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.