Archive for the 'Canada' Category

Object: Snow beater

Snow beater
North America: Arctic: USA or Canada
Unknown date
Materials: Wood

Snow beaters, also known as tiluqtut or anautaq, were used throughout the Arctic to remove snow and ice from shoes, clothing, and sometimes even the inner surfaces of dwellings. These tools could vary in size and the level of carved detail but were usually made of bone, antler, ivory, or wood, like this example at the Sam Noble Museum. Snow left to melt on clothing or shoes would cause fur and leather items to become stiff, promote decay, and would reduce their insulating capabilities. For these reasons snow removal and drying tools like snow beaters were important for cold weather survival.

Other examples of snow beaters can be found in the Marischal Museum, the McCord Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and others.

The following video illustrates some other traditional arctic tools, made by the Inuit peoples.

[Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

Object: Necklace

Baffinland Inuit
North America: Canada: Baffin Island
prior to 1959
Materials: Glass, bone, ivory, beak or claw, and cord

This trade bead necklace has been attributed to the Baffinland Inuit tribe from Baffin Island, Canada. The Baffinland Inuit are one of the groups that make up the Central Eskimo, along with the Copper, Iglulik, Netsilik, and Caribou Inuit. Baffinland Inuit, like other Inuit groups, traditionally lived in semi-permanent winter settlements. These winter settlements served as a hub for smaller seasonal camps that were utilized for hunting, fishing and gathering of specific materials throughout the warmer months of the year. Marine animals like seals, beluga whales, walrus, narwhal, and polar bear were important year round resources for the Inuit people. While in the summer, caribou, birds (and eggs), small game, berries, roots, and shellfish were also available. Today, the Baffinland Inuit live in six main communities: Iqaluit, Pangnirtung, Qikiqtarjuaq (formerly Broughton Island), Clyde River, Kimmirut (formerly Lake Harbour) and Cape Dorset.

This necklace, like other traditional Inuit arts and crafts, is made of bone and ivory from marine animals. In addition to these traditional materials this necklace also features large glass trade beads. Glass beads were first introduced to native North Americans by European explorers. Prior to European contact tribal groups had been making beads from bone, shell, stone, and other materials for many years. Early glass trade beads came mostly from Venice and Holland, later Poland and Czechoslovakia also became major trade bead manufacturing hubs. Trade in glass beads was very common throughout North America, with blue beads being particularly prized. [Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

Object: Haida Hat

Haida: Men’s Hat
British Columbia, Canada
ca 1880
Materias: wood, pigment

This object is a conical shaped Haida hat made out of twined cedar wood. It is painted with a red and black abstract motif.

The Haida Indians are native to the northern parts of British Columbia in the Queen Charlotte Islands. They are often employed in the logging industries, fishing and the arts. The abundant resource of wood has allowed them to incorporate canoes, totem poles and hats into their art and ceremonial traditions.

This men’s hat probably served as clan hat. Hats were the most important items of dress among Northwest Coast tribes. Families display their clans or crests on masks and clothing. The most important occasions for such displays are the potlatches. Clothing elements worn at potlatch ceremonies display clan affiliation. The Haida belong to one or two clans, the Eagle or the Raven clan. Both animals are held in high regard, but the Raven is accredited with various components of creation and is considered to be the cultural hero of the Haida.

Haida and other Northwest Coast objects are very distinct. This hat represents the common use of red and black pigment. Black is typically the primary color, whereas red is the secondary color. The unique use of formlines and abstract shapes complement the color scheme on this mask. Like other Haida masks, this was likely woven by a woman and painted by a man. The traditional gender division of labor is still practiced today. This mask was made during the late 19th century during a time that Northwest Coast art production was at a slump. A resurgence of the traditional art occurred during the second half of the 20th century. While this hat is presently in fragile condition, it once likely served as a durable ceremonial element for its owner.

[Alana Cox]

Object: Footwear

Baffin Island Inuit: Kamik
Arctic Coast
20th Century
Materials: Sealskin

Kamik, also known as Mukluks, are soft boots used by indigenous peoples of the Arctic. The term Kamik is an Inuktitut word meaning “boots,” while the term Mukluk is a Yupik word meaning “bearded seal.” The boots are made from reindeer skin or sealskin, depending on the use. Traditionally, reindeer skin boots were used in cold, snowy environments because they provided greater warmth than sealskin. Sealskin boots were used in coastal areas (see photo below) where lightweight, breathable footwear was preferred. Kamik would have afforded the wearer mobility and warmth while hunting seal or other coastal wildlife. These Kamik are child-sized boots and measure approximately six inches long and stand seven inches high. The soles are bound by thin, thread-like strips of natural hide. The strips in the binding of the shoe and along the seams of the cuff are painted red. Two strips of hide approximately 12 inches in length are attached to the top of the soles and would have been used to bind the boots around the legs and hold them in place.

These Kamik were made in present day Baffin Island of Northern Canada. Baffin Island is an island in the Arctic Ocean and has a population of 11,000, most of whom are Inuit. It is the fifth largest island in the world and is home to the Auyuittuq National Park. The island is known for several rugged mountain peaks and has become an international mountaineering destination in recent years. It has also been a source of data for monitoring warming trends and global climate change.

[Lauren Simons]

Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


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