Hearst Museum Portal

Umiak model

Museum number:
Accession number:
Object count:
(a) Umiak model, rawhide cover, partially red-painted wood frame and seats; 7 small ivory blocks used in rigging. (b) Cotton sail with yard. (c) Mast, wood. (d, e) 2 oars, blades painted red. (f, g) 2 paddles with crossbar handles. (h) Spear with barbed ivory point and 3 barbed ivory points at mid-section of shaft.
Phoebe Apperson Hearst
Collection place:
Lower Yukon, Yukon, Yukon-Koyukuk Borough
Verbatim coll. place:
Lower Yukon
Culture or time period:
Alaskan Eskimo
Charles L. Hall
Collection date:
ca. 1895
Odobenus rosmarus
Object type:
1.4 Transportation
Accession date:
August 12, 1902
Context of use:
Fundamentally, umiaks were used for carrying cargo up to four tons and passengers for long distances but also employed by some Eskimos in whaling and in walrus hunting. Women are often quite involved in the navigation and occasionally pilot depending on the region (typically more common in Quebec), however this is mostly for travel as women are usually not on board for whaling or sea mammal hunting. They also stitch the skin over the frame. Sometimes umiaks are dubbed “family boats,” as they were primarily used for transportation, though they previously were used in war and of course hunting. Square sails of a variety of materials (b) could be hoisted on umiaks, but were most likely introduced by colonists and not traditional, and motors could be attached to the back.
Cat. 2 - North America (except Mexico and Central America)
(b)— length 30 centimeters, (c)— length 28 centimeters, (c)— length 39 centimeters, (a)— length 87 centimeters, (e)— length 29 centimeters, (f)— length 27 centimeters, (g)— length 21 centimeters, and (h)— length 25 centimeters
Native name and meaning: umiak or baidara--woman boat or family boat. References: cf. Chapelle, p. 175. cf. Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. Edited by Warren L. D’Azevedo, David Damas, June Helm, Robert F. Heizer, Alfonso Ortiz, Wilcomb E. Washburn, Wayne Suttles, Ives Goddard, Deward E. Walker, Raymond J. DeMallie, Raymond D. Fogelson, Douglas H. Ubelaker, and Garrick A. Bailey. Vol. 5. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1984. Arima, B. "Y. 1963. Report on an Eskimo umiak built at Ivuyivik, PQ, in the summer of 1960." National Museum of Canada, Bulletin No. 189 (Ottawa).
Legacy documentation: