Saĝdaĝ—To Catch Birds

Debra Corbett


Birds were an important, but little understood, part of the Aleut economy. Birds provided a tiny proportion of the food compared to sea mammals and fish, but their skins, feathers, and bones provided raw materials for clothing, tools, and religious purposes. This paper uses ethnohistorical, linguistic, and archaeological evidence to identify the specialized techniques and describe the tools used for hunting birds. McCartney’s procurement system concept is used to organize the data and place bird hunting into a broader context. Men, women, and children hunted birds on land and sea, in fair weather and foul. Understanding the techniques and weapons used for bird hunting are only the first step to a more complete appreciation of the role of birds in Aleut culture.