These beautiful ivory pieces were brought to the Museum by Ty Reid in 1986. They were collected on the Aleutian Islands in the early 1940s by Mr. Reid’s father, who was stationed there. Ivory carvings are traditionally made by men. The small fish above were probably fetishes or good luck talismans for fishermen.
The Aleut, or Unanga people, have lived on the Aleutian Islands for thousands of years. Traditionally they made their living through sea hunting and fishing, commonly using biadarkas, or kayaks, on the water. Prior to contact from the outside, the Aleut population was estimated to be between 20,000 and 25,000. By 1800 the population had been decimated by exploitation, disease, and invasion to only 1,200. Today the Aleut people number approximately 24,000, a testament to their strength and perseverance.
Aleut; Possibly Historic
Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Objects courtesy of Jeremy Reid