Model Qayaq

Loaned to Chugachmiut by Jim Ujoika, this model qayaq reflects the construction and artistry of a traditional Alaskan qayaq.

Created by an unknown artist, this qayaq has important differences to the traditional Sugpiaq qayaq. Traditionally, Sugpiaq qayaqs have an iconic bifurcated bow in which both front pieces curve upwards to serve as shock absorbers against the waves. In this qayaq, only one piece curves distinctly upwards. The paddle is also different here -- the traditional Sugpiaq paddle was a single paddle, rather than the double paddle included in this model.

Cultural Narrative: 

“Summer 2009 I was able to help Mitch Poling out as well as the people with sewing on the kayak and adding the canvas onto it. It was pretty fun to be able to sew around it and on it. And the hardest part was the bow. I remember doing the bow and he did say that it was going to be the hardest part since you have to go around the corners. But it was pretty fun.” – Ephimia Moonin-Wilson, Port Graham, 2022


“They're [Sugpiaq qayaqs] actually pretty stable. I was kind of surprised because I've got, you know, fiberglass and plastic commercial made kayaks, and getting in the ones that we made at Nuuciq was always kind of fun. The maiden voyage to watch Mitch get in there… they’re more stable than what I thought.” -Andy McLaughlin, Chenega, 2022


“Always this split bow, it’s very indicative of Prince William Sound. It's speculated that that's kind of like a shock absorber. This front bow piece of wood would be a curved… a very specific piece of like, curved stump, beech wood that would be found. So you want the grain of the wood in that front piece when you're making a real one. I helped Mitch make several and there's very specific knots about each one of these. Actually, Mitch over in I believe Russia took his camera up inside and took photographs. He and I were both in the boy scouts so we're kind of knot people. And we studied those knots actually to make sure that we were matching the exact knots that were being tied from the old one that was from Chenega that I believe was actually a Vlasoff one.” -Andy McLaughlin, Chenega, 2022