Alaskan Walrus Ivory and Whalebone
The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 protects the walrus herds and allows them to maintain a healthy population off the cost of Alaska. Alaskan Natives (Aleuts, Eskimos, and Indians) who dwell on the coast of the NorthPacific Ocean of on the Arctic Ocean are exempt from the act and may take walrus or other marine mammals if used for subsistence. Under the act, only authentic Native articles of hand crafts or clothing may be sold or transferred to a non-Native.
New ivory or fresh ivory (tusks and teeth) are extracted from walrus hunted by the Eskimos and the Inuit. Ivory carving can also be taken from walrus that wash up on beaches along the western and northern coast lines of Alaska.
New walrus ivory is mostly white. At the center is a wide distinctive mottled core likened by some to the appearance of tapioca pudding. Surrounding the core is a broad layer of smooth off-white ivory without any distinguishing grain. The outer ivory layer is white.
Alaskan fossil walrus ivory is among the rarest and most beautiful of the ivory available today. "Harvested" by Native residents along the coastal beaches, fossil ivory originates from Walrus that died approximately100 to 2000 years ago. Fossil ivory is slightly colored. The distinctive color is the result of staining caused by mineral deposits that have accumulated over the centuries. Originally white in color, the ivory has slowly taken on an exotic array of color, ranging from tan to brown, and from orange to dark red.
All ivory and marine mammal products sold at Tribal Expressions are of authentic Native origin and are sold in full compliance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.
Virtually all tribes in the Arctic region used kayaks at one time. Kayaks are used primarily for hunting and netting in the ocean and rivers. Kayaks are proven to be extremely sturdy, maneuverable, and virtually unsinkable. Their lightweight feature makes them especially adaptable to hauling across land or ice. In earlier times they were man's most prized possession and served as a symbol of manhood.
Whatever design the kayak's skeleton is of driftwood usually fir, pine, spruce, or willow, and the preferred covering is sealskin or sea lion skin, with the fur removed. Skins are well soaked stretched over the frame, and sewn together with sinew. Made waterproof with Seal oil.
The usual method of propelling a kayak is with a single or double-blade paddles, the later being employed when speed is important. An arrangement of deck lashings are arranged to hold paddles, weapons and accessories. Just ahead of the paddler a stand or low tray on low legs, holds coiled harpoon line; and under the deck lashings hold lances, darts, and harpoons. The Field Museum in Chicago, has a video showing a man paddling a kayak to the edge of the ice. After slipping free and making the vessel fast.
Spirits, Heroes & Hunters from North American Mythology
Special feasts and ceremonies were held to amuse and placate the souls of dead animals. One of these was the bladder festival. The bladder of an animal was believed to contain its soul and so, when an animal was killed, the hunter carefully removed and preserved the bladder until the time came for the festival. Then, with great ceremony, the bladders were inflated and hung in a special feast-house. After much singing and dancing and offering of food, the bladders were taken down and thrust into a hole cut in the ice, so that the souls could return to the sea where they would enter the bodies of unborn animals and return again to be hunted. If these things were not done correctly, the souls of the animals would feel neglected and game would become scarce. At the beginning of the year, before the hunting season began, the Eskimos held another festival, at which animal masks were worn to please the animals and encourage them to return.
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