Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Waterproof mittens

łookk’e leł gets “fishskin mittens”
Language: Deg Xinag

I think these are waterproof mittens because that’s what they use the fish skin for, and the same thing with the seal [used for the palms]. You know, seal will repel water… And seal skin is one of the things that interior people would trade with the coastal people.

—Eliza Jones, 2004

Salmon skin can be processed into durable, waterproof leather, and was traditionally used for boots, mittens, and pants. These Deg Hit’an mittens from Shageluk have “Eskimo-style” waterproof stitching and palms of from seal skin. They may have been made locally or traded upriver into the Yukon River basin from Yup’ik residents of the Bering Sea coast.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Yukon River, Alaska
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 33.5cm
Accession Date: 1869
Source: William H. Dall (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E008781