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March 2018

Entries from February 2018

Collections Highlight E339340: Dancing Mittens

Dance Mittens
By Emily Cain

On November 29, 1927, this pair of dance mittens came to the museum from Tununak, Nelson Island. While they are made mostly of hide which has been painted red, they are also completely covered in loose hanging seal claws, puffin beaks, and feathers. You may think these accoutrements make the gloves seem a bit impractical, but they’re meant to produce sound! The loose attachment of keratinous materials (like beaks and claws) allows them to swing freely, making a dry rattling sound when the wearer dances.

If you’d like to see and hear acoustic gloves like these in action, join us for a free public screening of The Wolf Dance with Ted Mayac at the Mother Tongue Film Festival! The film, produced by the Anchorage Museum, focuses on the Messenger Feast, one occasion when Arctic peoples wear dance gloves like these. It will screen on February 22, 2018 at 7:00 pm in the Q?rius Theater at the National Museum of Natural History. For more information about the program, keep an eye on the festival website.

And as always, explore more great objects and images on our online database!

Collections Highlight E45335: Model of Mahlemut Sled

By Tiffany Priest
Can you guess what pulled this type of sled? This model of a Mahlemut sled, which is only six inches long, was collected by Edward Nelson at Sledge Island in Norton Sound, Alaska and came to the museum in 1880. The object, affiliated with the Mahlemut, an Inupiat-speaking Alaska Native group living in Norton Sound, is a made of wood, bamboo, cane, reed, sinew, gut, and baleen. The Mahlemut are known as hunter-gatherers, and this sled model is representative of sleds pulled by Artic dogs, also known as Malamutes, which hauled people and hunting game to the Inupiaq villages.  

Explore more objects and images on our online database!