Alaska Native culture

Kuspuk Fridays

I see more and more individuals and organizations joining in to participate in Kuspuk Fridays. These summer parkas can be worn by men and women. I wrote an article about it for the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer in 2013 for the Athabascan Word of the Week column. My daughter wrote an article for her middle school newspaper, the Ram Report. Wendler Middle School journalism teacher Anna Kupilik graciously allowed me to share the article on the Athabascan Woman Blog.

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Mrs. Kupilik and Mrs. Palach show off their kuspuks for Alaska Native Heritage Month at Wendler Middle School.
Mrs. Kupilik and Mrs. Palach show off their kuspuks for Alaska Native Heritage Month at Wendler Middle School. Courtesy photo

Making Kuspuks
By: Ermelina Gonzalez

This month is heritage month for Alaska Natives. One part of the Alaska Native cultures is a kuspuk, a traditional clothing. It is commonly worn by Alaska Natives. There are different types of styles. There is a skirt used to keep cool while picking berries along with strings on it to keep bugs away.

Ms. Rosa has been helping the students make their kuspuks. One student is almost done. She learned how to make kuspuks from her mom. After high school she learned how to use a sewing machine.

Later this school year Ms. Rosa will be doing a vest kind of garment. Every Friday is kuspuk day, so wear your kuspuk.

Wendler Middle School staff show off their kuspuks for Alaska Native Heritage Month. Left to right: Mr. Wilson, Mrs. Sager, Mrs. McMillan, Mrs. Carrillo, and Mrs. Luhrs. Courtesy photo
Wendler Middle School staff show off their kuspuks for Alaska Native Heritage Month. Left to right: Mr. Wilson, Mrs. Sager, Mrs. McMillan, Mrs. Carrillo, and Mrs. Luhrs. Courtesy photo

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Thank you to Ermelina for a great article highlighting kuspuks. Here are some translations for summer parkas in other Alaska Native languages.

Koyukon Athabascan – bets’egh hoolaanee
Inupiaq – atikłuk
Yup’ik – cuspuk or kuspuk

See a few more translations in the flyer below.

Staff at the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Rural and Community Development wear their kuspuks on Wednesdays.
Staff at the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Rural and Community Development wear their kuspuks on Wednesdays.

Recently, KTVA did a story kuspuks and created a photo gallery. I enjoy wearing my summer parka. It’s great to see Alaskans embracing Alaska Native culture by proudly wearing their kuspuks. Do you have a day where you wear summer parkas?

Angela Gonzalez. Photo by Audrey Armstrong
Here I am wearing a fancy bets’egh hoolaanee. Photo by Audrey Armstrong