The ivory seal on the fishing hook at center was likely carved from walrus tusk. Cast into the water, the seal’s spirit helped the person fishing attract their prey. Other small carvings in this case portray ducks, puffins, and other animals that live in or near the water. These were traded with settler communities, but within Inuit, Yup’ik, and Iñupiaq communities, adults used these carvings to teach children about the local Arctic environment.
Today, Indigenous-led activism and knowledge of the arctic ecosystem, which includes caring for fish and ensuring their survival, informed a recently implemented international ban on commercial fishing in center of the Arctic Ocean. Who is protecting the water in your community?
From the 2023 exhibition Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, curated by Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art
Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, Israel Sack Gallery and the Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 29, 2023-June 16, 2024.
Collected by Glover Street Hastings III, West Newton, Massachusetts and Bridgeton, Maine, 1920's-1930's; bequeathed to his daughter, Carlena Hastings Redfield (1888-1981), 1949; bequeathed to present collection [under the terms of her father's will], 1981.
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