Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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truuvkax^ “tobacco pipe”
Language: Unangam Tunuu (Eastern Aleut and Atkan dialects)

Also called:
kaanisax^ “tobacco pipe”
Language: Unangam Tunuu (Eastern Aleut dialect)

The Russians set up a colony that lasted until 1867, and they were cruel, especially in the early years. They enslaved the people, forcing the men to hunt sea otters and fur seals and the women to serve the traders, sew their clothing, and produce food.

—Alice Petrivelli, from “Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage,” 2010

This Unangax^ tobacco pipe is made of wood wrapped in leather thong, with a walrus ivory bowl. Russian traders first came to the Aleutian Islands in the 1740s on a quest for highly valuable sea otter furs. They forced Unangax^ men to hunt the animals, giving them tobacco, beads, sewing needles, and trinkets as token payments. This pipe is similar in design to some from the Yup’ik and Iñupiaq regions.

Culture: Unangax (Aleut)
Region: Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Object Category: Tobacco
Dimensions: Length 29cm
Accession Date: 1917 (collected 1894-1907)
Source: D. F. Tozier Collection
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 069835.000