Icthalik

Itchalik

An itchalik is a dome-shaped shelter  of willow branches and skins.

Welcome to the Itchalik!

Sit down, lean back and learn along with us about the Arctic, Native culture, and traditional ways.

'Itchalik' is updated with new pages as we move along seeing and hearing about stuff on the expedition trail.



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The itchalik tent, is a dome-shaped willow framework most often covered by skins-most often from caribou. It is a shelter traditionally used in the Beringia region when the peoples here were nomadic. Then living of the land, the people would move often with the season throughout the year in pursuit of hunting, fishing, and trapping resources. The itchalik was an important part of that freedom of movement. All the materials needed to fashion and maintain the tent were locally available and easily obtained.

The name itchalik comes from from the Iñupiaq word itchaqsraq, meaning "six," and refers to the six skins traditionally used to cover such a structure!

The tents were also sometimes called qaluugvik, which refers to the wooden tent framework...

The itchalik was traditionally used in all seasons and all kinds of weather. Its sturdy dome shape and round floor plan made it capable of withstanding the strongest Arctic gales, while its skin covering kept it warm in the bitter cold of winter and cool in the heat of summer.

During wintertime, the tent was outfitted with two sets of skins: a fully furred inner set with the hair side facing outward, covered by a second outer set of skins with hair removed. Under extreme conditions, the tent could be covered with several inches of snow that provided additional insulation. When the tent was disassembled, this was done from the inside, leaving the hardened snow dome intact and available for use by any other travelers who might happen along later. In summer, the heavy inner set of skins was safely cached and only the light, waterproof outer set of dehaired skins was used to cover the frame.If people were traveling very light, they might carry only the tent skins, and improvise a set of poles from willows along the way!