Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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gets’ “mittens”
Language: Ahtna

After the introduction of beads, people stopped using quills for a while because the beads were more sturdy, and they were more durable, I guess, than quills. But now I see the art is coming back.

—Eliza Jones, 2004

These summer mittens made of tanned caribou skin are from the Ahtna people of the Copper River valley. They would have been worn with a caribou hide tunic, hood, and moccasin-pants. The mitts are simply but beautifully decorated with bands of dyed porcupine quill stitching and with quill-wrapped fringes, and have a quilled keeper-string that went around the neck. The mittens were collected in the 1870s, a time when glass trade beads were replacing porcupine quill designs on Athabascan clothing.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Copper River, Alaska
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 32.5cm
Accession Date: n.d.
Source: Ivan Petroff (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E072842