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Sinew Bag

Curated Submission
Richardson Islands, Nunavut
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
57 x 26
Materials & techniques
Bird skin, caribou sinew; Sewn
Susannah Andreasen
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 982.092.012
This bag was for storing sinew and made from the skin of a loon with the feathers on the inside. The oily bird skin kept the strips of caribou sinew moist and supple, ready to be split into thin threads for sewing. The bag was given to Tahoe Washburn by Susannah Andreasen in February 1941, at Richardson Islands, south of Victoria Island. Andreasen was an expert sewer and taught Washburn how to make footwear and clothing needed for life in the North. When she saw Washburn trying to mend mukluks without a sinew bag, Andreasen gave her this one.
Washburn was married to Albert “Link” Washburn, a geologist carrying out fieldwork along the coast of Victoria Island for the Geological Survey of Canada. She was very interested in the Arctic peoples and accompanied her husband on many of his expeditions. They made a unique field team (he a geologist, she an ethnographer) and learned important northern survival skills and traditional knowledge as they visited Inuit camps and church missions by boat, dog team, and on foot, between 1938 and 1941. She recounts that experience in her 1999 book Under Polaris: An Arctic Quest.
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