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By Emily Cain and Haley Bryant with Krista Zawadski, with support from the Government of Nunavut and the Dept. of Anthropology, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History This ulu (semilunar knife) was collected by Lt. William A. Mintzer near Kangiqtualuk (the Cumberland Gulf) during his expedition to find graphite veins... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Emily Cain and Haley Bryant with Krista Zawadski, with support from the Government of Nunavut and the Dept. of Anthropology, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History In 1974, this hunter and his kayak (qajaq) were carved from grey soapstone by Dick Kilikavioyak (1902-1982). Collected the same year they were... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2018 at Magnetic North
The Circumpolar Ethnology Imaging Project (CEIP), now in its third year, has successfully digitized nearly 50% of the vast Arctic and Subarctic ethnological collections in the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History. Starting this month, we are photographing objects from Nunavut, the largest and northernmost Territory... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Tiffany Priest This object was donated by Dr. John Cooper at the Catholic University of America and acquired by the museum in 1956. The bone flesher was a gift of Mrs. Geo. Rbt Norn in 1931 and was collected from Ft. Resolution near the shore of Great Slave Lake... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Tiffany Priest This weight, made from plumbago, also known as graphite, and carved in the image of a bowhead whale, was donated by Edward Nelson in 1882. It was collected from Sledge Island in Alaska. The catalog record notation says, “Used on line to be passed over the flukes... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Tiffany Priest This object was collected by Dr. C.E. Folk Jr. and acquired by the museum in 1995. This bottle opener is affiliated with the Inupiat (Eskimo), an Alaska Native group. The bottle opener was designed by “Nuguruk”, which is indicated by the artist’s signature in the lower right... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Tiffany Priest These gloves were collected by Edward Nelson, an explorer who was stationed on the Bering Sea coast of Alaska from 1877 to 1881. These gloves are made from bird skin and are affiliated with the Inupiat (Eskimo) Alaska Native group. The gloves were collected from the Diomede... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Tiffany Priest This object was collected by Dr. Aleš Hrdlička, the founder of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, near King Island, Alaska, and was accessioned into the museum in 1926. This object is affiliated with the Inupiat (Eskimo) Alaska Native group. It is 53 cm long and 4.5... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Haley Bryant Gut skin is a common material found in circumpolar collections and was used commonly for clothing items. Most gut skin items, like this kapitaq or parka, are made from seal intestine that has been processed and stitched together with sinew thread to form a water-tight seal. Gut... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Haley Bryant Seal hunting has historically been a large part of the economy in Arctic and Subarctic communities. As you may imagine, hunting seals comes with all sorts of challenges! Communities throughout the Arctic have had to innovate some ingenious methods of pursuing, killing, transporting, and processing seals such... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Haley Bryant The attire this carved doll is wearing is pretty different from many of the dolls, such as this one, in our collections which are often wearing parkas and robes very similar to typical full sized garments. According to Yup’ik elders, doll outfits tend to mimic the styles... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Haley Bryant The basket-like head of this mitiŋŋiun, or “Ice Scoop”, would have likely been fastened to a long wooden handle and served as an important fishing tool. After trekking out onto the ice, fishermen carve holes in order to fish through the ice. This ice scoop would be... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Tiffany Priest To the untrained eye, this object may at first look like it is made from part of a plant. In fact, I thought it looked similar to raw vanilla beans. However, it is made of muskrat tails and sinew! The catalog indicates that muskrat tails and sinew... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Emily Cain On November 29, 1927, this pair of dance mittens came to the museum from Tununak, Nelson Island. While they are made mostly of hide which has been painted red, they are also completely covered in loose hanging seal claws, puffin beaks, and feathers. You may think these... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Tiffany Priest Can you guess what pulled this type of sled? This model of a Mahlemut sled, which is only six inches long, was collected by Edward Nelson at Sledge Island in Norton Sound, Alaska and came to the museum in 1880. The object, affiliated with the Mahlemut, an... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2018 at Magnetic North
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For more information or to request a visitor badge contact RecoveringVoices@si.edu Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Daniel Kellam For most Arctic peoples, the sea and rivers are essential for providing food and transportation to ensure survival. The umiak was the boat of choice for the Inuit. At 7 inches wide and 22.5 inches long this model of a wooden framed umiak uses the traditional material... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Daniel Kellam A “bola”, from the Spanish word for ‘ball’, is a type of weapon consisting of a cluster of weights on strings attached to a hand grip that can be thrown at an animal or bird to entangle its legs or wings. Weapons similar to bolases can be... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Daniel Kellam Provocatively titled “Devil Chaser”, this musical object is also indexed as a ‘bull-roarer’ in our catalog information. This long, slightly curved wooden rod was swung with a circular motion fast enough that it would emit a loud, low, vibrating noise. While we cannot say for sure why... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Chelsi Slotten It’s hard to believe it’s already 2018! We’ve had a very busy year with some really incredible highlights. The year started with some of our staff attending the second set of NSF-sponsored workshops exploring the idea of an Arctic Digital Library to increase access to Arctic archival... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2018 at Magnetic North
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By Chelsi Slotten Every year the anthropology department at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History has a holiday party, and every year we wait with baited breathe to see what new creation master cake baker and archaeologist Eric Hollinger will unveil. This year’s impressive creation, a 29” chocolate Viking... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2017 at Magnetic North
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By Haley Bryant This buckskin coat wouldn’t fit even the smallest community member—it was made for a doll! Despite its miniature size, it was constructed and intricately painted in the same manner as a full size coat would be. This wee coat was collected near Ungava Bay in Quebec, Canada,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2017 at Magnetic North
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By Haley Bryant This object, affiliated with the ‘Eskimo’, today known as Inuit, cultural group, is indexed in our catalog as a ‘hat’ but it more likely would have been worn over the face like a mask. In fact, the catalog information describes it as a ‘disguise’ to be worn... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2017 at Magnetic North
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By Daniel Kellam This half-moon soapstone bowl is much more than what it appears. Our catalog information indicates this stone lamp was attributed to the “Eskimo”, today known as Inuit, cultural group. This lamp was collected by Captain C.F. Hall in 1871 in Repulse Bay, Canada. The stone bowl would... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2017 at Magnetic North