Making Kamiks - Transmitting Knowledge and Skill

"During the skin boot production process, elders pass on oral traditions to young seamstresses who are interested in traditional rituals and sharing systems. The first pair of skin boots sewn by a young sibling is a symbol of her bond with the traditional lifestyle and the importance of sharing Inuit and Inuvialuit culture."
As told in Inuktitut by Ulayok Kaviok, an Arviat elder, 1985-87

Tools Made for a Woman’s Hand

In the process of outfitting their families, Inuit women prepared the skins through various stages, and constructed skin garments and boots by hand. The ulu is their most valued tool, and is often made to fit their own hands. Its various shapes and sizes serve different cutting and scraping functions. Other tools serve to scrape, soften, and work the skins. Inuit still make and use these tools today, although they sometimes buy them, or use modern rather than natural materials.

"I use one type of scraper for softening caribou skins and another type for seal skins. When I was little I started playing with scrapers and tools by practicing on skins."
Quqshuun, Gjoa Haven 1986

"You need a sharp ulu for taking blubber and hair off seal skins. It takes a lot of time to re-sharpen an ulu if someone has let it get in bad shape."
Katherine Kopak, Arviat, 1986

"Straight scrapers are used to press out the excess water and fat from seal hair after washing the skin."
Elisapee Alooloo, Arctic bay, 1984

"I bring this [scraping platform] with me when we go camping for the summer so I can easily shave hair from seal skins. You have to make sure you keep the board clean and flat so you won’t accidentally slice through the skin."
Lydia Akumaliq, Arctic Bay, 1984
The Bata Shoe Museum

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