These boots have people talking

Mukluks with bead designs Photo by waitscm (Chris Waits), Flickr

Mukluks with bead designs
Photo by waitscm (Chris Waits), Flickr

Adapted from The Vancouver Sun

Level 2 (See slide show at the end of the article.)

There is new footwear in the fashion world.
Many people are talking about them.
This footwear is called mukluks.
Mukluks are soft boots. Some are knee-high.
But mukluks are not really new.


History of mukluks
The word mukluks is from the Yupik language.
The Yupik live in parts of Alaska and eastern Russia.
These people are related to the Inuit.
“Kamiks” is the Inuit name for mukluks.
Kamik is the name of the bearded seal.
The people used Kamiks for food and clothing.
First Nations people wore mukluks for centuries.
Women made them from different animal skins.
Sometimes the boots had fur on the outside and inside.
The women often decorated the mukluks.

Mukluks were useful
Mukluks were light in weight.
But they were very warm in the cold winters.
Temperatures in the North could drop to – 50º C.
People in the North could walk silently
with mukluks while they were hunting.

Sealskin boots Photo by Ansgar Walk, Wikimedia Commons

Sealskin boots
Photo by Ansgar Walk, Wikimedia Commons

The fashion world
In 1997, two Métis siblings, Sean and Heather McCormick,
started a boot company in Winnipeg, Manitobah Mukluks.
Several aboriginal artisans make the boots.
It takes almost three months to make a pair.
Métis women are famous for their beautiful bead work.
These women sometimes decorate the boots with beads.
The designs on the mukluks are thousands of years old.
The boots are made of moose, deer or beaver skins.
The soles of the boots are modern, flexible rubber.

Fashion can be expensive
The artists make mukluks in the old way,
then get 50% of each pair of boots sold.
The boots sell for $1,200 or more.

Native Alaskan woman’s traditional parka, Museum of the North, Fairbanks, Alaska Photo by neeravbhatt (Neerav Bhatt), Flickr

Native Alaskan woman’s traditional parka, Museum of the North, Fairbanks, Alaska
Photo by neeravbhatt (Neerav Bhatt), Flickr

Parkas
Modern parkas are also popular clothing now.
A parka is a warm coat with a hood.
The hood on modern parkas has faux fur.
Parkas were traditional clothing
worn by the First Nations people.
The traditional fur trim was
from wolves, rabbits or other animals.
Parka is an Aleut word. The Aleut people
lived on the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and parts of Russia.

Parka Photo by Jennoit (Jenn), Flickr

Parka
Photo by Jennoit (Jenn), Flickr

Borrowing words
English is a living language which borrows from other languages.
People learn new words for new things.
They learn new words for new foods.
Sometimes they spell them or say them differently.

Words we borrow
Food words like pizza, taco, tofu, sushi,
chapati, samosa, biscuit, noodle, yogurt and quiche
all come from other languages.
Other borrowed words are igloo,
toboggan, futon, ski, smorgasbord and boss.
How many do you know?
Find out if you are right!
Go to the PDF version of the story.

Building an iglu (igloo) in Cape Dorset, Nunavut Photo by Ansgar Walk, Wikimedia Commons

Building an iglu (igloo) in Cape Dorset, Nunavut
Photo by Ansgar Walk, Wikimedia Commons

 

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