Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

Related Objects


pisiksi “bow”
Language: North Slope Iñupiaq

They used that for hunting caribou. They pile these rocks and make them in the shape of a man... They hide behind those, whenever they use this bow.

—Oscar Koutchak, 2001

The bow and arrow was the primary weapon used on land before guns became available in the 1850s – 1870s. Bows were used for hunting caribou and bears as well as small game including ptarmigan, ducks, and muskrats. Caribou hunters piled up rocks to resemble human figures and built long lines of these pretend inuit (“people”) to frighten the animals into corrals where they could be killed at close quarters. Some bows, like this one, were reinforced with twisted cables of caribou or beluga whale sinew that added spring and power to the weapon.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Northwest Alaska
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 93.5cm
Accession Date: 1991
Source: n/a
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: ET16266