#IdleNoMore – Denendeh

Idel No More - Denendeh

Idel No More – Denendeh


For Immediate Release

[Sombah K’e, Denendeh] – The Concerned Dene of Denendeh stand in solidarity with other First Nations, non-status Indians, Metis, Inuit and settler Canadians who oppose the legislation the Harper Government has put forward in Bill C-45 and other bills.

We stand on the path of our ancestors and hold strong to our Nation to Nation relationship through Treaties 8 and 11. The Dene have always been and continue to be a sovereign people. The unilateral passage of Bills C-45, C-27, S-2, S-6, S-8, C-428, S-207, S-212 was done without adequate and proper consultation with First Nations. These proposed changes are a violation of our Treaty Rights. The passage of these Bills is another colonial act that speaks to a small segment of society. Changes to any legislation must be conducted in the spirit and intent of our Treaties, with both Nations having equal say.

This legislation represents another attempt by the Canadian state to undermine Indigenous sovereignty and the inherent right to land and resources from First Nations peoples. There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we demand sustainable development as well. We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities.


We support #IdleNoMore and oppose the legislation the Harper Government has put forward. We call on the leaders of Denendeh to voice our concerns. We ask all the people of Denendeh to raise their own voices in unison.


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Concerned Dene of Denendeh




My Sister Heather Nakehk’o Guest Blog entry.

 Blogger, Heather Nakehk’o, sister and moose hide enthusiast by nature (maiden name Peltz, for real!)

August 4-12, Liidlii Kue, Dehcho

A brief history of how and why I got involved in this project:

Just about 12 and half years ago Melaw and her mom “new granny” came down to Eugene, Oregon to await the birth of the first grandchild/nephew, K’a’.  They brought with them their sewing and graciously tried to show me how to bead a pair of slippers for K’a’.  I failed miserably on that pair, did not even get the bead work done.  2 years later when we moved home to the north, and  I was home with K’a’, “old” Granny decided to teach me how to do it properly. She made me re-stich bead work, “Eschia!  After every bead my girl!” She patiently watched as I SLOWLY assembled my first pair (that she drew and cut out for me) only to snatch it up half way through my first one and finish both in lightening speed.  I was so proud to finish my first pair by myself and bring it to her (she took them apart and made me do it again :).
I was so inspired by Melaw’s quest to pick up what she knew from her memories of her Granny and her mom and tan a complete hide by herself, and to provide herself with materials to work with that I couldn’t wait to help out, not just to satisfy my own interest (and need for moose hide), but for the opportunity for all of our kids to watch and the chance to be able to learn enough to pass on a piece of “Old” Granny and “New” Granny to the future.  It is for the same reasons I butter my kids noses on their birthdays, cook large meals regardless of how many people are home, clean my house really well just before and just after I take a vacation, or spend time in the garden (regardless of skill).  To pass on the traditions I remember most as a kid, no matter how large or small, to my kids, and in the process create our own.

July 2011

I travel to Blachford Lake Lodge for Dechinta with Melaw and our kids.  I am there to do whatever she needs, from watching the kids to helping with hides.
Our sister bond is tested (and strengthened) as she jumps from student to teacher and I learn how much hard work really goes into tanning hides and wrangling kids amid the pull of super interesting discussions and the chaos of the royal visit.

hide work done :  twisting and scraping the hides with stones, a log peeling tool, and dull ulus.  Removing hair from a rotting hide by literally washing it off, cutting and stringing up a hide on a frame, fleshing hide and doing whatever we could to lesson the smell of said rotting hide in time for royal visit.  We accomplished the latter by using LOTS of spruce boughs around the hide and washing it with Melaw’s body wash.  BTW the Duchess touched the stinky hide and we all laughed about it later as we knew that smell would not come off easy!
Dome smoked and flat smoked various hides.

I fell asleep late everyday and woke up early with my hands cramped in scraping position.

May 2012

Drove to Liidlii Kue to help Melaw on her new hide project.

Hide work done:  cut the hair off a hide our dad and brother got last fall.  Melaw already had the hide on the frame and had done the fleshing.  We scraped A LOT.  I helped her build (i.e. I held, she nailed and constructed) a post so she could begin fleshing a new hide.  As I was driving out of town the day she started fleshing, I did not help out with as I was not driving alone and the rest of my family would not have appreciated the smell all 7 hours home.

LOVED when the kids came over to check things out.  Minsis (our niece, age 4) proved to be the most interested in helping out.

