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The last Alutiiq kayak

Conservators are working hard to preserve what may be the last Alutiiq kayak, built in 1860 out of sea lion skin stretched over a wood frame.

Donated to the museum in 1869, the kayak’s unique significance came to light in 2003 when tribal members Sven Haakanson and Ronnie Lind saw it in a high storage shelf and recognized it by its double prow as a rare artifact of their culture.

Based on Alutiiq oral history, Haakanson, then a doctoral student who’s now executive director of the Alutiiq Museum, and Lind, a tribal elder, thought the human hair and other details signified a warrior’s kayak.

“Over 7,000 years of our people’s living knowledge went into construction of this kayak. There is no known kayak of its age today. It’s unique and holds so much information,’’ said Haakanson by phone from Kodiak Island. “We hope in time to bring it back home to put this information into a living context so our youth can learn and understand from it.’’

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Story: Chris Bergeron, MetroWest Daily News | Photo: MetroWest Daily News

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