In the Arctic, tools serve specific purposes. There are men’s tools for hunting, fishing and building shelters, and women’s tools for making clothing and preparing meals. While makers originally (and ingeniously) created tools from stone, bone, and other animal parts, they adapted their designs to include trade materials—like metal—if those materials proved useful or more efficient than traditional resources. Indigenous people crafted tools carefully because survival depended upon them. The tools’ designs are generally spare and elegant.

Today, indigenous cultures in the North use contemporary tools and technologies, like machine-made knives, guns, motorboats, and snowmobiles. However, many find that some traditional tools—like the carved woman’s knife, or ulu, and the dogsled—continue to offer advantages or benefits over current technologies.


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