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Alaskan Eskimos

Identifier: Film Collection no. 4

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the AMNH and the University of Alaska excavation of the Ipiutak archaeological site in Point Hope, Alaska, 1941. In the summer of 1941, Harry L. Shapiro, then associate curator of the AMNH Department of Anthropology, visited Froelich G. Rainey of the University of Alaska during the excavation of the Ipiutak archaeological site in Point Hope, Alaska. The opening sequence of the film documents the journey of Shapiro, Rainey, and the excavation staff from Seattle to Point Hope peninsula by ship, and to the Point Hope village of Tigara by plane. Scenes of Eskimos and their dwellings are followed by several scenes of the nulukatuki, the spring feast which takes place in June. The feast begins as the whaling parties, called qalegi, return from their last expedition of the season. Each qalegi drags its umiak (skin boat) onto the shore in the order determined by the status of the qalegi angoak (hunting charm.) Four tripods made from whale jawbones mark each qalegi feasting place; the owner's angoak (during this feast, the angoaks are American flags) is attached to a pole erected next to the bow of each boat. The celebration continues for two days; the people play games, dance, and feast. In one game, the skin toss, twenty or thirty people grasp hand grips on the edge of a walrus or sealskin trampoline and toss an individual into the air. On the afternoon of the last day, a dance accompanied by drums is begun by the captain of each qalegi, who is then joined by his crew. The dance sequence is followed by an overview of the excavation site and scenes of the excavation of a complete Ipiutak skeleton, the roping of a beluga whale by Eskimo men as they ride ice floes, the preparation of meat and the treatment of whale skin, views of the sea, and several unidentified communities.


  • 1941


Language of Materials



1 Film Reel (26 minutes) : silent, color ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (26 minutes)) : silent, color ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Original format: 16 mm. print; incomplete.


Harry L. Shapiro and Froelich G. Rainey, photographers.

Alaskan Eskimos, 1941
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024 USA
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