Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another important part of the harpoon that I wanted to add was the Angyaq (Open skinned boat). In the top picture you can see a couple of elders in training, getting the urge to hunt from a young age the two are eagerly waiting to get out onto the pack ice like the youngster taking it a step further in the bottom picture. The Angyaq is a major part of the Native peoples life, as it is means of hunting and bringing food home to their families.

If you are a new comer, or are planning on visiting Alaska, I would highly encourage you to take the time to visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center off of Muldoon In Anchorage. There are buses that run back and forth from the down town museum and the Native Center. There is a unique outside display of many of the Alaskan Native traditional houses that you can walk through and feel how it was to live as a Native centuries ago.
This website give an in depth point of view of the Native people of Alaska. This is a great way to become more familiar with the culture that the harpoon is related to. This site advertises the exhibit that is open to the public from April 17-July 25, 2010. If you would like a first hand experience with the wide array of cultures in Alaska i would highly recommend visiting the wonderful hands on exhibit.

April 17 - July 25, 2010

Harpoon Throwing With Maligiaq!

Here is an example of a different type of harpoon that is propelled from a throwing board. It is the same type of shaft, but a slightly different technique when being used in the hunt. There are many different types of harpoons and hunting style can vary from hunter to hunter. As time passed lunds also known as skiffs were more commonly used also changing the way that the harpoon is used. From a kayak it is thrown from the knees usually, whereas from a lund it is lunged from a standing possition.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Here is an array of harpoon heads. From top to bottom, a toggle head, barbed head, an example of different types side by side, and a smaller dart head.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Seal skin, ivory and wood are the essential matterials needed to construct a harpoon. The shaft is usually made of spruce, the lashing cut from dried seal skin, and the head and tip shapped from ivory. It takes many months to gather, process, and construct a harpoon. Lashing is ideally made from larger spotted seal skin, sometimes from two year old beareded seals as well. It really depends on the person who is constructing the harpoon on how it will end up looking.

Yuungnaqpiallerput: The Way We Genuinly Live

At the base of this link there is a picture of a contemporary harpoon with a gear oil bottle to help with flotation. If you would like an indepth overview of the Yup'ik lifestyle click on menu at the top left of the page, then clicking on introduction. This is a great source of information that shows living situations, hunting attire, and many other facts of Native life. It is quite intriguing.
On board a whaling boat in the Chukchi Sea in Alaska, an Eskimo man prepares is harpoon gun in preparation for the whaling expedition. Native Eskimos consider whaling as part of their native culture and many of these boats are sent to sea every year.

As you can see over time, Natives have learned to adapt to more convienient ways of hunting the large whales. When metals were introduced, Native people took advantage of the recource because it held a better edge for cutting and carving wood. The same concept is used here with the harpoon gun. Some use the harpoon gun to help the harpooning process go a little smoother. Some continue to use the traditional harpoons.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Here is the actual top of the harpoon that i chose from the down town Anchorage Museum. It is the one to the left. Unfortunatly, only the tip of the harpoon is showing. From what I obsorbed, i could tell that the ivory head was dried out. As many people know, when the inner core of the ivory tusk dries out it tends to bend in the direction of the side where the majority of the sotfer center ivory is. For example, try raising your hand in front of you with your finger tips pointing up with your palm facing the right or left. Here is the concept, if the left side of your hand were to be the side with the inner core on it, it would curve in favor of that side. This is pronounced on this particular harpoon and is easily noticed when twirled around.
As you can tell there are many types of harpoon heads. It really is up to the person who is making the harpoon that determins the overall length, style, and coloring. There are a lot of examples here as well revealing the detailed work that it takes to shape the sharp tips that will one day be used, or have already been used in retreaving sea mammals. In the top right picture you can tell the difference between the contemporary harpoon versus the more traditional one by the brass both supporting and adding strength to the shaft.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Riordan, A. (2008). Yuungnaqpiallerput. pp 143,157.
Yuungnaqpiallerput: The way we genuinly live, an encyclopedia of knowledge gathered by Ann Fienup-Riordan bestows great appreciation for the feistiness and ability to survive of the natives in Alaska. The elegantly written book has a plethera of unique information ranging from harpoon head artifacts to emperor goose parkas. There really isn't anything you couldn't find interesting because of the love, effort, and detail she has insulated this book with.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Paitarkiutenka/MY LEGACY TO YOU," is a powerful collection of knowledge collected by Ann Fienup-Riordan; told by my late grandfather Frank Miisaq Andrew. It consists of ways of living, stories; explinations of animal behaviors, hunting techniques specific to an animal; types of wood, kayak parts, and countless other wonderful facts about Yup'ik culture. In the picture my great-grandfather, Min'garalria is in the left of the picture sitting down, my other great-grandfather Alluk is sitting down as well at the right of the picture behind the "ukinqucuk" (bow piece with hole in it).

My dad has a picture of my brother and I working on a kayak while we were watching the rose bowl in the background. I will try to get it up here so you can see the comparison. We will do our best to carry on the tradition.

Wilkinson,B. (2008). Qayanek: Of and about Kayaks. Retrieved November 9, 2010, from
"Builders of the most authentic Native American seal skin qayat (kayaks) in the world"
Qayanek is passionately dedicated to antiquity research, documentation, preservation, and construction of the traditional Native American Yup'ik Caninermiut Qayaq.

Qayanek builds kayaks as close as possible to how they were designed in traditional mud houses. Of the two basic Yup'ik kayak designs, the less documented eastern version, built in Kwigillingok, Alaska, may be the more elegantly engineered.

The Caninermiut Qayaq has 2 bow, 4 stern, and 5 cross members that are tediously extracted from the bends of driftwood spruce stumps. All measurements are custom anthropomorphic body measurements. Qayanek's real seal skin on frame kayak is caulked using seal oil and moss, with grass strands backing the inner seams.

The paragraphs above are from Qayanek's website briefly describing some of the details about the work that we do. I failed to mention that I am part of Qayanek, it is part of who I am as a person now. I have been raised and taught how to construct the skeletal kayak structure under the guidance of my father (Bill Wilkinson) and late grandfather (Frank Andrew).
Frank Andrew's son and student, Qayanek master traditional qayaq builder Noah Andrew Sr., sits next to the Qayanek built Loon qayaq adorned with one of his father's two traditional deck design. 2006 On the lake side of the kayak you can see the head of the harpoon where it's held by an ivory hook.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Seal hunting on Kulusuk - Greenland 2009

Here is an example of how the harpoon is thrown from a kayak. As lunds were introduced to Natives around Alaska they found the lund more convienient, having a larger payload as well as being faster than traditional kayaks they took advantage of the motor powered vessels.