Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Feast dish

k’áagaan “wooden dish”
Language: Haida

That same evening before it got dark, they would sing to the seal because he’d been sacrificed. And they would cut it up and hang it in the smoke house.

—Delores Churchill, 2005

This large feast bowl for serving seal oil is sculpted in the animal’s own form with the joints and appendages outlined along the sides. Haida men hunted harbor and fur seals in the Queen Charlotte Islands and along the Alaska coast, seeking their meat, rich fat, and valuable pelts. Hunters fasted and purified themselves before sealing and made offerings to the Ocean People, or killer whales, who are the masters of all other sea creatures. Seal oil was a prized condiment for dipping dried fish and is still served at Haida gatherings.

Culture: Haida
Region: Long Island, Southeast Alaska
Village: Howkan
Object Category: Housewares
Dimensions: Length 94cm
Accession Date: 1905 (collected 1881-1889)
Source: George T. Emmons (collector)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 004316.000