Yuungnaqpiallerput - The Way We Genuinely Live - Masterworks of Yup'ik Science and Survival

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Things made from squirrels
Spring camp on the upper Kwethluk River
Photo: Joe Spein
Spring camp on the upper Kwethluk River, 1989.

Waten ingrini unuakumi tua-i ayagluni igtemek tekitaqami kapkaaniraqluni, ayagluni igtemek tangrraqami kapkaaniraqluni. Tua-i-ll' iquklicata, aqumgarraarluni akerta una cuqluku uterrluni, takuiluki tua-i. Imna pamna atmagcuun, atmagcuun qanganarnek imangluni.

In the mountains, one left in the morning, and when he arrived at a squirrel den he'd set a trap there, continue on, and set another trap when he found another den. And at the end, he'd sit down and wait, and soon before the sun set, he'd start going back and check the traps. He'd put the squirrels he caught in his backpack, and soon it would be filled.

--Wassilie Evan, Akiak

The seemingly insignificant squirrel was a primary source of fur for clothing year-round. Squirrel skins were both abundant and ideal for use as outer and inner garments, their small size and irregular shapes allowing for great flexibility to create well fitted clothing.

Makikcaq Squirrel SnareSnare


Wassilie Evan said: "Before they had metal traps, after setting that snare, they threaded the line through a bird wing bone. When that small snare was pulled and closed up, that piece of bone slid, and even though the squirrel bit, it couldn't be easily cut."


L- 7 in
W- 1 3/4 in
H- 1 in


Gift of Norma Hoyt, Anchorage Museum 1990.039.114

Nacaq Squirrel-skin CapSquirrel Cap


Squirrel-skin cap for summer wear from Bristol Bay.


W- 10 1/4 in
H- 15 3/4 in
Diameter- 9 in


C. L. McKay, 1882, Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution 56063

Qungasvik Squirrel-Skin BagSquirrel Bag


Squirrel-skin bag from Tuniakpuk on the Togiak River.


L- 15 3/4 in
W- 10 1/4 in
H- 1 1/2 in


I. Applegate, 1886, Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution 127334

Yuraryaraq Squirrel-skin HoodSquirrel Hood


Squirrel-skin hood made by Nellie Reed of Eek, 1971.

Frank Andrew said, "They used them for traveling when they wore parkas without hoods."


L- 21 1/2 in
W- 4 1/2 in
H- 13 1/4 in


Anchorage Municipal Acquisition Fund, Anchorage Museum 1971.052.001

Uulungiiq Squirrel-Skin ParkaSquirrel Parka


Squirrel-skin parka from Akiak.

Elena Charles noted: "They don't throw away any part of the squirrel and use their tails and stomachs as hanging decorations on the parka. The sleeve trimmings are mink tails."

It takes a bundle of forty-five squirrel pelts to make a man's parka. In a good year, a trapper could harvest enough skins for several parkas.


W- 43 in
H- 36 in
Diameter- 18 in


A. H. Twitchell, 1919, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution 11/6723

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