The Inupiat Eskimos in Shishmaref wear these beautiful coats. Up here, they call them “parkis.” At first glance, they look like brightly colored, thin, pullover-style coats, trimmed in fur. As I have gotten my hands on a few (I have literally petted several), and talked to people, a more interesting coat was revealed.

While it’s true that the outer layer is colorful and sometimes is made of very thin fabric, it is actually only an outer layer. Underneath is a very heavy layer made of animal skin. In many cases, it is spotted seal or caribou. The bottom of the skin is ruffed in a more ornate fur, like beaver. You can see my young model’s parki is ruffed in beaver. The cuffs and hood are also ruffed with fur designed to be attractive and also designed to keep the wind and cold away from the face and hands. I’ve spoken with a few people about different animal furs. It seems wolverine and polar bear are very warm and shield well from the wind and blowing snow. The creation of the parki is definitely women’s work. I understand that some women teach their daughters to pass the skill down and other women take classes that are offered in the community.

(I did get permission from my young friend’s guardian to post her picture. But because of the insanity of the world, that is as much as I will share about her.)