Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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kuynga “pipe”
Language: St. Lawrence Island Yupik

The old people smoked by swallowing smoke until they blacked out.... The pipes were made of hardwood and inlaid with lead and with a lead bowl. They held a very tiny bit of tobacco which was filtered through reindeer hair.

—Roger Silook, 1976, “Stories the Old People Told on St. Lawrence Island”

Russian fur traders brought tobacco to Siberia, and peoples in northwest Alaska obtained it through exchange networks and trade fairs. Tobacco came to St. Lawrence Island through trade with Siberian Yupik villages, the nearest located forty miles west of the island by skin boat.

This traditional tobacco pipe was crafted from walrus ivory, wood, and poured lead.

Culture: St. Lawrence Island Yupik
Region: St. Lawrence Island, Alaska
Object Category: Tobacco
Object Type: Mortar
Dimensions: Length 30cm
Accession Date: 1913
Source: Riley D. Moore (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E280451