Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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kukumyararsuun “whistle”
Language: Koniag Sugpiaq (Alaska Peninsula dialect)

We had to be very careful, even how we played…don’t whistle and things like that. And somebody way up on the Koyukuk River told me that they have the same belief – that the spirits speak by whistling.

—Martha Demientieff, 1997

In traditional belief, whistling sounds are the voices of supernatural beings. Shamans blew whistles to summon their spirit assistants. Parents caution children not to whistle, especially at night.

Culture: Sugpiaq (Alutiiq)
Region: Alaska Peninsula
Village: Ugashik
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 5cm
Accession Date: 1887
Source: William J. Fisher (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E127807