Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Pipe bowl and stem

kkun’ tl’ok “tobacco pipe”
Language: Central Koyukon

Even leaf tobacco is not strong enough for them, some of them. So they mixed it with different kinds. And when they smoke it, you can’t be on the inside. Some people walk out, you know, it’s so strong. But still, then they live over one hundred years, even though the tongue is just brown.

—Trimble Gilbert, 2003

Strong leaf tobacco imported by the Hudson’s Bay Company was a significant trade item on the Yukon River by the 1840s. Athabascan residents used it as snuff, mixed it with burned tree fungus for chewing, and smoked it in pipes. This pipe from the Koyukon village of Nulato has a kaolin clay bowl, factory-made in England for the Indian trade in America.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Yukon River, Alaska
Village: Nulato
Object Category: Tobacco
Dimensions: Length 17cm
Accession Date: 1887
Source: Lucien M. Turner (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E129255