Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 

Boots

payaaqek “pair of woman’s fancy, knee-high bleached sealskin boots”
Language: St. Lawrence Island Yupik

Also called:
kaamget “boots”
Language: St. Lawrence Island Yupik

Oftentimes we’d put beads on the side for the little girls. And where the squares are up here, we strip the skin and put takaghaghquq just to make it fancy.

—Estelle Oozevaseuk, 2001

The tops of these girl’s dress boots are bleached seal skin, whitened by exposure to freezing cold and wind. The bottoms are seal hide that has been shaved down to reveal its inner dark brown color. Intricate designs in white and red-dyed seal leather make a band around the top of each boot. This style of decoration—called takaghaghquq—is a signature of St. Lawrence Island boot makers. Vera Kaneshiro said that the thin red strip down the front of each boot is called atngaghun, a name that also refers to traditional tattoos on a woman’s forehead and nose.

Culture: St. Lawrence Island Yupik
Region: St. Lawrence Island, Alaska
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 22cm
Accession Date: 1936
Source: William M. Fitzhugh Collection
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 193374.000