Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 
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Sinew-working tool

Tl’aah baahaa nedededlee “tool used to spin sinew”
Language: Koyukon (Upper, Central & Lower)

Some women are so expert at it, the sinew that they spin is uniform; it’s just the same size all the way. I know the process and I could do it, but I’m not very good at splicing it.

—Eliza Jones, 2004

Contemporary Elders were not familiar with this tool, collected for the Smithsonian by Edward W. Nelson at the Koyukon village of Nulato in 1878. Nelson recorded it as a “spindle” used in making twine for fish nets (from willow bark or nettles) and for twisting caribou sinew. It was probably stuck into the ground as a “third hand” to hold materials that were being spun into cordage.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Yukon River, Alaska
Village: Nulato
Object Category: Tools
Dimensions: Length 54cm
Accession Date: 1878
Source: Edward W. Nelson (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E033098