• top frame 
  • Gwich'in hunters in summer clothing, 1847.
  • Magnifying Glass

Gwich'in hunters in summer clothing, 1847.
Engraving based on a sketch by fur trader Alexander Hunter Murray.
Rare Book Collection, National Library of Canada.
Library Archives of Canada, C-002169

Clothing of the Athapaskans

'The Way it Was': Traditional Summer Clothing

“The way it was, even in the summertime they wore skin pants. They had feet on them.”
Belle Herbert, Shandaa: In My Lifetime, University of Alaska Press, 1988.

Traditionally, summer clothing was made from caribou and moose hides, tanned and scraped hair-free. Men, women, and children dressed similarly in two-piece outfits consisting of long-sleeved shirts or dresses, and a combination moccasin-trouser.

This clothing was superbly adapted to the subarctic climate, terrain and natural resources, and to Northern Athapaskan lifestyle. It was flexible and fitted, providing protection from rough terrain and the elements while permitting ease of movement. The soft hide foot of the footed trouser was well-suited for travel in fragile birch bark canoes. The tubular leg construction and joining of pant with footwear provided excellent protection against cold drafts, blackflies and mosquitoes.