Alaska

The Alaskan Eskimo traditionally occupied the areas of Alaska north of the forest boundary from North Sound to the Canadian border.

Several distinct indigenous groups still exist throughout Alaska in a variety of arctic and subarctic habitats. Among the northern Eskimos, caribou and bird skin was the traditional material for winter clothing, while summer clothing was of seal skin, ground squirrel or muskrat. For foul-weather or water travel, waterproof parkas were made from the intestines of sea mammals.

Footwear was usually produced from bearded seal skin, and might incorporate calf, otter, wolverine, or polar bear skin or fur. Alaskan Eskimo boots were typically made with a pre-formed sole, which was finely pleated around the edges and turned up to fit the foot, then attached to the shaft. Another Alaskan feature includes the use of straps which cross and tie around the ankles. Socks worn inside the boots were traditionally made of woven grass.

For conservation reasons, and in order to show more variety over time, only a selection of footwear from the permanent collection is displayed in our exhibitions at any one time. This means there's always something new to see.

image of Alaskan footwear