Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Thoughts of Aleut History

While I was writing these blogs, I wondered how it would be if I were the ancient Aleut man that did all of these activities. It seems like a good experience to learn these things because it teaches you how to live your life without all the modern day technology. This would be a great experience for any young boys who are in these cultures. I think it would be good if the young Aleut boys of today could learn how to do all these things like they did in the olden days. It would be a great experience for them to learn the way of their ancestors.
I can't believe all of the downfalls that the Aleut people have been through. They have experienced everything. They went through Russian slavery,world War II and almost losing their culture. This is a strong culture and they hold up their beliefs.

Aleut Subsistence

Unangax & Alutiiq(Sugpiaq).(2008).Retrieved November 18, 2009, from Alaska Native Heritage Center:

The Aleut people live on islands near the ocean. Most of their food comes from the sea. They would go out in their baidarkas or baidars and go fishing for fish and other sea mammals. The Aleut people were very crafty when it came to subsistence. Now days they use nets, traps, and weirs, but in the olden days they used wooden hooks, kelp and sinew to fish. Villages were/are located at the mouths of streams so they could take advantage of freshwater and salmon runs.
Today Aleuts still go fishing and hunting for the different sea and land mammals for food. This is still a way of life but they use modern technology.

Aleut Baidars & Baidarkas

Jones, D.M.(1976).Aleuts In Transition. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.
Picture:Fort Ross Cultural History.(n.d.).Retrieved November 18,2009,from Fort Ross Interpretive Association: Ross Cultural History.html
August 12, 2001 Souvenir Album.(2001,August 12). Retrieved November 18,2009, from Harriman Expedition retraced:

What is a Baidar? Well, It's an Aleut boat that held 30-40 people. Aleut Baidars were made of cloth and ornaments. These boats were used for war parties and long trips. Now you may ask, What is a Baidarka? It's an Aleut kayak but it holds up to 1-2 people. These boats were used for hunting and fishing. Both of these boats were made of whale ribs and seal or sea-lion skins. The ribs were tied together with hoops and covered with sea-lion or seal skins. These boats were very light. They were so light that they could be carried under the arm. They also had paddles which were made of poles with blades at each end.

The Aleuts had to make these boats strong enough and flexible enough so they wouldn't break in their rough sea conditions.

The Russian Slaved The Aleut People

B.B.Torrey.(1978). Slaves of the Harvest. TDX Corporation.

Picture: Unit,6.G.(2006,August 15). Alaska Native Knowledge Network. Retrieved November 18, 2009, from ANKN:

The Aleuts were alone on their islands until 1741, when a Russian ship discovered the Islands. The Russians quickly learned that the Aleutian Islands had fur seals and their fur alone were worth a lot of money. The Russians realized that they could enslave the Aleut people to make them kill the fur seals and take their fur. The Russians made money but never really spent any. they took the women and made them their wives but as for the men, they were the slaves that had to do all the work. The Russians made a lot of money this way and their home country and a lot of other countries around the world used these furs during the winter. The Russians made good money.
This experience for the Aleut men must have been terrifying like the Holocaust.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Modern Day Aleut Fishing

These days when Aleuts fish or hunt they use weapons and nets. When they go fishing they go on boats, also known as Fishing Vessels. They use nets and other gear to help them catch the fish. They also get paid for fishing. When they go hunting for anything they use weapons, which are guns and knives. They don't need to make these items, they can simply buy them. They still have to work hard to get what they set out for but they don't have to make their tools or their boats. I think it's interesting that there is such a big difference between the way they used to do subsistence and the way they do subsistence now.

Seals For Fur

Jochelson, W.(1966). History, Ethnology and Anthropology of the Aleut. The Netherlands: Anthropological Publications.

I thought it was interesting that the Aleut people killed seals for fur. They started off doing it as a way of life. They would use every part of the seal then as time went on they were slaved by the Russians to kill them so they could sell the fur.
Old males, females, and puppies are left alone. The male seals between two and five are driven to a good place for capture. They are clubbed on the head until they are senseless and then their throats are cut and they are skinned. The Aleuts cut off the meat and either salt it or dry it for food for the winter. When the skins were all cut off, they were weighed. The skin had to be between eight and nine pounds, if it weighed more or less they knew that the wrong aged animal was killed. The skins were salted and dried for about two weeks. The skins then got sent to London to be dyed and cured in the markets.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Aleut Boys: Training to Hunt and Survival Skills

Alaska Native Collections: Sharing Knowledge.(1909). Retrieved from the Smithsonian Institution.

Laughlin, W. (1980). Aleuts: Survivors of the Bering Land Bridge. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

When I read the book called, Aleuts: Survivors of the Bering Land Bridge, I learned a lot about what the Aleut boys had to do before they hunted. Before the boys go out hunting, they have to go through a training process. During their training they will build up strength,courage,and logic. The boys had to do a lot of different techniques. One technique that they learned was an arm-twisting routine. They would have their uncle, father, or grandfather sitting behind them. They would gently pull the boys arm straight up past their shoulder to back of their head. This routine helps increase the boys casting of harpoons with throwing boards.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Aleut Hunters

The Aleut hunters used the harpoons to go hunting. They would go out in their baidarkas and hunted sea animals. They wore their regalia's that were waterproof and they used the harpoons to go hunting. They hunted animals like sea otters, sea lions, whales, fish, and halibut. They would use the harpoons to catch these animals. When they used the harpoons, they would throw the harpoons and the animal gut sack on the end was like a float for them. They would hold on to the string to keep a hold on the harpoon. They would catch many animals like this. The hunters also hunted in packs to make more catches.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Aleut Harpoon

The Aleut Harpoon is a very interesting object. This object is made of bone, ivory, sinew, wood and animal intestines.The arrow was made of bone and ivory, the handle was made of wood and the small bag at the bottom was made of animal intestine and tied on with sinew as was the arrow at the top. The Aleut people used it for hunting and fishing. Usually, only the men hunted because the women were the gatherers and made the clothing.

This object caught my eye and made me wonder how it was used. It is the smallest harpoon I had seen and it was also made differently than any other harpoon I had ever seen. I also never saw a harpoon made with a bladder and intestines. I would like to learn more about this object as well as any other cultural object made by the Aleuts.