This blog is about various boat and environment related topics that I care to comment on. First and foremost, this blog is about skin on frame boats, their construction and use, as well as paddle and other stuff related to skin boat use.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Aleuts Kayaks around the Pacific Rim
Ninety miles north of San Francisco on the Pacific coast stands Fort Ross, southernmost outpost of the Russian empire in North America. The fort was an attempt to raise crops and animals to supply the Alaskan posts with food and leather. The Russians brought Aleut kayakers and their kayaks with them. The kayaks were used for mail runs to Bodega Bay and San Francisco and also for some occasional hunting and foraging. Some of the Russian presence but none of the kayak paraphernalia has survived.
On the other side of the Pacific, between Kamchatka to the north and Hokkaido to the south lie the Kuril Islands.
The Islands were mostly under Russian control prior to 1855. Just as the Russians brought Aleuts and their kayaks with them to North America, they brought Aleut kayakers with them to the Kuril Islands. As in America, the Aleuts in the Kuril Islands were no doubt pressed into fur hunting and general gofer work. In 1875, a treaty between Japan and Russia moved the boundary between the two countries north to Kamchatka. In 1945, the boundary moved down to Hokkkaido. Unlike in America where nothing of the kayaks remained, in the Kuril Islands, the Japanese managed to collect some of the Aleut kayaks and their paraphernalia. These objects are now preserved in Japanese museums.
And in closing, a picture of a three hole kayak by a Japanese Artist.