Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Sea otter arrow

yúxch’i chooneit “sea otter arrow”
Language: Lingít

This arrow point is similar to what they use on salmon…When a sea otter is hit with an arrow, the point comes loose, and the arrow shaft trails behind the sea otter; that’s how they locate it.

—Peter Jack, 2005

Fleets of canoes cruised the coast to find sea otters, encircling one when it was found. Hunters pierced it with the barbed tips of harpoon-arrows, which then dislodged from the shafts, leaving them to trail behind on sinew cords. Otters were depleted in most of southeast Alaska by 1825, but hunting continued at Lituya Bay, Yakutat, and Icy Bay until the early twentieth century. This arrow has a willow shaft and barbed bone tip.

Culture: Tlingit
Region: Southeast Alaska
Village: Yakutat
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 123cm
Accession Date: 1885
Source: John J. McLean (collector, U.S. Signal Service)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E075454