Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Ice grippers

kiksak “ice creepers”
Language: St. Lawrence Island Yupik

But back then we were using skin boots a lot, and the soles tend to get very slippery on ice sometimes.

—Branson Tungiyan, 2001

Cleats (crampons) made of bone or walrus ivory are an ancient Arctic invention that gave sure footing on slippery ice. On St. Lawrence Island, men wore them to launch skin boats from the ice-edge in spring, and today metal cleats are used for the same purpose. Branson Tungiyan said, “We sometimes have to cut ice about ten, fifteen feet wide towards the edge of the water, and we chip it away to make a kenileq (ice ramp) to launch our boats. When the sun gets warm in late spring it gets very slippery, so we use those under our boots.”

Culture: St. Lawrence Island Yupik
Region: St. Lawrence Island, Alaska
Object Category: Travel
Object Type: Ice creepers
Dimensions: Length 30cm
Accession Date: 1913
Source: Riley D. Moore (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E280385