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UNIVERSITY OF IlLINOIS LIBRARY AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
JAN 18 13 ?3
iM 2 1979
APR 3 i> ;030
OCT 3 '•»•
L161 — O-1096
By George I. Quimby
CHICAGO NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
U. C. ILL I ia
Eskimos of the North Pacific
By George I. Quimby
CURATOR OF EXHIBITS, DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY
Drawings by Helen Z. Quimby
CHICAGO NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
ANTHROPOLOGY LEAFLET NUMBER 35
THE LIBRARY OF THE
DEC 9 1944
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BY THE CHICAGO NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM PRESS
Copyright 194-J by Chicago Natural History Museum
Primitive Hunters of the Northern Sea - - -
The Aleutian Islands were discovered for Russia by
the explorers Chirikov and Bering in 1741. In the years
following, there were many expeditions to these islands
by Russian hunters and traders, most of whom left
written descriptions of the geography and people. From
their written accounts, as well as those of later missionaries
and scientists, I have reconstructed the Aleut mode of
life before it was modified by the impact of foreign
When the Russians first discovered the Eskimos of
the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands, they called
them "Aleut." From early census reports of the ex-
plorers, it is estimated that at the time of their discovery
the population numbered about 16,000. The Aleutians,
therefore, were one of the most densely populated areas
of aboriginal North America.
These bleak and foggy islands lie between Alaska and
Siberia. They are rocky, mountainous, and barren. Con-
stant fog, rain, or snow obscures the sun and prevents the
growth of trees, yet the abundant moisture encourages
the growth of arctic berries, grasses, and creeping willows.
Highland areas are typically alpine; the lowlands are wet
tundra. But the climate is not truly arctic, for the ice,
snow, and long winter of the far north are lacking. The
winters are short and mild, but the rest of the year is
cold and wet; sunshine is rare and storms are frequent.
Yet, in spite of their environment the Aleut had thrived
and were prosperous when they were first discovered by
the white man.
Food was abundant. There were many kinds of
marine mammals: whales, seals, sea lions, walruses, sea
otters, and sea cows; there were also many fish, birds, and
shellfish; and there was abundant vegetable food, such as
roots and berries.
From the raw materials to be found around them the
Aleut made their houses, furniture, clothing, ornaments,
weapons, tools, utensils, and boats. In fabricating these
articles they used various parts of the sea mammals;
diverse types of stone; driftwood, which was plentiful;
grasses; seaweed; bones, skin, and feathers of birds; clay;
and mineral pigments. Thus, all the necessities used in
their daily lives were products of their environment, to
which they were remarkably well adjusted. They utilized
to the utmost the resources of both land and sea.
People - - -
Like other Indians and Eskimos, the Aleut belong to
the Mongoloid class of people. One of the earliest descrip-
tions of their appearance comes from the journal of
Georg Wilhelm Steller, a German naturalist who accom-
panied Bering in 1741. He says (Golder, 1925, p. 96):
"As far as the personal appearance of the islanders is
concerned, of whom I counted on the beach nine, mostly
young or middle-aged people, they are of medium stature,
Fig. 1. a, Underground house (after Webber with modifications), b-d. Oil-burning
lamps of stone, e, Bow-drill for making fire.
strong and stocky, yet fairly well proportioned, and with
very fleshy arms and legs. The hair of the head is glossy
black and hangs straight down all around the head. The
face is brownish, a little flat and concave. The nose is
also flattened, though not particularly broad or large.
The eyes are as black as coals, the lips prominent and
turned up. In addition they have short necks, broad
shoulders, and their body is plump though not big-
Language - - -
The Aleut spoke a dialect of the Eskimo language —
one of its most divergent forms. The Eskimo dialects of
western Alaska, for example, are more closely related to
those of distant Hudson's Bay and Greenland than they
are to the near-by Aleut dialect.
The Aleut usually situated their villages in exposed
places near the ocean, preferably on an isthmus or a low
promontory or the shore of a bay. Although such vil-
lage sites were exposed to the wind and cold, they were
advantageous in that the villagers were able to see both
game and enemies at a distance. For this purpose,
watchers were stationed at high points near the village.
Houses - - -
The houses were built underground and were rectangu-
lar in shape, with earth-covered, dome-shaped roofs made
of driftwood timbers or whalebone. Some houses had
entrance passages at the side, but more often entry was
gained through a hole in the roof by means of a notched
log used like a ladder. A large underground house (Fig.
1, a) described by Captain Cook had two openings in the
roof, one an entrance and the other a window or skylight.
The floors were covered with matted grass, and each
house was provided with a urine trough which was equally
important as a place in which to soak animal skins for
tanning. Oil-burning lamps, made of stone, furnished
light and heat.
Some of these houses were communal dwellings in
which lived a large family group or a number of families.
In the big houses there were separate compartments for
each family. In addition to the family dwellings, each
village had a large community house or meeting place,
generally referred to by the Russians as a kashim.
Hunters or travelers away from their villages on long
trips built a tentlike temporary shelter. One side of the
structure was formed by turning a skin-covered canoe on
its side; then poles were laid from the top side of the boat
to upright posts, which formed the opposing wall ; finally,
the framework was covered with skins or mats.
Livelihood - - -
Hunting at sea was the primary means of livelihood
for the insular Aleut, but fishing and the gathering of
edible plants, birds' eggs, and shellfish were important
supplements. The mainland Aleut, with a greater abun-
dance of land animals, laid more emphasis upon hunting
on land, but in other respects their means of livelihood
were similar to those of the island dwellers. Because of
the relatively mild climate, the Aleut had no opportunity
to use the ice-hunting techniques of the northern Eskimos.
Kayaks - - -
Had it not been for the light, skin-covered boat
used by the Aleut, hunting at sea would have been im-
possible. Steller describes Aleut kayaks as follows (Golder,
1925, p. 95):
"The American boats are about two fathoms' long,
two feet high, and two feet wide on the deck, pointed
towards the nose but truncate and smooth in the rear.
To judge by appearances, the frame is of sticks fastened
together at both ends and spread apart by crosspieces
1 Twelve feet.
inside. On the outside this frame is covered with skins,
perhaps of seals, and colored a dark brown. With these
skins the boat is [covered] fiat above but sloping towards
the keel on the sides; underneath there seems to be
affixed a shoe or keel which at the bow is connected with
the bow by a vertical piece of wood or bone representing
a stem piece, so that the upper surface rests on it. About
two arshins' from the rear on top is a circular hole, around
the whole of which is sewn [a strip made of] whale guts
having a hollow hem with a leather string running through
it, by means of which it may be tightened or loosened like
a purse. When the American has sat down in his boat
and stretched out his legs under the deck, he draws this
hem together around his body and fastens it with a bow-
knot in order to prevent any water from getting in.
Behind the paddler on the boat there lie ten or more red-
painted sticks, pointed at one end, all made in the same
way as the one we secured but for what purpose I cannot
imagine, unless perhaps they serve to repair the boat in
case the frame should break. The American puts his
right hand into the hole of the boat and, holding the
paddle in the other hand, carries it thus because of its
lightness on to the land anywhere he wants to and back
from the land into the water. The paddle consists of a
stick a fathom long, at each end provided with a shovel,
a hand wide. With this he beats alternately to the right
and to the left into the water and thereby propels his
boat with great adroitness even among large waves.
On the whole, this kind of boat is very little different, if
at all, from those used by the Samoyeds and by the
Americans in New Denmark."
Some models of kayaks, made by Aleut, are illustrated
in Plate 7. These kayaks have been modified by contact
with white men, but except for the increased carrying
capacity they resemble the earlier forms seen by Steller.
It was sometimes necessary for an Aleut to undertake
repairs of his kayak while at sea. Of such repairs, one
' Four feet, eight inches.
Russian observer says: "An indispensable object to the
bidarka [kayak] is the bladder, i.e., a cleaned sea-lion's
or seal's stomach, which is needed in case of capsizing.
