew braid. This is the method of attaching the head of the small seal harpoons. This line is so long that it may have been held in the boat and not attached to a float. No. 56768 [532], however, has a leader with a becket of the ordinary style. Fig. 223, No. 56611 [89], is a head similar to those just described, and probably, from its size, intended for large seals. It is highly ornamented with the usual reddened incised pattern.

The throwing harpoon for small seals is an exact copy in miniature of the walrus harpoon, with the addition of a long bayonet-shaped pick of ivory at the butt. The line, however, is upwards of 30 yards long, and the end never leaves the hand. The line is hitched round the shaft back of the line catch, which now only serves to keep the line from slipping forward, as the shaft is never detached from the line. This harpoon is used exclusively 231 for retrieving seals that have been shot in open holes or leads of water within darting distance from the edge of the solid ice, and is thrown precisely as the walrus harpoon is, except that the end of the line is held in the left hand. In traveling over the ice the line with the head attached is folded in long hanks and slung on the gun case at the back. The rest of the weapon is carried in the hand and serves as a staff in walking and climbing among the ice, where the sharp pick is useful to prevent slipping and to try doubtful ice, and also enables the hunter to break away thin ice at the edge of the hole, so as to draw his game up to the solid floe. It can also serve as a bayonet in case of necessity. This peculiar form of harpoon is confined to the coast from Point Barrow to Bering Strait, the only region where the seal is hunted with the rifle in the small open holes of water.336

Since my note in the Naturalist was written, I have learned from Mr. Henry Balfour, of the museum at Oxford, that their collection contains two or three specimens of this very pattern of harpoon, undoubtedly collected by some of the officers of the Blossom. Consequently, my theory that the retrieving harpoon was a modern invention, due to the introduction of firearms, becomes untenable, as the Blossom visited this region before firearms were known to the Eskimo. It was probably originally intended for the capture of seals “hauled out” on the ice in the early summer. There is no doubt, however, that it is at the present day used for nothing but retrieving.

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Fig. 224.—Retrieving seal harpoon.

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Fig. 225.—Details of retrieving seal harpoon.

Though this weapon was universally used at Point Barrow, we happened to obtain only two specimens, possibly because the natives thought them too necessary an implement to part with lightly. No. 89907 [1695], Figs. 224, 225, has a new shaft, etc., but was used several times by the maker before it was offered for sale. Such a retrieving harpoon is called naúlĭgɐ. The shaft (ipúa) is of ash, 4 feet 5 inches long and 1 inch in diameter, tapering very slightly to each end. The ice pick (túu) of walrus ivory, 14 inches long and 1 inch wide, has a round tang fitting into a hole in the butt of the shaft. Close to the shaft a small hole is drilled in one edge of the pick, and through this is passed a bit of seal thong, the ends of which are laid along the shaft and neatly whipped down with sinew braid, with the end wedged into a slit in the wood. 232 The foreshaft (ukumailuta) is of walrus ivory, 4½ inches long and 1½ inches in diameter at the thickest part, and secured to the shaft by a whipping (nĭ´mxa) of seal thong. The loose shaft (ígimû) is also of ivory and 2 inches long and secured by a thong (ĭpíuta) spliced into a loop through the hole at the butt, as previously described. The end is hitched round the tip of the shaft with a marling hitch, followed by a clove hitch below the whipping. The ivory finger rest (ti´ka) is fastened on with a lashing of whip cord (white man’s) passing round the shaft. The line catch (ki´lerbwĭñ), which was of ivory and shaped like those on the walrus harpoons, has been lost in transportation. The head differs only in size from those just described as intended for the bearded seal, except in having a hexagonal body. It is 3.3 inches long and has a blade of iron fastened into a body of walrus ivory with a single wooden rivet. While there is no detachable leader, the head is attached by a separate piece of the same material to the line (tûkăksia), which is 86 feet 10 inches long and made of a single piece of fine seal thong about one-eighth inch thick. This shorter piece is about 27 inches long and is passed through the line hole and doubled so that one part is a little the longer. It is fastened strongly to the end of the line by a complicated splice made as follows: A slit is cut in the end of the main line through which are passed both ends of the short line. The longer part is then slit about 2 inches from the end and the shorter part passed through the slit, and a slit cut close to the end of it, through which the longer end is passed. The whole is then drawn taut and the longer end clove hitched round the main line.

No. 89908 [1058] is one of these spears rigged ready for darting. The line is secured at about the middle of the shaft with a couple of marling hitches. This specimen, except the head, is new and was rather carelessly made for the market. It has neither line catch nor finger rest. The 233 foreshaft and ice pick are lashed in with sinew braid, which is first knotted round the tip of the shaft and then hitched round with a series of left-handed soldier’s hitches. The end of the thong which holds the loose shaft is passed through the hole in it and knotted and the other end hitched into the pulley at the smallest part of the foreshaft. The head is like that of the preceding, but has a conoidal body of reindeer antler, a common material for seal-harpoon heads, and the line, which is of stout sinew braid 43 feet long, is attached to it simply by passing the end through the line hole and tying it with a clove hitch to the standing part 9½ inches from the head. This spear is about the same size as the preceding. These weapons are all of the same general pattern, but vary in length according to the height of the owner. The heads for these harpoons, as well as for the other form of seal harpoon, are usually about 3 inches long, and, as a rule, have lanceolate blades. The body is generally conoidal, often made of reindeer antler, and always, apparently, with a double barb. It is generally plain, but sometimes ornamented like the walrus-harpoon heads.

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Fig. 226.—Jade blade for seal harpoon.

No. 89784 [1008] was made by Ilû´bw’ga, the Nunatañmeun, when thinking of coming to winter at Utkiavwĭñ. He had had no experience in sealing, having apparently spent all his winters on the rivers inland, and this harpoon head seems to have been condemned as unsatisfactory by his new friends at Utkiavwĭñ. It looks like a very tolerable naula, but is unusually small, being only 2½ inches long.

We saw only one stone blade for a seal harpoon, No. 89623 [1418], Fig. 226. This is of light olive green jade, and triangular, with peculiarly dull edges and point. Each face is concaved, and there is a hole for a rivet. (Compare the jade-bladed harpoon figured by Nordenskiöld and referred to above.) It is 2 inches long and 0.7 inch wide at the base. It appears to have been kept as an amulet. The other form of seal harpoon comes properly under the next head.


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Fig. 227.—Seal harpoon for thrusting.


For the capture of seals as they come up for air to their breathing holes or cracks in the ice a harpoon is used which has a short wooden shaft, armed, as before, with an ice pick and a long, slender, loose shaft suited for thrusting down through 234 the small breathing hole. It carries a núalɐ like the other harpoon, but has only a short line, the end of which is made fast permanently to the shaft. Such harpoons are used by all Eskimo wherever they are in the habit of watching for seals at their breathing holes. The slender part of the shaft, however, is not always loose.337 The foreshaft is simply a stout ferrule for the end of the shaft. These weapons are in general use at Point Barrow and are very neatly made.

We obtained two specimens, of which No. 89910 [1694], Fig. 227, will serve as the type. The total length of this spear when rigged for use is 5 feet 3 inches. The shaft is of spruce, 20½ inches long and 1.1 inches in the middle, tapering to 0.9 at the ends. At the butt is inserted, as before, an ivory ice pick (túu) of the form already described, 13¾ inches long and lashed in with sinew braid. The foreshaft (kátû) is of walrus ivory, nearly cylindrical, 5¾ inches long and 0.9 inch in diameter, shouldered at the butt and fitted into the tip of the shaft with a round tang. The latter is very neatly whipped with a narrow strip of white whalebone, which makes eleven turns and has the end of the last turn forced into a slit in the wood and wedged with a round wooden peg. Under this whipping is the bill of a tern as a charm for good luck. (As the boy who pointed this out to me said, “Lots of seals.”)

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Fig. 228.—Diagram of lashing on shaft.

The loose shaft (ígimû) is of bone, whale’s rib or jaw, and has two transverse holes above the shoulder to receive the end of the assembling line (sábromia), which not only holds the loose shaft in place, but also connects the other parts of the shaft so that in case the wood breaks the pieces will not be dropped. It is a long piece of seal thong, of which one end makes a turn round the loose shaft between the holes; the other end is passed through the lower hole, then through the upper and carried down to the tip of the shaft, where it is hitched just below the whalebone whipping, as follows: three turns are made round the shaft, the first over the standing part, the second under, and the third over it; the end then is passed under 3, over 2, and under 1 (Fig. 228), and all drawn taut; it then runs down the shaft almost to the butt-lashing and is secured with the same hitch, and the end is whipped around the butt of the ice pick with five turns. The head (naúlɐ) is of the ordinary pattern, 2.8 inches long, with a copper blade and antler body. The line (túkăktĭn) is a single piece of seal thong 9 feet long, and is fastened to the head without a leader, by simply passing the end through the line-hole, doubling it over and stopping it to the standing part so as to make a becket 21 inches long. The other end is made fast round the shaft and assembling line just back of the middle, as follows: An eye is made at the end of the line, by cutting a slit close to the tip and pushing a bight of the line through this. The end then makes a turn round the shaft, and the other end, with the head, is passed through this eye and drawn taut. When mounted for use, the head is fitted on the tip of the loose shaft as usual 235 and the line brought down to the tip of the shaft and made fast by two or three round turns with a bight tucked under, so that it can be easily slipped. It is also confined to the loose shaft by the end of the assembling line, which makes one or two loose turns round it. The slack of the line is doubled into “fakes” and tucked between the shaft and assembling line.

The other specimen is of the same pattern, but slightly different proportions, having a shaft 18½ inches long and a pick 19 inches long. The loose shaft is of ivory, and there are lashings of white whalebone at each end of the shaft. The assembling line is hitched round the foreshaft as well as round the two ends of the shaft, and simply knotted round the pick. The line is of very stout sinew braid, and has an eye neatly spliced in the end for looping it round the shaft. Fig. 229, No. 89551 [1082], is a model of one of these harpoons, made for sale. It is 16¼ inches long, and correct in all its parts, except that the whole head is of ivory, even to having the ends of the shaft whipped with light-colored whalebone. The shaft is of pine and the rest of walrus ivory, with lines of sinew braid. We also collected four loose shafts for such harpoons. One of these, No. 89489 [802], is of whale’s bone and unusually short, only 14 inches long. It perhaps belonged to a lad’s spear. The other three are long, 20 to 25 inches, and are made of narwhal ivory, as is shown by the spiral twist in the grain.

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Fig. 229.—Model of a seal harpoon.

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Fig. 230.—Large model of a whale harpoon.

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Fig. 231.—Model of whale harpoon with floats.

The harpoon used for the whale fishery is a heavy, bulky weapon, which is never thrown, but thrust with both hands as the whale rises under the bows of the umiak. When not in use it rests in a large ivory crotch, shaped like a rowlock, in the bow. The shaft is of wood and 8 or 9 feet long, and there is no loose shaft, the bone or ivory foreshaft being tapered off to a slender point of such a shape that the head easily unships. This foreshaft is not weighted, as in the walrus harpoon, since this is not necessary in a weapon which does not leave the hand. The harpoon line is fitted with two inflated sealskin floats.

No complete, genuine whaling harpoons were ever offered for sale, but a man at Nuwûk made a very excellent reduced model about two-thirds the usual size (No. 89909 [1023], Fig. 230), which will serve as the type of this weapon 236 (a´jyûñ). This is 6 feet 11 inches in length when rigged for use. The shaft is of pine, 5 feet 8½ inches long, with its greatest diameter (1½ inches) well forward of the middle and tapered more toward the butt than toward the tip, which is chamfered off on one side to fit the butt of the foreshaft (igimû), and shouldered to keep the lashing in place. The foreshaft is of whale’s bone, 11½ inches long, three-sided with one edge rounded off, and tapers from a diameter of 1 inch to a tapering rounded point 1½ inches long, and slightly curved away from the flat face of the foreshaft. It will easily be seen that the shape of this tip facilitates the unshipping of the head. The butt is chamfered off on the flat face to fit the chamfer of the shaft, and the whole foreshaft is slightly curved in the same direction as the tip. It is secured to the shaft by a stout whipping of seal thong. The head is 7 inches long, and has a body of walrus ivory, which is ornamented with incised patterns colored red with ocher, and a blade of dark reddish brown jasper, neatly flaked. This blade is not unlike a large arrow head, being triangular, with curved edges, and a short, broad tang imbedded in the tip of the body, which is seized round with sinew braid. The body is unusually long and slender and is four sided, with a single long, sharp barb, keeled on the outer face. The line hole and line grooves are in the usual position, but the peculiarity of the head is that the blade is inserted with its breadth in the plane of the body barb. In other words, this head has not reached the last stage in the development of the toggle-head. The line is of stout thong (the skin of the bearded seal) and about 8½ feet long. It is passed 237 through the line hole, doubled in the middle, the two parts are firmly stopped together with sinew in four places, and in the ends are cut long slits for looping on the floats. When the head is fitted on the foreshaft the line is secured to the flat face of the foreshaft by a little stop made of a single strand of sinew, easily broken. About 28 inches from the tip of the shaft the line is doubled forward and the bight stopped to the shaft with six turns of seal thong, so that the line is held in place and yet can be easily detached by a straight pull. The ends are then doubled back over the lashing and stopped to the shaft with a single thread of sinew.

Fig. 231 is a toy model of the whale harpoon, No. 56562 [233], 18½ inches long, made of pine and ivory, and shows the manner of attaching the floats, which are little blocks of spruce roughly whittled into the shape of inflated sealskins. A piece of seal thong 13½ inches long has its ends looped round the neck of the floats and the harpoon-line is looped into a slit in the middle of this line.

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Fig. 232.—Flint blade for whale harpoon.

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Fig. 233.—Slate blade for whale harpoon.

We collected thirteen heads for such harpoons, which have been in actual use, of which two have flint blades like the one described, two have brass blades, and the rest either blades of slate or else no blades. The flint blades are either triangular like the one described or lanceolate and are about 3 inches long exclusive of the tang. The three separate flint blades which we obtained (Fig. 232, No. 56708 [114], from Utkiavwĭñ, is one of these, made of black flint) are about 1 inch shorter and were perhaps intended for walrus harpoons, though we saw none of these with flint blades. They are all newly made for the market.

The slate blades of which we collected eleven, some old and some new, besides those in the heads, are all triangular, with curved edges, as in Fig. 233 (No. 56709 [139] from Utkiavwĭñ, made of soft purple slate), except one new one, No. 56697a [188a], which has the corners cut off so as to give it a rhomboidal shape. The corners are sometimes rounded off so that they are nearly heart-shaped. These blades are usually about 2¾ inches long and 2 broad; two unusually large ones are 3 inches long and nearly 2¼ broad, and one small one 2.1 by 1.6 inches, and are simply wedged into the blade slit without a rivet. The brass blades are of the same shape.

The common material for the body seems to have been rather coarse whale’s bone, from the rib or jaw. Only two out of the thirteen have ivory bodies, and these are both of the newer brass-bladed pattern. The body is very long and slender, being usually about 8 or 8½ inches long (one is 9¼ inches long) and not over 1½ inches broad at the widest part. 238 It is always cut off very obliquely at the base, and the part in front of the line hole is contracted to a sort of shank, as in Fig. 234 (No. 89747 [1044]), a head with slate blade (broken) and bone body. This represents a very common form in which the shank is four-sided, while back of the middle the outer face of the barb rises into a ridge, making this part of the body five-sided. The edges of the shank are sometimes rounded off so as to make this part elliptical in section, and all the edges of the body except the keel, on the outer face of the barb, are frequently rounded off as in Fig. 235a, No. 89745 [1044], which has a slate blade wedged into the bone body with a bit of old cloth and a wooden wedge. Fig. 235b, No. 56602 [157], from Utkiavwĭñ, is a head of the same shape, but has a brass blade and a body of ivory. This blade is wedged in with deer hair, but the other brass-bladed harpoon, No. 56601 [137], has a single rivet of whalebone.

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Fig. 234.—Body of whale harpoon head.

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Fig. 235.—Whale harpoon heads.

The blade slit, and consequently the blade, is always in the plane of the barb, which position, as I have said before, corresponds to the last step but one in the development of the harpoon-head. When the blade is of flint and inserted with a tang, the tip of the body is always whipped with sinew braid, as in Fig. 212, No. 89748 [928], from Nuwŭk. This specimen is remarkable as being the only one in the series with a double point to the barb. These bodies are sometimes ornamented with incised lines, in conventional patterns, as shown in the different figures. A short incised mark somewhat resembling an arrow (see above, Fig. 234, No. 89747 [1044]) may have some significance as it is repeated on several of the heads. Harpoon-heads of this peculiar pattern are to be found in the Museum collection from other localities. As we should naturally expect, they have been found at the Diomede Islands, St. Lawrence Island, and Plover Bay. It is very interesting, however, to find a specimen of precisely the same type from Greenland, where the modern harpoons are so different from those used in the west.

That the line connecting the head with the float line is not always so 239 long in proportion as represented on the two models is shown by Fig. 236, No. 89744 [969], the only specimen obtained with any part of the line attached. A piece of stout walrus-hide thong 2 feet long is passed through the line-hole and doubled in two equal parts, which are firmly stopped together with sinew about 2 inches from the head. Another piece of similar thong 4 feet 2 inches long is also doubled into two equal parts and the ends firmly spliced to those of the short piece thus: The two ends of the long piece are slit and one end of the short piece passed through each slit. One of these ends is then slit and through it are passed the other end of the short piece and the bight of the long piece, and all is drawn taut and securely seized with sinew. The becket thus formed was probably looped directly into the bight of the float line.

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Fig. 236.—Whale harpoon head with a “leader.”

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Fig. 237.—Foreshaft of whale harpoon.

The foreshaft is much larger than that of the model, though of the same shape. No. 56537 [97], Fig. 237, from Utkiavwĭñ, is of walrus-ivory and 15.8 inches long with a diameter of 1½ inches at the butt. The oblong slot at the beginning of the chamfer is to receive the end of the lashing which secured this to the shaft. This form of foreshaft is very well adapted to insure the unshipping of the toggle-head, but lacks the special advantage of the loose-shaft, namely, that under a violent lateral strain it unships without breaking. The question at once suggests itself, why was not the improvement that is used on all the other harpoons applied to this one? In my opinion, the reason for this is the same as for retaining the form of toggle-head, which, as I have shown, is of an ancient pattern.

That is to say, the modern whale harpoon is the same pattern that was once used for all harpoons, preserved for superstitious reasons. It is a well known fact, that among many peoples implements, ideas, and language have been preserved in connection with religious 240 ceremonies long after they have gone out of use in every-day life. Now, the whale fishing at Port Barrow, in many respects the most important undertaking in the life of the natives, is so surrounded by superstitious observances, ceremonies to be performed, and other things of the same nature as really to assume a distinctly religious character. Hence, we should naturally expect to find the implements used in it more or less archaic in form. That this is the case in regard to the toggle-head I think I have already shown. It seems to me equally evident that this foreshaft, which contains the loose shaft and foreshaft, undifferentiated, is also the older form.

Why the development of the harpoon was arrested at this particular stage is not so easily determined. A natural supposition would be that this was the form of harpoon used by their ancestors when they first began to be successful whalemen.

That they connect the idea of good luck with these ancient stone harpoons is shown by what occurred at Point Barrow in 1883. Of late years they have obtained from the ships many ordinary “whale-irons,” and some people at least had got into the habit of using them.

Now, the bad luck of the season of 1882, when the boats of both villages together caught only one small whale, was attributed to the use of these “irons,” and it was decided by the elders that the first harpoon struck into the whale must be a stone-bladed one such as their forefathers used when they killed many whales.

In this connection, it is interesting to note a parallel custom observed at Point Hope. Hooper338 says that at this place the beluga must always be struck with a flint spear, even if it has been killed by a rifle shot.

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Fig. 238.—Whale lance.

Fig. 241.—Bear lance.


As I have said on a preceding page, some of the natives now use bomb-guns for dispatching the harpooned whale, and all the whaleboats are provided with steel whale lances obtained from the ships. In former times they used a large and powerful lance with a broad flint head. They seem to have continued the use of this weapon, probably for the same reasons that led them to retain the ancient harpoon for whaling until they obtained their present supply of steel lances, as we found no signs of iron whale lances of native manufacture, such as are found in Greenland and elsewhere. We obtained nine heads for stone lances (kaluwiɐ) and one complete lance, a very fine specimen (No. 56765 [537], Fig. 238), which was brought down as a present from Nuwŭk. The broad, sharp head is of light gray flint, mounted on a shaft of spruce 12 feet 6 inches long. It has a broad, stout tang inserted in the cleft end of the 241 shaft. The shaft is rhomboidal in section with rounded edges, and tapers from a breadth of 2 inches and a thickness of 1 at the tip to a butt of 0.7 inch broad and 1 thick. The tip of the shaft has a whipping of sinew-braid 1¾ inches deep, “kackled” down on both edges, one end of the twine on each edge, so that the hitch made by one end crosses the round turn of the other, making in all twenty-six turns. The shaft has been painted red for 1½ inches below the whipping.

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Fig. 239.—Flint head of whale lance.

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Fig. 240.—Flint heads for whale lances.

No. 89596 [1032] is the head and 5 inches of the shaft of a similar lance. The head is of black flint, and the sinew-braid forms a simple whipping. The remaining heads are all unmounted. I have figured several of them to show the variations of this now obsolete weapon. Fig. 239, No. 56677 [49], from Utkiavwĭñ, is of gray flint chipped in large flakes. The total length is 6.9 inches. The small lugs on the edges of the tang are to keep it from slipping out of the whipping. No. 56679 [239], also from Utkiavwĭñ, is of black flint and broader than the preceding. Its length is 6.3 inches. No. 56680 [394], from the same village, is of light bluish gray flint and very broad. It is 5.4 inches long. No. 56681 [5], from Utkiavwĭñ, is another broad 242 head of black flint, 6 inches long. Fig. 240a, No. 89597 [1034], from Nuwŭk, is of black flint, and unusually long in proportion, running into the tang with less shoulder than usual. Much of the original surface is left untouched on one face. This is probably very old. No. 89598 [1361] is a head of similar shape of dark gray flint from Sidaru. It is 6 inches long. Fig. 240b, No. 89599 [1373], from the same place and of similar material, is shaped very like the head of a steel lance. It is 5 inches long. Fig. 240c, No. 89600 [1069], from Utkiavwĭñ, is still broader in proportion and almost heart-shaped. It is of bluish gray flint and 4.8 inches long. These heads probably represent most of the different forms in use. Only two types are to be recognized among them, the long-pointed oval with a short tang, and the broad leaf-shaped head with a rather long tang, which appears to be the commoner form.

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Fig. 242.—Flint head for bear lance.

We obtained one newly made lance of a pattern similar to the above, but smaller, which was said to be a model of the weapon used in attacking the polar bear before the introduction of firearms. The name, pû´nnû, is curiously like the name panna given by Dr. Simpson and Capt. Parry to the large double-edged knife. The specimen, No. 89895 [1230], Fig. 241, came from Utkiavwĭñ. It has a head of gray flint 3½ inches long, exclusive of the tang, roughly convex on one face, but flat and merely beveled at the edges on the other. The edges are finely serrate. The shaft is of spruce, 6 feet 8 inches long, rounded and somewhat flattened at the tip, which is 1 inch wide and tapering to a diameter of 0.7 at the butt, and is painted red with ocher. The tip has a slight shoulder to keep the whipping in place. The tang is wedged in with bits of leather and secured by a close whipping of sinew braid 1¼ inches deep. Fig. 242, No. 89611 [1034], from Nuwŭk, was probably the head of such a lance, although it is somewhat narrower and slightly shorter. Its total length is 3.4 inches. The other two large lance-heads, No. 56708a [114a] and No. 56708b [114b], are both new, but were probably meant for the bear lance. They are of gray flint, 3½ inches long, and have the edges regularly serrate.

