Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Ice scratcher

kumekeregaasiq “ice scratcher”
Language: St. Lawrence Island Yupik

When the seal came up, they [hunters] started to scratch and put their heads down, trying to be a seal.

—Estelle Oozevaseuk, 2001

When stalking a maklak (bearded seal) a man would scrape the sea ice with this tool, making a sound just like a seal digging its breathing hole. The familiar scratching comforted the animal as the hunter crept closer, his harpoon ready to strike. To blend in with the surroundings, the hunter wore a parka with a white-trimmed hood and hid his body behind a large mitten made of polar bear or white dog skin.

Culture: St. Lawrence Island Yupik
Region: St. Lawrence Island, Alaska
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 30cm
Accession Date: 1882
Source: E. W. Nelson (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E063270