August 2012

back to Lidlii Kue to continue helping out.

Hide work done:  flat smoked the “royal” hide.  This means the hair and flesh had been removed and the hide had dried out on the frame and was able to be put away until ready for smoking, it could also have been through the punching, twisting and softening stage, so long as the hide is dry when you put it away.

We “punched out” the hide our dad and brother got.  This means we soaked the hide in a mixture of brains, soap and rainwater overnight and then hung on a post and used a bone tool to punch the hide to loosen the really thick sections (one day).  This hide had been through this process with Melaw in Trout Lake, so it was getting really soft.  Once we punched it we hung it up and spent the next 3 days softening with dull scrapers (so as not to damage the hide) and stretching it.  By day two we recruited my twin sister to help and by day three Melaw’s friend Chris. Minsis came over to help us again too, mostly by bringing her cuteness and questions about all the tools and what they do and by observing, which is so important. The rain forced us into the basement one day to do this by the wood stove.  Once it was totally dry, we were really hoping that we would be able to bring it to the final smoking stage.  After much deliberation, and admiring of the softness of the hide, Melaw wisely decided to hold off and consult an elder.  My guess is that it probably will need one more soaking, punching, twisting, softening to be perfect.  It is going to be a beautiful hide.

We soaked and (Melaw punched out) the “holey” hide.  This was one of the hides started at Dechinta and worked on by many students in the Sahtu style.  We hung and started to soften this hide as well.  This one will take more soaking, punching, and softening, probably a lot more.  The hard thing about this hide is that since so many people were learning on this hide, and since it was scraped and fleshed on a post with a knife (Sahtu style), there are a lot of holes and the thickness varies a lot.  As frustrating as that is, it is also great for a novice like me to see two such different hides at the same stages.  I really got a grasp of what the hide should look like, feel like and how various tools will effect the results.

It has been really interesting to see Melaw learn new techniques as she has traveled with her hides to different regions and incorporate them into her work.  The most inspiring thing about this project for me though has been seeing the sparks of inspiration she has been lighting along they way. Many students from her time at Dechinta have at their own, often great, expense, made the trip to join Melaw along her journey with the hides.  In my time in Lidlli Kue, family and friends have come out to see what she is doing and to ask questions, check on progress, or get inspired to start their own hides again.
Just before I left to see Melaw, Tania Larsson, who had helped Melaw in Trout Lake and at Dechinta, had just returned from Lutselk’e with her first finished hide on her way to start school at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, NM.  It smelled and felt amazing and now Tania has the material she needs for school this year!  I am really looking forward to the next time we get to work on a hide together!

Tu-Cho times

Yellowknife July 18th-28th

This past week I was back in Yellowknife for some ‘Golo-Dheh’ business, Dechinta and Folk on the Rocks.

I visited with my friend Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox author of ‘Finding Dahshaa: Self-Government, Social Suffering, and Aboriginal Policy in Canada’ (you can find the book at Amazon.ca). I checked out her urban tanning space in the city and put a hide on smoke for a little while and helped her as much as i could with softening/scraping.

Working on moosehides is ideally done in the bush or close to the bush for space, access to materials you don’t have to worry about city fire permits and stuff. There are also a lot of distractions in town/city. On my way over to her house i stopped at winks and bought myself some sparkling water and treats, which I later thought was kind of funny. When I’m at home working on my hides its water, coffee or bush tea made over the fire. In Trout Lake I was so excited when’ pop’ was finally available at the store. Stephanie kind of has the urban moosehide tanning dream set-up. nice backyard great rocks, her boys were playing outside while we worked. We talked about the 2 styles what we’re thinking about doing next and who to call for help to move our hides along.

During the weekend in Yellowknife I helped my Sister, my cousin Denia and Nicole Peltz out with childcare while they fed the hungry masses at Folk on the Rocks. They cooked up BBQ ‘Moofalo’ sandwiches (buffalo/moose), fresh Trout with aoli sandwiches with a side of couscous salad. AMAZING, I ate so much and had a tonn of fun playing with the kiddos, i didn’t get to watch much of the performances but a great Folk experience anyway. *you will have another opportunity to get a taste of the yumminess at the ‘Ramble and Ride’ stuff down in oldtown next weekend.