One form of lance is still in general use. It has a sharp metal head, and a light wooden shaft about 6 feet long. It is used in the kaiak for stabbing deer swimming in the water, after the manner frequently noticed among other Eskimo.339 A pair of these spears is carried in beckets on the forward deck of the kaiak. On approaching a deer one of them is slipped out of the becket and laid on the deck, with the butt resting on the combing of 243 the cockpit. The hunter then paddles rapidly up alongside of the deer, grasps the lance near the butt, as he would a dagger, and stabs the animal with a quick downward thrust. This spear is called kă´pun, which in the Point Barrow dialect exactly corresponds to the Greenlandic word kapût, which is applied to the long-bladed spear or long knife used for dispatching a harpooned seal.340 The word kă´pun means simply “an instrument for stabbing.”

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Fig. 243.—Deer Lance.

Fig. 245.—Deer lance, flint head.

No. 73183 [524], Figs. 243a, 243b (head enlarged), will serve as a type of this weapon, of which we have two specimens. All that we saw were essentially like this. The head is iron, 4¾ inches long exclusive of the tang, and 1½ inches broad. The edges are narrowly beveled on both faces. The shaft is 6 feet 2 inches long, and tapers from a diameter of 0.8 inch about the middle to about one-half inch at each end. The tip is cleft to receive the tang of the head, and shouldered to keep the whipping from slipping off. The latter was of sinew braid and 2 inches deep. The shaft is painted with red ocher. The other has a shaft 6 feet 4 inches long, but otherwise resembles the preceding. The heads for these lances are not always made of iron. Copper, brass, etc., are sometimes used. No. 56699 [166] is one of a pair of neatly made copper lance heads. It is 5.9 inches long and 1½ wide, and ground down on each face to a sharp edge without a bevel, except just at the point. Before the introduction of iron these lances had stone heads, but were otherwise of the same shape. Fig. 244 represents the head and 6 inches of the shaft of one of these (No. 89900 [1157] from Nuwŭk). The shaft is new and rather carelessly made of a rough, knotty piece of spruce, and is 5 feet 5¾ inches long. The head is of black flint and 2 inches long, exclusive of the tang, and the tip of the shaft is whipped with a narrow strip of light-colored whalebone, the end of which is secured by passing it through a slit in the side of the shaft and wedging it into a crack on the opposite side. This is an old head newly mounted for the market, and the head is wedged in with a bit of blue flannel.

No. 89897 [1324], Fig. 245, from Utkiavwĭñ, on the other hand, is an old shaft 5 feet 7½ inches long, fitted with a new head, which is very broad, and shaped like the head of a bear lance. It is of variegated 244 jasper, brown and gray, and has a piece of white sealskin lapped over the cleft of the shaft at each side of the tang so that the edges of the two pieces almost meet in the middle. They are secured by a spaced whipping of sinew braid. This shaft, which is painted red, evidently had a broad head formerly, as it is expanded at the tip. No. 89896 [1324] is the mate to this, evidently made to match it. We also obtained one other flint-headed lance. The mate to No. 89900 [1157], No. 89898 [1157], has a head of dark gray slate 2.3 inches long. This spear appears to be wholly old, except the whipping of sinew braid. The shaft is of spruce, 5 feet 4¾ inches long, and painted red with ocher. We also collected three stone heads for such lances. Fig. 246, No. 38711 [148], from Utkiavwĭñ, shows the shape of the tang. It is of gray flint, and 3.7 inches long. No. 89610 [1154] is a beautiful lance head of polished olive green jade, 4.3 inches long. The hole in the tang is probably not intended for a rivet, as none of the lance heads which we saw were fastened in this way. It is more likely that it was perforated for attaching it to the belt as an amulet. We were told that this lance head was brought from the west. A large slate lance head found by Nordenskiöld341 in the old “Onkilon” house at North Cape is of precisely the same shape as these deer-lance heads, but from its size was probably intended for a whale lance.

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Fig. 244.—Part of deer lance, with flint head.

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Fig. 246.—Flint head for deer lance.


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Fig. 247.—Bird bolas, looped up for carrying.

The only throwing weapon which these people use is a small bolas, designed for catching birds on the wing. This consists of six or seven small ivory balls, each attached to a string about 30 inches long, the ends of which are fastened together to a tuft of feathers, which serves as a handle and perhaps directs the flight of the missile. When not in use the strings are shortened up, as in Fig. 247, No. 75969 [1793], for convenience in carrying and to keep them from tangling, by tying them into slip knots, as follows: All the strings being straightened out and laid parallel to each other, they are doubled in a bight, with the end under the standing part, the bight of the end passed through the preceding bight, which is drawn up close, and so on, usually five or six times, till the strings are sufficiently shortened. A pull on the two ends slips all these knots and the strings come out straight and untangled.

The bolas is carried knotted up in a pouch slung round the neck, a native frequently carrying several sets. When a flock of ducks is seen approaching, the handle is grasped in the right 245 hand, the balls in the left, and the strings are straightened out with a quick pull. Letting go with the left hand the balls are whirled round the head and let fly at the passing flock. The balls spread apart in flying through the air, so as to cover considerable space, like a charge of shot, and if they are stopped by striking a duck, the strings immediately wrap around him and hamper his flight so that he comes to the ground. The natives said that the balls flew with sufficient force to stun a duck or break his wing, but we never happened to see any taken except in the way just described. A duck is occasionally left with sufficient freedom of motion to escape with the bolas hanging to him. The weapon is effective up to 30 or 40 yards, but the natives often throw it to a longer distance, frequently missing their aim. It is universally employed, especially by those who have no guns, and a good many ducks are captured with it. In the spring, when the ducks are flying, the women and children hardly ever stir out of the house without one or more of these.

We brought home one specimen of this implement (kelauĭtau´tĭn), No. 75969 [1793], Fig. 248, which is new and has the balls rather carelessly made. The balls, which are six in number, are of walrus ivory, 1.6 to 1.8 inches long and 1 inch in diameter (except one which is flattened, 2 inches long and 1.3 wide; they are usually all of the same shape). Through the larger end is drilled a small hole, the ends of which are joined by a shallow groove running over the end, into which the ends of the strings are fastened by three half-hitches each. There is one string of sinew braid to each set of two balls, doubled in the middle so that all six parts are equal and about 28 inches long. They are fastened to the feather handle as follows: Nine wing feathers of the eider duck are laid side by side, butt to point, and doubled in the middle so that the quills and vanes stand up on all sides. The middle of each string is laid across the bight of the feathers, so that the six parts come out on all sides between the feathers. The latter are then lashed tightly together with a bit of sinew braid, by passing the end over the bend of the feathers and tying with the rest of the string round the feathers.

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Fig. 248.—Bird bolas, ready for use.


These weapons are generally very much like the specimen described, but vary somewhat in the shape and material of the balls, which are sometimes simply ovoid or spherical, and often made of single teeth of the walrus, instead of tusk ivory. Bone is also sometimes used. In former times, the astragalus bones of the reindeer, perforated through the ridge on one end were used for balls. No. 89490 [1342], is a pair of such bones tied together with a bit of thong, which appear to have been actually used. No. 89537 [1251] from Utkiavwĭñ is a very old ball, which is small (1.1 inches long) and unusually flat. It appears to have been kept as a relic.

There is very little information to be found concerning the extent of the region in which this implement is used, either in the Museum collections or in the writings of authors. A few points, however, have been made out with certainty. The bolas are unknown among all the Eskimo east of the Anderson River, and the only evidence that we have of their use at this point is an entry in the Museum catalogue, to which I have been unable to find a corresponding specimen. Dease and Simpson, in 1837, did not observe them till they reached Point Barrow.342 They were first noticed by Beechey at Kotzebue Sound in 1826.343 Mr. Nelson’s collections show that they are used from Point Barrow along the Alaskan coast, at least as far south as the Yukon delta, and on St. Lawrence Island, while for their use on the coast of Siberia as far as Cape North, we have the authority of Nordenskiöld,344 and the Krause Brothers.345



I have already spoken of the floats (apotû´kpûñ) of inflated sealskin used in capturing the whale and walrus. We obtained one specimen, No. 73578 [538] Fig. 249. This is the whole skin, except the head, of a male rough seal (Phoca fœtida), with the hair out. The carcass was carefully removed without making any incision except round the neck and a few inches down the throat, and skinned to the very 247 toes, leaving the claws on. All natural or accidental apertures are carefully sewed up, except the genital opening, into which is inserted a ring of ivory, which serves as a mouthpiece for inflating the skin and is corked with a plug of wood. The cut in the throat is carefully sewed up, and the neck puckered together, and wrapped with seal thong into a slender shank about 1 inch long, leaving a flap of skin which is wrapped round a rod of bone 4 inches long and 1 in diameter, set across the shank, and wound with thong. This makes a handle for looping on the harpoon line.

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Fig. 249.—Seal skin float.

All the floats used at Point Barrow are of the same general pattern as this, and are generally made of the skin of the rough seal, though skins of the harbor seal (P. vitulina) are sometimes used. One of these floats is attached to the walrus harpoon, but two are used in whaling.346 Five or six floats are carried in each boat, and are inflated before starting out. I have seen them used for seats during a halt on the ice, when the boat was being taken out to the “lead.” The use of these large floats is not peculiar to Point Barrow. They are employed by all Eskimo who pursue the larger marine mammals.

Flipper toggles.

We collected two pairs of peculiar implements, in the shape of ivory whales about 5 inches long, with a perforation in the belly through which a large thong could be attached. We understood that they were to be fastened to the ends of a stout thong and used when a whale was killed to toggle his flippers together so as to keep them in place while towing him to the ice, by cutting holes in the flippers and passing the ivory through. We unfortunately never had an opportunity of verifying this story. Neither pair is new. Fig. 250a represents a pair of these implements (kă´gotĭñ) (No. 56580 [227]). They are of white walrus ivory. In the middle of each belly is excavated a deep, oblong cavity about three-fourths of an inch long and one-half wide, across the middle of which is a stout transverse bar for the attachment of the line. One is a “bow-head” whale (Balæna mysticetus), 4½ inches long, and the other evidently intended for a “California gray” (Rhachinectes glaucus). It has light blue glass beads inserted for eyes and is the same length as the other.

Fig. 250 (No. 56598 [407]) is a similar pair, which are both “bowheads” nearly 5 inches long. Both have cylindrical plugs of ivory inserted for eyes, and are made of a piece of ivory so old that the surface is a light chocolate color. The name, kăgotĭñ, means literally “a pair of toggles.”

Harpoon boxes (u´dlun or u´blun, literally “a nest.”)—

The slate harpoon blades already described were very apt to be lost or broken, so they always carried in the boat a supply of spare blades. These were kept in a small box carved out of a block of soft wood, in the shape of the animal to be pursued.


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Fig. 250.—Flipper toggles.

Fig. 251a represents one of these boxes (No. 56505 [138]) intended for spare blades for the whale harpoon. This is rather neatly carved from a single block of soft wood, apparently spruce, though it is very old and much weathered, in the shape of a “bowhead” whale, 9½ inches long. The ends of the flukes are broken short off, and show traces of having been mended with wooden pegs or dowels. The right eye is indicated by a simple incision, but a tiny bit of crystal is inlaid for the left. Two little bits of crystal are also inlaid in the middle of the back. The belly is flat and excavated into a deep triangular cavity, with its base just forward of the angle of the mouth and the apex at the “small.” It is beveled round the edge, with a shoulder at the base and apex, and is covered with a flat triangular piece of wood beveled on the under face to fit the edge of the cavity. About half of one side of the cover has been split off and mended on with two “stitches” of whalebone fiber. The cover is held on by three strings of seal thong passing through holes in each corner of the cover and secured by a 249 knot in the end of each string. They then pass through three corresponding holes in the bottom of the cavity, leaving outside of the back two ends 7 inches and one 15 long, which are tied together. The cover can be lifted wholly off and then drawn back into its place by pulling the string.

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Fig. 251.—Boxes for harpoon heads.

We collected seven such whale-harpoon boxes, usually about 9 to 9¾ inches long. Nearly all have bits of crystal, amber, or pyrite, inlaid for the eyes and in the middle of the back, and the cover is generally rigged in the way described. No. 56502 [198], from Utkiavwĭñ, is a 250 large whale, a foot long, and has the tail bent up, while the animal is usually represented as if lying still. It has good-sized sky-blue beads inlaid for the eyes.

Fig. 251b (No. 89733 [1161], from Nuwŭk) represents a small box 4⅓ inches long, probably older than the others, and the only one not carved into the shape of a whale. It is roughly egg-shaped and has no wooden cover to the cavity, which is covered with a piece of deerskin, held on by a string of seal thong wrapped three times around the body in a rough, deep groove, with the end tucked under. In this box are five slate blades for the whale harpoon.

We also collected two boxes for walrus harpoons made in the shape of the walrus, with ivory or bone tusks. No. 89732 [860], Fig. 251c, from Nuwŭk, is old, and 7 inches long, and has two oval bits of ivory, with holes bored to represent the pupils, inlaid for the eyes. There is no cover, but the cavity is filled with a number of slate blades, carefully packed in whalebone shavings. There is a little eyebolt of ivory at each end of the cavity. One end of a bit of sinew braid is tied to the anterior of these, and the other carried down through the hinder one, and then brought up and fastened round the body with a marling hitch. The other, No. 56489 [127], is new and rather roughly made, 5 inches long and painted all over with red ocher. It has a cover, but no strings.

No. 56501 [142], Fig. 251d, from Utkiavwĭñ, is for carrying harpoon blades for the chase of the bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus), and is neatly carved into the shape of that animal. It is 7.4 inches long and has ivory eyes like the walrus box, No. 89732 [860]. The cover is fitted to the cavity like those of the whale boxes, but is held on by one string only, a piece of seal thong about 3 feet long passing through the middle of the cover and out at a hole on the left side, about one-fourth inch from the cavity. The box is filled with raveled rope-yarns. Fig. 251e (No. 89730 [981], from Utkiavwĭñ) is like this, but very large, 9.3 inches long. The cover is thick and a little larger than the cavity, beveled on the upper face and notched on each side to receive the string, which is a bit of sinew braid fastened to two little ivory hooks, one on each side of the body. It is fastened to the right hook, carried across and hooked around the left-hand one, then carried over and hooked round the other, and secured by tucking a bight of the end under the last part. The box contains several slate blades. We also collected one other large seal box (No. 89731 [859], from Nuwŭk), very roughly carved, and 9.8 inches long. The cover is fitted into the cavity and held on by a narrow strip of whalebone running across in a transverse groove in the cover and through a hole in each side of the box.

Nets (ku´bra).—

The smaller seals are captured in large-meshed nets of rawhide. We brought home one of these, No. 56756 [109], Figs 252a-252b (detail of mesh). This is a rectangular net, eighteen meshes long and twelve deep, netted of fine seal thong with the ordinary netting knot. The length of the mesh is 14 inches.


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Fig. 252.—Seal net.

Such nets are set under the ice in winter, or in shoal water along the shore by means of stakes in summer. In the ordinary method of setting the net under the ice two small holes are cut through the ice the length of the net apart, and between them in the same straight line is cut a third large enough to permit a seal to be drawn up through it. A line with a plummet on the end is let down through one of the small holes, and is hooked through the middle hole, with a long slender pole of willow, often made of several pieces spliced together, with a small wooden hook on the 252 end. The line is then detached from the plummet and fastened to one upper corner of the net, and a second line is let down through the other small hole and made fast in the same way to the other upper corner. By pulling on these lines the net is drawn down through the middle and stretched like a curtain under the ice, while a line at the middle serves to haul it up again. The end lines are but loosely made fast to lumps of ice, so that when a seal strikes the net nothing hinders his wrapping it completely around him in his struggles to escape. When the hunter, who is usually watching his net, thinks the seal is sufficiently entangled he hauls him up through the large hole and sets the net again.

I had no opportunity of observing whether any weights or plummets were used to keep down the lower edge of the net. These nets are now universally employed, but one native spoke of a time “long ago” when there were no nets and they captured seals with the spear (u´nɐ) alone. The net was used in seal catching in Dr. Simpson’s time, though he makes but a casual reference to it,347 and Beechey found seal nets at Kotzebue Sound in 1826.348 The net is very generally used for sealing among the Eskimo of western America and in Siberia. We observed seal nets set with stakes along the shore of the sandspit at Plover Bay, and Nordenskiöld speaks of seal nets “set in summer among the ground ices along the shore,”349 and at open leads in the winter, but gives no description of the method of setting these nets beyond mentioning the “long pole which was used in setting the net,”350 as none of his party ever witnessed the seal fishery.351 I am informed by Mr. W. H. Dall that the winter nets in Norton Sound are not set under the ice as at Point Barrow, but with stakes in shoal water wherever there are open holes in the ice. “Ice nets” are spoken of as in use for sealing in Greenland, but I have been able to find no description of them. As they are not spoken of by either Egede or Crantz I am inclined to believe that they were introduced by the Europeans.352 Mr. L. M. Turner informs me that such is the case at Ungava Bay on the southern shore of Hudson Strait, where they use a very long net set under the ice very much as at Point Barrow. I can find no mention of the use of seal nets among any other of the eastern Eskimo.

It is well known that seals have a great deal of curiosity, and are easily attracted by any unusual sounds, especially if they are gentle and long-continued. It is therefore easy to entice them into the nets by making such noises, for instance, gentle whistling, rattling on the ice with the pick, and so forth. Two special implements are also used for this purpose. The first kind I have called:


Seal calls (adrigautĭn).—

This implement consists of three or four claws mounted on the end of a short wooden handle, and is used to make a gentle noise by scratching on the ice. It is a common implement, though I never happened to see it in use. We obtained six specimens, of which No. 56555 [90] Fig. 253a, is the type. It is 11½ inches long. The round handle is of ash, the claws are those of the bearded seal, secured by a lashing of sinew braid, with the end brought down on the under side to a little blunt, backward-pointing hook of ivory, set into the wood about 1 inch from the base of the arms.

Fig. 253b (No. 56557 [93] from Utkiavwĭñ is 9½ inches long and has four prongs. The haft is of spruce, and instead of an ivory hook there is a round-headed stud of the same material, which is driven wholly through the wood, having the point cut off flush with the upper surface. It has a lanyard of seal twine knotted into the hole in the haft. The other two specimens of this pattern, Nos. 56556 [100] and 56558 [51] have each three claws, and hafts of soft wood, painted with red ocher, with lanyards, and are respectively 10.4 and 10.7 inches long. One has an ivory hook, but the other in place of this has a small iron nail, and is ornamented with a medium-sized sky-blue glass bead inlaid in the back. The other two are both new and small, being respectively 7.5 and 7.6 inches long. The hafts are made of reindeer antler and have only two prongs. No. 89467 [1312] from Utkiavwĭñ, has the haft notched on each side, and has an irregular stud of bone for securing the lashing.

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Fig. 253.—Scratchers for decoying seals.

No. 89468 [1354], Fig. 253c, from Utkiavwĭñ, has no stud and the claws are simply held on by a slight lashing of twisted sinew. Both of these were made for the market, but may be models of a form once used. There are two old seal calls in the Museum from near St. Michaels, made of a piece of reindeer antler, apparently the spreading brow antler, in which the sharp points of the antler take the place of claws. 254 The use of this implement, as shown by Mr. Nelson’s collection, extends or extended from Point Barrow to Norton Sound. He collected specimens from St. Lawrence Island and Cape Wankarem in Siberia. Nordenskiöld speaks of the use of this implement at Pitlekaj and figures a specimen.353 The other instrument appears to be less common. I have called it a seal rattle.

Seal rattle.

We obtained only two specimens, No. 56533 [409], which seem to be a pair. Fig. 254 is one of these. It is of cottonwood and 4 inches long, roughly carved into the shape of a seal’s head and painted red, with two small transparent blue glass beads inlaid for the eyes. The neat becket of seal thong consists of three or four turns with the end wrapped spirally around them. The staple on which the ivory pendants hang is of iron. This is believed to be a rattle to be shaken on the ice by a string tied to the becket for the purpose of attracting seals to the ice net. It was brought in for sale at a time during our first year when we were very busy with zoological work, and as something was said about “nĕtyĭ” and “kubra” (“seal” and “net”) the collector concluded that they must be floats for seal nets, and they were accordingly catalogued as such and laid away. We never happened to see another specimen, and as these were sent home in 1882 we learned no more of their history. The late Dr. Emil Bessels, however, on my return called my attention to the fact that in the museum at Copenhagen there is a single specimen very similar to these, which was said to have been used in the manner described above. It came from somewhere in eastern America. There is one, he told me, in the British Museum from Bering Strait. The National Museum contains several specimens collected by Mr. Nelson at Point Hope. It is very probable that this is the correct explanation of the use of these objects, as it assigns a function to the ivory pendants which would otherwise be useless. They have been called “dog bells,” but the Eskimo, at Point Barrow, at least, are not in the habit of marking their dogs in any way.

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Fig. 254.—Seal rattle.

Seal indicators.

When watching for a seal at his breathing hole a native inserts in the hole a slender rod of ivory, which is held loosely in place by a cross piece or a bunch of feathers on the end. When the seal rises he pushes up this rod, which is so light that he does not notice it, and thus warns the hunter when to shoot or strike with his spear. Most of the seal hunting was done at such a distance from the station that I remember only one occasion when this implement was 255 seen in use. We collected two specimens, of which No. 56507 [104], Fig. 255a, will serve as the type. It is of walrus ivory, 14½ inches long and 0.3 in diameter, with a small lanyard of sinew. The curved cross piece of ivory, 1⅓ inches long, is inserted into a slot one-fourth of an inch from the end and secured by a little treenail of wood.

Fig. 255b (No. 89454 [1114], from Nuwŭk) is a similar indicator, 13½ inches long and flat (0.3 inch wide and 0.1 thick). The upper end is carved into scallops for ornament and has a small eye into which was knotted a bit of whalebone fiber. The tip is beveled off with a concave bevel on both faces to a sharp edge, so that it can be used for a “feather setter” (ĭgugwau) in feathering arrows. Such implements are mentioned in most popular accounts of the Eskimo of the east, and Capt. Parry describes it from personal observation at Iglulik.354 I have been unable to find any mention of its use in western America, and have seen no specimens in the National Museum.

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Fig. 255.—Seal indicators.

Sealing stools.

When a native is watching a seal-hole he frequently has to stand for hours motionless on the ice. His feet would become exceedingly cold, in spite of the excellence of his foot covering, were it not for a little three-legged stool about 10 inches high upon which he stands. This stool is made of wood, with a triangular top just large enough to accommodate a man’s feet, with the heels together over one leg of the stool, and the other two legs supporting the toes of each foot, respectively. The stool is neatly made, and is as light as is consistent with strength. It is universally employed and carried by the hunter, slung on the gun cover with the legs projecting behind.

