The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Length: 250.000 cm
Africa, Oceania, Americas
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Inupiat, early 19th century AD
From Alaska, North America
Transport in the Arctic
Sleds, pulled by teams of dogs, provide rapid transport throughout the year in the Arctic. There were a number of reasons for a journey across the snow, most particularly hunting, trading or visiting. Overland travel is done in winter, and the high bed of this type of sled keeps soft snow and rough ice away from occupants and protects boats when being carried to the floe edge. In the 1970s dog sleds were replaced by gasoline-engined vehicles called snowmobiles or snow machines.
This uniek is constructed of wood with mortise and tenon joints, pegged fittings and bindings of baleen (whalebone). It was collected at Nuvuk, or (Point) Barrow by Rochfort Maguire on HMS Plover in about 1852 to 1855. It is perhaps the oldest sled from Alaska. Nuvuk, about 500 kilometres inside the Arctic circle, is the most northerly community on the American mainland. Today Inupit maintain dog teams as a form of expressive culture to race in winter.
J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)