Work Box

Western Arctic


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collected 1903-1904

Wood, blue mineral pigment, ivory, rawhide, metal, decorated with incised cross-hatched hunting scenes

Overall: 3 1/4 × 4 15/16 × 12 13/16 in. (8.3 × 12.5 × 32.5 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Lt. Col. Alfred T. Clifton, Class of 1927P



Place Made: St. Michael, United States, North America


20th century

Object Name

Personal Gear: Box

Research Area

Native American

Native American: Arctic-Western Arctic

On view


The maker of this box used steam (a mixture of hot air and water vapor), to bend wood into an oval shape. The seal carved onto the lid, along with incised hunting scenes and blue paint, all reflect deep connections between the Yup’ik people and their local aquatic environment. Inside the box, a Yup’ik woman likely stored sewing materials and hides, as well as small toys, which were used to entertain and teach children while she worked.

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

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.

Native American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 8, 2011-March 12, 2012.

Publication History

George P. Horse Capture, Sr., Joe D. Horse Capture, Joseph M. Sanchez, et al., Native American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2011, p. 138. no.6.


Collected by Lt. Col. Alfred Theodore Clifton (1875-1944) with the U.S. Army Signal Corps aboard the cable ship Burnside, St. Michael, Alaska, 1903-1904; given to present collection (through his son, Alfred Theodore Clifton, Jr. (1906-1996), Class of 1927), 1942.

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