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Moose Skin Boat

Curated Submission
Keele River, Northwest Territories
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
1310 x 230 x 60
Materials & techniques
Moose skin, wood, sinew, babiche
Gabe Etchinelle, George Pellisey, and group
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 981.024.001
This large moose skin boat was made from eight untanned skins, sewn with moose sinew and stretched over a spruce frame. The Shutagot’ine of the Sahtu region traditionally built large moose skin boats to travel from their camps in the Mackenzie Mountains down to the trading posts on the Mackenzie River. The boats carried families, dogs, meat, furs, and other goods to the posts. After the journey the boats were dismantled, and the parts were re-used. By the 1950s moose skin boats were rarely built or used for transport.
In the summer of 1981 a government-funded project was initiated to revive and document the knowledge associated with moose skin boat building under the guidance of Shutagot’ine elders. Gabe Etchinelle and George Pellisey, of nearby Tulita, were instrumental as leaders of the project. The group spent several months in the Mackenzie Mountains preparing materials for the boat: hunting moose, scraping hides, making sinew, and felling trees. Once all the materials were ready the boat was assembled in five days and rowed down the Keele River to the community of Tulita
For the next year, as the boat slowly dried, the Heritage Centre’s conservator worked to keep the boat from growing mould and the skins from shrinking. It is now preserved for future generations to appreciate.
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