Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Sled (model)

situġautit “sled”
Language: Bering Strait Iñupiaq

Also called:
uniat “sled”
Language: Qawiaraq Iñupiaq

I’ve been in bad weather. You leave that lead dog alone, he’ll take you home. But if you try to force him to go somewhere, you’ll get lost.

—Jacob Ahwinona, 2001

Winter freezing of the tundra and rivers opens up the country for long-distance travel by dog sled. Traditional railed sleds were up to ten feet (3 m) long and could carry 700 - 800 pounds (320 - 360 kg). Teams of five to nine dogs were hitched in tandem along a central line to pull heavy loads, assisted when the trail was poor by men who pushed and women who pulled the sled. For light loads only two or three dogs might be needed, hitched in a fan. Sled frames were lashed together from carved pieces of driftwood and the runners were clad with bone.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Norton Sound, Alaska
Object Category: Travel
Dimensions: Length 32.5cm
Accession Date: 1910
Source: U.S. Department of Interior (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E260531