With the help of the bladder one may put aright the boat,
bale out the water, and even repair the cover; in stormy
weather the distended bladder keeps the boat afloat,
even when it is full of water."
Another method of repairing kayaks at sea entailed
the co-operation of two other hunters in kayaks. The
injured boat was lifted from the water and placed across
the decks of two kayaks which functioned as a kind of
floating dry dock. With the injured boat thus out of the
water, repairs could be undertaken.
The Aleut hunter took along animal fat to smear over
any leaks in the seams of his skin boat. He used hollow
bone tubes for sucking water from the kayak bilge. The
"red-painted sticks" which Steller observed lying on the
kayak deck behind the paddler were not used "to repair
the boat" but probably were spears, because Aleut
hunters carried many red-painted spears with them in
Weapons - ' -
Hunting weapons of the Aleut were the bow and
arrow, spear-thrower, spear, bladder dart, harpoon, lance,
and bird spear. Aleut wooden bows were rather short,
double-curved, and backed with a twisted sinew spring
(Plate 1). Arrows, sometimes feathered, were made of
wood, with or without bone foreshafts, and had simple
barbed points made of bone, or composite points made of
bone to which was fastened a chipped stone blade.
Spear-throwers (Fig. 2, c) were made of wood and
usually were painted red. They were about sixteen inches
long and three inches wide, with a hand grip and a hole
for the forefinger at the near end, a short groove on the
upper surface toward the far end, and, at the termination
of the groove, an ivory or bone spur for engaging the
butt of the spear.
The spear-thrower is something hke a rigid shng, if
such can be imagined. It acts as an extension of the arm
and therefore enables the hunter to throw the spear with
greater momentum and force (Figs. 3, 5). Modern experi-
ments have shown that the spear and spear-thrower lacked
the accuracy of the bow and arrow, but possessed greater
penetrating power, a characteristic of considerable advan-
tage in the hunting of tough-hided sea mammals. Other
advantages of the spear-thrower for use in hunting at sea
are its lack of recoil and the fact that it does not require
the use of both hands. The Aleut hunter could steady
his kayak with the paddle, held in his left hand, while he
hurled the spear from the spear-thrower in his right hand.
Different kinds of harpoon darts were thrown with
the aid of the spear-thrower. For hunting at sea there
were darts with wooden shafts, bone foreshafts, and
barbed points of bone or of bone and chipped stone
(Fig. 2, a, b, e; Plate 5, Figs. 1, 4, 9-13). Similar but larger
darts were used in hunting marine mammals on land
(Fig. 3). To some of the darts were attached inflated
bladders made of the stomachs of sea lions (Fig. 2, a).
Such bladders hindered the wounded animal in diving
and also acted as a drag. A bone mouthpiece for such a
bladder is shown in Figure 8, i. The dart used for hunting
birds consisted of a wooden shaft with a long barbed
point made of bone. A short distance beneath the point
were three barbed prongs of bone (Fig. 5).
Aleut hunters had two types of harpoons with toggle
heads. Each consisted of a wooden shaft with a bone
collar and foreshaft of bone and a toggle-type harpoon
head made of bone with a blade of ground or chipped
stone (Plate 5, Figs. 5-7; Plate 6, Figs. 7-9, 12-17). The
harpoon head was held in place by pressure from a line
through a hole in the harpoon head.
In one type of harpoon iVig. 2, /), the line from the
toggle head was fastened loosely to the wooden shaft.
In the other type — a unique one the line from the har-
poon head was fastened through a hole in the foreshaft
mmnmii l. -s^g5>
Fig. 2. Aleut hunting weapons: a. Harpoon dart with bladder float, b. Harpoon
dart and spear-throwcr. c. Spear-thrower, d. Club, e. Harpooned seal, f-h, Har-
poons with toggle heads, i. Lance or spear.
(Fig. 2, g, h). In either instance the harpoon line was
elastic enough or loose enough to allow the toggle head to
turn at right angles like a hinge after it had penetrated
the animal, thus performing the same function as a barb.
Sometimes inflated bladders were tied to the harpoons.
Lances (Fig. 2, i) were similar to harpoons and darts,
but the heads or points were fixed to the foreshaft and did
Fig. 3. Aleut liunti-r with l.irgc harpoon-dart and spear-thrower.
not become detached upon striking an animal. The
animals, wounded and hampered in their movements by
darts or harpoons (Fig. 2, e), were killed with a lance or
perhaps with a bone club (Fig. 2, d).
Whaling - - -
The whaling techniques of the Aleut were radically
different from tho.se of the northern Eskimos. Instead
of a whaling harpoon, long lines, and floats, the Aleut
used a lance and aconite poison (Heizer, 1943). The lance
consisted of a wooden shaft with a bone collar and a barbed
bone point. To this point was fastened a blade of chipped
stone or obsidian (Fig. 2, i), and the aconite poison was
smeared on the blade. The poison was made by pounding
and grating dried aconite root, which was then steeped in
water and kept in a warm place until it fermented.
The Aleut hunter in his kayak approached within
striking distance of the whale and threw his poisoned
lance. A lance wound was relatively insignificant, but
the poison killed the whale, which at some later time was
cast up on the shore by the winds and currents. The lance,
still sticking in the whale, identified the killer by means of
a symbol or ownership-mark engraved on its shaft.
The poisoned flesh and blubber around the wound were
removed and discarded, and then the whale was divided
among the inhabitants of the village, although certain
choice parts went to the owner of the whale, the hunter
who had killed it. It seems probable that some of the
aconite poison was present in the parts eaten by the
Aleut, but probably the amount was not great enough to
be dangerous. Also it is possible that the Aleut had indi-
vidual tolerances obtained by the frequent eating of
Whale-hunting was the duty and privilege of a guild
or cult of whale hunters. Considerable prestige was
attached to the cult as well as to the killer of a given whale,
for the manufacture and use of aconite poison were the
secret property of guild members and were unknown to
other Aleut. Many rituals and customs, most of them
lost to history, were associated with the whaling cult.
The Aleut method of hunting whales probably was
borrowed from Asia. The same techniques were used by
natives of Kamchatka and the Kurile Islands.
Hunting on Land - - -
Under certain conditions weapons usually associated
with hunting at sea were used on land; for instance,
marine mammals con.orrepating on the shores or in their
islet rookeries were killed by Aleut land hunters who
used lances. han)oons, or spear-throwers with darts.
Hunting Birds- --
Many kinds of birds were hunted by the Aleut, who,
for this purpose, employed the spear-thrower and a
special kind of dart. The dart (Fig. 5) was about five or
six feet long and tipped with a long bone point with many
barbs. A short distance beneath this point were three
similar barbed prongs set radially in such a way that they
projected from the shaft at an acute angle. When cast
at a bird or a flock of birds, this spear was particularly
effective, for with its total of four barbed points it became,
in a sense, the equivalent of four closely spaced darts
flying through the air.
In addition to the special dart, nets on long poles and
snares were used for catching birds. It is probable that
the bow and arrow was also used for hunting birds on land.
Fishing - - '
Fish were caught in nets, by hook and line, or with
spears. There were two styles of long wooden fish-
spears. One type had a single barbed point made of bone
(Fig. 4, (/); the other, a trident form, had a central barbed
point of bone and two bone side-prongs, also barbed
(Fig. 4, c). The Aleut composite fishhook was made of
bone and consisted of a barbed hook lashed with sinew
to a curved shank (Fig. 4, a, h, e, g, i). Lines were made
of twisted or braided sinew or twisted fiber. Notched or
grooved stones were used as sinkers for nets and fish
lines (Fig. 4, /, h).
A shellfish rake of wood with a cluster of four bone
prongs at one end was used for catching sea urchins in
deep water. The prongs were blunt and did not have
barbs. Octopuses were caught in shallow waters from
skin boats by means of hooks tied to long wooden shafts.
