Though snowmobiles are currently used, many Inuit villages in Alaska, Greenland or Canada still use dog sleds today. For thousands of years, the Inuit used dog sleds and these have inspired the designs of sleds used in races such as the Iditarod and Yukon quest today.
The Inuit word for dog sled is "qamutik." Originally pulled by Qimmiq (the Inuit name for dog), the animals that are at the head of the pack of today's sleds are generally called huskies after breeding over the years slightly changed the bloodlines.
Traditional Inuit sled design is composed of two wood runners on which the top platform is built. The bottom of these also served as the surface on which it would glide.
The cargo bed of these sleds was generally constructed in a basket style and elevated above the runners by about 5 to 6 inches. Today, the beds are usually constructed of plastic.
The brushbow or bumper-like front of the sled was simply a stick connecting the two side runners or a piece of wood bent into a crescent shape on original sleds. Today, the brushbows are more prominent and are plastic formed into a triangle shape, which is stronger.
Materials of original Inuit dog sleds were of wood as well as reindeer hide, sinew and even frozen salmon skin in areas where wood was not available. Most sleds made in traditional form today are of wood.
The handlebars where the sledder can hold on and lean into turns are a simple wood rod connected at each end by support braces that curve at each side from the rod down to the cargo bed.
Article Written By Naomi Judd
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.