Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Gut parka

chigdax^ “gut parka”
Language: Unangam Tunuu (Eastern Aleut and Atkan dialects)

Also called:
chag^talisax^ “gut parka, rain gear”
Language: Unangam Tunuu (Eastern Aleut dialect)

The intestines were cleaned and blown up, then dried in the air, in the sun. They didn’t cut them until they dried, and then they split them open. It could be sea lion or bearded seal or any big sea animal.

—Maria Turnpaugh, 2003

Women sewed feather-light but strong waterproof parkas from the intestines of sea lions, harbor seals, fur seals, whales, and grizzly bears. The intestines were cleaned and dried, split open to make strips, then sewn together with sinew thread using double-fold watertight seams. The hood, which has a drawstring for the face, was sewn separately and attached. On this parka, red, blue, and black yarn was worked into the seams for color. Kayakers wore the parka in combination with a spray skirt that fastened around the cockpit to seal the boats from waves.

Culture: Unangax (Aleut)
Region: Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Village: Attu
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 110cm
Accession Date: 1869
Source: Army Medical Museum (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E383185