The hooks were probably made of bone.
Fig. 4. Aleut fishing equipment: a-b, e, i. Composite fishhooks of bone, c-d.
Fish spears, i. Grooved fish-Hne sinker of stone, g. Hook, line, and sinker, h. Notched
fish-line sinker of stone.
Food-gathering - - -
No less important tlian hunting and fishing were the
food-gathering activities of the Aleut. Edible roots were
obtained with the aid of a root digger, a pointed bone
instrument one or two feet long. All edible grasses, roots,
and berries were utilized. When available, birds' eggs
were gathered in considerable quantities. But of all
gathered foods, shellfish seem to have been most abun-
dant. The important shellfish were sea urchins, snails,
The Aleut ate most of their food raw. Some meat was
roasted and doubtless some was cooked in wooden vessels
by means of "stone boiling;" that is, by dropping heated
stones into the water until the boiling point was reached.
Fish were frequently eaten raw; for future use they were
dried. Sometimes fish and meat were cooked in a fry-
ing or baking pan made of a flat stone.
At times hot springs of volcanic origin were used for
cooking food. In 1760-64, a Russian trader noted in his
diary: "Large springs of boiling water are found on many
islands. In these springs the people bathe and also cook
in plaited grass bags the meat of sea-animals, fish, and
edible roots, though generally they eat their food raw."
Weapons and Defense for War - - -
Aleut weapons used in war were the bow and arrow,
the spear and spear-thrower, the lance, and bone or
wooden clubs (Plate 2). Defense against such weapons
was achieved by means of slat, rod, or plate armor made
of wood (Plate 8). Pincers made of albatross beaks were
used to remove spears and arrows from wounds.
Travel and Transportation - - -
Because of the relatively mild climate, the Aleut could
not use the Eskimo dog sled or the Indian toboggan and
snowshoes. His only means of travel was by skin boats.
Of these there were two kinds, the kayak and the umiak,
Fig. 5. Aleut bird-hunter throwing bird spear by means of a spear-thrower. Above
him is a bird spear in flight.
both well-known Eskimo types. The kayak (p. 7) was
used mostly for hunting at sea.
The umiak consisted of a large wooden frame about
thirty feet long and nine feet wide, covered with skins.
Twenty people or an equivalent amount of freight could
be carried in the Aleut umiak. These large open boats
would have been ideal transports for war parties, and it
is not hard to imagine a body of attacking Aleut in an
umiak being convoyed by lone warriors in their swift
Tools and Utensils- --
Aleut houses were heated with stone lamps (Fig. 1, 6-
d) that burned sea-mammal oil by means of a grass or
moss wick. The Aleut also warmed themselves by sitting
over small stone lamps with their outer garment spread
funnel-wise to receive the heat. Fuel oil was stored or
carried in skin or gut bladders equipped with bone
spigots and stoppers.
Fire was made by means of a bow-drill (Fig. 1, e), or
by striking together two pieces of quartz rock that had
been rubbed with sulphur. The rubbing produced sparks
that ignited the sulphur, which in turn kindled the tinder
made of dry grass and feathers. Grass and driftwood
were generally used as fuel, but some of the Aleut on the
mainland burned coal (lignite).
Household utensils were bone or wooden bowls, spoons,
and boxes made of thin wood, bent into shape and sewed
at the seams. Drinking water was carried or stored in
bladders made of seal skin or the stomachs of sea mam-
mals. These water bags had a bone or ivory spigot and
Like the northern Eskimo, Aleut women used a semi-
lunar knife of rubbed stone (Plate 6, Fig. 1). A some-
what similar, but rectanguloid, knife was used by men.
Another style of knife, also used by men, was made of
chipped stone, pointed and double-edged (Plate 6, Fig. 6).
Projectile points or blades for lances, harpoons, and darts
Fig. 6. Bone tools: a-b. Wedges for splitting logs, c, d, h-1. Various styles of
awls. e. f, m. Chisels, g. Net-spacer, n. Needles, o, Needle case made of hollow
section of bone.
were made of chipped stone (Plate 6, Figs. 7 9, 12 17).
Generally these })oints were hafted to different styles of
bone heads for harpoons, lances, and darts. In Plate 5
are illustrated some bone heads for projectiles: large and
small harpoon heads (Plate 5, Figs. 1, 4, 9-13) ; toggle heads
for harpoons (Plate 5, Figs. 5-7); a center prong for a
fish or bird spear (Plate 5, Fig. 3); a side prong for a fish
or bird spear (Plate 5, Fig. 8); a lance head (Plate 5,
Fig. 2); and a point for a fish spear (Plate 5, Fig. 14).
The women prepared skins with knives and scrapers
made of chipped stone (Plate 6, Figs. 10, 11) and sewed
skin clothing, bags, boat coverings, and the like with
bone awls and needles (Fig. 6, c, d, h I) and sinew thread.
Aleut needles (Fig. 6, n) did not have eyes. Instead,
there was a tiny groove in the head of the needle to which
the thread was tied. When not in use, needles were kept
in cases, usually made of hollow bone (Fig. 6, o).
For wood-working there were several styles of chipped
stone scrapers, some of which had stems that could be
hafted to a bone or wooden handle (Plate 6, Figs. 3, 4).
Wood was chopped with bone or stone adzes (Plate 6,
Figs. 2, 18). The latter, however, were extremely rare.
Logs of driftwood were split by means of bone wedges
(Fig. 6, a, b) and wooden mauls or hammerstones. Wood
was also shaped with stone knives and bone chisels (Fig.
6, e, f, m). Drill points of chipped or rubbed stone were
probably used in bow-drills.
Stone-graving tools (Plate 6, Fig. 5) were sometimes
fastened to small handles of bone (Fig. 8, m). Various
tools of bone were used for flaking and chipping stone
implements. Hard rocks were used for grinding and
pecking stone lamps into their finished form. Bone or
wooden shovels were used for excavating the pits that
formed the underground part of Aleut houses. Short
digging-sticks of bone or wood were used by Aleut women
in securing edible roots.
Cradles or carriers for babies were made of a wooden
frame to which was lashed animal hide or woven matting.
For carrying boxes, bags, and some kinds of baskets,
there were bone handles somewhat suggestive of the type
used on our modern travehng bags.
The Aleut solved the problem of itching backs with
their back scratcher, a wooden or bone handle to which
was fastened a roughened bone head or a bone tip with
short teeth something like a comb. It was shoved along
the back under the clothing. Combs were made of bone
or wood. Some of these were decorated with characteristic
Aleut ornamentation (p. 26).
Bone sucking-tubes were sometimes used for pumping
water from the kayaks, but there were probably other
uses for such objects. A bone implement, probably used
in making nets, is shown in Figure 6, g. Mortars and
grinding stones were used for powdering the minerals
used in the manufacture of paint.
Pottery - - -
The Aleut used little pottery, despite the presence of
suitable clays. They occasionally made pottery lamps
and vessels, very thick and crude pieces heavily tempered
with gravel and particles of rock. Sometimes they added
clay sides to the flat stones used for frying fish and meat.
Basketry ' ' '
Basket- and mat-weaving were important occupations
of Aleut women, who utilized for this purpose the abun-
dant wild grasses. The weaving, done entirely by hand
(Plate 3), consisted of variations of the twining technique:
two weft elements, one under and one over each warp
element, twisted together between the warp elements.
The baskets were decorated with grasses dried to vary in
color from green to light yellow or dyed other colors,
such as red.
Baskets were used for storage, for carrying, and for
cooking. Grass mats were used for a variety of purposes —
to sleep on, to sit on, and as screens to partition the interior
of the house.
