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Leg Skin Bag

Curated Submission
Snare Lake area, Northwest Territories
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
53 x 36
Materials & techniques
Caribou skin, sinew; Sewn, braided
Elize Murphy
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 989.011.001
This large durable bag was made by Elize Murphy in the 1940s using caribou leg skins sewn together with fine sinew stitches. The bag has a drawstring closure at the mouth and a braided hide strap for carrying. It was used in the Wekweeti area near Snare Lake to store dried meat and fish. Meat was dried by cutting the flesh into thin pieces and hanging it on timber poles over a small fire. The smoke from the fire kept insects from laying eggs in the meat. In a short time the meat dried to a stage where it would not spoil. Dried meat was important because it was a preserved food that could be safely stored for times of potential famine. It is often said that “dry” meat tastes better when stored in a bag such as this.
The Snare Lake area is in the heart of the Bathurst caribou migration. Caribou was a very important resource, providing food as well as a wide variety of materials for tools, clothing, and shelter. Every part of the caribou was used; nothing was wasted. Historically people travelled great distances following the caribou throughout the year. Today caribou is the food of choice for many and is still actively hunted. The caribou herd in the Snare Lake area gets its name from Bathurst Inlet, Nunavut, the general area of the herd’s traditional calving grounds.
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