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  • Dora Minoza weaving quills. Government of the Northwest Territory
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Dora Minoza weaving quills.
NWT Archives/G-1995-001: 5612

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  • Weaving directly on hide.
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Quill Appliqué work.
Photograph by Tessa Macintosh.
NWT Archives/G-1995-001: 5407









Stepping into Womanhood

Quillwork

“I started sewing porcupine quills when I was 13, after I became a woman...”
Elizabeth Horesay, Fort Simpson

Athapaskan women have saved, sorted and dyed the quills of the porcupine, and then used them to create decorative patterns on clothing, since ancient times. Two basic techniques were used: weaving of quill bands which could be sewn on clothing or used as belts, garters and armbands; and appliqué work in which quills are stitched directly to the surface of the garment.