Dress and Adornment-''
Both men and women wore long parkas, shirtlike
garments made of sea-mammal skins or of bird skins
sewed together so that the feathers were inside (Plates 2,
4). As an outer garment, the men wore a similar but
longer parka made of sea-mammal intestines sewed
together in horizontal strips (Figs. 3, 5). These water-
proof garments usually were ornamented along the seams
with painted seal-hair or red feathers from the rosy finch.
A hood was attached to the parka.
Seal-skin boots were worn by both men and women
(Plates 2, 4), but sometimes the Aleut went barefoot.
Sketches by Levashev (1768), Webber (1778), and Choris
(1820) all show barefooted men or women.
One of the first descriptions of Aleut clothing is in
Steller's journal. He says (Colder, 1925, p. 96): "All had
on whale-gut shirts with sleeves, very neatly sewed
together, which reach to the calf of the leg. Some had
the shirts tied below the navel with a string, but others
wore them loose. Two of them had on boots and trousers
which seemed to be made after the fashion of the Kam-
chadals out of seal leather and dyed brownish-red with
The boots may have been dyed, although some tanned
boots with the seal hair removed are brownish-red in
The Aleut had three styles of wooden hats. Describing
one style, seen in 1741, Steller says (Colder, 1925, p. 102):
"On their heads they had hats made of the bark of trees,
colored green and red, that resembled in shape the eye
shades that are usually worn around the head; the crown
was uncovered, and these hats appeared to have been
invented only for the purpose of shading the eyes from
These visor-like hats were worn by male commoners.
Another style of hat, one of which was illustrated by
Levashev, belongs to a type intermediate between the
Aleut visor and the conical hat. It is like a conical hat
with the top cut off (Plate 8).
Of all Aleut headgear, the conical hats were the finest
(Fig. 7). Such hats were made from a thin board, bent
into shape and sewed with a sinew at the single seam in
back. This seam was covered with a bone plate. The
Fig. 7. Wooden hats showing various styles of painted decoration (after Ivanov
hats were richly ornamented with ivory or bone carvings,
sea-lion whiskers, feathers, and painted designs. Mineral
colors used in painting were white, green, red, yellow,
black, and blue. The carvings were realistic representa-
tions usually of animals or purely geometric designs
engraved on bone or ivory plates. Such headgear was
very costly and was worn primarily by chiefs or "nobles."
These hats were worth from one to three slaves, a high
price when one considers that a skin boat cost only one
Wooden hats and visors were worn by hunters. In
addition to their aesthetic and prestige value, these hats
and visors were beheved to have supernatural power
that aided the hunter.
Another style of hat was made of bird skins with the
feathers attached. Naturally bright and colorful, bird-
skin hats were worn by both men and women (Plates
2, 4). They also wore fur hats made of sea-lion skins.
In common with the ancient Mexicans and most
Pacific coast Indians and Eskimos, the Aleut wore stone,
ivory, or bone labrets (Fig. 8, g, ;, k). Steller observed
some of these and remarked as follows (Golder, 1925,
"I noticed on this occasion once more that these
people regard it as a special ornament to pierce holes
anywhere in their faces, as we do in the lobes of the ear,
and to insert in them various stones and bones. One of
these fellows had stuck a slate pencil, about 23/^ inches
long and exactly like those with which we write on ciph-
ering slates, through the nasal septum. Another had a
piece of bone three inches long stuck through crosswise
above the chin just under the lower lip. Still another
had a bone like it fastened in the forehead, and another,
finally, had a similar one in each of the wings of the nose."
In some instances, bunches of grass were inserted in
the pierced openings instead of labrets. Frequently grass
was stuffed into the nostrils, perhaps for decorative
purposes. Bone pins (Fig. 8, c) were inserted through a
hole in the nasal septum.
Aleut men decorated their faces with blue, red, or
white paint. Women were tattooed on their faces, backs,
breasts, arms, and sides, in blue or black. The tattooing
designs were simple and linear; usually there were
closely spaced vertical or radiating lines on the chin and
horizontal lines on the face. The lines were usually
pricked into the skin with a bone needle. There was
another technique also in use in which pigmented thread
was sewed into the skin. Both men and women wore
Fig. 8. Aleut art: a, b, d-f, Engraved designs, c. Decorated nose pin. g, j, k,
Labrets. b, I, Amulets or ornaments, i. Mouthpiece for harpoon bladder, in. Bone
handle for graver.
seal-skin bracelets around their wrists and ankles, and
ornamental fringes were attached to their garments.
Art - - -
There were three types of Aleut art: graphic arts,
painting, and sculpture. The graphic arts were repre-
sented by engraving and tattooing. Engraving was done
on bone or ivory with a sharp-pointed stone graver;
tattooing was done with a bone needle and mineral pig-
ments such as red ocher or lamp soot.
The patterns used in tattooing were very simple,
usually composed of straight lines. Engraved designs
(Fig. 8, a, h, d J) were simple geometric patterns usually
made of straight lines, although the circle and the circle
and dot were common enough motifs (Fig. 8, a). These
designs were generally placed on weapons and ornaments.
Related to engraving was the technique of making designs
by means of shallow drilled holes (Fig. 8, m). Such work
was usually confined to the decoration of bone ornaments,
but was used occasionally on bone tools.
The Aleut were very fond of red. Using red mineral
paint, they covered solidly the shafts of their darts,
spears, harpoons, and arrows. Polychrome painting was
commonly used in the decoration of wooden hunting-hats
and eye shades and ceremonial masks. The motifs were
both geometric and realistic (Fig. 7). In some of the geo-
metric motifs on wooden hats there is a use of sweeping
Facial painting was probably an elaborate procedure
with a variety of motifs, but about the only early record
is that of Steller, who saw an Aleut paint pear-shaped
designs on his cheeks.
Aleut sculpture was carved in wood, bone, and ivory.
Such carving was naturalistic in so far as real or imaginary
creatures were represented. Sculptured objects in this
category were wooden masks (which were also painted;
Fig. 9), faces carved on bone lance and dart heads, amu-
lets, and ornaments (Fig. 8, h, I). A type of sculpture
Fig. 9. Wooden masks used in Aleut ceremonies (after Dall).
closely related to engraving was also used in the orna-
mentation of dart and lance heads. This sculptural
variant consisted of raised lines with rows of notches cut
into them, and other similar geometric forms. The
designs were simple, linear, and rigid (Fig. 8, i).
Aleut art seems to have been stiff and formal for the
most part. The graceful curving lines painted on some
of the hats illustrated by Ivanov may have been the result
of Russian influence.
Aleut Society- --
The social organization of the Aleut was somewhat
more complicated than that of the Eskimo. Each island
or small group of islands had a ruling man referred to by
the Russians as an "elder."
There were four social classes: elders, chiefs, com-
moners, and slaves. We do not know how elders, chiefs,
and commoners obtained their status; the slaves were
Aleut who had been captured in wars between islands.
Possibly the chiefs ruled over villages or perhaps they
were in charge of honored occupational groups, such as
whale hunters. Another possibility is that the chiefs
obtained their rank in society by bravery and efficiency
The Aleut elders, chiefs, commoners, and slaves —
lived in villages. Usually each village consisted of a
group of family houses and a large community center,
the kashim, which seems to have been primarily a type of
men's house. This house was the village meeting place,
workshop, and ceremonial center. Some villages had
large communal houses in which a number of families
lived, others had smaller dwellings that housed single
Marriage - - -
The Aleut were polygamous. A man had several
wives, probably as many as he could support by hunting
and fishing. Conversely, a woman could have as many-
husbands as she could keep house for.
One form of marriage was by capture, but there were
apparently less violent methods of acquiring a wife.
Bancroft (1886, p. 92) describes what seems to be mar-
riage by purchase. Presents were made to the relatives
of the bride. But even under such peaceful conditions of
marriage there sometimes was a mock abduction in which
the groom pretended that he was seizing the bride by
The Aleut allowed a man to take as additional wives
the younger sisters of his wife. Another old Aleut custom
permitted the younger unmarried brothers of the husband
to cohabit with his wives. Apparently this privilege was
extended to male parallel cousins (children of father's
brother or mother's sister), who were regarded as brothers
by the Aleut.