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Fig. 256.—Sealing stool.

When the hunter has a long time to wait he generally squats down so as almost to sit on his heels, holding his gun and spear in readiness, and wholly covered with one of the deerskin cloaks already described. They sometimes use this stool to sit on when waiting for ducks to fly over the ice in the spring.


We brought home two specimens of this common object (nĭgawaúotĭn). No. 89887 [1411], Fig. 250, will serve as the type. The top is of spruce, 8¾ inches long and 10¾ wide. The upper surface is flat and smooth, the lower broadly beveled off on the edges and deeply excavated in the middle, so that there are three straight ridges joining the three legs, each of which stands in the middle of a slight prominence. The object of cutting away the wood in this way is to make the stool lighter, leaving it thick only at the points where the pressure comes. The large round hole in the middle, near the front, is for convenience in picking it up and hanging it on the cache frame, where it is generally kept. The three legs are set into holes at each corner, spreading out so as to stand on a base larger than the top of the stool. Where they fit into the holes they are 0.7 inch in diameter, tapered slightly to fit the hole, and then tapering down to a diameter of one-third inch at the tip. On the under side of the top they are braced with a lashing of stout seal thong. A split on the right-hand edge of the top has been mended, as usual, with a stitch of whalebone. This stool is quite old and has been actually used.

No. 89888 [1412], from the same village, is new and a little larger, but differs from the type only in having a triangular instead of a round hole in the top and no lashing. Those of our party who landed at Sidaru September 7, 1881, saw one of these stools hanging up in the then vacant village, and there is a precisely similar stool in the Museum from the Anderson region.

MacFarlane, in his manuscript notes, describes the use of these stools as follows: “Both tribes kill seals under ice; that is, they watch for them at their holes (breathing) or wherever open water appears. At the former they generally build a small snow house somewhat like a sentinel’s box, on the bottom of which they fix a portable three-cornered stool, made of wood. They stand on this and thereby escape getting cold feet, as would be the case were they to remain for any time on ice or snow in the same immovable position.” Beyond this I find no mention of the use of any such a utensil, east or west, except in Greenland, where, however, they used a sort of one-legged chair to sit on, as well as a footstool, which Egede pictures (Pl. 9) as oval, with very short legs.355

Seal drags (uksiu´tiñ.)—

Every seal hunter carries with him a line for dragging home his game, consisting of a stout thong doubled in a bight about 18 inches long, with an ivory handle or knob at the other end. The bight is looped into an incision in the seal’s lower jaw, while the knob serves for attaching a longer line or the end of a dog’s harness. The seal is dragged on his back and runs as smoothly as a sled. We 257 collected eight of these drag lines, from which I have selected No. 56624 [44], Fig. 257a, as the type.

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Fig. 257.—Seal drags and handles.

This consists of a stout thong of rawhide (the skin of the bearded seal) 0.3 inch wide and 37 inches long, and doubled in a bight so that one end is about 2½ inches the longer. These ends are fastened into a handle of walrus ivory, consisting of three pieces, namely: a pair of 258 neatly carved mittens, respectively 1.9 and 1.8 inches long, put together wrist to wrist with the palms up; and lying across the joint above, a little seal 1¼ inches long, belly down. A hole runs through each wrist and through the belly of the seal. The mittens are ornamented on the back with a blackened incised pattern, and the seal has blue glass beads for eyes and blackened incised spots on the back. The longer end of the thong runs up through the right mitten, across through the seal, and down through the left mitten. It is then passed through a slit 1 inch from the end of the shorter part and slit itself. Through this slit is passed the bight of the thong, all drawn up taut and seized with sinew braid.

No. 89467 [755], from Utkiavwĭñ, is a similar drag, put together in much the same way, but it has the mittens doweled together with two wooden pins, and a seal’s head with round bits of wood inlaid for eyes, ears, and nostrils, in place of the seal. The longitudinal perforation in this head shows that it was originally strung lengthwise on one of these lines. The “double slit splice” of the two ends of the thong is worked into a complicated round knot, between which and the handle the two parts of the line are confined by a tube of ivory 1 inch long, ornamented with deeply incised patterns. Fig. 257b is the upper part of a line (No. 56622 [36], from Utkiavwĭñ), with a similar tube 1¾ inches long, and a handle carved from a single piece into a pair of mittens like the others.

No. 56625 [81], also from Utkiavwĭñ, is almost exactly similar to the one first described, but has the seal belly up. Fig. 257c (No. 89470 [1337], from the same village) has a seal 2.3 inches long for the handle, and No. 56626 [212], from Utkiavwĭñ, is like it. No. 89469a, [755a] Fig. 257d, from Utkiavwĭñ, has for a handle the head of a bearded seal 1.6 inches long, neatly carved from walrus ivory, with round bits of wood inlaid for the eyes and ears. It is perforated longitudinally from the chin to the back of the head, and a large hole at the throat opens into this. The longer end of the thong is passed in at the chin and out at the back of the head; the shorter, in at the back of the head and out at the throat; the two ends brought together between the standing parts and all stopped together with sinew braid.

No. 56627 [45], Fig. 257e, has a handle made of two ivory bears’ heads, very neatly carved, with circular bits of wood inlaid for eyes, and perforated like the seal’s head just described. The thong is doubled in the middle and each end passed through one of the heads lengthwise, so as to protrude about 7 inches. About 4 inches of end is then doubled over, thrust through the throat hole of the opposite head, and brought down along the standing parts. All the parts are stopped together with sinew braid. This makes a small becket above the handle.

We collected seven knobs for these drag lines, of which six are seals’ heads and one a bear’s. They are all made of walrus ivory, apparently each a single tooth, and not a piece of tusk, and are about 1½ inches to 2 inches long. They are generally carved with considerable skill, and 259 often have the ears, roots of the whiskers, nostrils, and outline of the mouth incised and blackened, while small blue beads, bits of ivory, or wood are inlaid for the eyes. Implements of this sort are in common use among Eskimo generally wherever they are so situated as to be able to engage in seal-hunting. Mr. Nelson’s collection contains specimens from as far south as Cape Darby.

Whalebone wolf-killers (ĭsĭbru).—

Before the introduction of the steel traps, which they now obtain by trade, these people used a peculiar contrivance for catching the wolf. This consists of a stout rod of whalebone about 1 foot long and one-half inch broad, with a sharp point at each end. One of these was folded lengthwise in the form of a Z,356 wrapped in blubber (whale’s blubber was used, according to our informant, Nĭkawáalu), and frozen solid. It was then thrown out on the snow where the wolf could find and swallow it. The heat of the animal’s body would thaw out the blubber, releasing the whalebone, which would straighten out and pierce the walls of the stomach, thus causing the animal’s death. Nikawáalu says that a wolf would not go far after swallowing one of these blubber balls.

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Fig. 258.—Whalebone wolf-killers.

We collected four sets of these contrivances, one set containing seven rods and the others four each. Fig. 258a gives a good idea of the shape of one of these. It belongs to a set of seven, No. 89538 [1229], Fig. 258b, from Utkiavwĭñ, which are old and show the marks of having been doubled up. It is 12½ inches long, 0.4 broad, and 0.2 thick. The little notches on the opposite edges of each end were probably to hold a lashing of sinew which kept the folded rod in shape while the blubber was freezing, being cut by thrusting a knife through the partially frozen blubber, as is stated by Schwatka.357 Two of the sets are new, but made like the others.

This contrivance is also used by the Eskimo of Hudson Bay358 and at Norton Sound, where, according to Petroff,359 the rods are 2 feet long and wrapped in seal blubber. The name ĭsĭ´bru appears to be the same as the Greenlandic (isavssok), found only in the diminutive isavssoraĸ, a provincial name for the somewhat similar sharp-pointed stick baited with blubber and used for catching gulls. The diminutive form of this 260 word in Greenlandic may indicate that their ancestors once used the large wolf-killer, when they lived where wolves were found. The definition of uju´kuaĸ, the ordinary word for the gull-catcher (see below)—in the Grønlandske Ordbog—is the only evidence we have of the use of this contrivance in Greenland. This is one of the several cases in which we only learn of the occurrence of customs, etc., noted at Point Barrow, in Greenland, by finding the name of the thing in question defined in the dictionary.


Foxes are caught in the winter by deadfalls or steel traps (nänori´a), set generally along the beach, where the foxes are wandering about in search of carrion thrown up by the sea. In setting the deadfalls a little house about 2 feet high is built, in which is placed the bait of meat or blubber. A heavy log of driftwood is placed across the entrance, with one end raised high enough to allow a fox to pass under it, and supported by a regular “figure of four” of sticks. The fox can not get at the bait without passing under the log, and in doing so he must touch the trigger of the “figure of four” (4), which brings down the log across his back. When a steel trap is used it is not baited itself, but buried in the snow at the entrance of a similar little house, so that the fox can not reach the bait without stepping on the plate of the trap and thus springing it. Many foxes are taken with such traps in the course of the winter.

The boys use a sort of snare for catching setting birds. This is simply a strip of whalebone made into a slip-noose, which is set over the eggs, with the end fastened to the ground, so that the bird is caught by the leg. Once or twice, when there was a light snow on the beach, we saw a native catching the large gulls as follows: He had a stick of hard wood, pointed at each end, to the middle of which was fastened one end of a stout string about 6 feet long. The other end was secured to a stake driven into the frozen gravel, and the stick wrapped with blubber and laid on the beach, with the string carefully hidden in the snow. The gull came along, swallowed the lump of blubber, and as soon as he tried to fly away the string made the sharp stick turn like a toggle across his gullet, the points forcing their way through, so that he was held fast. A similar contrivance, but somewhat smaller and made of bone, is used at Norton Sound for catching gulls and murres, a number of them being attached to a trawl line and baited with fish. Mr. Nelson collected a large number of these.360 In regard to the use of this contrivance in Greenland, see above under “wolf-killers.”


The wooden goggles worn to protect the eyes from snow-blindness may be considered as accessories to hunting, as they are worn chiefly by those engaged in hunting or fishing, especially when deer-hunting in the spring on the snow-covered tundra or when in the whaleboats among the ice. They are simply a wooden cover for the 261 eyes, admitting the light by a narrow horizontal slit, which allows only a small amount of light to reach the eye and at the same time gives sufficient range of vision. Such goggles are universally employed by the Eskimos everywhere361 except in Siberia, where they use a simple shade for the eyes.362

We brought home four pairs of these goggles (í´dyĭgûñ), of which No. 89894 [1708], Fig. 259, represents the common form. These are of pine wood, 5.8 inches long and 1.1 inches broad, and deeply excavated on the inside, with a narrow horizontal slit with thin edges on each side of the middle. In the middle are two notches to fit the nose, the one in the lower edge deep and rounded, the upper very shallow. The two holes in each end are for strings of sinew braid to pass round the head. They are neatly made and the outside is scraped smooth and shows traces of a coat of red ocher.

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Fig. 259.—Wooden snow goggles.

The history of this particular pair of goggles is peculiarly interesting. Though differing in no important respect from those used at the present day, they were found on the site of the ancient village of Isû´tkwa, where our station stood, buried at a depth of 27 feet in undisturbed frozen ground, and were uncovered in digging the shaft sunk by Lieut. Ray for obtaining earth temperatures.363 The layer in which they were found was evidently an old sea beach, consisting of sand and gravel mixed with broken shells, among which Mya truncata was recognized. The amount of the superincumbent gravel and similar material above this object does not necessarily indicate any very great length of time since they were first buried, as will be readily understood from what I have said above (p. 28) about the rapidity with which high hummocks of gravel are pushed up by the ice. The unbroken layer of turf, however, nearly a foot thick, with which the ground was covered at this point, shows that a considerable period must have elapsed since the gravel had reached nearly to its present level.

The pattern of these goggles is to my mind a very decided proof that at that early date this region was inhabited by Eskimo not essentially different from its present inhabitants. Goggles worn at the present day are almost always of the shape of these, though I remember seeing one pair made in two pieces joined by short strings of beads across the nose. They are, I think, universally painted with red ocher on the outside and 262 blackened inside. They were not always made of wood, as there are two specimens in the collection made of a piece of antler, following the natural curve of the beam, divided longitudinally, with the softer inside tissue hollowed out.

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Fig. 260.—Bone snow goggles.

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Fig. 261.—Wooden snow goggles, unusual form.

Fig. 260 (No. 89701 [763], from Utkiavwĭñ) represents one of these specimens. I do not recollect ever seeing goggles of this material in actual use. No. 89703 [754], Fig. 261, is an unusual pattern, having along the top a horizontal brim about one-half inch high, which serves for an additional shade to the eyes. Above this are two oblique holes opening into the cavity inside, which are probably for the purpose of ventilation, to prevent the moisture from the skin from being deposited as frost on the inside of the goggles or on the eyelashes. I do not remember having seen such goggles worn. Dall figures a similar pair from Norton Sound, and those brought by Mr. Turner from Ungava have a similar brim and ventilating holes. The snow goggles mentioned in Parry’s Second Voyage (p. 547) as occasionally seen at Iglulik, but more common in Hudson’s Strait, appear to have resembled these, but had a brim 3 or 4 inches deep.

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Fig. 262.—Marker for meat cache.

Meat-cache markers.

We purchased a couple of little ivory rods, each with a little bunch of feathers tied to one end, which we were told were used by the deer hunters to mark the place where they had buried the flesh of a deer in the snow. This implement is called tû´kusia.

Fig. 262, represents one of these (No. 89531 [978] from Nuwŭk). It is a flat, slender rod of white walrus ivory, 11½ inches long, and evidently broken off at the tip. The 263 other end is cut into ornamental notches, and ornamented with an incised pattern colored with red ocher, consisting of conventional lines and the figure of a reindeer on each face, a buck on one face and a doe on the other. Tied by a bit of sinew to the uppermost notch are four legs and three wing tips (three or four primaries, with the skin at the base) of the buff-breasted sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis). This was evidently longer when new and perhaps was originally used for a seal indicator (which see above). Fig. 263 (No. 89453 [1581] from Utkiavwĭñ) is a similar rod, the tip of which has been brought to an edge so that it can be used as a “feather-setter” in feathering arrows. The remains of two wing tips of some small bird are tied to one of the notches at the upper end.

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Fig. 263.—Marker for meat cache.


Having now described in detail all the weapons and other implements used in hunting, I am prepared to give an account of the time and methods of pursuing the different kinds of game.

The polar bear.

Bears are occasionally met with in the winter by the seal hunters, roaming about the ice fields at some distance from the shore. They usually run from a man and often do not make a stand even when wounded. Occasionally, however, a bear rendered bold by hunger comes in from the sea and makes an attack on some native’s storehouse of seal meat even in the midst of the village. Of course, in such a case he has very little chance of escape, as the natives all turn out with their rifles and cut off his retreat. Two bears were killed in this way at Utkiavwĭñ in the winter of 1882-’83. The bear is always attacked with the rifle, often with the help of dogs to bring him to bay. The umiaks when walrus hunting sometimes meet with bears among the loose ice. If the bear is caught in the water, there is very little difficulty in paddling up close enough to him to shoot him.

The wolf.

The wolf can hardly be considered a regular object of pursuit. Wolves are often seen and occasionally shot by deer hunters in the winter, and one family in the summer of 1883 managed to catch a couple of young wolf cubs alive, somewhere between Point Barrow and the Colville. These they brought home with them and kept them picketed on the tundra just outside of the village, with a little kennel of snow to shelter them, carefully feeding them till winter, when their fur had grown long enough for use in trimming hoods. They were then 264 killed with a stone-headed arrow, which we were told was necessary for the purpose, and their skins dressed and cut into strips which were sold around the village. Superstition required that the man who killed these wolves should sleep outside of the house in a tent or snow hut for “one moon” after killing them. We did not learn the reason for this practice beyond that it would be “bad” to do otherwise.

The fox.

Foxes are sometimes shot, but are generally taken in the traps described above, which are usually set some distance from the village so as to avoid catching prowling dogs. Though generally exceedingly shy, the fox is sometimes rendered careless by hunger. One of the women at the deer-hunters’ camp in the spring of 1882 caught one in the little snow house built to store the meat and killed him with a stick.

The reindeer.

Reindeer are comparatively scarce within the radius of a day’s march from Point Barrow, though solitary animals and small parties are to be seen almost any day in the winter a few miles inland from the seacoast. In the autumn, which is the rutting season, they occasionally wander down to the lagoons back of the beach. Nearly every day in the autumn and winter, when the weather is not stormy, one or more natives are out looking for reindeer, usually traveling on snowshoes and carrying their rifles slung on their backs. The deer are generally very wild and often perceive a man and begin to run at a distance of a mile or two, though a rutting buck will sometimes fancy that a skin-clad Eskimo is a rival buck, and come toward him, especially if the hunter crouches down and keeps perfectly still.

The usual method of hunting is to walk off inland until a deer is sighted, when the hunter moves directly toward him at a rapid pace, without regard to the wind or attempting to conceal himself, which would be almost hopeless in such open country. As soon as the deer starts to run, the hunter quickens his pace—to a run, if he has “wind” enough—and follows the game as long as he can keep it in sight, trusting that the well known curiosity of the deer will induce it to “circle” round, in order to see what it is that is following him with such pertinacity. Should the deer turn, as often happens, especially if there is more than one of them, the hunter alters his course so as to head him off, and as soon as he gets within long rifle range opens fire, and keeps it up till the animal is hit or escapes out of range. Strange as it may seem, a number of deer are killed every winter in this way.

If a deer be killed, the hunter usually “butchers” him on the spot, and brings in as much of the meat as he can carry on his back, leaving the rest, carefully covered with slabs of snow to protect it from the foxes, to be brought in as soon as convenient by a dog sled, which follows the hunter’s tracks to the place.

During the spring the deer retire some distance from the Point, and the does then drop their fawns. At this season nearly all the natives are busily engaged in the whale fishery, and pay little attention to the 265 reindeer, so that we did not learn where they went to. When the fawns are perhaps a month old a small party, say a young man and his wife, sometimes makes a short journey to the eastward to procure fawn skins for clothing. They say that the fawns at this age can be caught by running them down. During the summer again the deer come down to the coast in small numbers, taking to the water in the lagoons, or even in the sea, when the flies become troublesome.

Sometimes in warm, calm weather the flies are so numerous that the deer is driven perfectly frantic, and runs along without looking where he is going, so that, as the natives say, a hunter who places himself in the deer’s path has no difficulty in shooting him. Flies were unusually scarce both summers that we were at the station, so that we never had an opportunity of seeing this done. When a deer is seen swimming he is pursued with the kaiak and lanced in the manner already described. In July, 1883, one man from Utkiavwĭñ made a short journey inland, “carrying” his kaiak from lake to lake, and killed two deer in this way without firing a shot. I believe this method of hunting is frequently practiced by the parties who go east for trading in the summer, and those who visit the rivers for the purpose of hunting.

The natives seemed to expect deer in summer at the lagoons, as along the isthmus between Imê´kpûñ and Imêkpûnĭglu they had set up a range of stakes, evidently intended to turn the deer up the beach where he would be seen from the camp at Pernijû. Only one deer, however, came down either summer, and he escaped without being seen. This contrivance of setting up stakes to guide the deer in a certain direction is very commonly used by the Eskimo. Egede gives a curious description of the practice in Greenland in his day: They “chase them [i.e., the reindeer] by Clap-hunting, setting upon them on all sides and surrounding them with all their Women and Children to force them into Defiles and Narrow Passages, where the Men armed lay in wait for them and kill them. And when they have not People enough to surround them, then they put up white Poles (to make up the Number that is wanted) with Pieces of Turf to head them, which frightens the Deer and hinders it from escaping.”364 Pl. 4, of the same work, is a very curious illustration of this style of hunting.

A similar method is practiced at the Coppermine River, where the deer are led by ranges of turf toward the spot where the archer is hidden.365 Franklin also noticed between the Mackenzie and the Colville similar ranges of driftwood stumps leading across the plain to two cairns on a hill,366 and Thomas Simpson mentions a similar range near Herschel Island,367 and double rows of turf to represent men leading down to a small lake near Point Pitt, for the purpose of driving the deer into the water where they could be speared.368 This is 266 similar to the practice described by Schwatka369 among the “Netschilluk” of King William’s Land, where a line of cairns as high as a man and 50 to 100 yards apart is built along a ridge running obliquely to the water. When deer are seen feeding near the water the men form a skirmish line from the last cairn to the water and advance slowly. The deer mistake the cairns for men and take to the water, where they are easily speared.

The most important deer hunt takes place in the late fall and early spring, when the natives go inland 50 or 75 miles to the upper waters of Kuaru and Kulugrua, where the deer are exceedingly plentiful at this season. Capt. Herendeen, who went inland with the deer hunters in the autumn of 1882, reports that the bottom lands of Kulugrua “looked like a cattle yard,” from the tracks of the reindeer. They start as soon as it is possible to travel across the country with sledges, usually about the first of October, taking guns, ammunition, fishing tackle, and the necessary household utensils for themselves and their families, and stay till the daylight gets too short for hunting. In 1882, many parties got home about October 27 or 28. At this season there is seldom snow enough to build snow huts, so they generally live in tents, always close to the rivers from which they procure water for household use. The men spend their time hunting the deer, while the women bring in the game, attend to drying the skins and the household work, and catch whitefish and burbot through the ice of the rivers, which are now frozen hard enough for this purpose. Some of the old men and those who have not a supply of ammunition engage in the same pursuit.

A comparatively small number of the people go out to this fall deer hunt, which appears to be a new custom, adopted since Dr. Simpson’s time. It was probably not worth while to go out after deer at seasons when there was not enough snow for digging pitfalls, since they depended chiefly on these for the capture of the reindeer before the introduction of firearms. Fully half of each village go out on the spring deer hunt, as they did in Maguire’s time, the first parties starting out with the return of the sun, about January 23, and the others following in the course of two or three weeks, and remain out till about the middle of April, when it is time to come back for the whale fishery. The people of Utkiavwĭñ always travel to the hunting grounds by a regular road, which is the same as that followed by Lieut. Ray in his exploring trips. They travel along the coast on the ice wherever it is smooth enough till they reach Sĭ´ñaru, and then strike across country, crossing Kuaru and reaching Kulugrua near the hill Nuasu´knan. (See map, Pl. II.)

The people from Nuwŭk travel straight across Elson Bay to the south till they reach nearly the same region. Some parties from Nuwŭk also hunt in the rough country between Kulugrua and Ikpĭkpûñ. As the sledges are heavily laden with camp equipage, provisions and oil for the lamps, they travel slowly, taking four or five days for the journey, 267 stopping for the night with tolerable regularity at certain stations where the first party that travels over the trail build snow huts, which are used by those who follow them. At the rivers they are scattered in small camps of four or five families, about a day’s journey apart. As well as we could learn these camps are in regularly established places, where the same people return every year, if they hunt at all. It even seemed as if these localities were considered the property of certain influential families, who could allow any others they pleased to join their parties.370 It is certain, at all events, that the people of Utkiavwĭñ did not hunt on the Ikpĭkpûñ with the men of Nuwŭk. At this season they live entirely in snow huts, often excavated in the deep drifts under the river bluffs, and the men hunt deer while the women, as before, catch fish in Kuaru and Kulugrua. None are taken in Ikpĭkpûñ. (See above, p. 58.)

