Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 
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Pipe

tRuup’kaaq “pipe”
Language: Chugach Sugpiaq (Prince William Sound dialect)

Also called:
paipaq “pipe”
Language: Koniag Sugpiaq (Kodiak Island dialect)

The occupants were principally women, with a few old men; the young men had all gone out hunting the sea otter, in the Russian service. Those at home …were all employed in making water-proof garments from the entrails of sea-lions, for their husbands and sweethearts. We bought of then a number of articles of their manufacture…and paid them in tobacco and beads.

—John D’Wolf, from “A Voyage to the North Pacific,” 1861

This Sugpiaq pipe represents a sea otter floating on its back, a common sight in the Prince William Sound region where it was made. The pipe is sandstone, blackened by use and age. Russian fur traders brought tobacco to the Sugpiaq region in the 18th-19th centuries, using the leaf as a form of payment to the men and women they forced to hunt sea otters and work for the Russian-American Company. The pipe may symbolize this exchange.

Culture: Sugpiaq (Alutiiq)
Region: Prince William Sound, Alaska
Village: Tutulit
Object Category: Tobacco
Dimensions: Length 10cm
Accession Date: 1906
Source: George T. Emmons (collector)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 009278.000