Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

Related Objects

Kayak (model)

qayaq “kayak”
Language: Koniag Sugpiaq (Kodiak Island dialect)

Shamans and weather forecasters were up all night while the rest were sleeping, watching the moon and stars, and would tell the hunters the next morning whether to go or not, and which way to go so they could come home with the wind at their backs.

—Sven Haakanson, Sr., 1987, from the Alutiiq Museum oral history archive

The figure in this model kayak wears a woven hunting hat and holds a long lance with a barbed point, a weapon for killing harpooned sea mammals. Sugpiaq men went out to sea in one-person kayaks for fishing, long-distance travel, and the pursuit of fast animals like dolphins. Double-ended paddles were used for extra speed, and the boat’s divided bow improved performance in heavy seas.

Culture: Sugpiaq (Alutiiq)
Region: Probably Kodiak Island
Object Category: Boats
Dimensions: Length: 57cm
Accession Date: 1918 (collected 1894-1907)
Source: D. F. Tozier (collector)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 073280.000