Deer are generally very plentiful at this season, though sometimes, as happened in February, 1883, there comes a warm southerly wind which makes them all retreat farther inland for a few days. They are generally hunted by chasing them on snowshoes, in the manner already described, but with much better chances of success, since when a number of hunters are out in the same region the deer are kept moving, so that a herd started by one hunter is very apt to run within gunshot of another. The natives have generally very good success in this spring hunt. Two men who were hunting on shares for the station killed upward of ninety reindeer in the season of 1883. A great deal of the meat is, of course, consumed on the spot, but a good many deer are brought home frozen. They are skinned and brought home whole, only the heads and legs being cut off. The latter are disjointed at the knee and elbow. These frozen carcasses are usually cut up with a saw for cooking. At this season the does are pregnant, and many good-sized fetuses are brought home frozen. We were told that these were excellent food, though we never saw them eaten. For the first two or three days after the return of the deer hunters to the village all the little boys are playing with these fetuses, which they set up as targets for their blunt arrows.

Before starting for the deer hunt the hunters generally take the movable property which they do not mean to carry with them out of the house and bury it in the snow for safe keeping, apparently thinking that while a dishonest person might help himself to small articles left around the house, he could hardly go to work and dig up a cache without attracting the attention of the neighbors. If both families from a house go deer hunting, they either close it up entirely or else get some family who have no house of their own to take care of it during their absence. During the season, small parties, traveling light, with very little baggage, make flying trips to the village, usually to get a fresh supply of 268 ammunition or oil, and at the end of the season a lucky hunter almost always sends in to borrow extra dogs and hire women and children to help bring in his game. The skins, which at this season are very thick and heavy, suitable only for blankets, heavy stockings, etc., are simply rough dried in the open air, and brought in stacked up on a flat sled. Lieut. Ray met a Nuwŭk party returning in 1882 with a pile of these skins that looked like a load of hay. With such heavy loads they, of course, travel very slowly. A few natives, especially when short of ammunition, still use at this season the snow pitfalls mentioned by Capt. Maguire.371

The following is the description of those seen by Lieut. Ray in 1883: A round hole is dug in the drifted snow, along the bank of a stream or lake. This is about 5 feet in diameter and 5 or 6 feet deep, and is brought up to within 2 or 3 inches of the surface, where there is only a small hole, through which the snow was removed. This is carefully closed with a thin slab of snow and baited by strewing reindeer moss and bunches of grass over the thin surface, through which the deer breaks as soon as he steps on it. The natives say that they sometimes get two deer at once.

This method of hunting the reindeer appears uncommon among the Eskimo. I find no mention of it except at Repulse Bay,372 and among the Netsillingmiut, where dogs’ urine is said to be sprinkled on the snow as a bait to attract the deer by its “Salzgehalt.”373 Lieut. Ray was informed by the natives that the “Nunatañmiun” also captured deer by means of a rawhide noose set across a regular deer path, when they discovered such. The noose is held up and spread by a couple of sticks, and the end staked to the ground with a piece of antler. A similar method was practiced by the natives of Norton Sound.374 A few parties visit the rivers in summer for the purpose of hunting reindeer, but most of the natives are either off on the trading expeditions previously mentioned or else settled in the small camps along the coast, 3 or 4 miles apart, whence they occasionally go a short distance inland in search of reindeer.

The seal.

The flesh of the smaller seals forms such a staple of food, and their blubber and skin serve so many important purposes, that their capture is one of the most necessary pursuits at Point Barrow, and is carried on at all seasons of the year and in many different methods. During the season of open water many seals are shot from the umiaks engaged in whaling and walrus hunting or caught in nets set along the shore at Elson Bay. This is also the only season when seals can be captured with the small kaiak darts.

The principal seal fishery, however, begins with the closing of the sea, usually about the middle of October. When the pack ice comes in there are usually many small open pools, to which the seals resort for air. Most of the able-bodied men in the village are out every day armed 269 with the rifle and retrieving harpoon, traveling many miles among the ice hummocks in search of such holes. When a seal shows his head he is shot at with the rifle, and the hunter, if successful, secures his game with the harpoon. This method of hunting is practiced throughout the winter wherever open holes form in the ice. A native going to visit his nets or to examine the condition of the ice always carries his rifle and retrieving harpoon, in case he should come across an open hole where seals might be found. The hunt at this season is accompanied with considerable danger, as the ice pack is not yet firmly consolidated and portions of it frequently move offshore with a shift of the wind, so that the hunter runs the risk of being carried out to sea. The natives exercise considerable care, and generally avoid crossing a crack if the wind, however light, is blowing offshore; but in spite of their precautions men are every now and then carried off to sea and never return.

The hunters meet with many exciting adventures. On the morning of November 24, 1882, all the heavy ice outside of the bar broke away from the shore, leaving a wide lead, and began to move rapidly to the northeast, carrying with it three seal hunters. They were fortunately near enough to the village to be seen by the loungers on the village hill, who gave the alarm. An umiak was immediately mounted on a flat sled and carried out over the shore ice with great rapidity, so that the men were easily rescued. The promptness and energy with which the people at the village acted showed how well the danger was appreciated.

At this season of the year a single calm night is sufficient to cover all the holes and leads with young ice strong enough to support a man, and occasionally before the pack comes in the open sea freezes over. In this young ice the seals make their breathing holes (adlu), “about the Bigness of a Halfpenny,” as Egede says, and the natives employ the stabbing harpoon for their capture. At the present day this is seldom used alone, but the seal is shot through the head as he comes to the surface, and the spear only used to secure him. Seals which have been shot in this way are sometimes carried off by the current before they can be harpooned. As far as I can learn, this practice of shooting seals at the adlu is peculiar to Point Barrow (including probably the rest of the Arctic coast as far as Kotzebue Sound), though the use of the una, as already stated, is very general.

This method of hunting can generally be prosecuted only a few days at a time, as the movements of the pack soon break up the fields of young ice, though new fields frequently form in the course of the season. After the January gales the pack is so firmly consolidated that there are no longer any open holes or leads, and when the spring leads open young ice seldom forms, so that this method of hunting is as a rule confined to the period between the middle of October and the early part of January.

With the departure of the sun, about the middle of November, begins 270 the netting, which is the most important fishery of the year, but which can be prosecuted with success only in the darkest nights. The natives say that even a bright aurora interferes with the netting. At this season narrow leads of open water are often formed parallel to the shore, and frequently remain open for several days. The natives are constantly reconnoitering the ice in search of such leads, and when one is found nearly all the men in the village go out to it with their nets. A place is sought where the ice is tolerably level and not too thick for about a hundred yards back from the lead, at which distance the nets are set, often a number of them close together, in the manner already described, so that they hang like curtains under the ice, parallel to the edge of the open water. When darkness comes on the hunters begin to rattle on the ice with their ice picks, scratch with the seal call, or make some other gentle and continuous noise, which soon excites the curiosity of the seals that are swimming about in the open lead. One at length dives under the ice and swims in the direction of the sound, which of course leads him directly into the net, where he is entangled.

On favorable nights a great many seals are captured in this way. For instance, on the night of December 2, 1882, the netters from Utkiavwĭñ alone took at least one hundred seals. Such lucky hauls are not common, however. As the weather at this season is often excessively cold, the seals freeze stiff soon after they are taken from the net, and if sufficient snow has fallen they are stacked up by sticking their hind flippers in the snow. This keeps them from being covered up and lost if the snow begins to drift. I have counted thirty seals, the property of one native, piled up in this way into a single stack. The women and children go out at their convenience with dog sleds and bring in the seals. A woman, however, who is at work on deerskin clothing must not touch a hand to the seals or the sled on which they are loaded, but may lend a hand at hauling on the drag line. When the seals are brought to the edge of the beach they must not be taken on land till each has been given a mouthful of fresh water. We did not learn the object of this practice, but Nordenskiöld, who observed a similar custom at Pitlekaj, was informed that it was to keep the leads from closing.375

When the lead keeps open for several days, or there is a prospect of its opening again, the hunter leaves his gear out on the ice, sometimes bringing his ice pick, scoop, and setting pole part way home and sticking them up in the snow alongside of the path. In 1884 a lead remained open for several days about 3 or 4 miles from the village, and the natives made a regular beaten trail out to it. When we visited the netting ground the lead had closed, but nearly all the men had left their gear sticking up near it, with the nets tied up and hung upon the ice picks. They had built little walls of snow slabs as a protection against the wind. The season for this netting ends with the January gales, which close the leads permanently.


Later in the winter the seals resort to very inconsiderable cracks among the hummocks for air, and nets are set hanging around these cracks, so that a seal can not approach the crack without being caught. There was such a crack just in the edge of the rough land floe, not half a mile from Utkiavwĭñ, in February, 1883, from which two men took several seals, visiting the nets every day or two. Those men who do not go off on the deer hunt keep one or more seal nets set all winter, either in this way or in the third method, which can be practiced only after the daylight has come back, when the ice is thick. At this season there are frequently to be found among the hummocks what the natives call i´glus, dome-shaped snow houses about 6 feet in diameter and 2 or 3 feet high, with a smooth round hole in the top, and communicating with the water. These are undoubtedly the same as the snow burrows described by Kumlien,376 which the female seal builds to bring forth her young in.377 They are curious constructions, looking astonishingly like a man’s work. The natives told me that nets set at these places were for the capture of young seals (nĕtyiáru). It appears that these houses are the property of a single female only until her young one is able to take to the water, as a net is kept set at one of these holes, as well as I could understand, sometimes capturing several seals. The net is set flat under the hole, the corners being drawn out by cords let down through small holes in a circle round the main opening, through which the net is drawn. A seal rising to the surface runs his head through the meshes of the net. The small holes and sometimes the middle one are carefully covered with slabs of snow.

The officers of the revenue steamer Corwin, who made the sledge journey along the northeast coast of Siberia in the early summer of 1881, saw seal nets set in this way, flat, under air holes in the ice, with a hole for each corner of the net. When a seal was caught the net was drawn up through the middle hole with a hooked pole.378 In 1883 they began setting these nets at Point Barrow about March 4, and probably about the same date the year before, though we did not happen to observe this method of netting until considerably later.

In June and July, when the ice becomes rotten and worn into holes, the seals “haul out” to bask in the sun, and are then stalked and shot. They are exceedingly wary at this season. The seal usually taken in the methods above described is the rough or ringed seal (Phoca fœtida), but in 1881 a single male ribbon seal (Histriophoca fasciata) was netted, and in 1882 a native shot one at the breathing hole, but it was carried away by the current before he could secure it. The natives said that they sometimes caught the harbor seal (P. vitulina) in the shore nets in Elson Bay. The bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus), whose skin is especially prized for making harpoon lines, boot soles, umiak covers, 272 etc., is never very abundant, and occurs chiefly in the season of open water, when it is captured from the umiak with harpoon and rifle, but they are sometimes found in the winter, as two were killed at breathing holes in the rough ice January 8, 1883.

The walrus.

The walrus occurs only during the season of open water, and is almost always captured from the umiak with the large harpoon and rifle. The whaling boats usually find a few, especially late in the season, and after the trading parties have gone in the summer the natives who remain are generally out in the boats a good deal of the time looking for walrus and seals. As a general thing walrus are especially plenty in September, when much loose ice is moving backwards and forwards with the current, frequently sleeping in large herds upon cakes of ice. The boats, which are out nearly every day at this season with volunteer crews, not regularly organized as for whaling, paddle as near as they can to these sleeping herds and try to shoot them in the head, aiming also to “fasten” to as many as they can with the harpoon and float as they hurry into the water. A harpooned walrus is followed up with the boat and shot with the rifle when a chance is offered. Swimming walruses are chased with the boat and “fastened to” by darting the harpoon. When a walrus is killed it is towed up to the nearest cake of ice and cut up on the spot. We never knew of the kaiak being used in walrus-hunting, as is the custom among the eastern Eskimo.

The whale.

The pursuit of the “bowhead” whale (Balæna mysticetus), so valuable not only for the food furnished by its flesh and “blackskin” and the oil from its blubber, but for the whalebone, which serves so many useful purposes in the arts of the Eskimo and is besides the chief article of trade with the ships, is carried on with great regularity and formality. In the first place all the umialĭks (boat-owners) or those who are to be the captains of whaling umiaks, before the deer hunters start out in January, bring all the gear to be used in the whale fishery to the kû´dyĭgĭ, where it is consecrated by a ceremony consisting of drumming and singing, perhaps partaking of the nature of an incantation.

Capt. Herendeen was the only one of our party who witnessed this ceremony, which took place at Utkiavwĭñ on January 9, 1883, and he did not bring back a detailed account of the proceedings. During part of the ceremony all the umialĭks were seated in a row upon the floor, and a woman passed down the line marking each across the face with an oblique streak of blacklead. As soon as the deer hunters return in the spring they begin getting ready for the whales, covering the boats, fitting lines to harpoons, and putting gear of all sorts in perfect order. Every article to be used in whaling—harpoons, lances, paddles, and even the timbers of the boats—must be scraped perfectly clean.379 This work is generally done by the umialĭk himself and his 273 family, as the crews do not enter on their duties till the whaling actually commences. The crews are regularly organized for the season, and are made up during the winter and early spring. They consist of eight or ten persons to each boat, including the captain, who is always the owner of the boat, and sits in the stern and steers, using a larger paddle than the rest, and the harpooner, who occupies the bow. When a bombgun is carried it is intrusted to a third man, who sits in the waist of the boat, and whose duty it is to shoot the whale whenever he sees a favorable opportunity, whether it has been harpooned or not. The rest are simply paddlers.

When used for whaling, the umiak is propelled by paddles alone, sails and oars never being even taken on board. Men are preferred for the whaling crews when enough can be secured, otherwise the vacancies are filled by women, who make efficient paddlers. Some umialĭks hire their crews, paying them a stipulated price in tobacco and other articles, and providing them with food during the season. Others ship men on shares. We did not learn the exact proportions of these shares in any case. They appear to concern the whalebone alone, as all seem to be entitled to as much of the flesh and blubber as they can cut off in the general scramble. At this season exploring parties are out every day examining the state of the ice to ascertain when the pack is likely to break away from the landfloe, and also to find the best path for the umiaks through the hummocks.

In 1882 the condition of the ice was such that the boats could be taken out directly from Utkiavwĭñ, by a somewhat winding path, to the edge of the land floe about five or six miles from the shore. This path was marked out by the seal-hunters during the winter, and some of the natives spent their leisure time widening and improving it, knocking off projecting points of ice with picks and whale spades, and filling up the worst of the inequalities. Much of the path, however, was exceedingly rough and difficult when it was considered finished. In 1883 the land floe was so rough and wide abreast of the village that no practicable path could be made, so all the whalemen with their families moved up to Imê´kpûñ and encamped in tents as already described (see p. 84) for the season. From this point a tolerably straight and easy path was made out to the edge of the land floe. The natives informed me as early as April 1 that it would be necessary for them to move up to Imê´kpûñ, adding that the ice abreast of the village was very heavy and would move only when warm weather came. This prediction was correct, as the season of 1883 was so late that no ships reached the station until August 1.

About the middle of April the natives begin anxiously to expect an east or southeast wind (nígyǝ) to drive off the pack and open the leads, and should it not speedily blow from that quarter recourse is had to supernatural means to bring it. A party of men go out and sit in a semicircle facing the sea on the village cliff, while one man in the middle 274 beats a drum and sings a monotonous chant, interrupted by curious vibrating cries, accompanied with a violent shaking of the head from side to side. This ceremony is conducted with great solemnity, and the natives seemed disinclined to have us witness it, so that we learned very little about it. They, however, told us that the chant was addressed to a tuaña or spirit, requesting him to make the desired wind blow.380 It does not appear to be necessary that the man who delivers the invocation should be a regular magician or “doctor.” A succession of unsuccessful attempts were made in 1882, some of them by men who never to our knowledge practiced incantations on other occasions. During this period, and while the whaling is going on, no pounding must be done in the village, and it is not allowable even to rap with the knuckles on wood for fear of frightening away the whales.381 It is interesting to find that at Norton Sound, where the whale is not pursued, this superstition has been transferred to the salmon fishery, one of the most important industries of the year. Mr. Dall382 says: “While the fishery lasts no wood must be cut with an axe, or the salmon will disappear.”

As soon as the lead opens, and sometimes before when the prospect looks promising, the boats are taken out to the edge of the land floe and kept out there during the season, which lasts till about the last week in June, when they are brought in and got ready for the summer expeditions. When the lead closes, as often happens, the boats are hauled up on the ice and many or all of the crews come home until there are prospects of open water. When there is open water, the boats are always on the lookout for whales, either cruising about in the lead or lying up at the edge of the floe, the crews eating and sleeping when they can get a chance and shooting seals and ducks when there are no whales in sight. The women and children travel back and forth between the village and the boats, carrying supplies of food for the whalemen.

In 1883, there was a regular beaten trail along the smooth shore ice between Imê´kpûñ and Utkiavwĭñ, where people were constantly traveling back and forth. When the boats are out no woman is allowed to sew, as was noticed by Dr. Simpson.383 To carry the umiak out over the ice it is lashed on a flat sled and drawn by dogs and men. A description of one of these boats which I accompanied for part of its journey out to the open water, will show how a whaleboat is fitted out. The rifles, harpoons, lances, and other gear of the party were sent on ahead on a sled drawn by half a dozen dogs, with a woman to lead them. After these had made a short stage, they were unfastened from this 275 sled and brought back and harnessed to the flat sled on which the umiak was lashed. The party, which consisted of five men and two women, one of whom remained with the sled load of gear, then started ahead, the women running in front of the dogs and the men pushing at the sides of the boat. The boat travels very easily and rapidly on smooth ice, but among the hummocks the men have hard work pushing and scrambling, and occasional stops have to be made to widen narrow places in the path and to chisel off projecting points of ice which might pierce the skin cover of the boat. When they came up to the first sled the women were again sent on with this while the men rested. The inflated sealskin floats, five or six in number, the whale harpoon, and whale spades, and ice picks were carried in the boats.

A whaling umiak always carries a number of amulets to insure success. These consisted in this case of two wolf skulls, a dried raven, the axis vertebra of a seal, and numerous feathers. The skin of a golden eagle is considered an excellent charm for whaling, and Nĭkawaalu was particularly desirous to secure the tip of a red fox’s tail, which he said was a powerful amulet. The captain and harpooner wore fillets of mountain sheepskin, with a little crystal or stone image of a whale dangling at each side of the face, and the captain’s fillet was also fringed with the incisor teeth of the mountain sheep. Both wore little stone whales attached to the breast of the jacket, and one woman and one or two of the men had streaks of black lead on their faces.384

When they are on the watch for whales the great harpoon is kept always rigged and resting in a crotch of ivory in the bow of the boat. When a whale is sighted they paddle up as close as possible and the harpooner thrusts the harpoon into him. The whale dives, with the floats attached to him, and the shaft, which is retained, is rigged for striking him when he rises again. The other boats, if any are near, join in the chase until the whale is so wearied that he can be lanced or a favorable opportunity occurs for shooting him. All boats in sight at the time the whale is struck, as I understood, are entitled to an equal share of the whalebone.

As soon as the whale is killed he is towed up to the edge of the land floe and everybody standing on the edge of the ice and in the boats begins hacking away, at random, at the flesh and blubber, some of them going to work more carefully to cut out the whalebone. The “cutting in” is managed without order or control, everybody who can be on the spot being apparently entitled to all the meat, blubber, and blackskin he or she can cut off. The same custom was practiced in Greenland, and is to this day in eastern Siberia.


While they are very particular in all superstitious observances regarding the whales, they are less careful about certain things, such as loud talking and firing guns at seals and fowl when they are waiting for whales, which really hurt their chances with the timid animals. They are less energetic than one would suppose in pursuit of the whale, according to Capt. Herendeen, who spent several days each season with the whaleboats. Instead of cruising about the lead in search of whales they are rather inclined to lie in wait for them at the edge of the floe, so that when the open water is wide many whales escape.

When the leads are very narrow the whales are sometimes shot with the bombgun from the edge of the ice. Success in this appears to be variable. In 1882 only one small whale was secured, and in 1883 one full-grown one, though several were struck and lost each season. The veteran whaling-master, Capt. L. C. Owen, informs me that one season the boats of these two villages captured ten. The season of 1885 was very successful. The natives of the two villages are reported to have taken twenty-eight whales. Capt. E. E. Smith, however, informs me that only seven of these were full-grown.

When actually engaged in whaling the umialik exercises a very fair degree of discipline, but at other times he seems hardly able to keep his men from straggling off to go home or to visit their seal nets, etc., so that he sometimes has to chase a whale “short-handed.”

Nowhere else among the Eskimo does the whale fishery appear to be conducted in such regular manner with formally organized crews as upon this northwest coast. From all accounts the animal is only casually pursued elsewhere with fleets of kaiaks or umiaks manned by volunteer crews.385

The beluga or white whale is only casually pursued, and as far as I could learn is always shot with the rifle. It is not abundant.


During the winter months a few ptarmigan are occasionally shot, but the natives pay no special attention to birds until the spring migrations. The first ducks appear a little later than the whales, about the end of April or the first week of May, and from that time till the middle of June scarcely a day passes when they are not more or less plenty. The king ducks (Somateria spectabilis) are the first to appear, while the Pacific eiders (S. v-nigra) arrive somewhat later, and are more abundant towards the end of the migrations. At this season all women and children, and many men, go armed with the bolas, and everybody is always on the lookout for flocks of ducks. On four or five favorable days each season, at intervals of a week or ten days, there are great flights of eiders coming up in huge flocks of two or three hundred, stretched out in long diagonal lines. These flocks follow one another in rapid succession and keep the line of the coast, apparently striking straight across Peard Bay from the Seahorse Islands to a point 277 four or five miles below Utkiavwĭñ, and most of them fly up along the smooth shore-ice to Pernyû or Point Barrow. Some flocks always fly up among the hummocks of the land floe, and a few others turn eastward below the village and continue their course to the northeast across the land.

On the days between the great flights there are always a few flocks passing, and some days when there is no flight along shore they are very abundant out at the open water, where the whalemen shoot them in the intervals of whaling. When a great flight begins the people at the village hasten out and form a sort of skirmish line across the shore ice from the shore to the hummocks, a few sometimes stationing themselves among the latter. They take but little pains to conceal themselves, frequently sitting out on the open ice-field on sealing stools or squares of bearskins. The ducks generally keep on their course without paying much attention to the men, and in fact one may often get a shot by running so as to head off an approaching flock. Firing, however, frightens them and makes them rise to a considerable height, often out of gunshot. Many ducks are taken with guns and bolas in these flights.

Rather late in the season the old squaws (Clangula hyemalis) pass to the northeast in large flocks, but usually go so high than none are taken. A good many of these, however, with a few eiders, geese, brant, and loons, remain and breed on the tundra, and are occasionally shot by the natives, though most of them are too busy with whaling and seal and walrus hunting to pay much attention to birds. Small parties of two or three lads or young men, sometimes with their wives, make short excursions inland to the small streams and sand islands east of Point Barrow, after birds and eggs, and the boys from the small camps along the coast towards Woody Inlet are always on the lookout for eggs and small birds, such as they can kill with their bows and arrows or catch in snares. They say that the parties which go east, and those which visit the rivers in summer, get many eggs and find plenty of ducks, geese, and swans, which have molted their flight feathers so that they are unable fly.

