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The Aleut Kayak: How Aleut Technology Shaped History, Andrew M. Wilson Jun 2015

The Aleut Kayak: How Aleut Technology Shaped History, Andrew M. Wilson

History Undergraduate Theses

If Russian and American imperialism in the north Pacific was the lever that turned the wheel of circumpolar history then the Aleut kayak, or “baidarka,” was the fulcrum. Without Aleut technology, and the labor of the Aleuts, the Russian-American Company would not have been able to derive tremendous profits from high value otter pelts. After the otters were nearly driven to extinction, the fur business transitioned to focusing on extracting a high volume of less valuable fur seal skins. Fur bearing animals were the most easily extractable form of wealth, and this wealth formed the basis for the United States ...