First Nations inventions include the parka, kayak and toboggan, and many other things that are in use today throughout North America.

The invention of the parka ensured survival in the Arctic. The traditional parka always had a hood and was made of either sealskin or caribou hide. The women’s parkas of the Inuit of the Eastern Arctic had larger hoods than men’s because the hood was used as a baby carrier! This style of parka is called “amauti”.

The original animal skin covered kayaks were long, narrow covered boats used to hunt seals and walruses across the frigid arctic waters. These early boats had seal bladders filled with air to make them buoyant and nearly unsinkable. The kayak’s outer surface was covered in whale fat to make it waterproof.

The first toboggans were used by hunters to carry furs and meat after a hunt over snow and ice. The Inuit used whale bone to make toboggans since wood was not readily available. Tribes from the south such as the Cree used strips of hickory, ash, or maple in the construction of their toboggans.

First Nations Inventions

Inuit Family Courtesy, National Geographic Magazine, Volume 31 (1917), page 564