• top frame 
  • Moccasin-making at Fort Nelson, B.C., July 1949
  • Magnifying Glass

Moccasin-making at Fort Nelson, B.C., July 1949. Photograph by Richard Harrington. Hudson's Bay Company Archives, Provincial Archives of Manitoba, 1987/363-I-39 (N7312)

Stepping into Womanhood

Although Athapaskans no longer segregate girls at puberty, many women still remember this practice and the training they received.

“I remember Grandma always used to preach to me ... when she was teaching me how to sew, she always said: 'Now when you sew, you just do the best job you can, even if it's in a place where it's not going to be visible from the outside. If you sew something for somebody and it goes to another village, the people there are going to turn it inside-out and look to see how well it's done.'”
Eliza Jones, Koyukon from Nelson, Richard. The Athabaskans. 1983:21

“It's a young girl's place to sew moccasins and things. They should sit and sew and figure out in their head what has to be done, because some day they're going to need that. There's not going to be machinery around to tell you how to cut it. It took me one week to fix one pair of moccasins for myself when I learned and I was eight years old.”
from Cruikshank, Julie. Athapaskan women: Lives and Legends. 1979:11

“When I first started sewing moccasins, I didn't do a good job of it, so I'm crying. Within a year, I could make better ones.”
Elizabeth Horesay, Fort Simpson, quoted in Tsetso, Barb. The Nats'enelu Society.