Place: North America
Umiaks are highly versatile watercraft; used for transportation, hunting big game, and for battle.
Umiak, ca. 1938
King Island, Alaska
Gift of Mr. Norman Woolworth
Conservation courtesy of Mr. T. Parker Host, Jr. and Mr. John Brown. Conservation team Linda Nieuwenhuizen, Frederick Wallace, Chris Voll, Ward Gypson, Jim Knight, Robert Moore, and Roger Worthen
Umiaks are highly versatile watercraft; used for transportation, hunting big game, and for battle. The hull of this large open boat is covered in 7-9 walrus, or bearded seal, skins. While umiaks are used to transport considerable loads of cargo through Alaskan waters, they have also been used to hunt walrus, seal, beluga, narwhal and bowhead whales. Into the twentieth century, umiaks have also been used for war among many Bering Strait inhabitants.
They are primarily rowed, but can be rigged with a sail and can go surprisingly quickly downwind. When stopping for brief periods during long voyages, the umiak is turned upside down to provide shelter and to allow the hull to dry.
Origin: Alaska, King Island, USA