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Collections Highlight E33187: Toy Bow Drill

E33187
By Emily Cain

Bow drills are a practical object; they allow the user to harness friction to drill holes or start fires. This “toy” version was collected by Edward Nelson at St. Michael in Norton Sound, Alaska, and came to the museum in 1878. It may have been used by children to practice motor skills, but it is also covered with etched and inlaid images! Click here to see more detailed photographs of the artwork, which includes walruses, people, and seafaring vessels. If you’re interested in tools like this one, try searching for more bow drills using the Anthropology Collections Search online. They come from all over the world, in a variety of styles and materials.


Collections Highlight E428706: Chief’s Coat

E428706By By Emily Cain & Haley Bryant

In recognition of our 20th collections highlight, we’d like to not only share yet another great object, but also give you a glimpse into our process at the Circumpolar Ethnology Imaging Project. Learn more about the project’s origins in our introductory post!

This beautiful coat, made of smoked moose hide with caribou hair embroidery, was made by Dixie Alexander, a Gwich’in woman and master artist from Fort Yukon, Alaska. Click here to explore more images of the incredible beadwork and colorful caribou hair embroidery, which are evocative of arctic flora and symbolic of various animal tracks.

From a practical perspective, doing photoshoots with clothing like this coat presents a challenge. Because of their size, age, and weight, they require extra time and extra hands. Thanks to the arrival of our new digital imaging intern, Daniel Kellam, we are now able to devote time to photographing parkas, robes, and blankets every single week. So if you’re a lover of fashion, keep an eye out for more incredible clothing pieces by checking back in on the blog or exploring the Anthropology collections online!


“Smithsonian Science How” Live Career Chat with Bill Fitzhugh

Bill career talkTeachers, introduce your students to a career in archaeology. Join us October 19 for a live online “Smithsonian Science How” text chat with Bill Fitzhugh about his job as an archaeologist studying culture and climate change in the Arctic. Learn more and register.

Date: October 19, 2017

Times: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. EDT

Learn More and Register: http://qrius.si.edu/explore-science/chat/archaeologist-bill-fitzhugh  


Collection Highlight E45395: Mousetrap

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Can you guess what this object is? It’s a mousetrap! It is hard to say exactly how it was used to catch mice since we can’t watch it in action, do you have any ideas? Have you ever seen any traps like this before? This trap was collected by Edward Nelson and accessioned by the museum in 1880. While it isn’t affiliated with any particular cultural group, it was collected near King Island in the Bering Strait and therefore is probably from the Inupiaq Inuit culture.

Explore more objects and images on our online database!


Collection Highlight E395295: Cup and Pin Game

E395295
How would you play with this toy? This game, “Tapaga ‘Towan”, is called both a “Ring-and-Pin game” and a “Cup-and-Pin game” in our records.  It was played by tossing the cups in the air and trying to catch them on the pin.   It is made out of fibers of dressed skin, and what look like small cups carved out of ivory. Associated with the Montagnais people, it was collected by Rev. John M. Cooper near James Bay, Quebec, and accessioned by the museum on the 6th of July, 1956.

Explore more objects and images on our online database!


Collection Highlight E153500: Flesher

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While this object looks like it may have been used as a hunting implement or food processor, it was actually used to scrape the inside of hides as they were being processed. This flesher, or “Machequat” according to the information we have, is made of iron or steel, fibers, and dressed skin. It is affiliated with the Innu people and was collected near Labrador, Canada by Henry G. Bryant. It was collected in August or September of 1891 and accessioned by the museum on the 14th of January, 1892.

Explore more objects and images on our online database!


Collection Highlight E45062: Darts used in Gaming

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This dart was used as part of a game. According to our catalogue information, boys and men would set up a series of stakes at which they would throw these darts, attempting to knock them down. The person who was able to take down the most stakes would win the pile of stakes and barbs. This particular dart was collected near Sledge Island in the Norton Sound, AK by Edward Nelson and accessioned by the museum in 1880.


Collection Highlight E402926: Leather Moccasins

E402926
This pair is just one example of the many different, beautiful moccasins we have in our collections from very diverse cultural groups. These moccasins, made out of leather and decorated with cloth and glass beads, are associated with the Innu or Naskapi people. They were collected by Dr. William Strong near Labrador, Canada, and donated to the museum by Dr. Matthew Stirling. They were accessioned by the museum on the 7th of August, 1964.

Explore more objects and images on our online database!

 


Collection Highlight E395317: Porcupine-tail Comb Cleaner

E395317
This small brush-like object that looks like a bundle of porcupine quills is actually a comb cleaner and is affiliated with the Innu people of Northern Quebec, Canada. It was collected by Rev. John M. Cooper near James Bay and donated to the museum in 1956 by the Catholic University of America.

 Rev. John M. Cooper, a long-time professor at CUA, taught and studied both religion and the social sciences. His interests led him to be affiliated at different times with the Bureau of American Ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution, The American Anthropological Association, and to found the Catholic Anthropological Conference (CAC) which promoted anthropological practices among missionaries who were tasked with collecting ethnological objects for Cooper.  

Explore more objects and images on our online database!


Collection Highlight E395278: Tump Line

E395278
One of the first words to come to mind when looking through the Innu objects in our collections is ‘colorful’! The Innu people, often referred to as ‘Montagnais’—the name given to them by French colonizers, continue to live in the region of Northern Quebec, Canada. Glass beads and a wide variety of pigments for dying textiles, some of which can be found in our collections in sample form, enabled the Innu to brighten up objects we may take for granted every day! This tump line is one example. Tump lines, also known as carrying strings or Nimaban in the Innu language Innu-aimun, are used by people in many cultures to transport large loads. The strings attach to each side of a basket or other package and are worn around the forehead to support the load hanging on the carrier’s back. These 3 Nimaban were collected by Rev. J. M. Cooper near James Bay, Quebec, Canada and donated to the museum in 1956 by the Catholic University of America.

Explore more objects and images on our online database!