Naturally Done Up

Read another blog post from our store’s founder, author Thomas Martindale from his many travels in the Upper Yukon around 1913. Then read today’s sequel. Here is a glimpse into women’s lives more than a hundred years ago as they went about natural living without a thought. In fact, one women was described as being “naturally done up”, a compliment to be sure.

Women Experiencing Natural Living in the Upper Yukon

In today’s snowstorm, consider how women experienced natural living in old Yukon territory. Natural living looks different in every time and place. Sit back, relax with some golden milk, grab your huskies and read on:

husky dog Upper Yukon

“Most of the men in this territory give unstinted praise to the Indian women for their extreme care of and their great affection for their children. The Chief often entertained me by accounts of his wife’s great love for their offspring. He would also interest me by stories of his wife’s skill in shooting the mountain sheep, the caribou, or the moose, and her ability to trap fish and to shoot wild geese. When the snow was deep and he couldn’t cover all of his trapping lines within a reasonable time, she would take her husky dogs and the sled, and cover one of his trapping lines nearest the cabin, say a distance of nine miles out and nine miles back, thus making eighteen miles in all. She would then take out of the traps whatever animals might be caught in them, re-set and bait the traps, bring the captured carcasses home on the sled, and promptly skin and cure their hides.

…Our other guide, a native of Montana, also married an Indian woman… Now listen… and hear what this man has to say in favor of the Indian wife.

“My wife doesn’t wear corsets, and therefore her body isn’t crushed and bent out of its natural shape. Neither does she wear high-heeled and small-toed shoes. The coming and going of fashions do not interest her, neither does she run to the stores to see the latest styles in hats. She is always well, and so are our children, and thus we have no need of a doctor. Her three children she brought into the world by herself. My wife doesn’t want to go out to play five hundred, bridge-whist, or euchre, neither does she gossip her time away with other women. She attends to her housework, and takes great care in the training of her children. This, together with the out-of-doors work that she has to do, takes up all of her time…”

She wore “no beauteous scarfs” or other fashionable finery, but she was neatly and plainly dressed in a becoming black gown. Her feet were encased in well-fitting leather shoes with common sense heels. Her hair was nicely and naturally done up, and it was clear of “rats” as far as we could judge. Moreover, her house was clean and showed the earmarks of an energetic housewife.

Now, good reader, do you not think I do right in giving this good woman a strong mead of praise…?”


Excerpt by Thomas Martindale, Pub. 1913, from Hunting in the Upper Yukon

Thomas Martindale on Wildwood