Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Ingalik and affiliated Holikachuk are Northern Athapaskan-speakers of the lower-middle Yukon and upper Kuskokwim river basins of west-central Alaska. Traditionally, they lived in seasonal villages and relied on fishing, supplemented by hunting and trapping of caribou, moose, bear, and a variety of smaller fur-bearing animals. With the intrusion of a modern commercial economy since the 1940s, paid employment, including fire-fighting and in fish canneries, has become an important source of income. Intermarriage with the Inuit and other neighboring groups is increasingly common.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Arctic and Subarctic


United States

OWC Code


Number of Documents


Note: Select the Collection Documents tab above to browse documents.

Number of Pages


Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF World Culture collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and title where needed.

The basic sources in the collection are three books by anthropologist Cornelius Osgood who conducted ethnographic fieldwork among the Anvik-Shageluk Ingalik in 1934 and 1937, followed by a brief return in 1956. The first book focuses on describing and classifying hundreds of material objects (Osgood 1970[1940]). The second discusses salient aspects of Ingalik social life, with emphasis on daily routines, economic activities and the environment, residence pattern, family type, social organization, rituals and mythology, exchange relations, and personality traits (Osgood 1958). The final volume focuses on Ingalik mental culture, which the author defines as shared ideas relating to material goods, human behavior and the interaction of these two categories in social life (Osgood 1959). Together, these works provide a thorough, systematic reconstruction of Ingalik culture and society prior to the advent of Russian traders and missionaries in 1830s.

Osgood’s ethnographic description is complemented by historical and archeological information provided in the works of James VanStone. Specific themes covered include patterns of change in Ingalik subsistence systems (VanStone 1976), agents of culture change affecting Ingalik culture and society (VanStone 1979a), and changes in settlement patterns that occurred throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (VanStone 1979b).

Nelson (1978) was an explorer and naturalist who travelled across the lower-middle Yukon River and its major tributary the Innoko River in 1880. His account provides an early observational account of Ingalik subsistence, fur trade, social organization, artifacts, dwellings, organized rituals, exchange relations, and mythology. Snow (1981) presents a broad summary of Ingalik culture and society, mostly based on existing documentation.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Teferi Adem

Bladder Ceremony – offerings of animal bladders food to increase game – – use PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782) with ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796)


Coix – snowshoe – – use PARAPHERNALIA (293)

Doll Ceremony – shamanistic practice of predicting game supply using dolls – – use REVELATION AND DIVINATION (787) with SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS (756)

Gaken – amulets – – use MAGIC (789)

Kaii – village – – use SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361) with ANNUAL CYCLE (221)

Kashim – semi-subterranean ceremonial men’s house – – use PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344) with RELIGIOUS AND EDUCATIONAL STRUCTURES (346)

Partner’s Potlatch – reciprocal exchange of food and gifts between partners from different communities – – use (572) with ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796) {$role} INTER-COMMUNITY RELATIONS (628)

Potlatch for the Dead – festival with exchange of food and clothing in honor of deceased relatives – – use CULT OF THE DEAD (769) with ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796) {$role} EXCHANGE TRANSACTIONS (437)

Wiyed – canoe – – use BOATS (501)

Xeceyeyo – first menstruation – – use MENSTRUATION (841) with PUBERTY AND INITIATION (881)

Xoy – sled – – use VEHICLES (493)

Yeg – spirit or soul believed to dwell in objects – – use ANIMISM (774) with GENERAL CHARACTER OF RELIGION (771)

Indexing Notes by

Teferi Adem

Close Box