About the end of July the return migration of the ducks begins. At this season the flocks, which are generally smaller and more compact than in the spring, come from the east along the northern shore, and cross out to sea at the isthmus of Pernyû, where the natives assemble in large numbers to shoot them as well as to meet with the Nunatañmiun. All the people who have been scattered along the coast in small camps gradually collect at this season at Pernyû, and the returning eastern parties generally stop there two or three days; while, after they have brought their families back to the village, the men frequently walk up to Pernyû for a day or two of duck shooting. The tents are pitched just in the bend of Elson Bay, and north of them is a narrow place in the sandspit over which the ducks often pass. Here the 278 natives dig shallow pits in the gravel, in which they post themselves with guns and bolas. A line of posts is set up along the bend of the beach from the tents almost to the outlet of Imêkpûniglu.

When a light breeze is blowing from the northeast the ducks, no matter how far off shore they are when first seen, always head for the point of land on the other side of this outlet, probably with the intention of following the line of lagoons and going out to sea farther down the coast, as they sometimes do. When, however, they reach this critical point they catch sight of the posts, and the natives who are watching them sharply set up a shrill yell. Frightened by this and by the line of posts, nine times out of ten, if the cry is given at the right moment, the ducks will falter, become confused, and, finally, collecting into a compact body will whirl along the line of posts, past the tents, flying close to the water, and turn out to sea at the first open space, which is just where the gunners are posted. This habit of yelling to frighten the ducks and bring them within gunshot has been observed on the Siberian coast in places where the ducks are in the habit of flying in and out from lagoons over low bars.386 Should the wind blow hard from the east, however, or blow from any other quarter, the ducks do not fly in such abundance, nor do they pay much attention to the posts or the yelling, but often keep on their course down the lagoons, or head straight for the beach and cross wherever they strike it. The latter is generally the habit with the old squaws, who come rather late in the migrations, while the black brant (Branta nigricans) are more apt to go down the lagoons. A few pintail ducks (Dafila acuta), are occasionally shot at this season, and are sometimes found in the two little village ponds (Tûseraru). The shooting at Pernyû usually lasts till the middle or end of September, during which month the natives also shoot a good many gulls (Larus barrovianus and Rhodostethia rosea) as they fly along the shore.


Hooks and lines.

The streams and lakes in the immediate neighborhood of Point Barrow contain no fish, and there is comparatively little fishing in the sea. When the water first closes in the autumn narrow tide cracks often form at the very edge of the beach. At these cracks the natives frequently catch considerable numbers of Polar cod (Boreogadus saida) and small sculpins (Cottus quadricornis and C. decastrensis), with the hook and line. The tackle for this fishing consists of 279 a short line of whalebone, provided with a little “squid” or artificial bait of ivory, and fastened to a wooden rod about 18 inches or 2 feet long. The lure, which is apparently meant to represent a small shrimp, is kept moving, and the fish bite at it. We brought home two complete sets of tackle for this kind of fishing, two lines without rods and twelve lures or hooks. No. 89548 [1733] Fig. 264, has been selected for description.

The line is 40 inches long and made of four strips of whalebone 0.1 inch wide, fastened together with what appear to be “waterknots.” Two of these strips are of black whalebone, respectively 4½ and 9 inches long; the other two are of light colored whalebone and 15½ and 11 inches long. The light colored end is made fast to the eye in the small end of the hook as follows: The end is passed through the eye, doubled back and passed through a single knot in the standing part, and knotted round the latter with a similar knot (Fig. 265). This knot is the one generally used in fastening a fishing line to the hook. The other end is doubled in a short bight into which is becket-hitched one end of a bit of sinew thread about 3 inches long, and the other end is knotted into a notch at one end of the rod, as the whalebone would be too stiff to tie securely to the stick. The rod is a roughly whittled splinter of California redwood, 14½ inches long. The body of the lure is a piece of walrus ivory 1½ inches long. Through a hole in the large end of this is driven the barbless brass hook, with a broad thin plate at one end bent up, flush with the convex side. When not in use the line is reeled lengthwise on the rod, secured by a notch at each end of the latter, and the hook stuck into the wood on one side of the rod. The hook is wedged into the body of the lure with a bit of whalebone. The other specimen, No. 89547, [1733] from the same village, is almost exactly like this, but has a slightly shorter line, made of three strips of bone, of which the lower two, as before, are of light colored whalebone. The object of using this material is probably to render the part of the line which is under water less conspicuous, as we use leaders and casting lines of transparent silkworm gut. The body of the lure is made of old brown walrus ivory. These lures are 1 inch to 1½ inches long, and vary little in the shape of the body which is usually made of walrus ivory, in most cases darkened on the surface by age or charring, so that when carved into shape it is parti-colored, black and white. The body is often ornamented with small colored beads inlaid for eyes and along the back (Fig. 266a, No. 56609 [153], from Utkiavwĭñ).

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Fig. 264.—Tackle for shore fishing.

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Fig. 265.—Knot of line into hook.

The hook is usually of the shape described but is sometimes simply a slightly recurved spur about ½-inch long as in Fig. 266b (No. 56610 [160], 280 also from Utkiavwĭñ). It is usually of brass or copper, rarely of iron. Two peculiar lures from Utkiavwĭñ, are No. 56705 [150a and 150b]. The first, a, has a body of brass of the usual shape, and a copper hook, and the other, b, has the body made of a strip of thin brass to the back of which is fastened a lump of lead or pewter. The hook appears to be made of a common copper tack. We were informed that these lures were also used for catching small fish, trout, smelts, and perhaps grayling in the rivers in summer. No. 89554 [950], Fig. 267a, from Utkiavwĭñ, is perhaps intended exclusively for this purpose, as it is larger than the others, (1.9 inch long) and highly ornamented with beads. Fig. 267b, No. 89783 [1007], is one of these beaded lures (2½ inches long), with an iron hook, undoubtedly for river fishing, as it belonged to the “inland” native, Ilû´bw’ga. It differs slightly in shape from the others, having two eyes at the small end into which is fastened a leader of sinew braid 3 inches long. On this are strung four blue glass beads and one red one.

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Fig. 266.—Small fishhooks.

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Fig. 267.—Hooks for river fishing.

No. ——387 [151] Fig. 268, from Utkiavwĭñ, is a rod rigged for fishing in the rivers. The rod is a roughly whittled stick of spruce or pine, 27 inches long. One line is 43 and the other 36 inches long and each is made of two strips of whalebone of which the lower is light colored as usual. The shorter line carries a small plain ivory lure of the common pattern, and the longer one a little flat barbless hook of copper with a broad flat shank. This was probably scraped bright and used without bait. The lines are reeled in the usual manner on the rod, and the hooks caught into notches on the sides of it. The small lures are called nĭ´ksĭñ.

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Fig. 268.—Tackle for river fishing.

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Fig. 269.—Burbot hook, 1st pattern.


When at the rivers in the autumn and early spring, they fish for burbot with a line carrying a peculiar large hook called iɐkqlûñ, which is baited with a piece of whitefish. There are two forms of this hook, which is from 3 to 5¼ inches long. One form differs in size only from the small nĭ´ksĭn, but is always of white ivory and not beaded (Fig. 269, No. 89550 [780] from Utkiavwĭñ, which is 4½ inches long and has a copper hook). The hook is of copper, brass or iron. The other form, which is perhaps the commoner, has a narrow flat body, slightly bent, and serrated on the edges to give a firm attachment to the bait. This body is usually of antler, and has a copper or iron hook either spur-shaped or of the common form as in Fig. 270, No. 89553 [764] from Utkiavwĭñ, which has a body of walrus ivory 4 inches long and a copper hook. Of late years, small cod hooks obtained from the ships have been adapted to these bodies, as is seen in Fig. 271, No. 89552 [841] from Utkiavwĭñ. The shank of the hook has been half imbedded in a longitudinal groove on the flatter side of the body, with the bend of the hook projecting about ¼ inch beyond the tip of the latter. The ring of the hook has been bent open and the end sunk into the body. The hook is held on by two lashings of sinew, one at each end of the shank.

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Fig. 270.—Burbot hook, 2d pattern.

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Fig. 271.—Burbot hook, made of cod hook.

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Fig. 272.—Burbot tackle, baited.

No. 56594 [32] from Utkiavwĭñ is like the preceding, but has a larger hook, which from the bend to the point is wrapped in a piece of deer skin with the flesh side out, and wound with sinew having a tuft of hair at the point of the hook. This is probably to hide the point when the hook is baited. No. 56594 [167] from Utkiavwĭñ, has the hook fastened to the back of the body instead of the flat side. The manner in which these hooks are baited is shown in Fig. 272, which represents a complete set of burbot tackle (No. 89546 [946]) brought in and sold by some Utkiavwĭñ natives, just as they had been using it in the autumn of 1882 at Kuaru or Kulugrua. A piece of whitefish, flesh and skin, with the scales removed is wrapped round the hook so as to make a club-shaped body 4½ inches long and is sewed up along one side with cotton twine. The copper spur projects through the skin on the other side. 282 This hook would not hold the fish unless it were “gorged,” but the voracious burbot always swallows its prey. In dressing these fish for the table, whitefish of considerable size were frequently found in them. The line is of whalebone like those already described but a little stouter, 78 inches long, and made of seven pieces, all black. The end of the line is fastened into an eye in the small end of a rough club-shaped sinker of walrus ivory, 4¾ inches long. There is another eye at the large end of the sinker, for the attachment of a leader of double sinew braid 5½ inches long connecting the hook with the sinker.

The reel, which serves also as a short rod, is of yellow pine 19½ inches long. When the line is reeled up, the hook is caught into the wood on one side of the reel. No. 89545 [946] is a similar set of baited tackle, bought from the same natives, differing from the preceding only in proportions, having a longer line—9 feet and 6 inches—and a somewhat larger bait. We also procured two sets of burbot tackle unbaited.

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Fig. 273.—Ivory sinker.

One of these (No. 56543 [33] from Utkiavwĭñ) has a whalebone line 14 feet long, and a roughly octahedral sinker of walrus ivory 3 inches long and 1½ in diameter. The hook, which is joined to the sinker as before by a leader of stout sinew braid, is of the second pattern, with serrated edges, and a copper hook. The leader is neatly spliced into this. The other, No. 56544 [187], also from Utkiavwĭñ, has no sinker and a hook with a club-shaped body and iron spur. It was probably put together for sale, as it is new. The sinkers, of which we collected five, besides those already mentioned, are always about the same weight and either club-shaped or roughly octahedral. They are always of walrus ivory and usually carelessly made. Fig. 273 (No. 56577 [260]) represents one of these sinkers (kíbica), on which there is some attempt at ornamentation. On the larger are two eyes and the outline of a mouth like a shark’s, incised and filled in with black refuse oil.

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Fig. 274.—Ivory jigger for polar cod.

A similar line and reel are used for catching polar cod in the spring and late winter through the ice at some distance from the shore. These lines are 10 or 15 fathoms long, and provided with a heavy sinker of ivory, copper, or rarely lead, to which are attached by whalebone leaders of unequal length, two little jiggers like Fig. 274 (the property of the writer, from Utkiavwĭñ). This is of white walrus ivory, 2⅛ inches long and ⅜ in diameter at the largest part. The two slender hooks are of copper and are secured by wedges of whalebone. This makes a contrivance resembling the squid jigs used by our fishermen. These jiggers are sometimes made wholly of copper, which is scraped bright.

This fishery begins with the return of the sun, about the 283 1st of February, and continues when the ice is favorable until the season is so far advanced that the ice has begun to melt and become rotten. The fish are especially to be found in places where there is a good-sized field of the season’s ice, 3 or 4 feet thick, inclosed by hummocks, and they sometimes occur in very great numbers. In 1882 there was a large field of this kind about 2 miles from the village and the fishing was carried on with great success, but in 1883 the ice was so much broken that the fish were very scarce. Some lads caught a few early in the season, but the fishery was soon abandoned.

A hole about a foot in diameter is made through the ice with an ice pick, and the fragments dipped out either with the long-handled whalebone scoop, or the little dipper made of two pieces of antler mounted on a handle about 2 feet long, which everybody carries in the winter. The line is unreeled and let down through the hole till the jigs hang about a foot from the bottom. The fisherman holds in his left hand the dipper above mentioned, with which he keeps the hole clear of the ice crystals, which form very quickly, and in his right the reel which he jerks continually up and down. The fish, attracted by the white “jiggers,” begin nosing around them, when the upward jerk of the line hooks one of them in the under jaw or the belly. As soon as the fisherman feels the fish, he catches a bight of the line with the scoop in his left hand and draws it over to the left; then catches the line below this with the reel and draws it over to the right, and so on, thus reeling the line up in long hanks on these two sticks, without touching the wet line with his fingers.

When the fish is brought to the surface of the ice, he is detached from the barbless hook with a dextrous jerk, and almost instantly freezes solid. The elastic whalebone line is thrown off the stick without kinking and let down again through the hole. When fish are plentiful, they are caught as fast as they can be hauled up, sometimes one on each “jigger.” If the fisherman finds no fish at the first hole he moves to another part of the field and tries again until he succeeds in “striking a school.” The fish vary in abundance on different days, being sometimes so plentiful that I have known two or three children to catch a bushel in a few hours, while some days very few are to be taken. In addition to the polar cod, a few sculpins are also caught, and occasionally the two species of Lycodes (L. turnerii and coccineus) which voracious fish sometimes seize the little polar cod struggling on the “jigger” and are thus caught themselves. This fishery is chiefly carried on by the women, children, and old men, who go out in parties of five or six, though the hunters sometimes go fishing when they have nothing else to do. There were generally thirty or forty people out at the fishing-ground every day in 1882.

Jiggers of this pattern appear to be used at Pitlekaj, from Nordendskiöld’s description388, but I have seen no account either there or elsewhere 284 of the peculiar method of reeling up the line such as we saw at Point Barrow. Lines of whalebone are very common among the Eskimo generally,389 and perhaps this material is preferable to any other for fishing in this cold region, for not only does the elastic whalebone prevent kinking, but the ice which forms instantly on the wet line in winter does not adhere to it, but can easily be shaken off. No. 56545 [410] is a line 51 feet and 10 inches long and 0.05 inch in diameter, made of human hair, neatly braided in a round braid with four strands. This was called a fishing line, but was the only one of the kind seen. Fishhooks of the kind described, with a body of bone or ivory, which serves for a lure, armed with a spur or bent hook of metal, without a barb, seem to be the prevailing type amongst the Eskimo. In the region about Norton Sound (as shown by the extensive collections of Mr. Nelson and others) this is often converted into an elaborate lure by attaching pendants of beads, bits of the red beak of the puffin, etc. Crantz mentions a similar custom in Greenland of baiting a hook with beads.390

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Fig. 275.—Section of whalebone net.

Nets (Kubra).—

The most important fishery at the rivers is carried on by means of gill-nets, set under the ice, and visited every few days. In these are taken large numbers of all three species of whitefish (Coregonus kenicotti, C. nelsoni, and C. laurettæ.) The collection contains three specimens of these nets, two of whalebone and one of sinew. No. 56754 [147], Fig. 275, is a typical whalebone net. It is long and shallow, 79 meshes long and 21 deep, made of fine strips of whalebone fastened together as in the whalebone fishing lines. Most of the whalebone is black, but a few light colored strips are intermixed at random. The length of the mesh is 3¼ inches, and the knot used in making them is the ordinary netting-knot. When not in use the net is rolled up into a compact ball and tied up with a bit of string. When set, this net is 21 feet 7 inches long and 3 feet 4 inches deep. The other whalebone net (No. 56753 [172], also from Utkiavwĭñ), is similar to this, but slightly larger, being 87 meshes (25 feet) long and 22 (3 feet 9 inches) deep. The length of mesh is 3½ inches. 285 Fig. 276 (unit of web) is a net (No. 56752 [171] from the same village) of the same mesh and depth, but 284 meshes (60 feet) long and made of twisted sinew twine.

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Fig. 276.—Mesh of sinew net.

I had no opportunity of seeing the method of setting these nets under the ice, but it is probably the same as that used in setting the seal nets. When in camp at Pernyû in the summer, the natives set these nets in the shoal water of Elson Bay, at right angles to the beach, with a stake at each end of the net. They are set by a man in a kayak, and in them are gilled considerable numbers of whitefish, two species of salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha and O. nerka) and an occasional trout (Salvelinus malma). They take these nets east with them on their summer expeditions, but we did not learn the method of using them at this season. Perhaps they are sometimes used for seining on the beach, as Thomas Simpson says that the Eskimo at Herschel Island (probably Kûñmûd´lĭñ) sold his party “some fine salmon trout, taken in a seine of whalebone, which they dragged ashore by means of several slender poles spliced together to a great length.”391

An Utkiavwĭñ native told us that he found trout (Salvelinus malma) so plentiful at or near the mouth of the Colville, in 1882, that he fed his dogs with them.

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Fig. 277.—Fish trap.

Fig. 277 is a peculiar net or fish-trap (No. 56755 [190]) from Utkiavwĭñ, the only specimen of the kind seen. It is a conical, wide-mouthed bag, 8 feet 4 inches long and 5½ feet wide at the mouth, netted all in one piece of twisted sinew, with a 2¼-inch mesh. This was brought over for sale at an early date, before we were well acquainted with the natives, and we only learned that it was set permanently for catching fish. Unfortunately, we never saw another specimen, and through the press of other duties never happened to make further 286 inquiries about it. From its shape it would appear as if it were meant to be set in a stream with the mouth towards the current. This contrivance is called sápotĭn, which corresponds to the Greenlandic saputit, a dam for catching fish.

From all accounts, the natives east of the Anderson River region were ignorant of the use of the net before they made the acquaintance of the whites,392 though they now use it in several places, as in Greenland and Labrador. The earliest explorers on the northwest coast, however, found both fish and seal nets in use, though, as I have already mentioned, the seal net was spoken of at Point Barrow as a comparatively recent invention. At the present day, nets are used all along the coast from the Mackenzie and Anderson rivers (see MacFarlane’s Collection) as far south at least as the Yukon delta.393 I have not been able to learn whether gill nets are used in the delta of the Kuskoquim. Petroff394 mentions fish traps and dip nets merely. That the natives of Kadiak formerly had no nets I infer from Petroff’s statement395 that “of late they have begun to use seines of whale sinew.” Nets are generally used on the Siberian coast. We observed them ourselves at Plover Bay, and Nordenskiöld396 describes the nets used at Pitlekaj, which are made of sinew thread. It is almost certain that the American Eskimo learned the use of the net from the Siberians, as they did the habit of smoking, since the use of the gill net appears to have been limited to precisely the same region as the Siberian form of tobacco pipe.397

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Fig. 278.—Fish spear.


The only evidence which we have of the use of spears for catching fish in this region is a single specimen, No. 89901 [1227], Fig. 278, from Utkiavwĭñ, which was newly and rather carelessly made for sale, but intended, as we were told, for spearing fish. This has a roughly whittled shaft, of spruce, 21½ inches long, armed at one end with three prongs. The middle prong is of whalebone, 4⅓ inches long, inserted into the tip of the shaft, which is cut into a short neck and whipped with sinew. The side prongs are also of bone, 9 inches long. Through the tip of each is driven a sharp, slender slightly recurved spur of bone, about 1½ inches long. Each prong is fastened to the shaft with two small wooden treenails, and they are braced with a figure-of-eight lashing of sinew through holes in the side prongs and around the middle one. The side prongs are somewhat elastic, so that when the spear is struck down 287 on the back of a fish they spring apart and allow the middle prong to pierce him, and then spring back so that the spurs either catch in his sides or meet below his belly, precisely on the principle of the “patent eel spear.” This implement is almost identical with one in the National Museum from Hudson Bay, which appears to be in general use among the eastern Eskimo.398 The name, kăki´bua, is very nearly the same as that used by the eastern natives (kākkĭe-wĕi, Parry, and kakívak, Kumlien). This spear is admirably adapted for catching large fish in shallow rocky streams where a net can not be used, or where they are caught by dams in tidal streams in the manner described by Egede and Crantz. There is so little tide, however, on the northwest coast, that this method of fishing can not be practiced, and, as far as I know, there is no locality in the range of the Point Barrow natives, a region of open shoal beaches, and rivers free of rocks, where this spear could be used in which a net would not serve the purpose much better. Taking into consideration the scarcity of these spears and the general use of nets, I am inclined to believe that this spear is an ancient weapon, formerly in general use, but driven out of fashion by the introduction of nets.


These people still retain the art of making flint arrow and spearheads, and other implements such as the blades for the skin scrapers to be hereafter described. Many of the flint arrowheads and spear points already described were made at Nuwŭk or Utkiavwĭñ especially for sale to us and are as finely formed and neatly finished as any of the ancient ones. The flints, in many cases water-worn pebbles, appear to have been splintered by percussion into fragments of suitable sizes, and these sharp-edged spalls are flaked into shape by means of a little instrument consisting of a short, straight rod of some hard material mounted in a short curved haft. We collected nine of these tools (kĭ´gli) of which two have no blades. No. 89262 [1223] figured in Point Barrow Report, Ethnology, Pl. III, Fig. 7, has been selected as the type. The handle is of walrus ivory, 7.8 inches long, straight and nearly cylindrical for about 4½ inches, then bending down like a saw handle and spread out into a spatulate butt. Fitted into a deep groove on the top of the handle so that its tip projects 1.8 inches beyond the tip of the latter is a slender four-sided rod of whale’s bone, 4.7 inches long. This is held in place by two simple lashings, one of cotton twine and the other of seal thong. The flint to be flaked is held in the left hand and 288 pressed against the fleshy part of the palm which serves as a cushion and is protected by wearing a thick deer-skin mitten. The tool is firmly grasped well forward in the right hand with the thumb on top of the blade and by pressing the point steadily on the edge of the flint, flakes of the desired size are made to fly off from the under surface.

These tools vary little in pattern, but are made of different materials. Hard bone appears to have been the commonest material for the blade, as three out of the seven blades are of this substance. One specimen (No. 89263 [796] from Utkiavwĭñ) has a blade of iron of the same shape but only 2 inches long. No. 89264 [1001] also from Utkiavwĭñ, Fig. 279a, has a short blade of black flint flaked into a four-sided rod 1½ inches long. This is held in place by a whipping of stout seal thong tightened by thrusting a splinter of wood in at the back of the groove.

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Fig. 279.—Flint flakers.

Two specimens (Nos. 89260 [794] Fig. 279b and 89261 [1216] both from Utkiavwĭñ) have blades of the peculiar Nuɐsuknan concretions previously described. Each is an oblong pebble wedged into the groove and secured by a lashing as usual. No. 89260 [794] has a haft of antler. This is rather the commonest material for the haft. Two specimens have hafts of walrus ivory and three of fossil ivory. The length of the haft is from 6 to 8 inches, of the blade 1.5 to 4.7 inches. Fig. 280 (No. 89265 [979] from Nuwŭk) is the haft of one of these tools, made of fossil ivory, yellow from age and stained brown in blotches, which shows the way in which the groove for the blade was excavated, namely, by boring a series of large round holes and cutting away the material between them. The remains of the holes are still to be seen in the bottom of the groove. The tip of this haft has been roughly carved into a bear’s head with the eyes and nostrils incised and filled with black dirt, and the eyes, nostrils, and mouth of a human face have been rudely incised on the under side of the butt and also blackened. All this carving is new and was done with the view of increasing the market value of the object. The original ornamentation consists of an incised pattern on the upper surface of the butt, colored with red ocher which has turned black from age and dirt.

