Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Boat (model)

umiaq “open skin boat”
Language: Qawiaraq Iñupiaq

These kinds of things became trade items primarily when the whalers — the Yankee whalers — began coming to our coasts. So this is not an exact replica of a umiaq. This one is styled more as a trade item.

—Ronald Brower, Sr., 2002

Many whaling crews still use the skin-covered umiaq because it is lightweight and quieter in the water than a wooden or metal hull. Contemporary crews include both a harpooner and a gunner who fires a bomb gun to kill the wounded whale. Full-sized boats are up to 35 feet (4.5 – 10.7m) long and covered with bearded seal or split walrus hide. Small replicas were made as toys and later for sale to visitors.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Alaska
Village: Nome
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length: 116cm
Accession Date: 1921
Source: Long Island Historical Society (donor)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 106841.000