Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Float plug

puviutaq “float plug”
Language: North Slope Iñupiaq

And I always used to see these boat captains when they’re ready to go whaling, they would be the ones bringing down the sealskin floats.

—Branson Tungiyan, 2001

Entire small seals were skinned from the inside to make “pokes” used as food containers and hunting floats. Floats were attached to the harpoon line when hunting for whales, walrus, and other large sea mammals. This wooden disk with a spirit or human face was a plug for closing the hole where the seal’s head was removed.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Northwest Alaska
Village: Point Barrow
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length: 9cm
Accession Date: 1921
Source: Mrs. Thea Heye (donor)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 108266.000