Sambaa K’e Golo-Dheh Project: Blog post 2

Day 11 in Sambaa K’e.

Ehtsi came in for a visit and took the boys fishing, Ehxea caught his first fish a Pickeral.

We have continued to work hard at tanning our moose hides it has been rewarding seeing the hides transform with each soaking and each smoking. We all have callouses and multiple cuts to show for how much we put into these moose hides.

I actually had to get a tetnus shot for a gnarly cut I got on an old rusted machete I was using to dig the smoking pit deeper, 3 of the moose hides suffered burns in the first smoking.

Today I woke up early to sunshine! The weather has been teaching us patience and raining the past couple of days. We cannot smoke the hides while it is raining because it will make it damp inside the dome of smoke. It is also taking the damp hides longer to dry on the pole while it is raining.

First hide to be dome smoked this morning.

We laced up the sides of the dry moose hide and stuffed the holes with rags and covered the hide with a canvas and an old blanket. We made some nice coals in the smoke pit and put a layer of E-denitu over the coals. We are smoking this hide for the 2nd time we will smoke it until it turns a dark yellow or orange. This moose hide was over the smoke for 30 minutes.

Jasmine’s Moose hide on it’s 2nd smoking.

Jasmine then put her moose hide over the smoke for her 2nd smoking


Maggie scraping and softening my moose hide while it dries.

Tania and Jasmine’s moose hide have been smoked this morning and moved into the slew off the dock to soften. They were then folded and are now soaking for the 3rd time in moose brain water. While Helen and I are scraping and softening our damp moose hides.

The rain started again, good thing we got the 2 moose hides smoked before it started. I am praying for it to clear up later today or even tonight so that we can smoke Helen and I’s hides before this day is through.


Helen and Julia working of softening moose hide.

Helen and Julia scraping and softening, which I have to go do right after I post this. Pray for good weather for our last 4 days here.!


Golo-Dheh Project, Sambaa K’e Participants


Golo Dheh in Sambaa K’e

I have been working towards this portion of the Golo Dheh project for a while and have been so excited, a thought coming into being, creating, moving forward, expanding, learning, growing. We arrived in Sambaa K’e (Trout Lake) on Monday May 28th. I had prepared 3 moosehide to begin the smoking process with Maggi Jumbo my relative in Trout. I decided to bring 2 of the hides I prepared. The first hide that I worked in the style of my Granny Judith Buggins the hide is from the moose my dad and brother Tumbah harvested last Fall. The other hide I brought was the 3rd hide I worked on a Mouse Brother moose the smaller one.

Sunday May 27th 3rd moose hide dry scraped.

Getting on the plane to Sambaa K’e (Trout Lake NT) to work moose hides with Maggie Jumbo.

Monday May 28th looking for E’danitu (rotten wood). Maggie Jumbo

Helen Kotchea and Maggie Jumbo taking the Mah Toh off of a moose hide in the Sambaa K’e style.

Stretching a moose hide up in the Maggie Jumbo style.

Scraping the hide on the hair side with the E’woh.

Working together to finish all the moose hides.

Tania Larsson and Maggie getting the last bit on moose hair off making this a done deal.

With each moose hide I’m getting better at scraping it. It is supposed to be scraped so the hide is an even thinness and with the hides I’ve done I have been learning to see what a good scraped hide looks like.

Well this is a super quick photo update.

Monday: flew in, got settled, went out on the boat, looked for e’denitu, started to soak 2 ‘green’ moose hides.

Tuesday: Started to take the Mah toh off of the first hide. We worked at it all day and finished late at night. We also put our hides we prepared to soak in water.

Wednesday: in the morning we laced up the first moose hide we worked yesterday. We also started to take the Mah Toh off the second ‘green’ moose hide.

Thursday (today) May 31: we scraped the moose hide and finished it late tonight.

1, 2, 3 hides.days 22, 23, 24…

May 22nd,

This is how I have the Dene words written in my notes it’s not spelled correctly. I’m learning the language of tanning.

