Miniature Carvings of a Pair of Seals

Iñupiaq, St. Lawrence Island Yupik or Yup'ik
Western Arctic


early 20th century

Ivory with black pigment

Overall: 11/16 × 13/16 × 2 in. (1.7 × 2 × 5.1 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Glover Street Hastings III



Place Made: St. Lawrence Island, United States, North America


20th century

Object Name


Research Area

Native American

Native American: Arctic-Western Arctic

On view


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

Course History

First Year Student Enrichment Program - Cultures, Identities and Belongings, Francine A'Ness, Summer 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Art History 40.01, American Art and Identity, Mary Coffey, Fall 2023

Creative Writing 10.02, Writing and Reading Fiction, Katherine Crouch, Fall 2023

Geography 11.01, Qualitative Methods, Emma Colven, Fall 2023

Geography 2.01, Introduction to Human Geography, Coleen Fox, Fall 2023

Geography 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Fall 2023

Exhibition History

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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