Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Woman’s knife

ulaaq “woman’s knife”
Language: St. Lawrence Island Yupik

We’d cut around the whole seal…We cut it right around the neck and then split the blubber off [inside] all around... We use a sharp knife.

—Estelle Oozevaseuk, 2001

A woman’s ulaaq has a thousand everyday uses for sewing, cutting meat, and preparing food. As Estelle Oozevaseuk described, a small ulaaq can be used to skin a whole seal from the inside to make an inflatable hunting float. This ancient woman’s knife from the Old Bering Sea period has a stone blade and a walrus ivory handle carved in the shape of a polar bear.

Culture: St. Lawrence Island Yupik
Region: Little Diomede Island, Alaska
Object Category: Tools
Dimensions: Length 14.1cm
Accession Date: 1929
Source: Mrs. Pollister (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E345466