Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 
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Throwing board

nuqaq “throwing board, spear throwing device, atlatl”
Language: Central Yup'ik

One man . . . is so fast that he can throw one [dart], get the [seal] on the head, then throw another one at a lower angle and get him right on the neck.

—Joan Hamilton, 2002

Throwing boards were traditionally used to hurl seal darts and bird darts, usually from a kayak but sometimes when hunters went on foot out on the sea ice. Elder Paul John said that “people back in those days used them as their guns.” Rifles are commonly used for seal hunting today, but men from several villages on the lower Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers still use throwing boards and darts for seal hunting. The dart rests in a groove along the throwing board’s upper surface until it is launched.

Culture: Yup’ik
Region: Nunivak Island, Alaska
Object Category: Hunting
Accession Date: 1927
Source: Henry B. Collins, Jr. & Dr. Thomas Dale Stewart
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E340223