Browsing in the Alaska Digital Archives I found an interesting photo album documenting a prospecting trip up the Yukon River by the Schieffelin Brothers, Ed and Al, who just a few years earlier had founded the famous desert mining town of Tombstone, Arizona. Two pictures from this album struck me as particularly interesting, though the whole thing is worth browsing.
The first of these is the remarkable picture above, showing a Tanana woman with a long-gun, powder horn, and a couple of large rabbits. While anthropologists and archaeologists have grudgingly revised their “Man the Hunter” stereotypes in recent years, it is nonetheless rare to see such a frank portrait of a competent woman with her prey. I’ll be using this one in class, starting next week.
The other picture shows something I had never seen or heard of before: a winter-time fish trap with a large conical basket, entirely constructed and operated on the ice. Such a trap would leave no archaeological evidence whatsoever, yet could be a vital source of winter-time subsistence and fresh food – think of all those Omega-3’s! Such traps are conceivable all over the NW Interior and should be considered as a possible part of the winter-time subsistence round. Maybe they are, and I just have never heard of them — but certainly it is a cool device.
So – an interesting older photo album with some insight into early historic life in a very remote part of the Northwest. I don’t know much about this prospecting trip but I imagine there is more information about it out there – for now, the pictures speak for themselves.