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By By Emily Cain & Haley Bryant In recognition of our 20th collections highlight, we’d like to not only share yet another great object, but also give you a glimpse into our process at the Circumpolar Ethnology Imaging Project. Learn more about the project’s origins in our introductory post! This... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Magnetic North
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Teachers, introduce your students to a career in archaeology. Join us October 19 for a live online “Smithsonian Science How” text chat with Bill Fitzhugh about his job as an archaeologist studying culture and climate change in the Arctic. Learn more and register. Date: October 19, 2017 Times: 11 a.m.... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Magnetic North
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Can you guess what this object is? It’s a mousetrap! It is hard to say exactly how it was used to catch mice since we can’t watch it in action, do you have any ideas? Have you ever seen any traps like this before? This trap was collected by Edward... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2017 at Magnetic North
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How would you play with this toy? This game, “Tapaga ‘Towan”, is called both a “Ring-and-Pin game” and a “Cup-and-Pin game” in our records. It was played by tossing the cups in the air and trying to catch them on the pin. It is made out of fibers of dressed... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2017 at Magnetic North
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While this object looks like it may have been used as a hunting implement or food processor, it was actually used to scrape the inside of hides as they were being processed. This flesher, or “Machequat” according to the information we have, is made of iron or steel, fibers, and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2017 at Magnetic North
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This dart was used as part of a game. According to our catalogue information, boys and men would set up a series of stakes at which they would throw these darts, attempting to knock them down. The person who was able to take down the most stakes would win the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at Magnetic North
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This pair is just one example of the many different, beautiful moccasins we have in our collections from very diverse cultural groups. These moccasins, made out of leather and decorated with cloth and glass beads, are associated with the Innu or Naskapi people. They were collected by Dr. William Strong... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2017 at Magnetic North
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This small brush-like object that looks like a bundle of porcupine quills is actually a comb cleaner and is affiliated with the Innu people of Northern Quebec, Canada. It was collected by Rev. John M. Cooper near James Bay and donated to the museum in 1956 by the Catholic University... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2017 at Magnetic North
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One of the first words to come to mind when looking through the Innu objects in our collections is ‘colorful’! The Innu people, often referred to as ‘Montagnais’—the name given to them by French colonizers, continue to live in the region of Northern Quebec, Canada. Glass beads and a wide... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2017 at Magnetic North
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At first glance, it isn’t obvious what this object might be used for. This tool, affiliated with the Innu (then known as the Naskapi) cultural group, served as a painting stick to decorate robes and other clothing. This particular paint bone was collected from Ungava Bay, Quebec, Canada by Lucien... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2017 at Magnetic North
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Intrepid explorer Captain Charles Francis Hall collected this Inuit drinking tube, carved from a narwhal tooth during one of three Arctic research expeditions he conducted during his lifetime. There are a number of objects in our collections that are made of or contain narwhal ivory. The material is very versatile... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2017 at Magnetic North
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These three tools fit together to make a drill! The thin object with the metal nib (like a drill bit we might use today) is placed point-down on the object to be drilled, the fiber of the bow implement is wrapped around the drill bit, and the larger wooden piece... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2017 at Magnetic North
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We know from the catalogue information that this incredible painted, wooden box was collected not just from the Yukon River Delta, but specifically from Pastolik. It was collected and donated by Edward Nelson and accessioned in 1897. Candace Greene, a North American ethnologist at NMNH, informed us that these boxes,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2017 at Magnetic North
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This delicate wooden object is a child’s game described in the catalogue information as a “Jumping-Jack”, made of carved wood and rope made of sinew, gut, or baleen. You can make Jack jump by pulling apart the two long handles and bringing them back together quickly to make the small... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2017 at Magnetic North
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This very beautiful doll was collected by Edward Nelson in Kaialigamut in the Kuskokwim Delta and accessioned in 1879. It is impressively carved and beautifully adorned in a small outfit of calico and fur that is also intricately beaded. The dolls in our circumpolar collections vary greatly in size and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2017 at Magnetic North
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By Chelsi Slotten and Nicholas Parlato The Ninth International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences took place earlier this month in Umea, Sweden, in the southernmost part of Sapmi, the ancient homeland of the Sami. The five-day event was attended by eight hundred people from twenty five different countries, with 204... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2017 at Magnetic North
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This item from our collections perhaps seems unfamiliar at first, but if you take a closer look you might recognize a familiar object. It’s a shuttlecock! Shuttlecocks, also referred to as “birdies”, are what get batted back and forth during a game of badminton. This shuttlecock has a head made... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2017 at Magnetic North
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The Alaska Office of the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center has produced two new interdisciplinary curricula available as free downloads from the Sharing Knowledge Alaska website: Salmon Give Life: Learning from Alaska's First Peoples Gifts from the Land: Lifeways and Quill Art of the Athabascan Peoples Sourced from free, online resources... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2017 at Magnetic North
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Join us next week Tuesday - Wednesday for the Solstice 2017 celebration UTC+5 at International Date Line (June 20) (12 am East Coast/South America, 6 am Central Europe/Africa, June 21) To all Solstice celebrators: We're writing to you today with some last minute news regarding the 2017 Solstice celebration, which... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2017 at Magnetic North
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This is one of several beautifully painted wooden spoons in our collections from Alaska. This particular spoon was collected by J.H. turner and donated to the museum on March 9th, 1894 by the Bureau of American Ethnology. Many Circumpolar objects with varying shapes and uses have decorations in this style!... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Magnetic North
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Snow-goggles, most often made of carved wood, are a common object across a number of groups represented in the circumpolar ethnology collections. Snow-goggles are meant to be positioned on the face, over the eyes, and secured to the wearer’s head with a strap of skin or hide. The small opening... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2017 at Magnetic North
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This small bag, made of wood or reeds and dressed animal skin, was donated to the museum in 1931! Though the catalog card does not identify a collector, we know it was donated by The Museum of the Academy of Sciences, Leningrad, Russia. Collected near the Aldan and Lena Rivers... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2017 at Magnetic North
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This cribbage board, made from a single walrus tusk, is beautifully decorated with scrimshaw—carving on whale bone or ivory which is colored with pigment! Cribbage, a card game invented in the 1600s, is historically a British invention and pastime, though it found its way to American shores on board ships... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2017 at Magnetic North
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In August 2017 we will be opening a new exhibit Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic legend and are currently in the process of recruiting volunteers to interact with visitors in this exhibit and the Sant ocean hall. We will provide all the training necessary to prepare volunteers in September and they... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2017 at Magnetic North
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From a distance, this object looks like a relatively unremarkable, woven, lightly decorated bag. However, upon closer inspection you might notice that the bag is actually made of both sealskin and fish heads that have been stitched together (look for their eyes). Talk about unexpected materials! This is just one... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2017 at Magnetic North