Alaska Eskimo Footwear celebrates the incredible beauty and spiritual significance of the shoes and boots worn by Alaska Native peoples. Stunning photography brings the harsh and striking environment of the North alive and demonstrates how essential footwear was to Native survival. Eskimo seamstresses, dancers, and hunters explain the symbolic meaning of their traditional patterns and decorative details, helping the reader understand the ancient stories stitched into timeless designs.
For each major Alaska Eskimo group "Inupiaq, Yup'ik, Aleut, Alutiiq, St. Lawrence Islander" authors Oakes and Riewe discuss pattern, design, and techniques for skin preparation, construction, and decoration. They describe the reasons for design and decorative differences in boots used for ceremonies and dancing versus those for everyday wear and hunting, trapping, and fishing.
Developed with Eskimo seamstresses from each Alaskan region, this full-color volume features photographs from museum collections in the United States and Russia. Detailed drawings of patterns, construction techniques, and decorative details illustrate the complexity of this ancient art and provide readers with guidance in identifying regional styles. A tribute to an exquisite art and the women who practice it, Alaska Eskimo Footwear brings the beauty of the North to life.
Jill Oakes teaches in the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of Manitoba. With Rick Riewe, her husband, she wrote Our Boots: An Inuit Women's Art, as well as Spirit of Siberia: Traditional Native Life, Clothing, and Footwear which was published in association with the Bata Shoe Museum (Toronto). Her fields of interest include the ways that Native women improve their community's quality of life, manage resources, and pass on traditional knowledge.
Rick Riewe is a professor of zoology at the University of Manitoba, where he teaches ecology, resource management, and biology. He studies northern wildlife management, native land use, and the domestic economy of northern hunters. With funding from the Bata Shoe Museum, he and his wife have lived and studied with the Native peoples of Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Fennoscandia, and Greenland.
"The written text is beautifully augmented by contemporary and historical photographs, as well as line drawings. This illustrative material is a major asset to the manuscript."
—Richard Nelson, PhD