Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Van Valin, William teacher  Search this
Physical description:
reference video cassettes silent b&w DVD
master video cassettes silent b&w BetacamSP
master video cassettes silent b&w Digital Betacam
preservation 10 film reels (6,950 feet) silent b&w 35mm
archival original 10 film reels (6,950 feet) silent b&w 35mm
Arctic peoples  Search this
Eskimos  Search this
Indians of North America Subarctic  Search this
Motion pictures (visual works)
Collection descriptions
Nome Alaska
Nome (Alaska)
Point Barrow, Alaska
North America
United States
title from credits (unpublished work)--archival collection
supplementary materials: book
Cataloging supported by Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee
Edited film shot by William Van Valin as leader of the John Wanamaker Expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska for the University of Pennsylvania Museum. The film, that later toured in a film-lecture series by Van Valin, is known under the main title TIP TOP OF THE EARTH: Alaskan Eskimo Educational Series. Series includes the titles: SCENES AT NOME, ALASKA; ESKIMO SPORTS; SCENES AT POINT BARROW, ALASKA; ESKIMO REINDEER INDUSTRY; ESKIMO SEAL HUNTING; ESKIMO WHALING [Parts I and II]; and MIDNIGHT SUN SCENES. Sequences include: the steamship Victoria landing passengers at Nome, Alaska; hydraulic mining along the Bering Sea beach near Nome; a umiak with Eskimos aboard being towed; old Eskimo man cleaning salmon and preparing his pipe; salmon drying on elevated racks; summer camp activities among the Eskimos; natives dancing, drumming, racing <umiaks>, and participating in foot races as part of Fourth of July festivities in Nome; Eskimo barber demonstrating technique of hair cutting with stone knife; scenes of winter life including igloos covered with blocks of snow; Eskimos with dog teams and sleds; Eskimo games and forms of recreation including a form of whaling sport known as <nela-ka-tuk>, tossing a person on a stretched walrus hide. Also depicted are various activities relating to the Eskimo food quest: activities associated with whaling which include sledding umiaks overland through snow, hauling a whale through hole cut in polar ice, and butchering whales; activities relating to Eskimo reindeer herding, culling out males and butchering animals; and scenes relating to seal hunting, butchering seals, and the use of their hides. Included are shots of archaeological excavations conducted at early Arctic habitations showing exposed skeletal and cranial remains. (Also as part of this collection is miscellaneous footage of a rabbit drive, a mule team pulling wagons and unidentified locations).
Repository Loc.:
Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, MD
Language and culture  Search this
Ships--steamships  Search this
Mining--hydralic  Search this
Dogs--as transportation  Search this
Sleds--as transportation  Search this
Fishing--salmon  Search this
Boats--use in hunting  Search this
Hunting--guns  Search this
Food quest--hunting--fishing--whaling  Search this
Food preparation--butchering--drying  Search this
Food preservation--techniques of  Search this
Cooking--utensils  Search this
Ecology--seasonal movements  Search this
Dancing--drums  Search this
Drumming--dancing--ceremony  Search this
Food--communal distribution  Search this
Animal husbandry--reindeer  Search this
Herding--reindeer  Search this
Hides--seals--preparation of  Search this
Boats--umiaks--used as shelter  Search this
Archaeology--excavations  Search this
Recreation--community--Nelakatuk  Search this
Whaling--butchering  Search this
Local number:
HSFA 1986.5.1
Restrictions & Rights:
Information on reproduction and fees available from Human Studies Film Archives
See more items in:
Tip top of the Earth: Arctic Alaskan Eskimo Educational Series 1916-1918 [Van Valin, William teacher]
Data Source:
Human Studies Film Archives