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Fig. 280.—Haft of flint flaker.

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Fig. 281.—Flint flaker with bone blade.


Fig. 281 (No. 89782 [1004e]) is one of these tools, very neatly made, with a haft of reindeer antler and a bone blade, secured by a whipping of seal thong which belongs with the “kit” of tools owned by the “inland” native, Ilû´bw’ga. Mr. Nelson collected a number of specimens of this tool at various points on the northwest coast from Point Hope as far south as Norton Bay, but I can find no evidence of its use elsewhere.



In former times fire was obtained in the method common to so many savages, from the heat developed by the friction of the end of a stick worked like a drill against a piece of soft wood. This instrument was still in use at least as late as 1837,399 but appears to have been wholly abandoned at Point Barrow at the time of the Plover’s visit, though still in use at Kotzebue Sound.400

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Fig. 282.—Fire drill with mouthpiece and stock.

A native of Nuwŭk one day brought down for sale what he said was an exact model of the ancient fire drill, nióotĭñ. This is No. 89822 [1080], Fig. 282. The drill is a stick of pine 12 inches long, shaped like the shaft of a common perforating drill, brought to a blunt but rounded point. This is worked by a string, without bow or handles, consisting of a strip of the skin of the bearded seal, 40 inches long, and has for a mouthpiece the astragalus bone of a reindeer, the natural hollow on one side serving as a socket for the butt of the drill.401 The point of the drill 290 is made to work against the split surface of a stick of spruce 18 inches long, along the middle of which is cut a gash, to give the drill a start. Three equidistant circular pits, charred and blackened, were bored out by the tip of the drill, which developed heat enough to set fire to the sawdust produced. Tinder was probably used to catch and hold the fire.

Most authors who have treated of the Eskimo have described an instrument of this sort in use either in former times or at the present day.402

Among most Eskimo, however, a bow is used to work the drill. The only exceptions to this rule appears to have been the ancient Greenlanders and the people of Hudson Bay (see the passages from Hakluyt, Crantz, and Ellis, just quoted.) Chamisso, however,403 speaks of seeing the Aleutians at Unalaska produce fire by means of a stick worked by a string making two turns about the stick and held and drawn with both hands, with the upper end of the stick turning in a piece of wood held in the mouth. When a piece of fir was turned against another piece of the same wood fire was often produced in a few seconds. This passage appears to have escaped the usually keen observation of Mr. W. H. Dall, who, speaking of the ancient Aleutians, says: “The ‘fiddle-bow drill’ was an instrument largely used in their carving and working bone and ivory; but for obtaining fire but two pieces of quarz were struck together,” etc.404


I had no opportunity of seeing this drill manipulated, but I have convinced myself by experiment that the stick or “light-stock,” to use Nordenskiöld’s expression, must be held down by one foot, the workman kneeling on the other knee.

Flint and steel.

Fire is usually obtained nowadays by striking a spark in the ordinary method from a bit of flint with a steel, usually a bit of some white man’s tool. Both are carried, as in Dr. Simpson’s time, in a little bag slung around the neck, along with some tinder made of the down of willow catkins mixed with charcoal or perhaps gunpowder. The flints usually carried for lighting the pipe, the only ones I have seen, are very small, and only a tiny fragment of tinder is lighted which is placed on the tobacco. Lucifer matches (kĭlĭăksagan) were eagerly begged, but they did not appear to care enough for them to purchase them. Our friend Nĭkawáalu, from whom we obtained much information about the ancient customs of these people, told us that long ago, “when there was no iron and no flint”—“savik píñmût, ánma píñmût”405—they used to get “great fire” by striking together two pieces of iron pyrites. Dr. Simpson speaks406 of two lumps of iron pyrites being used for striking fire, but he does not make it clear whether he saw this at Point Barrow or only at Kotzebue Sound. Iron pyrites appears to have been used quite generally among the Eskimo. Bessels saw it used with quartz at Smith Sound, with willow catkins for tinder407 and Lyon mentions the use of two pieces of the same material, with the same kind of tinder, at Iglulik.408 Willow catkins are also used for tinder at the Coppermine River.409

No. 89825 [1133 and 1722] are some of the catkins used for making the tinder, which were gathered in considerable quantities at the rivers. They are called kĭmmiuru, which perhaps means “little dogs,” as we say “catkins” or “pussy willows.”


From the same place they also brought home willow twigs, 9 inches long, and tied with sinews into bunches or fagots of about a dozen or a dozen and a half each, which they said were used for kindling fires. (No. 89824 [1725].)

The following section was printed with a run-in, italicized header. It has been changed to agree with the structure shown in the Table of Contents.


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Fig. 283.—Set of bow-and-arrow tools.

A complete set of bow-and-arrow tools consists of 4 pieces, viz: a marline spike, two twisters, and a feather setter, as shown in Fig. 283, No. 89465 [962], from Utkiavwĭñ. The pieces of this set are perforated and strung on a piece of sinew braid, 4 inches long, with a knot at each end.

The Marline spike.

This is a flat, four-sided rod of walrus ivory, 5-6 292 inches long, tapering to a sharp rounded point at one end, and tapered slightly to the other, which terminates in a small rounded knob. It is very neatly made from, rather old yellow ivory, and ornamented on all four faces with conventional incised patterns colored with red ochre.

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Fig. 284.—Marline spike.

This implement is used in putting on the backing of a bow to raise parts of the cord when an end is to be passed under and in tucking in the ends in finishing off a whipping. It was probably also used in putting whippings or seizings on any other implements. We collected 10 of these tools, all quite similar, and made of walrus ivory, yellow from age and handling. They vary in length from 4½ to 6 inches, and are always contracted at the upper end into a sort of neck or handle, surmounted by a knob or crossbar. No. 89463 [836] Fig. 284, from Utkiavwĭñ has the crossbar carved very neatly into the figure of an Amphipod crustacean without the legs. The eyes, mouth, and vent are indicated by small round holes filled with some black substance, and there is a row of eight similar holes down the middle of the back. The tip of this tool, which is 5.9 inches long, has been concaved to an edge so as to make a feather-setter of it. Through the knob at the butt there is sometimes a large round eye, as in Fig. 285 (No. 89464 [842] from Utkiavwĭñ, 4.7 inches long). These tools are sometimes plain, like the specimens last figured, and sometimes ornamented with conventional patterns of incised lines, colored with red ocher, like the others.

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Fig. 285.—Marline spike.

The twisters

(No. 89465 [962]) are flat four-sided rods of walrus ivory, respectively 4.4 and 4.7 inches long. At each end one broad face is raised into a low transverse ridge about 0.1 inch high and the other rounded off, with the ridge on opposite faces at the two ends. They are ornamented on all four faces with longitudinal incised lines, colored with red ocher.

The use of these tools, which was discovered by actual experiment after our return to this country410 is for twisting the strands of the sinew backing after it has been put on the bow into the cables already 293 described. The manner in which this tool is used is as follows: The end is inserted between the strands at the middle of the bow, so that the ridge or hook catches the lower strands, and the end is carried over through an arc of 180°, which gives the cable a half turn of twist. This brings the twister against the bow, so that the twisting can be carried no further in this direction, and if the tool were to be removed for a fresh start the strands would have to be held or fastened in some way, making the process a slow one. Instead, the tool is slid back between the strands till the other end comes where the first was, so that the hook at this end catches the strand, and the workman can give to the cable another half turn of twist. This is continued until the cable is sufficiently twisted, the tool sliding back and forth like the handle of a vise. The tools are used in pairs, one being inserted in each cable and manipulated with each hand, so as to give the same amount of twist to each cable. At the present day, these tools are seldom used for bow making, since the sinew-backed bow is so nearly obsolete, but are employed in playing a game of the nature of pitch-penny. (See below, under games and pastimes.)

These tools, of which we collected twenty-six specimens, are all of walrus ivory, and of almost exactly the same shape, varying a little in size and ornamentation. They vary in length from 3 to 5.7 inches, but are usually about 4½ inches long. The commonest width is 0.4 inches, the narrowest being 0.3 and the widest 0.7 broad, while the thickness is almost always 0.3, varying hardly 0.1 inch. Most of them are plain, but a few are ornamented with incised lines, and two are marked with “circles and dots” as in Fig. 286, one of a rather large pair (No. 56521 [249] from Utkiavwĭñ). These are 5.4 inches long, neatly made and quite clean. All the others show signs of age and use.

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Fig. 286.—Twister for working sinew backing of bow.

There are large numbers of these tools in the National Museum from various points in the region where bows of the Arctic type are used, namely, from the Anderson River to Norton Sound, and one from St. Lawrence Island, whence we have received no twisted bows. Their use was, however, not definitely understood, as they are described simply as “bow tools,” “bow string twisters” or even “arrow polishers.” Mr. Nelson informs me that the tool is now not used in Norton Sound, except for playing a game, as at Point Barrow, but that the natives told him that they were formerly used for tightening the backing on a bow and also for twisting the hard-laid sinew cord, which is quite as much, if not more, used at Norton Sound as the braid so common at Point Barrow. I find no mention of the use of this tool in any of the authors who have 294 treated of the Eskimo, except the following in Capt. Beechey’s vocabulary, collected at Kotzebue Sound: “Marline spike, small of ivory, for lacing bows—ke-poot-tak.” The specimens from the Mackenzie and Anderson rivers are almost without exception made of hard bone, while walrus ivory is the common material elsewhere. The name (kaputɐ) means simply a “twister.”

The feather-setter

(ĭ´gugwau) (No. 89465 [962]) is a flat, slender, rounded rod of walrus ivory, 7 inches long, with the tip abruptly concaved to a thin, rounded edge. The faces are ornamented with a pattern of straight incised lines, colored with red ocher. This tool is used for squeezing the small ends of the feathering into the wood of the arrow shaft close to the nock. Fig. 287 is a similar tool (No. 89486 [1285] from Utkiavwĭñ) also of walrus ivory, 6 inches long, with the upper end roughly whittled to a sharp point. It is probably made of a broken seal indicator or meat-cache marker. Several other ivory tools previously mentioned have been concaved to an edge at the tip so that they can be used as feather-setters. I do not find this tool mentioned by previous observers, nor have I seen any specimens in the National Museum.

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Fig. 287.—“Feather-setter.”

Fig. 288 (No. 89459 [1282] from Utkiavwĭñ) represents an unusual tool, the use of which was not ascertained in the hurry of trade. It has a point like that of a graver, and is made of reindeer antler, ornamented with a pattern of incised lines and bands, colored with red ocher, and was perhaps a marline spike for working with sinew cord.

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Fig. 288.—Tool of antler.

Footnotes 273-410

273. Journal, p. 92.

274. Compare this with what Capt. Parry says of the workmanship of the people of Iglulik (2d Voy., p. 336). The almost exclusive use of the double-edged pan´na is the reason their work is so “remarkably coarse and clumsy.”

275. Lisiansky also mentions “a small crooked knife” (Voyage, p. 181), as one of the tools used in Kadiak in 1805.

276. A specimen has lately been received at the National Museum. It is remarkably like the Indian knife in pattern.

277. Op. cit., p. 266.

278. See for example, Kumlien, op. cit., p. 26.

279. See, especially, Dall, Contrib., vol. 1, pp. 59 and 79, for figures of such knives from the caves of Unalashka.

280. Prehistoric Fishing, pp. 183-188.

281. It is but just to Dr. Rau to say that he recognized the fact that these implements are not exclusively fish-cutters, and applies this name only to indicate that he has treated of them simply in reference to their use as such. The idea, however, that these, being slightly different in shape from the Greenland olu or ulu, are merely fish knives, has gained a certain currency among anthropologists which it is desirable to counteract.

282. Journal, p. 28.

283. 2d Voyage, p. 536, and pl. opp. p. 548, fig. 3.

284. Figured in the Voyage of the Vega, vol. 1, p. 444, Fig. 1.

285. History of Greenland, vol. 1, p. 149.

286. Greenland, p. 175.

287. 2d Voyage, p. 536.

288. Rink, Tales and Traditions, p. 35.

289. Hooper, Tents, etc., p. 239.

290. Franklin, 2d Exp., p. 148. In the hurry of leaving Barter Island “one of the crew of the Reliance left his gun and ammunition.”

291. See McClure’s N. W. Passage, p. 390.

292. Narrative, p. 109.

293. Maguire, Further Papers, p. 907.

294. See the writer’s paper on the subject of Eskimo bows in the Smithsonian Report for 1884, Part II, pp. 307-316.

295. Naturalist, vol 8, No. 9, p. 869.

296. “In former times they made use of bows for land game; they were made of soft fir, a fathom in length, and to make it the stiffer it was bound round with whalebone or sinews.” History of Greenland, vol. 1, p. 146.

297. “Their Bow is of an ordinary Make, commonly made of Fir Tree, . . . and on the Back strengthened with Strings made of Sinews of Animals, twisted like Thread.” “The Bow is a good fathom long.” Greenland, p. 101.

298. Voyage of the Vega, vol. 1, p. 41.

299. Hakluyt’s Voyages, 1589, p. 628.

300. Science, vol. 4, 98, p. 543.

301. Voyage to Hudson’s Bay, p. 138.

302. Compare what I have already said about the backing being put on wet.

303. Voyages from Montreal . . . to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans, p. 48.

304. Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th edition, article Archery.

305. On this subject of using the feathers of birds of prey for arrows, compare Crantz, History of Greenland, i, p. 146, “the arrow . . . winged behind with a couple of raven’s feathers.” Bessels, Naturalist, vol. 18, pt. 9, p. 869 (the three arrows at Ita had raven’s feathers). Parry, 2d Voyage, p. 511, “Toward the opposite end of the arrow are two feathers, generally of the spotted owl, not very neatly lashed on;” and Kumlien, Contributions, p. 37, “The feather-vanes were nearly always made from the primaries of Strix scandiaca or Graculus carbo.” The last is the only mention I find of using any feathers except those of birds of prey.

306. Op. cit., p. 266.

307. Compare the passage in Frobisher’s Second Voyage (Hakluyt, 1589, p. 628). After describing the different forms of arrowheads used by the Eskimo of “Meta Incognita” (Baffin Land) in 1577 he says: “They are not made very fast, but lightly tyed to, or else set in a nocke, that upon small occasion the arrowe leaveth these heads behind them.”

308. “In shooting this weapon the string is placed on the first joint of the first and second fingers of the right hand.” (Kumlien, Contributions, p. 37.)

“Beim Spannen wird der Pfeil nicht zwischen Daumen und Zeigefinger, sondern zwischen Zeige- und Mittelfinger gehalten,” Krause Brothers, Geographische Blätter, vol. 5, p. 33.

309. Voyage to the Northern Whale Fishery, p. 187.

310. 2d Voyage, p. 511, and figured with the bow (22) on Pl. opposite p. 550.

311. Parry’s 2d Voyage, Pl. opposite p. 550, Fig. 24.

312. Vega, vol. 2, p. 106.

313. “They buckle on a piece of ivory, called mun-era, about 3 or 4 inches long, hollowed out to the wrist, or a guard made of several pieces of ivory or wood fastened together like an iron-holder.” Voyage, p. 575.

314. This word appears to be a diminutive of the Greenlandic nuek—nuik, now used only in the plural, nugfit, for the spear. These changes of name may represent corresponding changes in the weapon in former times, since, unless we may suppose that the bird dart was made small and called the “little nuik,” and enlarged again after the meaning of the name was forgotten, it is hard to see any sense in the present name, “big little nuik.”

315. History of Greenland, vol. 1, p. 148.

316. Crantz, vol. 1, p. 147, and Figs. 6 and 7, Pl. V.

317. Ibid., Fig. 8.

318. Vega, vol. 2, p. 105. Fig. 5.

319. See Crantz’s figure referred to above; also one in Parry’s second voyage, Pl. opposite p. 550, Fig. 19, and Rink, Tales., etc., Pl. opposite p. 12.

320. Prehistoric fishing, Figs. 94 and 95, p. 73.

321. History of Greenland, vol. 1, p. 147, Pl. V, Figs. 6 and 7.

322. Tales, etc., Pl. opposite p. 12 (“bladder arrow”).

323. Crantz, vol. 1, p. 146, Pl. V, Figs. 1 and 2, and Rink as quoted above, also Kane, First Exp., p. 478.

324. Parry, Second Voyage, p. 508 (Iglulik); and Nordenskiöld, Vega, vol. 2, p. 105, Fig. 5.

325. Smithsonian Report for 1884, part II, pp. 279-289.

326. Voyage, p. 324.

327. Second Grinnell Exp., vol. 1, Figs. on pp. 412 and 413.

328. Vega, vol. 1, p. 444, Fig. 5.

329. Compare, also, the walrus harpoon figured by Capt. Lyon, Parry’s Second Voyage, Pl. opposite p. 550, Fig. 13.

330. See Kumlien, Contributions, p. 35, and Boas, “Central Eskimo,” p. 473, Fig. 393.

331. Kane, 2d Grinnell Exp., vol. 1, pp. 412 and 413 (Fig. 1), and Bessells, Naturalist, vol. 18, pt. 9, p. 869, Figs. 6-12.

332. Crantz, vol. 1, p. 146, and Pl. V, Figs. 1 and 2, and Rink Tales, etc., Pl. opposite p. 10.

333. 2d Voyage, Pl. opposite p. 550, Fig. 13.

334. Museum collections and Nordenskiöld, Vega, vol. 2, p. 105, Fig. 1. This figure shows the blade in the plane of the barb, but none of the specimens from Plover Bay are of this form.

335. Vega, vol. 2, p. 229, Fig. 3.

336. See the writer’s note on this weapon, American Naturalist, vol. 19, p. 423.

337. Parry, Second Voyage, p. 507, Iglulik.

338. Corwin Report, p. 41.

339. Parry, 2d Voy., p. 512 (Iglulik); Kumlien, Contributions, p. 54 (Cumberland Gulf); Schwatka, Science, vol. 4, No. 98, p. 544 (King Williams Land).

340. Crantz, vol. 1, p. 147, Pl. V, Fig. 5; and Kane, 1st Grinnell Exp., p. 479 (fig. at bottom).

341. Vega, vol. 1, p. 444, Fig. 7.

342. T. Simpson’s Narrative, p. 156.

343. Voyage, p. 574.

344. Vega, vol. 2, p. 109, and Fig. 3, p. 105.

345. Geographische Blätter, vol. 5, pt. 1, p. 32. See also Rosse, Arctic Cruise of the Corwin, p. 34.

346. I learn from our old interpreter, Capt. E.P. Herendeen, who has spent three years in whaling at Point Barrow since the return of the expedition, that a third float is also used. It is attached by a longer line than the others, and serves as a sort of “telltale,” coming to the surface some time ahead of the whale.

347. Op. cit., p. 262.

348. Voyage, pp. 295, 574.

349. Vega, vol. 2, p. 108.

350. Ibid., p. 98.

351. See also the reference to Hooper’s Corwin Report, quoted below under Hunting.

352. See, however, the writer’s paper in the American Anthropologist, vol. 1, p. 333.

353. Vega, vol. 2, p. 117, Fig. 3.

354. Second Voyage, p. 510; also pl. opposite p. 550, Fig. 17.

355. “They first look out for Holes, which the Seals themselves make with their Claws about the Bigness of a Halfpenny; after they have found any Hole, they seat themselves near it upon a Chair, made for the Purpose; and as soon as they perceive the Seal coming up to the Hole and put his snout into it for some Air, they immediately strike him with a small Harpoon.” Egede, Greenland, p. 104.

“The seals themselves make sometimes holes in the Ice, where they come and draw breath; near such a hole a Greenlander seats himself on a stool, putting his feet on a lower one to keep them from the cold. Now when the seal comes and puts its nose to the hole, he pierces it instantly with his harpoon.” Crantz, History of Greenland, vol. 1, p. 156.

356. It is twisted into “a compact helical mass like a watch-spring” in the Hudson Bay region. Schwatka, “Nimrod in the North,” p. 133. See also Klutschak, “Als Eskimo,” pp. 194, 195.

357. “Nimrod in the North,” p. 133.

358. See Gilder, Schwatka’s Search, p. 225; see also, Klutschak, “Als Eskimo,” etc., pp. 194-5, where the whalebones are said to have little knives on the ends.

359. Report, etc., p. 127.

360. See Dr. Rau’s Prehistoric Fishing, p. 12. Fig. 2, p. 13, represents one of these from Norton Sound, and Figs. 3-8, a series of similar implements from the bone caves of France.

361. See Parry, 2d Voyage, p. 547, Iglulik and Hudson Strait, pl. opposite p. 548, Fig. 4, and pl. opposite p. 14; Crantz, History of Greenland, vol. 1, p. 234; Dall, Alaska, p. 195, figure (Norton Sound); also MacFarlane, MS., No. 2929 (Anderson River).

362. Nordenskiöld, Vega, Vol. 2, p. 99.

363. Report U.S. International Polar Expedition to Point Barrow, p. 37.

364. Greenland, p. 62.

365. Franklin, 1st Exped., vol. 2, p. 181.

366. 2d Exped., p. 137.

367. Narrative, p. 114.

368. Ibid., p. 138.

369. Science, vol. 4, 9, pp. 543-544.

370. Dr. Richardson believes that the hunting grounds of families are kept sacred among the Eskimo. Searching Expedition, vol. 1, pp. 244, 351. See also, the same author’s paper, New Philosophical Journal, vol. 52, p. 323.

371. Northwest Passage, Appendix, p. 387.

372. Rae, Narratives, etc., p. 135.

373. Klutschak, “Als Eskimo,” etc., p. 131.

374. Dall, Alaska, p. 147.

375. Vega, vol. 2, p. 130. Compare the custom observed in Baffin Land, of sprinkling a few drops of water on the head of the seal before it is cut up, mentioned by Hall, Arctic Researches, p. 573.

376. Contributions, p. 57.

377. Hall, Arctic Researches, pp. 507 and 578, with diagrams.

378. Hooper, Corwin Report, p. 25.

379. Compare Egede, Greenland, p. 102. The whale “can’t bear sloven and dirty habits.”

380. Hall speaks of seeing the angeko “very busy ankooting on the hills”—“To try and get the pack ice out of the bay.”—Arctic Res., p. 573.

381. Compare Rink, Tales, etc., p. 55: “To the customs just enumerated may be added various regulations regarding the chase, especially that of the whale, this animal being easily scared away by various kinds of impurity or disorder.”

382. Alaska, p. 147.

383. Loc. cit., p. 261.

384. Compare Egede, Greenland, p. 102. “When they go a Whale-catching they put on their best Gear or Apparel, as if they were going to a Wedding Feast, fancying that if they did not come cleanly and neatly dressed the Whale, who can’t bear sloven and dirty Habits, would shun them and fly from them.”

See also Crantz, History of Greenland, Vol. I, p. 121. “They dress themselves in the best manner for it, because, according to the portentous sayings of their sorcerers, if any one was to wear dirty cloaths, especially such in which he had touched a dead corpse, the whale would escape, or, even if it was already dead, would at least sink.”

385. See Egede, Greenland, p. 102; Crantz, History of Greenland, Vol. I, p. 121; Parry, 2d. Voy., p. 509 (Iglulik); McClure, Northwest Passage, p. 92 (Cape Bathurst).

