March 6, 2014
This model of a kayak was made by the Yup’ik people in the Kuskokwim River Valley of Alaska. It was collected by Moravian missionaries who worked in the area beginning in the late 1880s. The model kayak is made of seal hide stretched over a wooden framework. Traditionally, a kayak was a Yup’ik hunter’s most prized possession and a symbol of manhood. To help identify individual kayaks, men often added unique painted designs or modified the bow or stern shape of the boat. The Yup’ik used kayaks for seal hunting, fishing, and general transportation. This model kayak is currently on view in the new exhibit The Yup’ik Way of Life: An Alaskan People in Transition.