Umiaq (skin boat) Sewing !

What does it take to cover an umiaq with skins ?  An incredible amount of time, energy, &  skilled craftsmanship.

Not to mention the skill of the hunter involved in harvesting six bearded seal(s).  Ugruk (oog rook).  There are no O’s in the Inupiaq language.  There are however two distinct ways to make that ‘sound’ .   One method is to use  just one  U – the other method – depending on the word is to use a ‘dipthong’;    au   in some words makes the same sound as O .  You will notice. Great care is taken to ‘dress’ differently for this involved event of sewing these six skins together – to perfectly fit a wooden frame that is not even here to measure or fit.  Great skill & knowledge is required for this – and you will notice these people that do all the work ; none of them are young or tough enough for the required work involved.  This requires the works of very skilled hands that must be protected against cutting through the flesh, when pulling on the sinew to sew these skins tightly together.

Sinew for sewing skins.These skins are ‘oily’, wet, swollen with an extremely pungent smell that easily saturates the air in the room. (Whew)!! Very noticeable & extremely strong!!  Notice how her fingers are protected when pulling on the sinew, this is a must !Dressing for the occassion !!

Dressing for the occassion !!

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