NW Yachting April 2018

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A Native American anthropologist breaks new ground and gets in touch with his heritage through traditional boat building. By Dr. Sven Haakanson JR.


As a Native from Kodiak Island, Alaska, I never knew that our ancestors made open skin-boats, angyaat, until the mid-1990s when I started exploring ethnographic museums. The first time I saw an angyaaq (singular form of angyaat in Alutiiq) model was in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia in the spring of 1991. I did not believe

this boat was from my region because every elder I had ever spoken to never mentioned that we once had boats like that. We only had kayaks. Angyaat, open skin-boats, were commonly seen in the Gulf of Alaska prior to European and Russian contact. The boats would traditionally have a wood frame tied together with sinew, rawhide, and

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