Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 

Snowshoes

ush “snowshoes”
Language: Dena’ina

And for young boys, when they make snowshoes like this for them, they always like to tie on ptarmigan feet. Ptarmigans run really fast, and that’s so the boys will be good runners.

—Eliza Jones, 2004

Upper Tanana people ascribed the invention of snowshoes to the far-traveling ancient hero Tsa-o-sha. Large, round-toed traveling shoes with tailed heels may be as long as a man is tall and provide maximum flotation in deep snow. Trimble Gilbert called this type łąįį vik’ii itree (meaning “a dog cries after someone”) in Gwich’in, because dogs sink in soft snow and can’t keep up with a man who is wearing them. On crusted snow a hunter on snowshoes and his dogs could easily run down a moose, which breaks through to its belly with every step. This pair is from the Dena’ina people.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Iliamna Lake, Alaska
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 132cm
Accession Date: 1879
Source: Edward W. Nelson (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E038874