Yup'ik/Alaska Native contemporary and traditional arts and crafts
Merna Wharton “Nasek’taq” is Yup'ik from Akiacuaq (Akiachak) lives in Anchorage Alaska. Merna is an Alaska Native artist, poet, traditional and contemporary seamstress, carver, gatherer of greens and berries, and loves the outdoors of Alaska! Merna enjoys finding art in natural elements and shares her experiences through her website, nasektaq.com. Merna crafts to preserve her culture and art and shares her worldview from a remote village Yup’ik girl’s perspective with a glimpse of life in Alaska in her writing and poems. More information about her art can be found at https://www.rasmuson.org/49writers/artist-profile/merna-wharton/.
I started this child parka several years ago but I didn’t have enough Arctic Ground squirrels to finish the atkuk. Atkuk is the type of fur parka that is a pull over similar to the qaspeq made out of material for causal or professional use. Before I go any further on this subject piece, I had a surprise visit last Saturday from one of the authors of “Edible and Medicinal Plants of Southwest Alaska” – Ann Fienup-Riordan, a Cultural Anthropologist. Another special surprise, I have been blessed to examine and measure an Atkupiaq or an Alngaq sent by Kwethluk relative, Margaret Ayapan. I’ve been encouraged by these opportunities to learn more about the Yup’ik atkut in different forms or styles. I was finally able to restart the “Toddler Atkuk.”
Here is a time line of the Toddler Atkuk:
I initially added a sea otter collar but removed it and so glad I add the hood.
The last sewing to add are tassels with beads. Piurci, Tuingunrituq.
I am all out of words because it’s fascinating to see an old finished alngaq made by Anna Z. Andrew, parka from the heart of Kwethluk 🤯🤩, an Alngaq Parka pictured here;
Measuring is key to a perfect stitch; Smaller the stitching is the finest quality! It just blows my mind to see with my own eyes but I have lots of questions and I just look and the answers are there. I was just telling my 18 year old daughter that she can become a professional skin sewer within a few years if she commit to learn and become teachable like any academic school available for such a time as this. It just takes willingness to make it happen, and all possible. There are a lot of Alaskan Natives who can keep traditional sewing moving forward by participating in sewing.
Quyana Margaret Ayapan from Kwethluk for giving me opportunity to measure and examine a delicate work of your maternal grandmother Anna Z. Andrew traditional stitches of Alngaq. I just love the ability to see the hands of an expert seamstress, Quyana 🌸❤️
Margaret’s mother in the picture is wearing a Qulitaq – possibly with the drum design my mom, Mary Ann Lomack was able to measure and began to make.
So far, I have added the River Otter and wolf fur.
I have yet to examine in person a Qulitaq so that I can finish what my mom started. I think I can do it from looking at the picture but still need verification that I would sew it as traditionally made.
Margaret sent me her Grandma’s hand made parka, Alngaq. I put away the Qulitaq and will began to make the Alngaq Parka. There are 22 tassels:
Two rectangular tassels and four square tassels that are similar to the Qulitaq and Qaliq.
My next step are to cut the squirrels in same size began to sew them together stitch by stitch under the watchful eyes.
Tuingunrituq! Stay tune for more pictures and story time. 🌸