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Parka

geh dhah ik “rabbit-skin parka”
Language: Gwich'in

Up in the Allakaket area it gets really, really cold, especially a long time ago. These women who were older than me said they remembered playing outdoors in really cold weather, and you know it was cold because they used to go like this [exhales] and their breath just sizzled. They had rabbit-skin clothes like this, and the cold didn’t bother them.

—Eliza Jones, 2004

This Gwich’in parka for a child is made from a double layer of Arctic hare skins sewn back to back. Rabbit skins are light and extremely warm, although not very durable, and were used for blankets and all kinds of clothing. Because the animals are common and easily captured, parkas made from their skins were considered to be undistinguished; the well-off preferred marten, wolf, wolverine, and caribou garments. Nonetheless, hare parkas and pants were so useful that people wore them long after giving up other types of traditional clothing.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Porcupine & Peel Rivers, Alaska/Canada
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 82cm
Accession Date: 1917
Source: Donald A. Cadzow (collected)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 071053.000