University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Eskimo Soccer


By: Alessandro Pezzati

June 16, 2015

In conjunction with the 2015 Copa America, and especially the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the Penn Museum offers this photograph to the soccer world. Last year, I found this photo of soccer amongst the Eskimo of Point Barrow, Alaska, taken by ornithologist and Tabasco sauce heir, Edward Avery McIlhenny in 1897-1898. That photograph shows a likely game of soccer, but it is hard to tell.

After continuing a search through McIlhenny’s photographs (actually, while looking for something else), I found incontrovertible evidence of a soccer player: a girl in furs, mittens, and boots, with an unmistakable leather soccer ball on the ice in front of her.

Eskimo girl with soccer ball.  Point Barrow, Alaska.  Photograph by E. A. McIlhenny, 1897-1898.
Eskimo girl with soccer ball. Point Barrow, Alaska. Photograph by E. A. McIlhenny, 1897-1898.

 

May soccer continue to bring enjoyment around the world.


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