Mah-Toh: the moose flesh on the hide

Golo-Ghah: Moose hair

Danitu: rotten wood

E’woh: the scraper

Tsa-woh: to scrape the hair side

Staam bee: a moose hide on the frame…

Golo-Dheh Lacing holes.

With the help of a very hard-working woman we finished taking the ‘Mah-toh’ off of the hide (Mouse brothers hide #1). I did most of it the day before and was pleased to hear that I did a pretty good job, yes! From working with different people and learning I know that everyone has their own way in working hides, and I am grateful to have worked with them.

As we got down to the edge I watched as she cut the lacing holes and kept note of where the neck and bottom end were as well as the corners of the hide. Once we finished the Mah-toh side, we flipped it over to ‘shave’ off the rest of the hair. I had already cut half the hair off, we finished in no time. I saw a totally new technique of taking the hair off, I was using a style I learned before and watched as my new teacher totally schooled me with her efficient knife skills. I’m going to have to file a new edge on one of my knives so I could practice what I just learned.!        -ninja knife skills-

Putting this hide in the frame. We dismantled my dads frame, we made it smaller for this hide to fit, a new method I really enjoyed seeing which I will use again. the bottom pole was left off the hide and the bottom of the hide was measured with a rope, not sure how to measure exactly, but the hide fit so good very snug. I learned to put the neck up first and have a space in between the pole and hide for the sitting pole to go in. This way the bottom goes up first. All my photos for this day were over exposed, I gotta be checking my settings yo….

May 23rd

Rain water is best to soak hides in… *note for other hides, collect rain water…

Long ago Dene women had a power…

Food list for Sambaa k’e….                      (note-book notes May 23rd)

With the second hide on the frame we took out the other hide to clean. I am not used to taking the Mah-Toh off on the post yet so we shaved the hair off first, this made it easier for me to hold while I cleaned off the Mah-Toh. While my teacher shaved the hair off I began scraping the hide on the frame where it had dried over night.

We spend the day removing the hair and cleaned the Mah-toh off.

May 24th

Mouse Brother hide #1 and the second hide up being scraped.

Third day with my new teacher, she works fast I like the pace I love how much we’re getting done.

Scraping or Tsa-woh, is hard work.

Scraping tools.

We finished scraping the first half by noon we had already turned the hide and were scraping the second half. The Sun had moved out away from the trees making it very hot I put a tarp up for shade.

This method of scraping you do not sit up on the hide I enjoyed this way I also like to sit up on the hide.

The scraping was nearly done, so close to finishing the 2nd hide it was going so well… I was shown how to see the thick part of the hide by making it wet with a towel you can see the darker yellow patches where it is thick and the hair follicles. We were taking turns on the hump area when my scraper punctured a hole right in the middle of my hide. *no* i whispered and cover the hole with both my hands not wanting it to be there, I nearly cried, all the work my arms are so tired the sun is hot my hands are swollen and we are nearly done and I made a hole right in the middle.


This hide was pretty good it was covered in warts which means it will tan well and easy to make soft like cloth. The hide was cut into when it was taken off of the moose which is not cool and that is where my scraper made a hole. It’s not a good feeling yet a good learning experience. After I soak it I will sew it up.

A hole shaped like my scraper….

After a little break I got back to it we finished scraping the hide around 3:30pm we took it off the frame rolled it up and brought out the 3rd hide we cleaned the day before it’s just non-stop like this awesome sentence…

Ozzy stretching the 3rd hide up in the frame. Good Job son.

We had the 3rd moose hide up in the frame by 4:30pm. I’m taking a break on Friday and will see how it is drying in the evening. Saturday is another full on scraping day.

I appreciate all the support and knowledge sent my way, Mahsi.

May 21 & 22nd.

May 21st Monday.

My brother and his family left, before they peaced out I got some help building/constructing/nailing a post together.

My mama Heather and I made a very sturdy Post.

I made the post about 4ft high, i referenced the photo I tool while working with Jasmine.

