Gwich’in Athabascan Implements

History, Manufacture, and Usage According to Reverend David Salmon

Thomas A. O’Brien

Gwich’in Athabascan Implements

Thomas A. O’Brien

Distributed for University of Alaska Press

133 pages | 73 halftones, 43 line drawings | 8 1/2 x 11 | © 2011
Paper $45.00 ISBN: 9781602231443 Published November 2011
E-book $7.00 to $45.00 ISBN: 9781602231450 Published November 2011

 The most detailed and well-illustrated study of material culture for any northern Athabascan language group to date, Gwich’in Athabascan Implements reproduces pre- and early post-contact tools that are historically important to the Athabaskan people. A long-term collaboration between anthropologist Thomas O’Brien and Athabascan elder David Salmon, this volume provides more than one hundred one-to-one sketches of a wide variety of implements, many of which are no longer commonly found in use.

Author’s Note

    A Brief History 
    Gwich’ in Athabascan Homeland
    The “Tools” of Teaching
    Working Together
Chapter 1: General Information Associated with the Artifacts
    Rules, Taboos, and Good Luck
    Raw Materials
Chapter 2: Artifacts Associated with Hunting
    Bone Spear for Grizzly Bear Hunting, Yukon Flats Style
    “Little Owl” Rabbit Throwing Stick
    Caribou Signaling Tool
    Shoulder Blade for Moose Calling
    Bows and Arrows
    The Boy’s Bow—For Ages Five to Ten
    The Boy’s Practice Arrow—For Ages Five to Ten
    The Youth’s Bow—For Ages Ten to Fifteen
    The Youth’s Arrows—For Ages Ten to Fifteen
    The Man’s Bow—For Ages Fifteen to Adult
    The Man’s Arrows—For Ages Fifteen to Adult
    Arctic Village Region Man’s Blunter Arrow
    Yukon Flats Region Man’s Blunter Arrow
    Yukon Flats Region Man’s Metal Blunter Arrow
    Birch Creek Region Man’s Single-Pronged Fancy Water Arrow
    Birch Creek Region Man’s Single- Pronged Water Arrow
    Birch Creek Region Man’s Bone Two-Pronged Water Arrow
    Yukon Flats Region Man’s Metal Two-Pronged Water Arrow
    Eagle Region Man’s Bone Hunting Arrow
    Arctic Village Region Man’s Notched Hunting Arrow
    Crow Flats Region Man’s Hunting Arrow
    Man’s Iron Trade Arrow
    Man’s Leaf-Shaped Iron Trade Arrow
Chapter 3: Artifacts Associated with Fishing
    Bone Ice Chisel
    Bone Hooks
    Fish Spear
    King Salmon Dip Net
Chapter 4: Artifacts Associated with General and Special Purposes
    Caribou Leg Bone Knife
    The Athabascan Staff of Life
    Rain Chaser
Chapter 5: Artifacts Associated with Gaming
    Caribou Toe Game or “Grandpa’s Heel”
    Cone-Shaped Stick Game
    Pulling Stick Game
Chapter 6: Artifacts Associated with Manufacturing
    Moose Leg Bone Skinner, Yukon Flats Style
    Tanana River–Style Skinner
    Caribou Hind Leg Scraper or Beaming Tool
    Bone Puncher/Awl
    Bone Snowshoe Needle
    Snowshoe Gimlet
    How to Measure Snowshoe Frames
Reflections on the Partnership

    Committing to Friendship and Partnering
    Common Ground and Partnership
    Lasting Commitments

Appendix I: Glossary
Appendix II: Gwich’in Nomenclature
Review Quotes
S. Craig Gerlach, University of Alaska Fairbanks

“Very few ethnographers or anthropologists are willing or able to take the time to do the kind of careful work that David and Tom did together over the years. And there are very few elders anywhere in the Athabascan area who have David’s range of knowledge. . . . This is a story that needed to be told.”

Midwest Book Review
“Immensely interesting and insightful, Gwich’in Athabascan Implements is a core addition to any world history and anthropology collection.”
“The book contains the wealth of [Reverend David] Salmon’s detailed information, insights, and stories in Salmon’s own voice without filtering them through disciplinary jargon or theory, allowing him to continue to teach future generations about how men survived in the Arctic.This exemplary book’s maps, photographs, and drawings are superb and illustrate the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the toolmakers. Important for anyone working in material culture studies, indigenous studies, or anthropology. . . . Highly recommended.”

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