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Sheldon Jackson Museum October 2021 Artifact of the Month is a Pair of Athabascan Moccasins

by LAM Webmaster on 2021-10-11T09:55:00-08:00 in Artifact of the Month, Museums, Sheldon Jackson Museum | 0 Comments

For Immediate Release
October 9, 2021

Contemporary Athabascan MoccasinsThe Sheldon Jackson Museum’s October Artifact of the Month is a pair of contemporary Athabascan moccasins. Sarah Knudson of Fort Yukon donated the beaded moccasins in 1998. They are one of two pairs of Athabascan beaded moccasins Knudson specifically donated for the Sheldon Jackson Museum’s Hands-On Loan Collection.

The moose hide moccasins are low-cut, trimmed with beaver fur, and beautifully hand-stitched and hand-beaded with glass seed beads. The negative space of the vamps (tops) features white beading. The floral motif is comprised of a single larger yellow flower and a smaller pink and white flower near the toe. Both flowers have a leaf on each side and green seed beads. A single row of brown seed beads connects the flowers in a stem-like line. A single row of black seed beads and a turquoise blue felt strip outline the vamps. The same blue felt material, cut with a serrated edge, adorns the back of the moccasins. The bottoms are well-worn, but the moccasins are in good condition overall. The object file doesn't indicate the maker or the person who wore them.

Most Alaskan Athabascans originally wore “moccasin trousers” – a one-piece garment that covered both feet and legs. Separate moccasins not attached to leggings became common in Alaska during the late 19th century after Hudson Bay Company fur traders arrived. Traders brought the style from Athabascan and Chipeweyan Natives of Canada West. Today, most moccasin makers favor a round-toed slipper like the Artifact of the Month pair.

The Hands-On Loan Collection consists of 622 objects for school groups visiting the museum, for teachers to borrow and use in the classroom, or for homeschool teachers to use in homes across Alaska. Teachers may check out the majority of objects in the collection with advance notice. Learn more about the Hands-On Loan Collection and offerings and how this program has become more flexible in the wake of Covid-19.

The October Artifact of the Month will be exhibited until October 31. The museum has six pairs of Athabascan moccasins in the permanent collection and a variety of other examples of Athabascan material culture. See them at the museum during normal hours, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-4 pm. General admission is $9, $8 for seniors, and free for those 18 and under or members of either the Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum or Friends of the Alaska State Museum.

Media Contact:

Patience Frederiksen
Director, Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums

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