Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wooden hunting hats at Unangax^ Culture Camp

Patty Gregory Of Unalaska taught wooden hat making at Unangax^ (Aleut) Culture Camp. People were making two kinds of hats, the open crowned visor type and the full crowned type. The full crowned hat was reserved for the more senior hunters. Some kayak models show two holed kayaks where the paddler in front, the more junior of the two wears the visor and the paddler in back, the more senior wears the full crowned hat.

Here's Patty with an arm full of hat blanks and completed visors.

Mike Livingston and I went down to Poppert's milling in Wasilla to get the wood for the hats. The picture above shows a big piece of cottonwood on the saw bed ready to be sliced into 3/8 inch thick slices. Cottonwood bends well, especially when still wet and green and is therefore a good material for hat blanks.

Andrew Abyo was at the camp all week working on some full crowned hats. Here he is showing off some of his work, a visor and a mask. For more of his work, go to the Alutiiq museum site.

Here, Andrew is carving away on the blank for a full crowned hat.

Patty had a picture of Andrew Gronholt set up. Andrew was her hat making teacher.

Andrew's daughter, right in brown shirt is holding up one of her dad's hats and Patty is showing up a display board of miniature visors.

Here's the hat again.

Inside of the hat, showing construction details.

And a side view, showing the decorations.

Hat blanks heating up in a tub of boiling water.

And a visor in the bending jig, drying till the shape sets.

Andrew is explaining various functional features of the Aleut hunting hat.

The hat funnels sound. Kids cup their hands to simulate sound amplification of the hat.

Big pile of shavings left over from a week of hat carving.

Becky Bendixson with here completed full-crown hat.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Culture camp how to butcher a seal demo

One of the features of Culture Camp was the preparation of traditional Unangan foods, in this case, a harbor seal. Sally Swetsoff demonstrated how to butcher the seal.

The head is already off. Sally is starting to slice the seal down the middle, belly up.

Here you can see the wind pipe and the layer of white blubber on top of very dark colored flesh.

The seal is completely opened up revealing the intestines.

The judgment of some is that this is a smelly process.

The seal carcass with the intestines removed.

Sally is cutting the connective tissue between coils of intestine. Intestines are later cleaned, braided with strips of blubber, boiled and eaten.

Sally has removed all the organs and is beginning to cut up the meat.

Each pied of meat is cut so it has a chunk of blubber with it. The meat by itself is completely fat free and has no marbeling. Hence, fat which is an important nutrient in a cold climate has to be added in.

Unangam tunuu

Unangam tunuu is the Aleut name for the Aleut language. According to the Alaskan native institute in Fairbanks there are something like 2000 Aleuts and 300 speakers of the language. That's not a lot of people. Nevertheless, Knut Bergsland of the University of Oslo has written both a dictionary and a grammar of the Aleut language.
While at the APIA culture camp this summer, I had the opportunity to hear Unangam tunuu spoken and have found out how to pronounce some of the specifically Aleut consonants like the x with the hat over it x^. This particular sound is something like the ch sound in German. The APIA has also put out a CD with names of various animals pronounced.
For those interested in the names of Aleut kayak parts, see Knut Bergsland's article in _Contributions to Kayak Studies_.

APIA Culture Camp

I recently got back from the apia culture camp held in Anchorage Alaska. APIA stands for Aleut Pribilof Islands Association. The APIA is an Aleut Native non-profit corporation dedicated to education and social services. Mike Livingston and I built two kayaks there. The kayaks will be hanging in the lobby of the APIA building. (see picture above.) Unangam Ulaa means Aleut house or home in Unangam tunuu, the Aleut language. Unangan is the Aleut name for themselves in their language.

Mike Livingston in front of the culture camp poster.

Myself in front of the culture camp poster.