KODIAK, Alaska—The Alutiiq Museum has released a booklet and a set of videos with directions for making a basic Alutiiq/Sugpiaq atkuk—parka. Produced in partnership with Elder Susan Malutin, the resources provided step-by-step instructions for creating a long, hoodless coat from fabric. The garment is styled like the iconic Kodiak Alutiiq snow falling parka worn by both men and women. The resources are intended to help Alutiiq people create cultural garments to share and celebrate their heritage. Alutiiq Museum Executive Director April Laktonen Counceller explained.
“There is a huge demand for information on how to make Alutiiq clothing. People in our community are hungry to express themselves by both creating and wearing parkas, headdresses, and other items. But you can’t buy an atkuk at the store and few people know how to make them. This project is part of an ongoing effort to help people create regalia.”
The instructions include information on ancestral snow falling parkas, which were once made from cormorant throat skins. The modern version calls for heavy black fabric, red grosgrain ribbon, tufts of white fur, and beads. A full list of supplies and equipment appears in the resources with detailed, illustrated sewing instructions. Importantly, the instructions leave room for each sewer to add decorative touches, to make their garment unique.
“This is not a simple project,” said Counceller, “It requires the use of a sewing machine and some patience. Yet, with materials available at a fabric store and our instructions, you can create an Alutiiq atkuk and decorate it in your own way.”
The video tutorials and instruction booklet are available for free on the sewing page of the museum’s website. Paper copies of the booklet are being distributed to tribal organizations, libraries, schools, and the museum’s educational partners. While supplies last, the public can pick up a free copy at the Alutiiq Museum Store at the Downtown Marketplace. The booklet contains instructions for sizing without a pattern, but for those who prefer to work with a template, the museum created a paper pattern that is available for purchase from the Museum Store.
“Clothing in canvas for cultural expression. Our ancestors shared messages about their worldviews, families, and achievements in their parkas. I’m excited to see how people express themselves today. Ultimately, I envision a community where Alutiiq clothing is commonly—worn widely to symbolize and celebrate Native heritage by people of all ages, abilities, and means.”
The Alutiiq Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the history and culture of the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq, an Alaska Native tribal people. Representatives of Kodiak Alutiiq organizations govern the museum with funding from charitable contributions, memberships, grants, contracts, and sales.