Monday, February 26, 2018

Naskapi (Innu) Paddle Replica from the Chicago Field Museum

As mentioned in this previous post, the Field Museum has a model Naskapi (Innu) paddle collected during the Rawson-MacMillan Subarctic Expeditions ( 1927-1928 ).

Canoe Paddle
Catalog Number: 177305
Cultural Attribution: Montagnais-Naskapi 
Locality: North America, Canada, Quebec, Labrador, Davis Inlet Band
Accession Year: 1928 
Collector/Source: Rawson-MacMillan Subarctic Expedition for Field Museum, W. D. Strong
IRN: 1080712

James VanStone's publication, Material culture of the Davis Inlet and Barren Ground Naskapi: The William Duncan Strong Collection outlines many of the ethnographic items collected during this expedition. Unfortunately when it came to full sized paddles, no photos were taken but instead, Plate 49 (pg 89) featured a hand sketched diagram of four decorated pieces acquired for the collection. The model looks to be similar to Paddle A from the display.

Material culture of the Davis Inlet and Barren Ground Naskapi 

A narrow cutoff of Spruce lumber left over from making the two piece canoe pole was the perfect piece of stock to make a full sized version of this model. While there were minor knots in the blade and one unfortunately on the shaft, it was still left pretty robustly carved for strength.  Early carving photos were lost with the damaged SD card, but the paddle was chopped down with an axe and then worked with a crooked knife and spokeshave. The thin red markings used to replicate the original decoration were made with a Sharpie oil-based paint marker.

60 inch Naskapi Cree (Innu) Field Museum Replica

As a bit of a fun side by side comparison, I cropped my image and converted it to greyscale. Here is the Field Museum model paddle next to my full scale reproduction:

Side by Side

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