Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Ice scratcher

sikumun kumiunnaq “ice scratcher”
Language: North Slope Iñupiaq

You scratch with it, once in awhile. The seal comes up close. You wait for the seal to come close before you shoot.

—Oscar Koutchak, 2001

Seals are comforted and attracted by the sound of another seal scratching the ice, which this tool imitates. Hunters used it when stalking seals on the frozen ocean, or to lure swimming animals within range. For camouflage as they crept across the ice seal hunters wore white parkas and hid behind large mittens made of polar bear fur.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Alaska
Village: Point Barrow
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 30cm
Accession Date: 1883
Source: Lt. P. H. Ray (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E056557