Kuspuk – Wikipedia

Alaskan hooded overshirt

Alaska Native dancer performing in a kuspuk

Man wearing a contemporary kuspuk

A kuspuk () (Central Yupik: qaspeq;[1][2]Inupiaq: atikłuk[3][4]) is a hooded overshirt with a large front pocket commonly worn among Alaska Natives.[5] Kuspuks are tunic-length, falling anywhere from below the hips to below the knees.[6] The bottom portion of kuspuks worn by women may be gathered and akin to a skirt. Kuspuks tend to be pullover garments, though some have zippers.[7]

Though kuspuks are traditionally a Yup’ik garment,[8] they are now worn by both men and women of many Native groups, as well as by non-Natives.[5][8][9] The garment was originally made of animal skin or gut and was worn over a fur parka to keep the parka clean.[5][10][6] As stores became more common in Bush villages, kuspuks began to be made of calico grain sacks.[5] Kuspuks are now generally made from brightly printed cotton calico, velvet, or corduroy trimmed with rickrack.[2][10][11] Today, kuspuks are often worn as a blouse with pants.[10][12]

Many Alaska legislators and their staff members wear kuspuks on Fridays.[5][8][9] The tradition was started by Representative Mary Kapsner (now Mary Sattler Peltola) of Bethel around 2000.[5][9] The legislative dress code, however, requires that kuspuks be worn with dark pants.[8] Legislators’ enthusiasm for kuspuks has contributed to their rising popularity in the state.[5]

Travelers wearing kuspuks have faced scrutiny from airport security screeners the federal Transportation Security Administration because of the garment’s looseness and bulkiness.[12][13] Screeners have asked passengers to remove their kuspuks. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich have criticized this security practice as culturally insensitive, as the kuspuk may not always be easily removed, since it may be worn “like a T-shirt or blouse”, with no other shirts underneath.[12][13]

Pope John Paul II was presented a kuspuk as a gift when he visited Alaska in 1981.[7]

Native names[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Susan B. Andrews; John Creed (1998). Authentic Alaska: Voices of Its Native Writers. University of Nebraska Press. p. 155. ISBN 0-8032-5933-6.
  2. ^ a b Dean M. Gottehrer (2000). The Associated Press Stylebook for Alaska. Epicenter Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-945397-87-8.
  3. ^ Susan B. Andrews; John Creed (2010). Purely Alaska: Authentic Voices from the Far North : Stories from 23 Rural Alaskans. Epicenter Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-1-935347-10-1.
  4. ^ Ikuta, Hiroko (2007). “Iñupiaq pride: Kivgiq (Messenger Feast) on the Alaskan North Slope”. Études/Inuit/Studies. 31 (1–2): 343–364. doi:10.7202/019736ar.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g McBride, Rhonda (March 2, 2014). “Kuspuks at the Capitol”. KTVA. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d Jacobson, Steven A. (compiler) 2012. Yup’ik Eskimo Dictionary, 2nd edition. Greatly revised and emended edition of Jacobson’s 1984 dictionary. Alaska Native Language Center (qaspeq = thin hooded pullover garment, of length varying from below the hips to below the knees, usually of cloth nowadays (formerly of thin skin), often brightly colored and well decorated (especially those made for women), worn as a parka cover, as a jacket or dress; anorak; snowshirt; rain parka or other uninsulated parka; “kuspuk”)
  7. ^ a b Bartley, Bruce (February 21, 1981). “Alaska preparing a warm welcome for the pope”. Lawrence Journal-World. Associated Press. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d Land, Ted (March 6, 2010). “Capitol continues commemorative kuspuk custom”. KTUU. Archived from the original on May 23, 2014. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c “It’s Kuspuk Friday in the Alaska Legislature”. Alaska Public Media. March 22, 2013. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c Nancy Gates (2006). The Alaska Almanac: Facts about Alaska. Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-88240-652-7.
  11. ^ Alexander B. Dolitsky (1997). Fairy Tales and Myths of the Bering Strait Chukchi. Alaska-Siberia Research Center. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-9653891-1-2.
  12. ^ a b c Land, Ted (March 22, 2012). “Alaska’s Kuspuk Becomes Part of TSA Debate”. KTUU. Archived from the original on May 23, 2014. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Hopkins, Kyle (October 20, 2012). “Pressed for change, Native leaders promise a ‘new, modern AFN’. Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  14. ^ alaskool.org: Chevak glossary words (qaspeq = outer lining of a parka)
  15. ^ Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalkuti: Nunivak Island Cup’ig Language Preliminary Dictionary (qasper = kuspuk; parka cover)
  16. ^ MacLean, Edna Ahgeak 2011. Iñupiatun Uqaluit Taniktun Sivunniuġutiŋit / North Slope Iñupiaq to English Dictionary. Alaska Native Languages Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks (atikłuk = cloth cover for fur parka, commonly called “snowshirt” )
  17. ^ Inupiaq postbases
  18. ^ Seiler, Wolf A. 2012. Iñupiatun Eskimo Dictionary. SIL International Partners in Language Development. (atikłuk = parka cover; snow shirt)
  19. ^ Bernadette Yaayuk Alvanna-Stimpfle 2007. “Ugiuvaŋmiuraaqtuaksrat” Future King Island Speakers, Alaska Native Knowledge Network, University of Alaska Fairbanks. April, 2007 (uġiłqaaq = parka cover (calico))

External links[edit]