Mukluks

Mukluks

Pair of moosehide mukluks

Beaver and squirrel fur trim, floral (rose on vamp, fireweed on upper) beading patterns, what appear to be bear claw tassels with large and small beads, fur pom-poms.

Mukluks are a soft boot traditionally made of hide designed for cold weather. The word mukluk is borrowed from the Inuit term for winter boots. The hide boots cover the feet, ankles and part of the calf keeping them protected from the elements. Yukon First Nations did not traditionally use mukluks. Moccasin-trousers or high ankle wrap moccasins were worn before non-Native contact.

As Yukon First Nations adopted Western styles of dress, warm hide footwear continued to be worn. They were preferred for their superior warmth and maneuverability. Early settlers chose to wear mukluks due to the scarcity of European footwear which was expensive and less protective against the cold. Yukon First Nations and early Yukon settlers wore mukluks because they weighed little and allowed hunters to move quietly.

Fashioned on boots from the north, this example is elaborately beaded on both uppers and sections of the leg. Fur decorates the ankle and top trim of the mukluk while tassels of bear claws, hide, and beads decorate the fur segment of the boot. Mukluks are still made and sold in specialties shops although rubber soles (or toe rubbers) have usually been added to newer versions intended for wet weather in spring and fall.

Skookum Jim, the man that discovered gold in 1986, causing the Klondike Gold Rush also had a frog spirit helper. Skookum Jim was walking along a beach when he saw a frog, his spirit helper. It was the wealth woman. She pointed to the water and told him to follow her walking stick. He didn't know what that meant at the time. Soon after he found the gold. Skookum Jim's frog helper is an important but lesser known element to the folklore surrounding the gold discovery.

Institution

Kluane Museum of History, Burwash Landing

Accession Number

1975.2.a-b

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