Women’s Work, Women’s Art: Nineteenth-Century Northern Athapaskan Clothing
By Judy Thompson
March 2013, ISBN 978-0-7735-4159-7
336 pp., 204 illustrations, 23 x 28 cm, paperback
Women’s Work, Women’s Art combines oral traditions, community interviews and the writings of traders, explorers and missionaries with a wealth of visual materials — from rare early sketches to 20th century photographs — to produce an engaging and definitive study of Athapaskan clothing and culture.
Garments made from tanned animal hides afforded Northern Athapaskans protection against a harsh environment, but the striking features of this clothing are also a distinctive part of the traditional culture of the Indigenous peoples of North America’s western subarctic. Beautifully decorated with quillwork, fringes, and pigments, they provide a means of artistic expression signifying ethnic identity and conveying information about the physical, social, and spiritual well-being of the wearer.
Women’s Work, Women’s Art is the culmination of over 40 years of research and the first comprehensive study of this little-known aspect of Athapaskan culture. Encompassing all Northern Athapaskan groups, it chronicles a period that saw significant change in Aboriginal culture and the persistence of ancient traditions among the women who made and adorned this clothing. Individual chapters address the various roles and functions of clothing in Athapaskan societies, the technology of clothing production and design, and characteristic regional styles.