The Buckskin Babes Urban Moosehide Tanning Collective is a continuation of an immersive project that began in May of 2021 which centered around the reclamation of cultural practices for urban Indigenous peoples here in the city of Montreal. In the Spring of 2021 we collectively stretched and scraped two moose hides using traditional methods under the guidance of community Elders.
This initiative is organized by a collective of six Indigenous Concordia students called the Buckskin Babes.This project prioritizes the transmission of traditional Indigenous knowledges despite all odds in the urban context where many of us are removed from our home communities and feeling the impact of the culture shock that is urban life itself. Rarely are we able to access land-based culturally safe spaces due to the direct impacts of ongoing colonialism and land theft. This project and hide camp at Concordia University seeks to connect Indigenous students, youth, community members with knowledge keepers and Elders who have kept these practices alive despite the violence of residential and Indian day schools, land dispossession and structural racism via Canadian legal frameworks.
Guided by the Buckskin Babes Collective, this hide tanning event is an opportunity for members of the Concordia community (students and faculty) to engage in hide tanning practices and knowledges and to do so in an urban space where access to land-based activities and knowledges is often limited.
Participants will be given the opportunity to participate in the 4 day activity alongside guidance from the Buckskin Babes Collective as well as from guidance from Algonquin knowledge keeper, Elder and Mentor, Gracy Ratt of Rapid Lake. Participants do not need to have prior experience in hide tanning, but must be able to come into the space with an open mind, open heart and be respectful of the practices and knowledges that will be offered to them.
The hide camp will take place in Concordia’s visual art building courtyard, downtown Tiohtià:ke. During this event we will be working on a fresh deer hide and a Community moose hide that is in process. While 4 days is not sufficient time to co knowledges. Tools for this activity will be provided by the Collective and participants will be shown how to properly care for and use the tools. Participants can learn and engage in cleaning the hide by wet and dry scraping, which involves stringing and up and lacing the hide to a square frame hide, soaking and tanning hides the traditional way, wringing, drying, softening, and smoking the hide. Lunch and snacks will be provided throughout the 4 day event.