Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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umchuusix^ “siphon”
Language: Unangam Tunuu (Eastern Aleut dialect)

When they get some water in the kayak, then they use this. They can’t stand up in the kayak, they’re sitting down, so they suck the water out and keep doing that until all the water is out...

—Vlass Shabolin, 2003

If a man’s kayak leaked while he was at sea he used a fat wooden tube to suck up the water and expel it over the side. This tube was made from a solid piece of light wood, probably cedar, which was carved into shape and then split in half; each side was then carefully hollowed out, and the two halves lashed back together. All kayak gear was made of lightweight materials so that it would float if lost overboard.

Culture: Unangax (Aleut)
Region: Bristol Bay, Alaska
Object Category: Boats
Dimensions: Length 66.3cm
Accession Date: 1916
Source: J. E. Standley (seller)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 053596.000