So thankful Heather helped me finish scrape my 1st hide, I decided to start the second right away, I’m out of freezer space and since I wasn’t able to work last week (spring colds and snow storm) I need to kick these out by Monday may 28th. Boom back to work.











I have had the opportunity to work hides using different methods and a this stage, taking the flesh off and scrapping the hair side is all very hard work. I started building the post at 10:30 am, had the hide on by 11-ish.

My Mama sharpening the bone tools for me.

This is the first time for me to use the post to flesh it took a while to find a comfortable hold on the hide I held the tool differently. What I found hard to get used to was not getting that thin membrane off the hide completely I kept trying to all day. What I liked about the post was I could stand, way more comfortable than sitting or kneeling on the pole across the hide. If I were working on a moose hide on my own I would use this method first i would take all the hair off, boy was it heavy trying to adjust the hide on the pole. If your unable to clean the whole thing you can soak it in clean water over night without having to worry about it drying too much as I do if it were on a frame.

Working the bone tool.

I did my best until 4pm, I put the hide back in some clean water for the night to work the next day.







Tuesday May 22nd

I got two more moose hides that I need to get done by Monday the 28th. I got a lot of the one hide done yesterday and I pulled it out again this morning. With some help I got today i learned an effective technique in fleshing on the post as well as a super fast moose hair ‘shaving’ technique, so AWESOME. I been learning so much the past 22 days, I’m pretty stoked about starting on the 3rd hide tomorrow.  Accomplishments of the day are cleaning the hide on the post for my first time AND lacing it into the frame to dry.!!!!!!!  I’ll have help again tomorrow to clean the next hide.  YES.

*no photos today my camera was on some weird setting and all the photos I took where overexposed… ha.


Woo hoo…

Started this morning on the hill with my sister Heather, we had just the bottom of the moose hide to scrape.

Where we left off last night.n the hill with my sister Heather, we had just the bottom of the moose hide to scrape. 


It was so nearly finished this morning, I wasn’t sure how close to the edges to scrape the hide I know I’ll be putting it back up in a frame during the smoking process in Trout Lake, yet not sure if I would be making new holes around the edges… soooooo I just scraped it as close as I could.


Tony Makletzoff, Heather Nakehk’o and I standing in front of a dry/scraped moose hide. It feels so good to be at this state, need to start another hide right away but for today I’m so stoked.




Looking up, it’s so beautiful like a map like a thin membrane that keeps us connected.

Taking #1 hide down off the frame.

My frame got a little warped I need adjust and get new spruce bough for another moose hide.

Again this hide was harvested by my younger bro and my dad last fall. All my hides have special marks that make them unique. This one feels particularly special since my youngest bro and dad got it, I am already thinking about the moccasins I will make for them with this one.

A very stoked lady.


Boom, a rolled moose hide, a happy lady, time for a cook out at the ox-Bow(thanks uncle Gerry for the teaching me the geographical term for a bow-shaped bend in a river).










random Cloud photos.

Cloud #1

mo’ clouds


Sometimes you have to stop and take a bunch of random photos of clouds, cuz they are so pretty.






Family, Kids, Tea and Golo-Dheh on Day 19.

My niece Lucia and my nephew Darion helping out today.

My boys were so excited for their cousins to visit for the weekend and I was happy to have the company and help from my sister Heather.

After this last week of getting my kiddos well and a crazy snow storm I was able to get out yesterday afternoon to scrape my hide a little more on the hair side and clean up the snow around my work area a bit. Also to hang out and wait for my bro Deneze and his family to arrive. From the storm the road conditions were horrible, we were so happy they made it safety.

Sweet little Wisakiminis, my son Ehxea and Lucia.

Today was all about my family and my cousins and the babies, the weather was perfect. A little odd with the amount of snow still on the ground with the trees slightly green with budding leaves, the sunshine a bit of cloud.

Tea made on the fire, visiting, playing, and scraping moose hide.

The snow is melting, the sun came out turned in a beautiful day to be working outside.

