Eye on the Trail: Parky Fashion in Unalakleet

When the residents of Unalakleet come out to welcome the mushers to village, it never fails to amaze me how beautiful their tradition Inupiaq parkys are.  There are no two that are alike.  They are often made with beautiful printed fabrics or sometimes sturdy corduroy.  They are well insulated and usually have a rim of fur showing around the bottom.  They are trimmed with rickrack or piping to set off the pockets and sometimes the zipper.  The ruff on the parky can be very elaborate or functional and beautiful.  The sunshine ruff is appropriately named as it looks like rays of the sun.  The ruff serves the purpose of sheltering the face and is amazingly effective.

I asked a young woman if she’d made her parky.  She replied no, my mother made it for me.  Making a parky is a very traditional form of Inupiaq art.  Hopefully the skills of sewing with fur and fabric are being passed down to the younger generations so many years form now there will still be the colorful and beautiful welcome for the mushers as the come into Unalakleet.