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Inside the Eiteljorg's Arctic Gallery

by Johanna Blume, Eiteljorg assistant curator of western art | Nov 26, 2014

artic-dogsledding blog
Sleds have long been used for transportation of goods and people in the Arctic. Before contact with European and American explorers, Alaska Natives, pulled sleds with small teams of dogs harnessed alongside the sled, or with human labor. After contact, larger teams of dogs were harnessed to the front of the sled. Since many communities in Southwestern Alaska aren’t connected by roads, sleds are still a crucial mode of transportation in the fall and winter. Today many people use snowmobiles to pull their sleds, although dog teams are still a common sight. Dogsleds are also part of recreational life in the Arctic. Since 1973 dogsled teams from around the world have competed in the Iditarod, an annual dogsled race that runs from Willow, Alaska to Nome, Alaska.

There are many objects in the Eiteljorg’s collection related to dogsleds, some of which are on display. In our Arctic gallery you can see a Yup’ik made dogsled, and an Inupiat carved walrus tusk that depicts a dogsled team and driver as well as a variety of animals the Inupiat traditionally hunt.

artic - archives univ of alaska
Bethel, 1939-1959
Image Courtesy: Averill and June Thayer Photographs; Alaska and Polar Regions Collections, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks.
artic - leaving dawson
Dogsled team preparing to leave Dawson for Nome, Alaska, Feb. 11, 1900
Image Courtesy: University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, William E. Meed Photograph Collection, PH Coll 246

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