Sunday, 19 August 2012

Tanning moose hide in 1947

"The women punched holes around  the  hide  to  tie  it to the  frame  which  they stood upright against  2  trees.  With a  sharp  bone, they  scraped off  the  fur  on  one  side,  the flesh  from  underneath  and  let it stand  for  a  night." (La Loche circa 1944)


"Last  summer  while  I  was staying  at  Pachuanak  with my father,  I  was  interested  in
watching  the  women  transform a  moose's  hide  into  beaded moccasins.
This  is  how  they did  it."  (written in 1947 by a student of Ile a la Crosse School)

"The  men  had  killed  a  moose - a  rare  event  these  past years -- and  brought  the  hide home  to  their women  who  immediately  soaked  it in  a  tub  of water  so  that  it would  not harden  before  they  worked  on it.  The  men  also made a  frame with  four  poles -- and  their task was  ended."

"The women punched holes around  the  hide  to  tie  it to the  frame  which  they stood
upright  against  2  trees. With a  sharp  bone, they  scraped off  the  fur  on  one  side,
the flesh  from  underneath  and  let it stand  for  a  night."

The  next  day  they  removed the  hide  from  the  frame  and rubbed  it  on  both  sides  with the  brains  of  the moose  which the  men  had  saved.  This  takes
the  place  of  oil,  I  was  told. It  was  then  left  to  dry  in the  sun  for  a  few  days.
When  it was  dry,  they  soaked  it again  in  water  to  soften  it.
They  took  the  hide  to the  bush,  hung  it  over  a
strong  branch,  and  wrung  it with a  stick,  turning  it  over
and  over  until  not  a  drop  of water  could  be  squeezed  out of  it.

While  the  skin  was drying,  the  women  scraped  it and  beat  it with covers  of
pails  to  make it fuzzy and soft on  both sides. It was now  ready  to  be  tanned.

They  sewed  the  skin  together  lengthwise,  leaving both  ends  open.
With three sticks  they  built  a  tepee, suspended  the  skin  inside
and  made  a  fire  with  rotten wood  directly  beneath  it.
The smoke  which  curled  in  and  out of  the  roll  of  skin,  tanned  it to  a  golden  color.

Finally  they  cut  out  the mocassins  according  to  a  simple  pattern  of  their  own.
Some sewed  on  the  colored  beads , scarce  and  expensive  since  the war,
while  others  embroidered the  floral  designs  which  they
had  traced  on  the  skin  with  a little stick dipped  in  a  red
solution made  with  a  piece  of crepe  paper.
What  patient  labour  it required -- definitely  a  woman's work"~
Florence  Ahenakew  (IX)

"They  took  the  hide  to the  bush,  hung  it  over  a strong  branch,  and  wrung  it with a  stick,  turning  it  over and  over  until  not  a  drop  of water  could  be  squeezed  out of  it."
(La Loche circa 1944)
 (La Loche circa 1944)

Florence Ahenakew was a grade 9 student at Ile a la Crosse School in 1947 when she wrote this story. She was born on June 7, 1929. Her father was Alexander Ahenakew, the H.B.C. post manager of the Pine River Post more

Copied from 'Island Breeze' ....December 1947   (Ile a la Crosse newspaper)

The black and white photos on this page were taken in the 1940's in La Loche, Saskatchewan.
Read more......

The boy is Robert Guetre (1940?). Elizabeth (Robert's mother) is the lady on the left. Father Ducharme on the left. Isabelle (Velner) Janvier (grandmother of Pauline (Janvier) Fontaine)