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High-kick ball

aqsruq “ball”
Language: Bering Strait Iñupiaq

Also called:
aqsraatchaun “high-kick ball”
Language: North Slope Iñupiaq

The high-kick games, when they played in the qargi (ceremonial house) - they usually do that when the different tribes get together [Messenger Feast]. Each tribe tries to beat the other’s kick. When I was young, I used to kick that high [above the head].”

—Jacob Ahwinona, 2001

High-kick competitions were once part of Kivgiq, the Messenger Feast. As each man entered the qargi he tried to kick an inflated animal bladder or ball suspended from the ceiling. An Iñupiaq story tells of a young woman who owned two balls; the larger was the sun, and the smaller the moon. The sun ball fell (or in one version was dropped by Raven) and burst open, bringing light to the world. The circular designs seen on this ball represent the sun and commemorate this ancient story.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 19cm
Accession Date: 1936
Source: William M. Fitzhugh Collection
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 193368.000