Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Waterproof mittens

arilluuk “pair of fishskin mittens”
Language: Central Yup'ik

Tua-i-llu wani imarpigmi anuqliuquni, nutaan tau-i allukek qaspeg egenrarlukek ukuk wani cagnilluku nutaan mer’ iterngaunani. (If it gets windy on the ocean, then you put the gut parka on and put these on and tie them tightly so water won’t get in.)

—John Phillip, Sr., 2002

People wore waterproof salmon-skin mittens to keep their hands dry while kayaking, driving a dog sled, or working with fish nets. Woven grass liners went inside for warmth. To prepare the fish skins, they were first soaked in urine, scraped clean, and then hung outside to freeze-dry in cold weather. The last step was to scrape off the scales.

Culture: Yup’ik
Region: Bristol Bay, Alaska
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 33cm
Accession Date: 1882
Source: Charles L. McKay (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E055967