While on that side of Denedeh Lesley Johnson and I decided to visit Tania Larsson in Lutsel Ke where she is working on her moosehide tanning project. Hit her name it’ll take you to her blog!!!!! My boys didn’t come with me on this short trip it’s different not having them around while I work on hides on the other hand I was able to help Tania out for 11 hours straight. My Granny Judith Buggins is from Lutsel Ke my mother Celine Antoine was born in the old village. I was blessed to go and see where the little cabin once stood a couple of years ago when I traveled by boat to the Dene Nation assembly with my Dad and older Brother Deneze. The lake was so calm just inviting us to go fishing or boating, it was very tempting and an over night visit just wasn’t long enough. I learned a couple of new tricks on how to soften moosehide, using a birch plank and bone tool, using a rope and also a wider scraping tool. With 2 people sharing the work its easier and fun. Lutsel Ke was like a dream, so beautiful, calm, raspberry patches growing all over town, all the children playing, the lake just amazing… the Elder Tania is working with Madline Catholique was so welcoming, I loved how she showed us how she taught us, it reminded me of my Granny.

softening with bone tool on birch plank.

a perfectly twisted hide knot. Lutsel Ke style

rope softening

Tania and I in Lutsel Ke.

After a long day working on moosehides we had a glorious sunset and midnight fresh fish fry best Lustel Ke visit EVER.!

One short weekend…


It took a couple days to prepare my smoking area and after the first go at everything I need to improve a few thing. My twisitng stick needs to be more secure and my drying pole is on uneven ground and a bit high. There is so much to know and look for when setting up a tanning area so thankful my parents are happy to have my set up in their yard. My parent have been so supportive and encouraging mahsi I love you so much. I soaked my hide over night friday in the brain water, saturday morning I punched the hide with my bone tool scraped and stretch with my The Teh then twisted and stretched it. It became late so I folded my hide up for the night to work on  Sunday.

My hide all twisted up on Saturday night.

This hide is the one my dad and brother Tumbah harvested last fall and the one I worked on in Trout with maggie. At frist I thought it was almost ready for it’s final smoking….

Sunday scraping and drying my Moosehide.

But on Sunday when it was drying out a couple of hard areas came up I will tube smoke this one once more and do another round of soaking and punching.


I have some e-denitu(rotten wood) for smoking my hide but it’s not enough so Monday the boys and I went for a drive ont he highway with my Dad.  We snacked on wild strawberries, raspberries and found a good amount of e-denitu I’m hoping it’s the good stuff according to Oz my 4 year old it’s the best stuff in the woods. We also picked some roots. It was a good day.

having fun in wadders.

I have to head over to yellowknife to shoot for the documentry project and hit up Folk on the Rocks I’m bringing a moosehide with me in case I get a chance to do some work on it. It’s a hide that was started out at the Dechinta Bush University a couple of summer ago in the Sahtu Dene Style.


Friday the 13th.

Tanning area. So far I been doing what I know and learning from my mentors in their space, their work areas. I need to set up my space to finish my moosehides, easier said then done. I need a twisting post and stick, a cleaned pole to dry my hide and a moosehide smoking area(with a tarped tri-pod covering) or a beautiful canvas teepee… *sigh. Someday my Dene girl dreams will come true.

Twisting post and a twisting stick. I took a drive with my mom, my niece Dahtlea and my two boys to look for a tree with a strong fork in it. Hmmm a tree with a strong fork…. I’m thinking birch. We found a very green beautiful birch with a strong fork and i chopped it down. Well what I found out later and what I was thinking at the time was that the post needs to be dry. I hope my very green birch will work all right. The sap isn`t super sticky and it looks so nice and took me FOREVER to widdle down and it`s strong. I still have a little work to do on my twisting stick.

Twisting post & Stick with drying pole up and ready to go.

My niece Dahtlea came over to help and watch me make the moose brain water for my hide to soak in over night. She stayed and helped dig out the fire pit for smoking the hides.

Stirring my moose brains.

Mixing the brains in the water, the fermented brain is put in a cotton cloth and worked into the water.

Soaking my Moosehide in the brain water for the night.

I wanted to keep my tanning area kind of all in the same area so I choose to dig out a hole near my other stations. I used cement cinder block thingies for the pit. I may put some gravel on the bottom of my fire pit tomorrow. TOMORROW, I need to find a young birch with lots of branches to loop my hide on while I punch and stretch it after it`s overnight soaking. I also need to find willows to surround my fire pit.

Fire pit for hide smoking with stretching frame, twisting post and drying pole in the back.