Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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k’ìłtąį‘ “bow”
Language: Gwich'in

Young people today can’t…but the old people a long time ago, they were strong, and they pulled the bowstring just like that. They killed grizzly bear, moose, and caribou. They used it inside the caribou corral too.

—Trimble Gilbert, 2004

Athabascan longbows were made from birch, willow, or spruce wood, with strings of twisted caribou back sinew. The wooden projection on this Gwich’in or Hän bow caught the string and prevented it from lashing the bowman’s wrist. Before guns were available, hunters used bows and arrows to kill large animals such as caribou, bear, moose, and mountain sheep and also to take small furbearers such as rabbit, lynx, fox, wolverine, and muskrat. In the fall, migrating caribou were driven into corrals at the end of converging brush fences, where the animals were snared or shot with arrows.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Yukon River, Alaska
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 169.5cm
Accession Date: n.d.
Source: Edward W. Nelson (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E049140