386. Von der Lagune aus pflegten jeden Morgen und Abend grosse Entenschaaren über den Ort hinweg nach dem Meere zu fliegen. Dann wurden durch Pfeifen und Schreien die Thiere so geängstigt, dass sie ihren Flug abwärts richteten und nun durch die mit grosser Sicherheit geworfene Schleuder oder durch Flintenschüsse erreicht werden konnten. (East Cape), Krause Brothers, Geographische Blätter, Vol. 5, pt. 1, p. 32.

“The birds were easily called from their course of flight, as we repeatedly observed. If a flock should be passing a hundred yards or more to one side, the natives would utter a long, peculiar cry, and the flock would turn instantly to one side and sweep by in a circuit, thus affording the coveted opportunity for bringing down some of their number.” (Cape Wankarem), Nelson, Cruise of the Corwin, p. 100.

387. Museum number effaced.

388. Vega, vol. 2, p. 110.

389. “Their Lines are made of Whalebones, cut very small and thin, and at the End tacked together.” Egede, Greenland, p. 107. See also, Crantz, vol. 1, p. 95; Dall, Alaska, p. 148; and the Museum Collections which contain many whalebone lines from the Mackenzie and Anderson rivers, collected by MacFarlane, and from the whole western region, collected by Nelson.

390. “Instead of a bait, they put on the hook a white bone, a glass bead, or a bit of red cloth” (when fishing for sculpins). History of Greenland, vol. 1, p. 95.

391. Narrative, p. 115.

392. The Greenlanders used a sort of sieve or scoop net, not seen at Point Barrow, for catching caplin (Mallotus villosus). Egede, Greenland, p. 108; and Crantz, vol. 1, p. 95. John Davis, however, says of the Greenlanders in 1586, “They make nets to take their fish of the finne of a whale.” Hakluyt’s Voyages, etc. (1589), p. 782.

393. Dall, Alaska, p. 147; and Petroff, Report, etc., p. 127.

394. Op cit., p. 73.

395. Op cit., p. 142.

396. Vega, vol. 2, p. 109.

397. See the writer’s paper in the American Anthropologist, vol. 1, pp. 325-336.

398. Kumlien’s description (Contributions, p. 37, Cumberland Gulf) would apply almost word for word to this spear, and Captain Parry, (Second Voyage, p. 509) describes a very similar one in use at Iglulik. The “Perch, headed with two sharp-hooked Bones,” for spearing salmon—called in the Grenlandsk Ordbog, kakiak, “en Lyster (med to eller tre Pigge)”—mentioned by Egede (Greenland, p. 108) is probably the same thing, and a similar spear is spoken of by Rae (Narrative, p. 172) as in use at Repulse Bay. A similar weapon, described by Dr. Rink as “Mit einem in brittischen Columbien vorkommenden identisch,” was found in east Greenland (Deutsche Geographische Blätter, vol. 9, p. 234). See the description of the spear found by Schwatka at Back’s Great Fish River (Nimrod in the North, p. 139), also described by Klutschak (Als Eskimo, etc., p. 120).

399. “Their own clumsy method of producing fire is by friction with two pieces of dry wood in the manner of a drill.”—(T. Simpson, Narrative, p. 162.)

400. Dr. Simpson, op. cit., p. 242.

401. Compare Nordenskiöld’s figure of the fire drill in use at Pitlekaj (Vega, vol. 2, p. 121), which has a similar bone for a socket, held not in the mouth but in the left hand.

402. Bessels, Naturalist, vol. 18, pt. 9, p. 867, speaks of a fire drill used at Smith Sound with a bow and a mouthpiece of ivory.

A Greenlander; seen by John Davis, in 1586, “beganne to kindle a fire, in his manner: he took a piece of a boord, wherein was a hole halfe thorow: into that he puts the end of a roũd sticke like unto a bedstaffe, wetting the end thereof in traine, and in fashion of a turner, with a piece of lether, by his violent motion doth very speedily produce fire.”—Hakluyt’s Voyages, etc. (1589), p. 782.

“They take a short Block of dry Fir Tree, upon which they rub another Piece of hard Wood, till by the continued Motion the Fir catches Fire.”—Egede, Greenland, p. 137.

“If their fire goes out, they can kindle it again by turning round a stick very quick with a string through a hole in a piece of wood.”—Crantz, History of Greenland, vol. 1, p. 145.

Lyon (Journal, p. 210) says that at Iglulik they were able to procure “fire by the friction of a pin of wood in the hole of another piece and pressed down like a drill from above.” This was worked with a bow and willow catkins were used for tinder. A man informed them that “he had learned it from his father rather for amusement than for utility; the two lumps of iron pyrites certainly answering the purpose a great deal better.”

“They have a very dextrous Method of kindling Fire; in order to which, they prepare two small Pieces of dry Wood, which having made flat, they next make a small Hole in each, and having fitted into these Holes a little cylindrical Piece of Wood, to which a Thong is fastened, they whirl it about thereby with such a Velocity, that by rubbing the Pieces of Wood one against the other, this Motion soon sets them on fire.”—Ellis, Voyage to Hudsons Bay, p. 234.

A picture of the process is given opposite page 132, in which a man holds the socket, while a woman works the thong (western shore of Hudson Bay, near Chesterfield Inlet).

Rae also mentions a similar drill used in the same region in 1847 (Narrative, p. 187); and there is a specimen in the National Museum, collected by MacFarlane, and said to be the kind “in use until lately” in the Mackenzie and Anderson region.

Dall figures a fire drill with bow and mouthpiece formerly in use at Norton Sound (Alaska, p. 142); and Hooper (Tents, etc., p. 187) describes a similar drill at Plover Bay.

From Nordenskiöld’s account (Vega, vol. 2, p. 121) the fire drill seems to be still generally used by the natives at the Vega’s winter quarters. He says that the women appeared more accustomed to the use of the drill than the men, and that a little oil was put on the end of the drill.

403. Kotzebue’s Voyage, vol. 3, p. 260.

404. Contribution to N. A. Ethnology, vol. 1, p. 82.

405. Compare this with Dr. Simpson’s statement, quoted above, that stones for arrowheads were brought by the Nunatañmiun from the Ku´wûk River.

406. Op. cit., p. 243.

407. Naturalist, vol. 18, pt. 9, p. 867.

408. Journal, pp. 210 and 231.

409. Franklin, First Exped., vol. 2, p. 188.

410. See the writer’s paper on Eskimo bows, Smithsonian Report for 1884, pt. 2, p. 315.

Errors in this section:

on the crown of the beach at Imêkpûñ,
text has “Imêk / pûñ” (without hyphen) at line break

in the diagrams (Fig. 59, a, b, c),

trimmed boots held up by drawstrings.
final . missing

a simple strip of skin or the wolverine belt

des defroques empaillées de corbeau
spelling unchanged

de permettre au soleil de rechauffer leur cerveau
spelling unchanged

cross or circle tattooed under each corner of the mouth

the small hair comb (ĭdlai´utĭn), usually made of walrus ivory
anomalous superscript in original

of which only <> can be made out
the mark <> is a diamond-shaped symbol

made of iron or steel and are of two sizes
text has “two two” at line break

Fig. 135.—Adz-head of bone and iron
text has “and and” at line break

The implement,284 which Nordenskiöld calls a “stone chisel,”

(No. 89858 [1319], from Utkiavwĭñ), is a similar box

a slender filament of black whale-bone.
anomalous hyphen in original

the whalers have sold them yäger rifles
spelling unchanged

Fig. 186. ... (b) arrow with iron pile (savidlĭñ);
last closing parenthesis missing

as shown by the specimens in the National Museum.

a similar name316 (agdligaḵ).
letter “k” printed with anomalous double underline

the natives have forgotten what it was

Footnote 334: ... in the plane of the barb,
in he plane

Fig. 238.—Whale lance.
“ce” in “lance” invisible

The other, No. 56489 [127], is new and rather roughly made
The other (No.

of which No. 89894 [1708], Fig. 259, represents the common form
No 89894

Footnote 398: ... “en Lyster (med to eller tre Pigge)”


By John Murdoch.


Scrapers (ikun).—

For removing bits of flesh, fat, etc., from a “green” skin, and for “breaking the grain” and removing the subcutaneous tissue from a dried skin, the women, who appear to do most if not all of this work, use a tool consisting of a blunt stone blade, mounted in a short, thick haft of wood or ivory, fitting exactly to the inside of the hand and having holes or hollows to receive the tips of the fingers and thumb. The skin is laid upon the thigh and thoroughly scraped with 295 this tool, which is grasped firmly in the right hand and pushed from the worker. This tool is also used for softening up skins which have become stiffened from being wet and then dried. The teeth appear to be less often used for such purposes than among the eastern Eskimo.

see caption

Fig. 289.—Skin scraper.

We obtained eighteen such scrapers, some without blades, and two unmounted blades. Every woman owns one of these tools. While they are all of the same general model, they vary a good deal in details. Four different forms or subtypes have been recognized in the series collected, all modifications of the form seen in Fig. 289, No. 89313 [955], which may be called the type. The blade is of brown jasper, rather coarsely flaked, 1.1 inches long. It is wedged with pieces of skin, into a deep slot in the tip of the handle, which is of fossil ivory, slightly yellowed from handling. The left side against which the thumb rests is slightly flattened, and the right slightly excavated to receive the third and fourth fingers, which are bent round under the lobe, their tips pressing against the concave under surface of the latter. The fore and middle fingers rest upon the upper surface.

see caption

Fig. 290.—Skin scrapers—handles only.

No. 89320 [1171] from Utkiavwĭñ, without a blade, is of the same general pattern, but is slightly excavated on the left as well as the right side so as to make a sort of shank. It is of fossil ivory, stained a dingy orange from age and grease. The two incised circles and dots on the upper surface close to the slot make the end of the handle look like the head of a Lophius, which it is perhaps meant to represent. No. 89321 (858), an old fossil ivory handle, has the left side slightly hollowed to receive the tip of the thumb, and a median keel on the upper surface with a barely perceptible hollow on each side of it for the tips of the fingers. This is a step toward the second subtype as shown in Fig. 290 (No. 89317 [748] from Utkiavwĭñ, which has no blade). This is of fossil ivory, thicker and more strongly arched than the type described, deeply excavated below so as to form a broad lobe at the butt, with the upper surface deeply grooved to receive the tips of the fore and middle fingers, and a slight hollow on the left side for the thumb. This specimen is very neatly made and polished, and all the edges are rounded off. One-half of the handle (lengthwise) and the outer quarter of the other half are stained with age and grease a beautiful amber 296 brown. This specimen was said to be as old as the time when men wore but one labret.

see caption

Fig. 291.—Skin scrapers.

The only essential difference between this subtype and the preceding is that the former has deep grooves or hollows for the thumb and two fingers. We collected five specimens of this pattern, all but one with handles of fossil ivory. The single exception, which came from Sidaru, has a handle of walrus ivory, yellowed with age and grease. This specimen (Fig. 291a, No. 89322 [1426]) has an unusually short blade (only 0.4 inch long), and is much cut out on the right side so as to make a sort of nick. Fig. 291b (No. 89314 [1780]) is a nearly new handle of this pattern, which was bought of the “Nunatañmiun,” who came to Pernyû in 1883. It is very highly ornamented, both with incised patterns, colored black, and by carving the space between the unusually deep thumb hollow and those for the fingers into what seems to be meant for an ear, in high relief, colored red inside.

see caption

Fig. 292.—Skin scraper.

The third subtype has the lobe separated from the body on the right side only, leaving the left side unexcavated, except by the thumb-hollow, as is shown in Fig. 292 (No. 89316 [1177] from Utkiavwĭñ) which has a handle of yellowed fossil ivory and a black flint blade. No. 89310 [1071] Fig. 293, from Utkiavwĭñ, is a rather unusual modification of this pattern, with a wooden handle, in which the bottom is not cut out. The thumb groove is deepened into a large hole which opens into the excavation on the right side, while a large oblong slot on top, opening into these cavities, takes the place of the two finger hollows. The blade was of gray flint and rather longer than usual.

see caption

Fig. 293.—Peculiar modification of scraper.

The last subtype which, according to my recollection, is the one most 297 frequently seen in use at the present day, has the butt produced horizontally into a broad, flat lobe. The excavation of the right side may be continued through to the left in the form of a notch, as shown in Fig. 294 (No. 89315 [1365] from Sidaru) which has a blade of black flint and a handle of fossil ivory, with hollows for the thumb and fingers; or the left side may be unexcavated except for the thumb groove as in Fig. 295 (No. 89309 [1135] from Utkiavwĭñ). This specimen has a rather large wooden handle, with the grooves as before. It appears, however, to have been remodeled to fit a smaller hand than that of the original owner, as the thumb groove has been deepened for about two-thirds of its original length, and there is a deep, round hole in the middle of the groove for the second finger. The peculiarity of this specimen, however, is that it has a blade of sandstone, flat and rather thin, with a smooth, rounded edge. The natives told us that scraper blades of sandstone were the prevailing form in old times.

see caption

Fig. 294.—Skin scraper.

see caption

Fig. 295.—Skin scraper.

see caption

Fig. 296.—Skin scraper.

Fig. 296 (No. 89312 [1336] from Utkiavwĭñ) is another wooden handle, in which the excavation for the third and fourth fingers is merely a large round hole on the right side, while in front the handle is cut into two short lobes, between which in a deep groove the forefinger fits. There is a hollow for the thumb under the left lobe and one on the right for the middle finger. No. 89311 [1079] from the same village is almost exactly similar. These are the only two specimens of the kind which I recollect seeing. A rather large flint-bladed scraper with a wooden handle very much the shape of that of No. 89309 [1135] is the tool most generally used at the present day. The blades are all of the same general shape and vary in size from the little one above mentioned (No. 89322 298 [1426], Fig. 291a), only 0.4 inch long, to blades like No. 89612 [820], Fig. 297, from Utkiavwĭñ. This is newly made from light gray translucent flint and is 5 inches long. The name kibûgû, applied to this specimen by the native from whom it was purchased, appears to refer either to the material or the unusual size. The blade is ordinarily called kuki, “a claw.” With the ivory handles a blade about 1 or 1½ inches is commonly used and with the wooden ones a considerably larger one, 2 to 3 inches in length. The handles vary in size to fit the hands of the owners, but are all too small for an average white man’s hand. All that we collected are for the right hand.

see caption

Fig. 297.—Flint blade for skin scraper.

This pattern of skin scraper which appears from the Museum collections to be the prevailing one from Point Barrow to Norton Sound, is evidently the direct descendant of the form used still farther south, which consists of a stone or bone blade of the same shape, mounted on a wooden handle often a foot or 18 inches long, which has the other end bent down into a handle like the butt of a pistol. Shortening this handle (a process shown by specimens in the Museum) would bring the worker’s hand nearer to the blade, thus enabling him to guide it better. Let this process be continued till the whole handle is short enough to be grasped in the hand and we have the first subtype described, of which the others are clearly improvements.

A still more primitive type of scraper is shown by Fig. 298, No. 89651 [1295] from Utkiavwĭñ, the only specimen of the kind seen. This has a flint blade, like those of the modern scrapers, inserted in the larger end of a straight haft of reindeer antler, 5½ inches long. We did not learn the history of this tool in the hurry of trade, but from the shape of the blade it is evidently a scraper. Its use as a skin scraper is rendered still more probable by the fact that the scrapers used by some of the eastern Eskimo (there are specimens in the Museum from Cumberland Gulf and Pelly Bay) have straight handles, though shorter than this.

see caption

Fig. 298.—Straight-hafter scraper.

see caption

Fig. 299.—Bone scraper.

The Siberian natives use an entirely different form of scraper which has a long handle like that of a spoke-shave with a small blade of stone or iron in the middle and is worked with both hands.411 Fig. 299 (No. 89488 [1578] from Utkiavwĭñ) is a tool which we never saw in use but which we were told was intended for scraping skins. It is probably an obsolete tool, as a knife would better serve the purpose of 299 removing the subcutaneous tissue, etc., while the stone scrapers just described are better for softening the skin.

It is the distal end of the “cannon” bone or metacarpal, of a reindeer, 6.2 inches long, with the two condyles forming the handle. At the other end the posterior face of the shaft is chamfered off so as to expose the medullary cavity for about 2½ inches, leaving a sharp edge on each side. The tip is roughly broken off. The tool appears to be old but the two condyles have been recently carved rudely into two human faces, one male (with marks for labrets) and the other female. There is a somewhat similar tool in the Museum brought by Mr. Nelson from Norton Sound.

Scraper cups (óhovwĭñ).—

In removing the last of the blubber from the skins of seals or walruses when they wish to save the oil, they scrape it off with a little oblong cup of walrus ivory with a sharp edge at one or both ends. The cup, of course, catches the oil which is transferred to a dish. These cups are sometimes, I believe, also used for dipping oil. We collected ten of these cups, of which No. 89251 [1287], Fig. 300a, will serve as the type. This is 3.7 inches long, carved out of a single piece of walrus ivory, and worked down from the inside to a sharp edge on each end. The carving is smoothly done on the outside, but more roughly within, where it is somewhat hacked. It is stained a dark yellow with oil and polished on the outside, probably by much handling. Fig. 300b (No. 89258 [1090] also from Utkiavwĭñ) is a similar cup, but has a sharp edge only at one end which is cut out in a concave curve.

see caption

Fig. 300.—Scraper cups.

The ten cups in the collection are all about the same shape and size and all of walrus ivory, stained yellow with oil. The largest is 4 inches long and 2¾ wide, and the smallest, 3 by 2.1 inches. The majority are about 3½ by 2½ inches. Five of the ten have sharp edges at both ends, the rest at one only. Mr. Nelson brought home specimens of this implement from Point Hope and St. Lawrence Island, but I do not find it mentioned elsewhere.

With these tools and their knives, they do all the work of preparing skins for clothing, boat covers, etc. I had no opportunity of seeing the 300 process in all its stages, and can therefore give only a general account of it. Deerskins are always dressed as furs, with the hair on. The skin is rough-dried in the open air, with considerable subcutaneous tissue adhering to it, and laid aside until needed. When wanted for use, a woman takes the skin and works it over carefully with a stone scraper on the flesh side, removing every scrap of subcutaneous tissue and “breaking the grain” of the skin, which leaves a surface resembling white chamois leather and very soft. This is then rubbed down with a flat piece of sandstone or gypsum, and finally with chalk, so that when finished it seems like pipeclayed leather. All furs are prepared in the same way. Small seal skins to be worn with the hair on are scraped very clean and, I think, soaked in urine, before they are spread out to dry. The black waterproof seal skin has the hair shaved off close to the skin, great care being taken to leave the epidermis intact, and also has a certain amount of tanning in urine. It is probable that a little of the blubber is left on these skins, to make them oily and waterproof.

When, however they wish to prepare the white-tanned seal skin, the skins are brought into the warm house, thawed out or dampened and then rolled up and allowed to ferment for several days, so that when they are unrolled hair and epidermis are easily scraped off together. The skin is then soaked in urine, stretched on a large hoop, and put out to dry in the sun and air. Many of these skins are prepared during the first sunny weather in the early spring. The skins of the large seal, walrus or bear when used for boat-covers or boot soles appear to be sweated in the same way, as the epidermis is always removed. We did not learn whether urine was employed on these skins, but I think from their ordinary appearance that they are simply stretched and dried in their own fat, as appears to be the case with the skin of the beluga, from which the epidermis is easily scraped without sweating.412

Combs for deerskins.

The loosened hairs on a deerskin garment are removed by means of a comb made of a section of the beam of an antler, hollowed out and cut into teeth on the end. This instrument probably serves also to remove vermin, as its name “kúmotĭn” looks very much as if derived from kúmûk, louse. I must say, however, that the natives whom I asked if kúmotĭn had anything to do with kúmûk said it had not. When vermin get troublesome in a garment, it is taken out on the tundra, away from the houses, and beaten with rods like a carpet. Very old garments when much infested with lice are taken out back of the village, cut into small pieces, and burned. It is no uncommon sight in the spring to see an old woman sitting out on the tundra, busy with her knife cutting up old clothes.

We brought home nine of these combs, of which No. 89354 [1879], Fig. 301a, has been selected as the type. It is 4¼ inches long and has 301 sixteen teeth about 1 inch long. The small holes near the other end are for a lanyard to hang it up by.

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Fig. 301.—Combs for cleaning deerskins.

Six of these combs have teeth at one end only, the other three at both ends. These teeth are generally about fifteen in number, and 1 inch or a little over long. No. 89781 [1005], a very small comb only 2.9 inches long, which belonged to the “inland” native Ilûbw’ga, has twenty teeth 0.6 inch long. These combs are usually about 4 or 4½ inches long. No. 89556 [1017], Fig. 301b, from Utkiavwĭñ is an unusually long comb, 5.3 inches long, which is peculiar in being solid except at the end which is cut into teeth.

Fig. 301c (No. 89359 [993]), from Utkiavwĭñ is a double-ended comb, having ten teeth on one end and thirteen on the other. It is 4.1 inches long and made with considerable care, being ornamented with incised rings colored with red ocher. This is a common implement at Point Barrow, but seems unusual elsewhere. There is a single specimen from the Diomedes in Mr. Nelson’s collection.


No tools are used for this purpose except a knife. I have seen a small jackknife used for cutting the fine seal skin lines. The workman takes a wet skin from which the hair and epidermis have been removed and sits down cross-legged on the ground with somebody else to hold the skin stretched for him. Then holding the knife vertically up with the edge away from him, he starts at one corner of the skin and cuts a narrow strip in one continuous piece, going round and round the 302 skin, gathering and stretching the strip with the left hand. They do this work quite rapidly and with great skill, cutting single lines upward of 90 feet long and only one-eighth inch in diameter, almost perfectly even. These fine lines of seal-skin thong, which serve a great variety of purposes, are usually made when they are in the summer camps, before the breaking up of the ice. They are dried by stretching them between stakes 6 inches or a foot high, driven into the ground.

The stout thongs of the hide of the bearded seal, walrus, or beluga are usually made in the winter and stretched to dry between posts of whales’ bones set up in the village, about breast high. While they are drying, the maker carefully trims and scrapes the edges with his knife, so as to make an almost round line.413 The usual diameter is about 0.3 inch. These lines are not always made with such care, being often merely flat thongs. Fine deer-skin twine, or “babiche,” as it is called by the voyageurs, for making the nettings of snow shoes, is made in the same way. A deer skin is dampened, rolled up, and put up over the lamp for a day or two to remove the hair by sweating, and then cut into a single long piece of fine thong.

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Fig. 302.—Double-slit splice for rawhide lines.

All the men do not appear able to do this fine work. For instance, our friend Mû´ñialu had the babiche for his new snowshoes made by his house-mate, the younger Tuñazu. When it is desired to fasten together two pieces of the stouter kinds of thong, what I have so often referred to as the “double-slit splice” is generally employed. This is made as follows: The two ends to be joined together are each slit lengthwise, and one is passed through the slit in the other. The other end of this piece is then passed through the slit in the first piece, and drawn through so that the sides of each slit interlace like the loops of a square knot (see diagrams, Fig. 302). The splice is often further secured by a seizing of sinew braid. Most writers on the Eskimo have not gone sufficiently into the details of their arts to describe their methods of splicing. One writer,414 however, in describing some Eskimo implements from East Greenland, describes and figures several splices somewhat of this nature, and one in particular especially complicated by crossing the sides of the slits and passing the end through several times. This method of uniting thongs is probably very general among the Eskimo and is also common enough among civilized people.