Household - - -
With this complexity of marital ties and privileges it
was possible for Aleut households to become considerably
enlarged. In such an enlarged household, a man's sons
did not live with him but with their mother's brother
(maternal uncle). Thus a woman's sons lived in their
uncle's household and were educated by him. Such a
custom is not at all rare among primitive peoples.
What happened to the daughters of a husband and
wife is not revealed by the records of the early Russian
explorers and traders. Perhaps they too were brought
up in the mother's brother's household.
Kinship - ' '
The complicated nature of Aleut society was reflected
in its kinship system, which resembled that of some
Indians more than it did that of the Eskimo to whom
Aleut were more clearly related in other respects. The
Aleut placed within the same or nearly similar categories
certain relatives that we always keep separate. For
instance, the father and the father's brother were nearly
equivalent, as were the mother and the mother's sister.
But the mother's brother and the father's sister were
each placed in a separate category somewhat similar to
our "uncle" and "aunt." The Aleut uncle was very
important, for it was he who brought up his sister's sons.
Parallel cousins (children of the father's brother or
the mother's sister) were reckoned as the equivalent of
brothers and sisters. An Aleut could not, of course,
marry his female parallel cousin. Cross cousins (children
of the father's sister or the mother's brother) were con-
sidered as cousins rather than brothers and sisters. Prob-
ably he could marry his cross cousin; it is even possible
that at one time cross-cousin marriage was preferential.
Property - - '
Although the evidence is far from clear, it appears
that each Aleut village or island owned certain hunting
and fishing territories; possibly such territories were
divided among Aleut households. Villages also held
rights to sources of mineral paints.
Nothing is known about the inheritance of property,
but considering the few facts that are known about Aleut
social organization, there is some probability that nephews
inherited from their uncles (mother's brothers) rather
than from their fathers. In view of the uncle-nephew
relationship, Bancroft's statement (1886, p. 90) that the
status and role of whale hunters passed from father to
son is probably not accurate. It is more probable that
the rights and privileges of the whale-hunting caste passed
from uncle to nephew.
Education of Children---
Like the children of most primitive peoples, Aleut
children learned what was expected of them by observing
their elders and playing games in which they assumed
the role of adults. Indirectly, children were allowed to
participate in or observe most activities of adults. Thus,
children learned morals, ethics, religion, history, how to
secure food and shelter, and in general how to live as an
Aleut among other Aleut.
Punishment was rare. Almost the only type known,
and one common to all Eskimos, consisted of plunging a
crying infant into snow or cold water. Bancroft says
(1886, p. 92) that "this remedy, performed in winter
amid broken ice, is very effectual."
Upon reaching a certain age, boys were turned over
to their uncles, who taught them hunting, warfare, and
other things expected of an Aleut man. Young girls
learned to cook, sew, and care for babies, and to partici-
pate in other social activities expected of women.
Names ' ' '
Aleut names were romantic and colorful. Some of
those recorded by Jochelson are as follows: The Producer
of Daylight; The Breaker of Walrus Tusks; My Moon;
The Fear Inspiring; The Seaweed; The One Who Is
Always Lying; The Root; The One Who Is Waiting for
His Dart; The Shark; The Sea Lion's Hair; The Splitter
(of drift logs) ; and The Quickly Speaking Person.
Games - - -
Aleut games were for the amusement of adults as well
as children. Like the Eskimo, the Aleut had innumerable
varieties of "cat's cradle," which was primarily a woman's
game. Among some of the Aleut this game was not played
in summer, for they believed if they did, that a cold
autumn would follow. Another game was blanket-tossing.
This too was a common Eskimo form of amusement.
Other games were the ring and pin, where a tossed ring
must be caught on a stick; a variant of the cup and pin
game, in which a board with holes in it must be caught on
a stick; and several juggling games.
Ceremonies - - -
Aleut ceremonies were primaril.\- a reflection of religious
beliefs and secondarily a manifestation of ideas of pro-
priety. Comparatively little is known about them, but
from Steller's journal (Colder, 1925, p. 92) we have the
following account of a first meeting between the Russians
and the Aleut:
". . . one of them came very near to us, but, before
approaching quite close, he reached into his bosom, pulled
out some iron- or lead-colored shiny earth, and with this
he painted himself from the wings of the nose across the
cheeks in the form of two pears, stuffed the nostrils full
of grass (the nose wings on each side, however, were
pierced with fine pieces of bone), and then took from the
sticks lying behind him on the skin boat one which was
like a billiard cue, about three ells |6 ft.| long, of spruce
wood and painted red, placed two falcon wings on it and
tied them fast with whalebone, showed it to us, and then
with a laugh threw it towards our vessel into the water.
I cannot tell whether it was meant as a sacrifice or a sign
of good friendship. On our part we tied two Chinese
tobacco pipes and some glass beads to a piece of board
and tossed it to him. He picked it up, looked at it a little,
and then brought it over to his companion, who placed
it on top of his boat. After this he became somewhat
more courageous, approached still nearer to us, though
with the greatest caution, tied an eviscerated entire fal-
con to another stick and passed it up to our Koryak
interpreter in order to receive from us a piece of Chinese
silk and a mirror. It was not at all his intention that we
should keep the bird but that we should place the piece
of silk between the claws so that it would not become wet."
The behavior of the Aleut suggests that they either
considered the Russians as supernatural beings or else
had a ceremonious way of greeting strangers.
Additional information about the ceremonial treat-
ment of strangers has been gathered by Bancroft, who
saj's (1886, p. 93): "The stranger guest, as he approaches
the village, is met by dancing men and dancing women
who conduct him to the house of the host, where food is
given him. After supper, the dancing, now performed by
naked men, continues until all are exhausted . . . and
all retire." Wives or slaves were lent to the guests as part
of the hospitality. Wife-lending is a common custom
among most Eskimos.
Music for dances was supplied by drums, rattles, and
vocal chants. The Aleut drum, like that of the Eskimo,
was single-headed and consisted of a narrow hoop over
which was stretched a membrane. The drum, held by
strings, was beaten so that the drumstick struck the rim
before hitting the membrane. Some of the drums were
equipped with wooden or bone handles instead of strings.
Some of the rattles were made of birds' beaks, others
probably of wood or skin.
Aleut dances were dramatic presentations for social
and religious occasions. Bancroft says (1886, p. 93):
"They are fond of pantomimic performances; of repre-
senting in dances their myths and legends; of acting out
a chase, one assuming the part of a hunter, another of a
bird or beast trying to escape the snare, now succeeding,
now failing — the piece ending in the transformation of a
captive bird into a lovely woman who falls exhausted
into the arms of the hunter."
The most important Aleut ceremony was the winter
festival held each year for the purpose of insuring good
hunting in the spring. The festival lasted an unknown
number of days and was in part celebrated by dances in
which the dancers wore carved wooden masks painted in
many colors. These masks were representations of spirits
of animals and of supernatural beings who lived in the
ocean, the earth, or the sky. After the ceremony they
were destroyed. There were also large painted and carved
figures, presumably representations of gods, although
exactly how these were used is not known.
One feature of the winter festival consisted of a dance,
in which, according to Bancroft, ". . . the women of the
village assembled by moonlight, and danced naked with
masked faces, the men being excluded under penalty of
death." There were similar dances in which the men
To quote the somewhat ambiguous statement of
Bancroft (1886, p. 91): "Notwithstanding their peaceful
character, the occupants of the several islands were
almost constantly at war." The Aleut engaged in war
for a number of reasons. Frequent causes were disputes
over property, and these were of several kinds. For one
thing, each village had hunting and fishing rights to certain
territories and the violation of these rights by Aleut from
other villages or islands was cause for war. Similarly,
sources of mineral paint were owned by specific villages.
