Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Seal retriever

qayux^ “retrieving hook, sea dog”
Language: Unangam Tunuu (Eastern Aleut dialect)

This is a very handy tool to have when you’re out hunting, because we don’t want to lose our animal. And every hunter makes one of his own.

—Vlass Shabolin, 2003

Seals can sink quickly when shot with a rifle, making them difficult to recover. Contemporary hunters use this seal retriever or “sea dog” to hook the animals and pull them toward shore. Even in the days before guns became available, hooks on long throwing lines were occasionally needed to snag and retrieve the carcasses of sea mammals and birds. With traditional technology, however, the recovery of animals was helped by the fact that they were attached to floating gear such as seal darts, darts with bladders, or sealskin buoys.

Culture: Unangax (Aleut)
Region: Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 28cm
Accession Date: 1943
Source: Mrs. Joseph Stanley-Brown (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E383191