Glossary

Athapaskan - A term for many groups who occupy a vast area of the western Subarctic regions of North America, covering parts of Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, as well as northern British Columbia and Alberta. (Other Athapaskan-speaking peoples, the Navajo and Apache, live in the American Southwest.)

Awl - A pointed tool for making holes in wood or leather.

Beading – Manufactured in Europe, glass beads were valued by Aboriginal peoples of North America, and traded for furs, pelts, and other objects. Beads quickly began to replace porcupine quills as the predominant mode of decorating clothing and footwear.

Beamer – A long bone tool used to remove hair roots from hide, usually after most of the hair has been removed with a knife.

Boreal forest – A continuous band of coniferous trees almost 10,000 kilometres wide across North America and Eurasia. In Canada, its northern border is the tree line and the Arctic tundra beyond; to its south, it is bordered by the sub-alpine and mountain forests of British Columbia, the grasslands of the Prairie Provinces, and the forests of Ontario and Quebec.

Brain-tanned – Refers to the process of repeatedly soaking a clean hide with a solution of animal brain.

Dene – The preferred name for Athapaskan peoples. It simply means “people” and refers to Aboriginal people whose homeland is the western part of Canada’s Northwest Territories. The Dene speak a number of different Northern Athapaskan languages: Gwich’in, North Slavey, South Slavey, Dogrib and Chipewyan.

Duffle – A coarse, thick woolen cloth first manufactured in Duffel, Belgium.

Elders - In Aboriginal communities, knowledge and wisdom were passed down through the words of Elders. They are greatly respected for their life experience and wisdom, and they provide guidance and counsel to members of the community

Embroidery - Decorative needlework working needle and threads of silk, cotton, gold, silver, or other material, upon any woven fabric, leather, paper, etc., with a needle.

First Nations - “First Nations” is a term first coined in the 1970s to replace the terms “band” or “Indian.” Many indigenous people today prefer to be called “First Nations” or “First Nations people” instead of “Indians”. “First Nations” is not used to refer to Inuit or Métis people.

Flesher, Fleshing tool – Fashioned from the tibia (shin bone) of a large animal such as caribou, it is used to remove soft flesh from the inside of a hide.

Hide - The raw or dressed skins of large animals such as cow, moose, caribou or buffalo intended for human use.

Klin-ni-go-ne-dja-e – (Kl_n-n_-g_-nay-dj_-ay) Banished from the community, Klin-ni-go-ne-dja-e uses her considerable skills to survive. From the Gwich’in story “So Good a Worker”

Mind Map – A mind map is a diagram that begins with a central idea, with new and related ideas radiating out from the centre. By focusing on key ideas and then looking for branches out and connections between the ideas, this tool ‘maps’ knowledge in a way that helps one to understand and remember new information

Moccasin – A form of footwear in which the soft sole and the upper, or part of the upper, are continuous, not including any functional or ornamental parts. Within the type of footwear defined as moccasins, there are a wide variety of sub-types with different heel and toe seams.

Moccasin-trouser – Hide leggings with attached moccasins.

Moose hair tufting – A decorative technique invented by Métis Mrs. Boniface Lafferty in the early 1900’s which involves dyeing white moose hairs, bunching them under a loop stitch, fanning out the hairs, then trimming them with scissors to create a smooth sculptural effect.

Muskeg – A wetland bog made up of decaying sphagnum, sedge peat, leaves and other decayed plant material.

Pelt – The skin of a mammal with the fur still on it.

Porcupine quills - The defensive spines of the porcupine are called ‘quills’. Many indigenous peoples of North America used them for decorating clothes and footwear and other items made of animal hide prior to contact with Europeans. See Quillwork.

Quillwork – See Porcupine quills. The white shaft of the quill was dyed, flattened between the teeth, and then stitched down on to hide in a variety of complex ways.

Scraper – Tool for removing hair and softening hide.

Sinew – The leg or back tendon of a large animal such as a moose or a caribou that, when shredded into strands, makes a strong thread. It expands when wet thus ‘filling’ the sewing holes punched by an awl, and therefore helping to make a garment more waterproof.

Stroud – medium-weight woolen cloth manufactured in Stroud, Gloucestershire, England during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and a popular trade item with Indigenous peoples of North America.

Taiga – In Canada, refers to the northern part of the boreal forest.

Tanning – The process of preparing animal hides for use: tanning prevents decay and permanently softens it. The process involves stretching, scraping, soaking and sometimes smoking a hide.