If Aleut from another village took mineral paints from
such sources, war resulted. The capture of brides from
other islands was also the signal for combat. Another
cause was the raiding of villages for the purpose of
A less tangible reason for war was the necessity for
Aleut men to obtain honor and power as warriors. Touch-
ing the internal secretions of a fallen enemy was thought
to bring an Aleut honor and supernatural power, and so
possibly when such commodities were running low in a
village, war was declared.
Blood feuds and revenge were almost endless sources
of conflict. If a woman was captured by a wife-hunter
or a person was injured in some way, all of the relatives
and friends of the injured person would seek to kill or
injure the aggressor, who presumably would be from
another village. Then the friends and relatives of the
aggressor would have to obtain revenge for his injury,
and thus would be set in motion an endless chain of wars.
The head of a slain enemy was secured as a trophy
and displayed on top of a pole in front of the victor's
Religion - - -
The Aleut believed in spirits and supernatural beings
whose power was ever present in all things, from rocks to
animals. One class of deities ruled over the sea, another
the earth, and still another the sky. These deities were
very important to the Aleut because they could provide
good hunting, protection from enemies, and the like. In
short, these supernatural beings could fill all of the needs
of Aleut society. However, they helped only those Aleut
who helped themselves.
Like the northern Eskimo, the Aleut were careful to
keep separate those things which belonged to the land
gods and those things which belonged to the sea gods.
For example, if it became necessary for a hunter to lighten
the rock-ballast in his kayak, he could not throw the rocks
into the sea, because such an act would make the sea gods
angry; he had to return them to the land. Likewise, the
bones of the first sea-mammal killed by a hunting party
had to be thrown back into the sea, although the flensing
of the animal and the removal of the bones could take
place on shore.
The ocean gods and other spirits assisted the Aleut
sea-faring hunter, but the hunter and Aleut society as a
whole had to undertake certain ceremonies and rituals in
order to please them and insure their continued support.
The winter festival, for instance — a ceremony in
which the whole village participated — was performed, at
least in part, for the purpose of obtaining a plentiful food
supply from the gods. Doubtless other rites were per-
formed by individual hunters. Additional help in hunting
could be obtained from the spirits of dead relatives,
from one's animal protector, or from the supernatural
power lodged in the carvings and painted designs on the
wooden headgear or in amulets. Some hunting amulets
listed by Jochelson were as follows: The feathers of the
rosy finch were an amulet used in whale hunting, and pieces
of hematite were amulets for hunting sea otters and
whales. Other amulets were ravens' beaks and carved bone
figures of different animals. A rather complicated amulet
used by eastern Aleut fox hunters consisted of a small
rope made from the long neck hair of a male reindeer, the
sinew of a fox tail, and stems of a strawberry plant soaked
in urine. This was wrapped in a piece of skin or gut.
There were a number of things a hunter could not
do without inviting disaster. He must not allow anyone
to see his amulets, and before a hunting trip he had to
avoid contact with women, especially widows and men-
Sickness and death were caused by evil spirits. Some-
times death could be prevented or sickness could be cured
by shamans, specialists who could use their supernatural
power against the evil spirits of sickness and death.
Only shamans could make the sacred masks used in Aleut
In contrast to the northern Eskimo, Aleut did not
fear the dead. Spirits of dead relatives were helpful in
many ways. Also, spirits of dead Aleut could reside in
animals; for instance, sea otters could have human souls.
The Aleut religion took care of the needs of the people
it served and was well integrated with the other aspects of
Mythology - - '
The myths and stories of the Aleut were of three kinds.
The first class dealt with animal protectors, guardians,
and other supernatural beings. The second kind of myth
told of the deeds of culture-heroes, warriors, strong men,
and chiefs. The third style of story was historical, telling
of the present or past life of the Aleut.
The narration of myths was an art, and a narrator was
proud of his skill. His fellow villagers also took pride in
his skill and expected him to maintain a high standard of
excellence. As Jochelson stated, the narration of a myth
was regarded as the "common work of the tribe expressed
by individuals." Stories were prefaced with the state-
ment that this is "the work or creation of my country."
Disposal of the Dead - - -
The northern Eskimo feared the dead and disposed
of bodies as quickly as possible. The Aleut, on the other
hand, had no such fear. In fact, family attachments were
so great that parting with the dead was delayed as long
as possible. Undoubtedly there were various ritualistic
observances in the period between death and disposal of
the body. We know, for instance, that there were pro-
cessions marked by the beating of drums and the wailing
of the bereaved and that labrets were removed as a sign
of mourning. When at length the time arrived for the
removal of the body, it was disposed of in one of three
ways: cremation, burial in the ground, or burial in caves.
Cremation seems to have been the mark of a low status
in society, for cremated cave burials were mostly of
women, children, and slaves, probably associates of some
great personage or chief who was the central theme of
the particular burial. Interments were made in circular
pits which were regarded by the living as houses for the
dead. A number of individuals could be buried in the
same pit along with grave offerings. Preparation for such
burials is said to have been the same as for cave burials.
Still another funeral custom of the Aleut was burial
in a tomb or sarcophagus made of logs and planks. These
underground tombs were rectangular, about eight feet
wide, ten feet long, and three feet high. The sides and
ends were made of logs, but the top of the crypt was
covered by planks caulked with pieces of fur and neatly
tied bundles, also of fur. The bodies inside the crypt
were in flexed positions and accompanied by their cloth-
ing, tools, ornaments, and other belongings.
The most interesting and spectacular burials were the
mummy packs, deposited in caves. For this interment,
the viscera sometimes were removed and the space left
by such removal was filled with grass; in other cases there
was no such evisceration. The body, dressed in a parka
of bird skins or sea-otter fur, over which (in the case of
men) there might be a waterproof parka, was placed in a
sitting position with arms and legs drawn tightly against
the torso, and was wrapped in woven mats. Then the
mummy pack was tied with cords or nets and perhaps
more matting. Finall>" it was removed to a dry cave
where it was placed amid a lavish display of burial furni-
ture. Women, for instance, were surrounded by their
sewing equipment and cooking utensils. Babies were in
their cradles. Hunters had all their weapons and kayaks
with them. Warriors were dressed in armor, with their
weapons at hand. Thus it can be seen that cave burials
were communities of the dead completely equipped to
live in a spirit world in much the same way as they had
lived before death. Some Aleut believed that at night
the dead went about their tasks of hunting and house-
keeping, that they held their festivals and ceremonies,
but that with the arrival of daylight they returned to their
cave resting-places and assumed their burial positions.
There were two types of cave burial. Chiefs with
their retinue and honored persons such as some warriors
and whale hunters, were placed in large grotto-like caves,
where the mummies were suspended from wooden frames
or laid upon a wooden platform. Smaller caves served as
village cemeteries where the dead were placed upon the
bare floor of the cave or upon mats. All of the caves
were dry and relatively warm, an important factor in
accounting for the excellent preservation of mummies.
Decline of the Aleut
This survey of the Aleut, at about 1740, the time of
their first contact with the white men, shows them well
adapted to their environment and possessing a relatively
advanced culture. In the early period of Russian exploita-
tion many Aleut were brutally exterminated. Even in the
years when the white masters of the land offered kinder
treatment, Aleut culture could not stand up against the
impact of a foreign civilization. Consequently, they lost
everything important to them and received little in
return. Recent efforts of the United States government
have succeeded in improving the lot of the Aleut, but at
present, after two hundred years of white contact, Aleut
culture is completely broken and almost extinct.
Archaeology of the Aleut
Aleut culture of the Early period was fundamentally
similar to that of the Late period, which I have just
described. Undoubtedly there were numerous stylistic
differences between the two periods, but these are as yet
unrevealed. W. H. Dall, the first archaeologist to make
excavations in the Aleutians, thought that there were
three radically different stages of Aleut development.