For excavating.

At the present day they are very glad to use white men’s picks and shovels when they want to dig in the gravel or clean out the ice from their houses. They, however, have mattocks and pickaxes 303 (síkla) of their own manufacture, which are still in use. These are always single-pointed and have a bone or ivory head, mounted like an adz head on a rather short haft. The haft, like those of the mauls and adzes already described, is never fitted into the head, but always applied to the under surface of the latter and held on by a lashing of thong.

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Fig. 303.—Mattock of whale’s rib.

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Fig. 304.—Pickax heads of bone, ivory, and whale’s ribs.

The only complete implement of the kind which we obtained is No. 73574 [297], Fig. 303. The head is of whale’s rib, 17¾ inches long. The butt is shouldered on the under surface to receive the haft and roughened with crosscuts to prevent slipping, with two shallow rough transverse notches on the upper surface for the lashings. The haft is of pine, 24½ inches long. The lashing is of stout thong of bearded seal hide, in two pieces, one of four turns passing through the hole, round the front edge of the haft, over the lower notch in the head, and back across the haft to the hole again. The ends are knotted together on top of the head by becket-hitching one end into an eye in the other, made by slitting it close to the tip and passing a bight of the standing part through this slit. The other part is of seven turns, put on in the same way, but crossing back of the haft, and started by looping one end round the head and through the eye by means of an eye at the end made as before. 304 It is finished off by winding the end three or four times round these turns, so as to tighten them up, and hitching it round two of them on one side. This method of hafting differs in no essential respect from that used on the mauls and adzes above described.

We have also two heads for such mattocks, which hardly differ from the one described, except the No. 56494 [285] has the notches for the lashings on the side of the head instead of on the upper surface. It is 16 inches long. The other, No. 89843 [1043], Fig. 304a, is a very rude head made of an almost cylindrical piece of rib. This is a very old tool, which from its oily condition has evidently been long laid away in some blubber room at Utkiavwĭñ. It is 15.2 inches long.

These blunt-pointed mattocks are not so much used at present as picks with a sharp point mounted in the same way, and specially adapted for working in ice or hard frozen soil. I have, however, never seen them used for cutting holes in the ice for fishing, which some authors have supposed to be what they were meant for. Their shape makes them very inconvenient for any such a purpose, except when the ice is very thin.

The ice pick, like those carried on the butt of the spear, is under any circumstances a more serviceable tool. These sharp pickax heads are generally made of a walrus tusk, the natural shape of which requires very little alteration to fit it for the purpose. We collected three of these ivory heads, all very nearly alike, of which No. 56539b [96], Fig. 304b, will serve as the type. This is the tip of a good-sized walrus tusk, 14.2 inches long, preserving very nearly the natural outline of the tusk except at the point, where it is rounded off rather more abruptly above. It is keeled along the upper edge and on the lower edge at the point, so that the latter is four-sided, and the sides of the butt are flattened. On the under side the butt is cut off flat for about 3½ inches, leaving a low flange or ridge, and roughened with crosscuts to fit the end of the haft, and the butt is perforated with two large transverse eyes for the lashing. The other two heads are almost exactly like this and very nearly the same size.

Sharp-pointed pick heads of whale’s bone appear also to have been used, probably at an earlier date than the neatly finished ivory ones, as we collected three such heads, all very old and roughly made, and having notches or grooves for the lashings instead of eyes. Fig. 304c is one of these, No. 89844 [1315], from Utkiavwĭñ, very rudely cut from a piece of whale’s rib, 12 inches long.

I do not recollect seeing any of these bone-headed picks in use, while the ivory-headed one was one of the commonest tools. This Eskimo tool is in use at Pitlekaj, a village supposed to be wholly inhabited by sedentary Chukches.415


Snow knives.

For cutting the blocks of snow used in building the 305 apu´ya, or snow hut, they at the present day prefer a saw or a large steel knife (for instance, a whaleman’s boarding knife), if they can procure it, but they still have many of the large saber-shaped ivory knives so commonly used by the Eskimo everywhere for this purpose. These are, however, more generally used for scraping snow off their clothing, etc., at present. We brought home two of these knives, which do not differ in any important respect from the many specimens collected by other explorers in Alaska.

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Fig. 305.—Ivory snow knife.

No. 89478 [759], Fig. 305, is one of these—saviu´ra, “like a knife.” It is of walrus ivory (following the natural outline of the tusk), 16½ inches long. The blade is double-edged, the haft rounded on the edges and laced along the lower edge for 3¼ inches with a double piece of sinew braid. The object of this is to give the hand a firmer grip on the haft. These knives are also used for cutting the blocks of snow to supply the house with water.

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Fig. 306.—Snow shovels.

Snow shovels.

The broad, short-handled snow shovel of wood with a 306 sharp edge of ivory is the tool universally employed whenever snow is to be shoveled, either to clear it away or for excavating houses or pitfalls in the snowdrifts, or “chinking” up the crevices in the walls of the snow house, and is an indispensable part of the traveler’s outfit in winter. The shovels (pĭ´ksun) are all made on essentially the same pattern, which is well shown by Fig. 306a, No. 56739 [30]. The blade is 14 inches broad and 11 long. The whole upper surface of the shovel is flat. The handle is beveled off on the side to a rounded edge below, and is quite thick where it joins the blade, tapering off to the tip. The blade is thick and abruptly rounded off on the upper edge below and gradually thinned down to the edge. The edge of the wood is fitted with a tongue into a groove in the top of the ivory edge, which is 1½ inches deep. It is fastened on by wooden tree-nails at irregular intervals, and at one end, where the edge of the groove has been broken, by a stitch of black whalebone. The wooden part of the shovel is made of four unequal pieces of spruce, neatly fitted and doweled together and held by the ivory edge and three stitches of black whalebone close to the upper edge, and countersunk below the flat surface. The whippings of sinew braid on the handle are to give a firm grip for the hands.

No. 56738 [27], Fig. 306b, is a similar shovel of the same material and almost exactly the same dimensions, figured to show the way it has been pieced together and mended. The maker of this shovel was able to procure a broad piece of wood which only had to be pieced out with a narrow strip on the left side, which is fastened on as before. It was, however, not long enough to make the whole of the handle, which has a piece 8½ inches long, neatly scarfed on at the end and secured by six stout treenails of wood; three at each end of the joint, passing through the thin part of the scarf into the thick, but not through the latter. Nearly the whole handle was seized with sinew braid put on as before, but much of this seizing is broken off. At the right side of the blade the grain takes a twist, bringing it parallel to the ivory edge, and rendering it liable to split, as has happened from the warping of the ivory since the shovel has been in the Museum. The owner sought to prevent this by fastening to the edge a stout “strap” of walrus ivory 4½ inches, which appears to be an old bird spear point. The lower end of this fitted into the groove of the ivory edge, and it was held on by three equidistant lashings of narrow whalebone, each running through a hole in the edge of the wood and round the ivory in a deep transverse groove.

This pattern of snow shovel is very like that from Iglulik, figured by Capt. Lyon,416 but the handle of the latter is so much shorter in proportion to the blade that there is an additional handle like that of a pot lid near the head of the blade on the upper surface. The ivory edge also appears to be fastened on wholly with stitches.


Fig. 307 (No. 89775 [1250] from Utkiavwĭñ) is a peculiar implement, the only one of the kind that we saw. It is a shovel, 17 inches long, made of a whale’s scapula, with the anterior and posterior borders cut off straight so as to make it 13¼ inches broad, and the superior margin beveled off to an edge. The handle is made by flattening the neck of the scapula and cutting through it a large horizontal elliptical slot, below which the end of the scapula is worked into a rounded bar 1 inch in diameter. The cutting around this slot appears new, and red ocher has been rubbed into the crevices. On the other hand, the beveling of the digging edge appeared to be old. Though colored with red ocher, the edge is gapped as if from use, and there are fragments of tundra moss sticking to it. It is probably an old implement “touched up” for sale. We did not learn whether such tools were now generally used. This may have been a makeshift or an individual fancy.

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Fig. 307.—Snow shovel made of a whale’s scapula.

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Fig. 308.—Snow pick.

Fig. 308 (No. 89521 [1249] from Utkiavwĭñ) is another peculiar tool of which we saw no other specimen. It appears to be really an old implement and was said to have been used for digging or picking in the snow. It is a stout sharp-pointed piece of bone, 3 inches long, inserted in the end of a piece of a long bone of some animal, 4.7 inches long and about 1½ wide, which serves as a haft.

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Fig. 309.—Snow drill.

Ice picks.

The ivory ice pick (tu´u) always attached to the seal-harpoon has been already described. This differs from the tôk of the Greenlanders and other eastern Eskimo in having a sharp bayonet point, while the latter is often chisel-pointed. All the men now have iron ice picks which they use for cutting the holes for fishing, setting seal nets, and such purposes. These are made of some white man’s tool which has a socket, like a harpoon iron, a whale lance, a boarding knife or bayonet, and usually have a rather slender blade about a foot long, mounted on a pole 6 or 8 feet long. The point is sharp and polygonal, generally four-sided. The tool is managed with both hands and used to split off fragments of ice by rather oblique blows. In other words, it is used in precisely the same way as the little single-handed pick which we use in refrigerators. For chiseling off projecting corners of ice when making a path out through the ice pack, they 308 often use whale spades, of which they have obtained a great many from wrecks.

No. 89483 [1313] from Utkiavwĭñ, is a very old pick made of a piece of reindeer antler, 11¼ inches long, split lengthwise, and tapered to a sharp curved point. The butt is cut into a sort of tang with a low shoulder. The split face is concave, the soft interior tissue having been removed by decay and perhaps also intentionally. Another peculiar tool is shown in Fig. 309 (No. 89479 [1064] from Utkiavwĭñ). This was called kăkaiyaxion, and is a rounded piece of antler 10.4 inches long, tapering from the butt where there is a low shoulder and the broken remains of a rounded tang to be fitted to a shaft. One side is cut off flat from the shoulder to the tip, gradually becoming concave. The concavity is deepest near the middle. The tip is slightly expanded, rounded, and somewhat bent toward the convex side. The specimen is smoothly and neatly made and dark brown from age. No other specimens were seen. We were told that this tool was mounted on a long pole and used for drilling holes in the ice by making the pole revolve with the hands.

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Fig. 310.—Ice scoop.

Ice scoops.

When picking a hole through the ice they use a long-handled scoop, made of a piece of antler bent round into a hoop, and netted across the bottom with strips of whalebone, so that the water may drain off in dipping pieces of ice out of the water. We brought home one specimen of this universal implement (No. 89903 [1696], Fig. 310). The handle is of oak, 5 feet 1¾ inches long and elliptical in section. The rim of the bowl is a long thin strip of antler, apparently from the “palm,” bent round into a pointed oval, 8½ inches long and 5¾ wide, with the ends of the strip overlapping about 3 inches at the broader end. The ends are sewed together with two vertical stitches of whalebone. 309 The left end has been broken across obliquely near the joint and mended with whalebone stitches. Round the lower edge of the rim runs a row of twenty-seven pairs of small holes 0.2 inch from the edge. The holes of each pair are connected by a deep channel, and a narrow shallow groove, probably for ornament, joins the pairs. On the left side are eight extra holes between the pairs, which are not used. Through these holes, omitting the first two pairs in the right-hand end, is laced a piece of seal thong, thus: Starting at the point of the oval, the two ends of the thong are passed through the pair of holes there from the outside and the bight drawn home into the channel; the ends are crossed, the left end going to the right, and vice versa, and passed out through the farther hole of the next pair and in through the nearer, and so on till the ends meet at the broad end of the oval where they are tied together, thus making twenty-five loops on the inside of the rim into which the netting is fastened. This is made of strips of thin whalebone, interwoven, over and under each other, passing up through one loop and down through the next. There are eleven longitudinal strands passing obliquely from right to left, the same number from left to right, and eleven transverse strands, making a network with elongated hexagonal apertures. The strips are not one continuous piece. The bowl thus made is fastened to the handle by three pieces of stout seal thong. The whole lashing was put on wet, and allowed to shrink.

Nordenskiöld mentions and figures a scoop of almost identically the same pattern, but smaller, in general use for the same purposes at Pitlekaj.417 A smaller scoop or skimmer (ĕlauatĭn) is also universally used. We inadvertently neglected to preserve a specimen of this very common implement, though we had two or three about the station for our own use. I shall therefore have to describe it from memory. The handle is a flat, straight stick with rounded edges, about 18 inches or 2 feet long, 1½ inches broad, and three-fourths inch thick. The bowl is made of two pieces of antler “palm” of such a shape that when they are fastened together on the end of the stick they make a shallow cup about 3½ inches long by 3 wide, with a longitudinal crevice along the middle which allows the water to drain off. The tip of the handle is beveled off on both sides so as to fit into the inside of this cup, along the junction of the two pieces, each of which is fastened to it by one or two neat stitches of whalebone. The two pieces are fastened together in front of the handle with a stitch.

In addition to the use of these scoops for skimming the fishing holes, and reeling up the line, as already described, they also serve as scrapers to remove snow and hoar frost from the clothing. In the winter most of the men and boys, especially the latter, carry these skimmers whenever they go out doors, partly for the sake of having something in their hands, as we carry sticks, and partly for use. The boys are very fond of using them to pick up and sling snowballs, bits of ice, or frozen dirt, which they do with considerable force and accuracy.



Blubberhooks (nĭ´ksĭgû).—

For catching hold of pieces of blubber or flesh when “cutting in” a whale or walrus, or dragging them round on shore or on the ice, or in the blubber rooms, they use hooks made by fastening a backward-pointing prong of ivory on the end of a wooden handle, which is bent into a crook at the other end. Those specially intended for use in the boats have handles 7 or 8 feet long, while those for shore use are only 2 or 3 feet long. These implements, which are common all along the Alaskan coast, may sometimes be used as boathooks, as appears to be the case farther south, though I never saw them so employed. We brought home two short hooks and one long one, No. 56766 [126], Fig. 311. This has a prong of walrus ivory fastened to a spruce pole, 7 feet 7¾ inches long, to the other end of which is fastened a short crook of antler. The pole is elliptical in section. The crook is a nearly straight “branch” of an antler with a transverse arm at the base made by cutting out a piece of the “beam” to fit against the pole, and is held on by three neat lashings of whalebone of the usual pattern. The upper two of these are transverse lashings passing through corresponding holes in the pole and crook. The lowest, which is at the tip of the arm, is at right angles to these, passing through wood and antler. The lashing of whalebone close to the tip of the crook, passing through a hole and round the under side of the latter, is to keep the hand from slipping off. The prong is held on by two lashings of small seal thong, each passing through a large transverse hole in the prong and a corresponding one in the pole. The upper pair of holes do not exactly match. There are also two unused holes, one in the pole below the upper hole and one above the upper hole in the prong. These holes and the new appearance of the lashings indicate that the prong is part of another hook recently fitted to this pole. The two lashings are made by a single piece of thong. 311 The whole is old and weathered and rather greasy about the prong and the tip of the pole.

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Fig. 311.—Long blubber hook.

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Fig. 312.—Short-handled blubber hook.

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Fig. 313.—Fish scaler.

Fig. 312 (No. 89836 [1203] from Utkiavwĭñ) is a similar hook with a short handle, 34 inches long, for use on land. The crook is made by bending the handle. The prong, of walrus ivory as before, is 7 inches long, and held on by two stout lashings of whalebone, which pass round the end of the handle instead of through it. The prong and tip of the handle are very greasy.

No. 89837 [1353], from the same village, is a similar hook rather rudely made. The crook is bent only at an angle of about 45°, and there is somewhat of a twist to the whole handle. The prong, which is of antler, is 7¾ inches long and shouldered at the butt like that of the long hook described. It is fastened on by two thick lashings of stout seal thong passing around prong and handle and kept from slipping by notches in the latter, and on the butt end of the former and by a large flat-headed brass stud driven into the prong below the upper lashing.

Fish scaler.

Fig. 313 (No. 89461 [1279] from Utkiavwĭñ) represents a little implement which we never saw in use, but which we were told was intended for scraping the scales off a fish. The specimen does not appear to be newly made. It is a piece of hollow “long” bone, 8 inches long, cut into the shape of the blade of a case knife, flat on one face with a broad, shallow, longitudinal groove on the other.


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Fig. 314.—Ivory shuttle.

Twisting and braiding.

We had no opportunity of seeing the process of twisting the sinew twine, which is sometimes used in place of the braid so often mentioned but more generally when an extra strong thread is desired, as in sewing on boot soles. Fig. 314 (No. 89431 [1332] from Utkiavwĭñ) is a little shuttle of walrus ivory, 3 inches long and 1⅓ broad, which we were told was used in this process. The body of this shuttle is reduced to a narrow crosspiece, and the prongs at one end are twice as long as those at the other. The tips of the long prongs are about ¼ inch apart, while those of the short ones nearly meet. There is a small round hole in one side of the body. This specimen was made for sale. As well as I could understand the seller, the ends of several strands of fine sinew were fastened into the hole in the shuttle and twisted by twisting it with one hand, while the other end was held perhaps by the other hand. The part twisted was then wound on the shuttle and a fresh length twisted. This would be a very simple form of spinning with a spindle.

No special implements for twisting have been described among other 312 Eskimo. Mr. E. W. Nelson (in a letter to the writer) says that the natives of Norton Sound informed him that the cable twisters (kaputa—kíbu´tûk at Norton Sound) were also used for making twisted cord. He describes their use as follows: “The ends of the sinew cord are tied to the center holes in the two ivory pieces, one of the latter at each end of the cord, and then they are twisted in opposite directions, thus getting the hard-laid sinew cord used on the bows.”

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Fig. 315.—Netting needle.

The sinew twine used at Point Barrow is generally braided, almost always in a three-ply braid, usually about the size of stout packthread, such as is found on many Eskimo implements from all localities represented in the Museum collections. That they also know how to braid with four strands is shown by the hair line already described (No. 56545 [410]). They also have a special word (which I can not recall) for braiding with four strands in distinction from braiding with three (pidrá).

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Fig. 316.—Mesh stick.


Two implements are used as usual in netting, a needle or long flat shuttle for carrying the twine (Fig. 315, No. 56570 [101]), and a mesh stick for gauging the length of the mesh. The knot is the universal “fisherman’s knot” or becket hitch made in the usual manner. The method of using the mesh stick, however, is rather peculiar, and somewhat clumsy compared with that used by civilized net-makers, as it serves only to measure the mesh and not also to hold the successive meshes as they are made. It is a long flat piece of bone or antler, shaped like a case knife, with a blade square at heel and point. There is often also a little blunt hook (as in Fig. 316, No. 56581 [1021]) at the point, bending upward or toward the back of the blade. The blade is the part of the stick which measures the mesh, and its length from heel to point is always precisely half the length of the mesh to be made. It is used as follows: The workman, holding the mesh stick by the handle in his left hand, with the blade downward, catches the mesh into which the knot is to be made with the hook, and holds it while the twine is carried down the left side of the blade, round the heel and through the mesh as usual, and drawn up till the preceding knot comes just to the point of the blade. This makes a loop of the proper length for a mesh round the stick. The point where the next knot is to be made is now caught between the thumb and finger of the right hand and the mesh stick taken out of the loop. The left thumb and finger, while the other fingers of this hand still hold the 313 handle of the stick, relieve the fingers of the right hand, which goes on to make the knot in the usual manner.418

We collected thirteen needles of different patterns and sizes. No. 56570 [101], Fig. 315, has been selected as the type (ĭ´nmuvwĭñ, mû´kutĭn.) It is of walrus ivory, 11.9 inches long. The small hole near the tip of one prong is for a lanyard to hang it up by when not in use. This needle could be used only for making a large meshed net, perhaps a seal net.

We collected seven needles of almost the same pattern as this, varying a little in proportions. The faces are usually more deeply hollowed out and the ends usually sinuate instead of being straight. Three of these are of reindeer antler and the rest of ivory. The longest is 9.9 inches long and the shortest 4½. This needle (No. 56574 [24], from Utkiavwĭñ) is rather broad in proportion, being nearly 1 inch wide. It is of walrus ivory. No. 89433 [942] is better suited for netting a small mesh, being only 0.7 inch broad at the widest part. It is made of reindeer antler and is 7.3 inches long. These needles sometimes have a small hole through one end of the body for fastening the end of the twine, and most have some arrangement for fastening on a lanyard, either a hole as in the type or a groove round the tip of one prong as in No. 56574 [24].

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Fig. 317.—Netting needles.

No. 89427 [1283], from Utkiavwĭñ, is a needle of a slightly different pattern, being rather thick and not narrowed at the middle. It is of reindeer antler, 8.7 inches long and 1 wide. No. 89430 [1286], Fig. 317a, from Utkiavwĭñ, is a very broad needle, with short body and long prongs, one of which is expanded at the tip and perforated for a lanyard. It is a piece of the outside hard tissue of a reindeer antler, 5.4 inches long and 1.2 broad. It is but slightly narrowed at the middle, while No. 89428 [1381], Fig. 317b, from Utkiavwĭñ, a somewhat similar broad needle of the same material is deeply notched on each side of the body. This is made from antler of smaller diameter than the preceding, and consequently 314 is not flat, but strongly convex, on one face and correspondingly concave on the other. It is 8.2 inches long and 1½ wide.

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Fig. 318.—Netting needle for seal net.

For making the seal nets a very large needle is used. The one in the collection, No. 56581 [102], Fig. 318, from Utkiavwĭñ, is 20½ inches long and only 1½ wide. It is made of two nearly equal pieces of antler, which are nearly flat, and lap over each other about 3¾ inches near the middle. They are strongly fastened together by five whalebone stitches, one at each corner of the splice and one in the middle. The corner stitches run round the edge of the two parts, and through a hole through both parts. The prongs are stout and curved, nearly meeting at the tips. They are about 3 inches long. The lateral distortion appears to be due to warping.

A peculiar netting needle is shown in Fig. 319 (No. 89429 [1333], from Utkiavwĭñ), which is new and rather carelessly made from very coarse walrus ivory. The tips of the prongs, after nearly meeting, diverge again in the form of the letter U. This needle, which is 9½ inches long, was said by the maker to be of the pattern used by the “Kûñmû´d’lĭñ.” There are no specimens resembling it in the museum collections, though it curiously suggests certain implements from Norton Sound, labeled “reels for holding fine cord,” consisting of slender rods of antler, terminating at each end in similar shallow U-shaped forks.

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Fig. 319.—Netting needle.


The mesh stick (kú´brĭn) belonging to the large netting needle, No. 56581 [102], may be taken as the type of this implement. It is a piece of the hard outside tissue of a reindeer antler. The three notches on the lower edge of the haft are for the fingers. The incised line along one face of the blade is probably a mark to which the twine is to be drawn in making a mesh. The blade is just the proper length, 7½ inches, for the large mesh of the seal net. The remaining four mesh sticks are all small, and intended for making fish nets. Three are of reindeer antler and the fourth of hard bone, with a wooden haft.

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Fig. 320.—Mesh sticks.

Fig. 320a (No. 89436 [1284], from Utkiavwĭñ) is of antler, 7.2 inches long, with a blade of 2.7 inches, protected from splitting by a stout round peg of hard bone, driven through the handle so as to lie against the heel of the blade. It terminates in a blunt point instead of a hook, and has three finger notches in the haft. No. 89437 [942], also from Utkiavwĭñ, is of the same mat