Scrimshaw depicting a Steam Whaling Ship

Western Arctic


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collected 1905

Bone and graphite

Overall: 1 5/8 × 2 15/16 × 1 15/16 in. (4.2 × 7.5 × 5 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Bequest of Frank C. and Clara G. Churchill



Place Made: United States, North America


20th century

Object Name


Research Area

Native American

Native American: Arctic-Western Arctic

On view


"Whaling Ship / etched by Esquimo / Arctic, Alaska / Aug.1905"


Artists from different nations and backgrounds made the small boats and other artworks in this case. Before cars, trains, and planes, boats connected the world. These objects reflect the global movement of peoples and trade between Indigenous and Colonial nations.

White protestant and catholic missionaries sailed around the globe attempting to convert Indigenous peoples to western religions. The upright (and uptight) missionary figures appear stiff and unmoving, perhaps reflecting the maker’s opinion that colonizing missionaries failed to fully appreciate the complexity of Haida culture.

The necklaces are made from dentalium, a narrow white seashell harvested by Indigenous peoples along the western coast of North America. Indigenous Americans traded dentalium across the continent, exchanging it for turquoise from the Southwest or dyes and hides from other regions. Dentalium’s movement reflects a history of complex international trade between Indigenous Nations that predates the arrival of European colonizers.

From the 2023 exhibition Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, curated by Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

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, ill. on p. 81 and p. 139, no. 11.


Clara G. Corser Turner Churchill (1851-1945) and Frank Carroll Churchill (1850-1912), Alaska, probably 1905; bequeathed to present collection, 1946.

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