Later excavations by W. L Jochelson showed that Ball's
conclusions were faulty and based upon insufficient
evidence. Jochelson, in fact, reached the conclusion that
there were no important differences between the earliest
and latest Aleut. A true perspective of Aleut archaeology
lies somewhere in between these two extremes. The
available evidence indicates that there are some differ-
ences between the Early and Late periods of Aleut cul-
ture. Probably future stratigraphic investigations will
add to the number of differences.
People ' - -
According to A. Hrdlicka, the Aleut of the Early period
(Pre-Aleut, he calls them) were of a different physical
type than the later population. These early Aleut had
longer and higher skulls and their features were more
delicate. They somewhat resembled northern Eskimos
as well as some Indians in British Columbia and Cali-
fornia. They were, however, quite different from modern
Aleut. It is not known if the later population is the
result of an alien people invading the Aleutians. What-
ever the case may be, it is certain that at one time both
physical types were together on the Aleutian Islands and
possessed a typically Aleut culture.
Conjectures - - -
The ingredients of Aleut culture are Eskimo, Indian,
and Siberian in character. In varying proportions it is
similar to that of Alaskan Eskimos, both northern and
southern; interior Indians from Alaska to Washington;
Northwest Coast Indians; and natives of Kamchatka in
Siberia. A hypothetical reconstruction of Aleut pre-
history is as follows:
The Aleut were an Eskimo-speaking, hunting people
who left Asia at the end of the Siberian Paleolithic stage
about 2,000 or more years ago. Like many other immi-
grants before them, the ancient Aleut crossed into America
at Bering Strait; and also, like some of the previous
immigrants who spoke Indian languages, the early Aleut
were carriers of a circumpolar and perhaps circumboreal
hunting culture indigenous to the Old World.
The Aleut worked their way southward until they
eventually were stopped by the pressure of Indians of a
similar culture who occupied the coast and the interior
from a point south of Alaska down through British
Columbia. The ancient Aleut therefore moved into the
Alaska Peninsula and then to the Aleutian Islands, where
they gradually adapted themselves to their new environ-
ment. This was not hard to do, because their ancestral
hunting culture could be adapted to hunting on sea or on
land according to necessity.
In the course of time, new Eskimo groups drove a
wedge between the Aleut and their Indian neighbors.
The newcomers took over the greater portion of the Alaska
Peninsula and occupied the coasts and islands both north
and south. Confined for the most part to their island
homeland, the Aleut became excellent hunters and navi-
gators. With their skin-covered boats they made trips to
the Siberian mainland at Kamchatka. It is possible that
the change in Aleut physical type was brought about by
intermarriage with natives of Kamchatka.
While the Aleut were maintaining trade and com-
merce with Kamchatka, they also were in contact with
their southern Eskimo neighbors and from them were
receiving Eskimo and Indian influences. Some time in
the Late period the southern Eskimo and the Aleut were
profoundly influenced by the Northwest Coast Indians,
whose culture was in part a spectacular development out
of the old hunting culture stratum which had blocked the
southward movement of the ancient Aleut.
The geographical position of the Aleut made them the
middlemen in the distribution of Asiatic and American
culture traits along the north Pacific shores of Asia and
America. Although the Eskimos at Bering Strait were
similarly engaged, the two trading systems seem to have
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1925. Bering's Voyages. American Geographical Society Research
Series, No. 2, xi + 290 pp., 2 pis., 30 figs.
Heizer, R. F.
1938. Aconite Arrow Poison in the Old and New World. Journal
of the Washington Academy of Science, vol. 28, pp. 358-364.
1943. Aconite Poison Whaling in Asia and America, an Aleutian
Transfer to the New World. Bureau of American Ethnology,
Bull. 133, Anthropological Papers, No. 24, pp. 415-468.
1930. Anthropological Survey in Alaska. Bureau of American
Ethnology, 46th Annual Report, pp. 19-374.
1936. Archaeological Exploration on Kodiak and the Aleutian
Islands. Explorations and Field-Work of the Smithsonian
Institution, pp. 57-62.
1937. Anthropological Explorations on the Aleutian and Com-
mander Islands. Explorations and Field-Work of the Smith-
sonian Institution, pp. 87-94.
1938. Exploration in the Aleutian and the Commander Islands.
Explorations and Field-Work of the Smithsonian Institution,
1941. Exploration of Mummy Caves in the Aleutian Islands.
Scientific Monthly, vol. 52, pp. 5-23, 113-130.
IVANOV, S. V.
1928. Aleut Hunting Headgear and Its Ornamentation. Inter-
national Congress of Americanists, vol. 23, pp. 477-504.
JOCHELSON', W. I.
1912. The Aleut Language and Its Relation to the Eskimo
Dialects. International Congress of Americanists, vol. 18, pp.
1912. Scientific Results of the Ethnological Section of the Ria-
bouschinsky Expedition. International Congress of Ameri-
canists, vol. 18, pp. 334-343.
1925. Archaeological Investigations in the Aleutian Islands.
Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication No. 367,
145 pp., 28 pis., 110 text figs.
1928. People of the Foggy Seas. Natural History, vol. 28,
1933. History, Ethnology and Anthropology of the Aleut. Car-
negie Institution of Washington, Publication No. 432, 91 pp.,
Kroeber, a. L.
1939. Cultural and Natural Areas of Native North America.
University of California Publications in American Archaeology
and Ethnology, vol. 38.
Mason, 0. T.
1884. Throwing-Sticks in the National Museum. Report of the
United States National Museum, pp. 279-289.
1900. Aboriginal American Harpoons. Report of the United
States National Museum, pp. 193-304.
1902. Aboriginal American Basketry. Report of the United
States National Museum, pp. 171-548.
1872. Les Aleoutes et leur origine. Memoirs de la Societe d'Ethno-
graphie, vol. 11, pp. 155-165.
Weyer, E. M.
1929. An Aleutian Burial. American Museum of Natural History,
Anthropological Papers, vol. 31, pp. 219-238.
1930. Archaeological Material from the Village Site at Hot
Springs, Port MoUer, Alaska. American Museum of Natural
History, Anthropological Papers, vol. 31, pp. 239-279.
Aconite poison, 13
Adzes, 20, pi. 6, figs. 2, 18
Alaska Peninsula, 3, 41, 42
Aleut, description of, 4, 5; history
Aleutian Islands, climate of, 4, 7,
16; discovery of, 3; geography
of, 4; population of (ca. 1741 ),3
Amulets, 35, 36
Archaeology of Aleut, 40
Armor, 16, pi. 8
Art, 26, 28, text fig. 8
Awls, 20, text fig. 6, c, d, h-l
Back scratcher, 21
Bancroft, H. H., 29, 30, 31, 32,
Basketry, 21, pi. 3
Bering, Vitus, 3
Bering Strait, 41, 42
Bladder dart, 9
Bladder float, 10, text fig. 2, o;
mouthpiece of, 10, text fig. 8, /
Bladders, for fuel oil, 18; for
drinking water, 18
Blood feuds, 34
Boats; see Kayak, Umiak
Bone handles, 21; tubes, 9
Bow and arrow, 9, 10, 14, 16, pi. 1
Bow-drill, 18, 20, text fig. 1, e
Burial, 37, 38
Canoe; see Kayak, Umiak
Ceremonial treatment of stran-
Ceremonies, 32, 33; of winter
Chirikov, Alexei, 3
Children, education of, 30; pun-
ishment of, 31
Chisels, 20, text fig. 6, e, /, m
Choris, Louis, 22
Class structure of society, 28
Clothing; see Dre.ss
(^lubs, 12, 16, text fig. 2, d, pi. 2
Cook, Captain James, 6
Cousins, 29, 30; cross, 30; par-
allel, 29, 30
Culture of Aleut, decline of, 39;
extermination of, 39
Dall, W. H., 40
Dances, 33, 34
Darts; see Spears, Harpoon darts
Decoration of face, 24, 26; also
Digging-stick (root pick), 20
Dog sled (Eskimo), 16
Dress, 22, 23, text figs. 3, 5, pis.
