Itchalik: Caribou Skin Tent

The Window and Doorway

The tent window, called the igaliq, was usually made from the small intestines of the grizzly bear. Women prepared the intestines by turning them inside out and rinsing them clean with fresh water. They were carefully scraped of membranes and blood, washed again, and then blown up like a balloon and hung to dry. After they had dried, the women flattened them and rolled them for storage.

The two-foot square window itself was made by sewing together strips of the intestine. The seamstress would then sew a rim of very short-haired caribou skin to reinforce the hem.

The itchalik's doorway was framed by two poles. A 10-inch high threshold of wood, sometimes covered with caribou skins, kept drafts out.

The talu or door flap was usually made from the hide of a grizzly bear, with the fur side facing the inside of the dwelling. If the family had no bear skin, they could use two thick-haired winter bull caribou skins, the hairless sides against each other, instead. If the tent got too warm inside, people would prop open a corner of the door.