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Metis Moose Hide Mittens

Curated Submission
Tulita, Northwest Territories
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
33.5 x 21
Materials & techniques
Moose hide, duffel, yarn, beads, beaver fur; Sewn, velvet, satin, braided, beadwork
Jane Gaudet
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 979.020.002a,b
Lined with duffel and trimmed with beaver fur for warmth, these men’s moose hide mittens were made by Jane Gaudet of Tulita (formerly Fort Norman). Sometimes called gauntlets, the mittens have a round-braided wool yarn cord that hangs around the wearer’s neck. They can also be looped together behind the back to keep them out of the way when not being worn, but still close at hand. The red beading on the mittens is reminiscent of the soutache braid (narrow decorative braid used as trim) seen on some early 20th-century items from the Northwest Territories. It is unknown where the design on the mittens originated, but the braid work may have been taught to Metis and Dene girls at mission schools.
These mittens were made for display in one of the Metis cases at the opening of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in 1979. Gaudet’s sister, Alice Hardy, also contributed some clothing to this exhibit. When the fur trade expanded into the Northwest Territories in the late 1700s, the Metis supported the expansion by guiding and manning the canoes. In the mid- to late 1800s and early 1900s, several of Gaudet’s family members worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company as post masters, clerks, and traders in communities along the Mackenzie River, such as Fort Good Hope and Fort Norman. 
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