1-4; ornamental fringes on, 26
Drill points, 20
Drums, 33, 37
Early period (of Aleut culture),
Eskimos, 4, 5, 7, 12, 29, 31, 33,
35, 36, 37, 41, 42
F'ire making, 18
Fishing, 7, 14; equipment for, 14,
text fig. 4
Fishing rights, 34
Flaking tools, 20
Food-gathering, 7, 16
Frying pan, 16
Fuel oil, 18
Colder, F. A., 4, 7, 22, 24, 32
Greenland, 6, 8
Grinding stones, 21
Handles (for carrying), 21
Harpoons, 9, 10, 12, 14, text fig.
2, «, 6,/-/(, pi. 5, figs. 1,4, 5-7,
Hats, of bird skin or feathers, 24,
pis. 2, 3; of fur, 24, pi. 1; of
wood, 22, 23, text fig. 7, pi. 8
Houses, 6, 7, text fig. 1, a; com-
munal, 7; community (kas-
him), 7, 28; entrance of, 6;
HrdHcka, A., 41
Hudson's Bay, 6
Hunting, on land, 7, 10, 13, 14,
text figs. 3, 5, pi. 1; rights, 34;
at sea, 7, 10, 13; supernatural
aids for, 35; taboos, 36
Indians, 4, 16, 29, 41, 42
Jochelson, W. I., 35, 36, 40
Kamchadals (natives of Kam-
Kamchatka, 13, 42
Kayak, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 16, 18, pi.
7; repairs on at sea, 8, 9
Kinship, 29, 30
Knives, 18, 20, pi. 6, figs. 1, 6, 10
Kurile Islands, 13
Labrets, 24, 37, text fig. 8, g, j, k
Lamps, 18, text fig. 1, b-d
Lances, 9, 12, 13, 14, text fig. 2, i,
pl. 5, fig. 2
Late period (of Aleut culture),
Levashev, — , 22
Marriage, 28, 29; by capture, 29,
34; cross-cousin, 30; by pur-
Masks, 26, 33, 36, text fig. 9
Mongoloid race, 4
Needles, 20, 24, text fig. 6, n;
cases for, 20, text fig. 6, o
Nets, 14; sinkers for, 14; spacers
for, 21, text fig. 6, g; used for
catching birds, 14
New Denmark; see Greenland
Northwest Coast Indians, 42
Nose pins, 24
Octopus hook, 14
Ownership marks, 13
Paint, 26; sources as property,
30; stealing of as cause of war,
Painting, 23, 24, 26, 28
Paleolithic (of Siberia), 41
Parkas; see Dress
Projectile points, 18, 20, pl. 6,
figs. 7-9, 12-17
Property, 30; disputes over, 34
Raw materials, 4
Religion, 35, 36
Root digger, 16
Scrapers, 20, pl. 6, figs. 3, 4, 11
Sea cow, 4
Sea lions, 4
Sea otter, 4
Seals, 4, fig. 2, e
Shirts; see Dress
Sickness, caused by evil spirits,
Sinew thread, 20
Skin boats; see Kayak, Umiak
Slaves, 28, 33, 34, 37
Snowshoes (Indian), 16
Society, organization of, 28
Spears, 9, 16; bird, 9, 10, 14,
text fig. 5, pi. 5, figs. 3, 8;
fish, 14, text fig. 4, c-d, pi. 5,
figs. 3, 8, 14; see also Harpoons
Spear-thrower, 9, 10, 14, 16, text
tigs. 2, b-c, 5
Steller, G. W., 4, 7, 8, 22, 24, 26,
Stone lamps, 7, text fig. 1, b d
Sucking tube, 21
Supernatural power, 34, 35, 36
Tattooing, 24, 26
Toboggan (Indian), 16
Tombs, log, 37
Tools, 18; graving, 20, 26, text
fig. 8, m, pi. 6, fig. 5
Travel and transportation, 16
Trophy heads, 34
Trousers; see Dress
Umiak, 16, 18
Urine trough, 6
Villages, 6, 28, 30, 34, 35
Weapons, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16
Weaving, 21, pi. 3
Webber, John, 22
Wedges, 20, text fig. 6, a b
Whale, 4, 13
Whaling, 12, 13: cult of, 13, 28,
30; harpoon (Eskimo), 12
Woven bags, 16
ALEUT HUNTER WITH SINEW-BACKED BOW
Costume probably that worn by the mainland Aleut *
ALEUT WITH WOODEN CLUB
ALEUT WOMAN WEAVING GRASS BASKETS
HARPOON HEADS AND SPEARHEADS OF BONE
Figs. 1, 4, 9-13, Barbed harpoon heads. Fig. 2, Spear or lance head.
Fig. 3, A center prong for a fish or bird spear. Figs. 5-7, Toggle
heads for harpoons. Fig. 8, A side prong for a fish or bird spear.
Fig. 14, A point for a single-headed fish spear.
H4 1 i i 2
12 13 14 15 16 17
TOOLS AND WEAl'ON POINTS OF STONE
Fig. 1, Woman's knife (ulu) with bon,- handle. Figs. 2, 18, Adzes.
Figs. 6. 10, Knives. Figs. 3, 4, 11, Scrapers. Fig. 5, Graving tooL
Figs. 7-9, 12-17, Projectile points.
: .1 1 ;• r
ARMOR AND WOODEN HAT
Lower: Aleut armor of wooden rods twined together with thongs
of skin or sinew. Upper: One of several styles of wooden hats
worn by the Aleut and their neighbors. Courtesy of United States
The Anthropological Leaflets of the Chicago Natural History-
Museum are designed to give brief, non-technical accounts of some
of the more interesting beliefs, habits and customs of the races whose
life is illustrated in the Museum's exhibits.
ANTHROPOLOGICAL LEAFLETS ISSUED TO DATE
1. The Chinese Gateway (supply exhausted) $ —
2. Philippine Forge Group 10
3. Japanese Collections .20
4. New Guinea Masks 15
5. The Thunder Ceremony of the Pawnee 20
6. The Sacrifice to the Morning Star by the Skidi
7. Purification of the Sacred Bundles, a Ceremony of
the Pawnee 10
8. Annual Ceremony of the Pawnee Medicine Men . .10
9. The Use of Sago in New Guinea 10
10. Use of Human Skulls and Bones in Tibet 10
11. The Japanese New Year's Festival, Games and
12. Japanese Costume .20
13. Gods and Heroes of Japan 15
14. Japanese Temples and Houses 15
15. Use of Tobacco among North American Indians . .20
16. Use of Tobacco in Mexico and South America . . .15
17. Use of Tobacco in New Guinea and Neighboring
18. Tobacco and Its Use in Asia 25
19. Introduction of Tobacco into Europe 25
20. The Japanese Sword and Its Decoration 15
21. Ivory in China 60
22. Insect-Musicians and Cricket Champions of China . .40
23. Ostrich Egg-shell Cups of Mesopotamia and the
Ostrich in Ancient and Modern Times .... .30
24. The Indian Tribes of the Chicago Region with
Special Reference to the Illinois and the
25. The Civilization of the Mayas 60
26. The Early History of Man (supply exhausted) ... —
27. The Giraffe in History and Art 60
28. The Field Museum-Oxford University Expedition
to Kish, Mesopotamia, 1923-1929 50
29. Tobacco and Its Use in Africa 25
30. The Races of Mankind 25
31. Prehistoric Man 25
32. Primitive Hunters of Australia .30
33. Archaeology of South America 75
34. Ancient Seals of the Near East .25
35. Aleutian Islanders 35
ORR GOODSON, Acting Director
CHICAGO NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Formerly field museum op natural history
CHICAGO. U. S. A.