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Curated Submission
Tsiigehtchic, Northwest Territories
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
64 x 31.5
Materials & techniques
Stroud, glass beads, wool, yarn; Handmade, machine-sewn, velvet, beadwork
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 2010.012.082
These beautiful stroud leggings belonged to Joe Bernard of Tsiigehtchic, Northwest Territories. Handmade and machine-sewn, the velvet panels are decorated with faceted glass beads and edged with wool yarn tassels. Clothing decoration was a source of pride for the maker and the wearer, showcasing impressive sewing skills. These leggings would have protected the legs of the wearer and kept the snow out of the tops of mukluks.
Travelling widely in the Arctic Red River area, Bernard moved between a number of cabins and camps. He was hired as a Special Constable with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police because of his knowledge and bush skills. Special Constables were experienced with dog teams and guided RCMP patrols that went up “the Red,” across to Fort McPherson, and into the Mackenzie Delta to Aklavik.
Bernard is reputed to have worn these leggings during the infamous search for Albert Johnson, the “Mad Trapper of Rat River,” a renegade trapper from the south who led RCMP and civilian searchers on a chase through the wilds over the winter of 1931–32. Accusations by trappers of someone springing traps in the Fort McPherson area led to violent encounters between the RCMP and Johnson. RCMP search parties included Special Constables Bernard, Lazarus Sittichinli, and John Moses, as well as numerous volunteer searchers. In the course of events, one RCMP officer was killed, another wounded, and Johnson was eventually killed on the Eagle River in Yukon.

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