Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Seal club

tsaa xwáas’i “seal club”
Language: Lingít

Aan tsaa shakdudéx’jee. Yees kaa áyá aadéi kindunaach, yaa tsaa keení yei áyú. (For clubbing seals. Young men would be sent to do this as the seals were lying.)

—George Ramos, 2005

Young men trained to “fight the seals” in Dry Bay by sitting every day in a glacial stream; going after the animals meant stalking them through frigid water, then charging on foot. At Yakutat, Glacier Bay, and other places, hunters used white-camouflaged canoes to harpoon seals among floating glacial ice. They killed them with clubs like this one, which is carved with the image of a sharp-toothed animal with a long tongue, possibly a sea lion but lacking the large eyes that usually mark this animal in Tlingit art. Behind it is a killer whale with a tall dorsal fin.

Culture: Tlingit
Region: Southeast Alaska
Village: Sitka
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 88cm
Accession Date: 1905
Source: Stadthagen (collector)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 004601.000