All the kids helped out on the moose hide today. My cousin Naomi’s daughter Wisakiminis and her son Darion, my son Ehxea and my brother Deneze and Heathers daughter Lucia. It was so fun to watch them they did a lot of work it’s not easy scraping a moose hide, I’m a very proud mama/auntie today.

Near the bottom going to finish here for the night.

Heather and I with help from my dad in the middle part of the hide scraped it all the way to the bottom. After we cleared the hair away we went over the area again until we scraped the hair follicles off or near it. I’ll post a pic from under the hide of how you can tell how thin it is. Tomorrow morning-ish, we will scrape the rest and clean up the edges. A big Mahsi Cho to my sis Heather Nakehk’o love ya your awesome.

Day 17 of Golo-Dheh

2011 Fall hide that my brother and dad harvested.

This is the hide I was working on last week flipped onto the hair side before I started to scrap. I had decided to work this moose hide on the frame in this way because it was an older hide that needed to be worked right away and this is how my Granny worked her hides from what I remember. On my trip to B.C to work with Jasmine Netsena we had decided to do her hide on the frame like this…

Jasmine had arranged a work area in the most beautiful yard on the rez, the spring buds were green it was warm with a light breeze the big spruce gave us shade the outside cooking area was perfect. Oz had a great weekend finding sticks and ‘hunting ‘ muskrats while Ehxea fought off a spring cold toughing it out while mama worked on the moose hide.

On Friday we began by taking all the hair off with a knife (I find the hide lighter to handle and was taught this way by an Elder from up north) this was unfamiliar to the lady whose yard we were in, she also does hides and sat outside with us visiting all weekend. The community is so beautiful all the people who stopped by to see/visit/help out were so fun and chill. We got to meet a lot of people and hear stories of  grandmothers, moose hides, hunting and how beautiful, strong and deep this knowledge goes. The commitment it takes to be a traditional hide tanner really began to soak in this weekend in B.C, out of my bubble in the Deh Cho, working with Jasmine, she has a full-time job and is very interested in learning this skill. Her community really came out in support I’m so happy to have been there to help her as well as learning so much…

We started to put the frame together that night and put the hide up Saturday morning.

Saturday morning-ish we were about to put the hide up when an Elder came by to take a look at the work we were doing. I was very nervous, maybe I had done something wrong or had to do something over who knows but she was really cool and showed us how to clean the moose flesh off the edges of the hide before putting it on the frame which would make it easier and faster to work. This was something new to me and it makes perfect sense, soooo I unlaced the hide from the frame and began to clean the edges up with my knife. This was a great learning experience while I was working away I began to think about my process the steps I would take on my next hide, cleaning the edges would be easier before you put the lacing holes in, maybe to save time I wouldn’t cut all the hair off  just around the edges…. all the possible ways of working, fastest, perhaps easier, it also all depends on how much time you have the weather the condition of the hide if it’s fresh or a bit old.

It was mid afternoon by the time was had finished the edges and decided perhaps Sunday morning would be a better time to put the hide on the frame, so the hide was put back in clean water for the night.

This whole time the lady whose yard we were working in was outside with us watching and visiting. Once sunday morning came she had had enough of watching us struggling and doing our best with the moose hide and suggested putting it over a pole to flesh. I had seen pictures of this technique yet never done it, it was another really awesome learning experience for me in northern BC.

Moose Hide on a Post in Northern BC.

With the help of 5 people Jasmine was able to get her moose hide done in an afternoon. As it was done on the pole and the hair was cut off the hide was very light and manageable, a thunderstorm rolled in and so she was able to fold it up to store in her freezer again until she is ready to work the hair side.

Working with Jasmine and getting the project going in preparation for smoking tanning our hides in Sambaa K’e was amazing, I’m expanding with knowledge if feels a bit overwhelming thinking about the rest of the summer the people I’ll be working with the vast knowledge my Elders hold, again I’m feeling blessed that this is my journey.

Golo-Dheh Bone and Metal Pipe Tools.