Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Canoe model

k’ii tr’ih “birchbark canoe”
Language: Gwich'in

In the bigger canoes, the space was big enough under here [the front deck] so that if a child was with a parent and it was naptime, then they could put them under the bow and they could sleep in there.

—Eliza Jones, 2004

Big traveling canoes made of birch bark were twenty feet (6.1m) or even thirty feet (9.1m) long, whereas hunting boats were much smaller. All were light, fast, and delicately balanced. Canoe makers first stitched the bark hull together inside a boat-shaped outline of stakes driven into the ground. The birch or willow frame of the boat was then constructed inside. Bark pieces were sewn together with split spruce roots and seam-sealed with hot spruce pitch. Canvas-covered “ratting canoes” for hunting muskrats became popular in the early twentieth century.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Yukon River, Alaska
Object Category: Boats
Dimensions: Length 41.5cm
Accession Date: 1905
Source: Edward A. Preble (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E233471