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Rabbit Skin Jacket

Curated Submission
Fort Providence, Northwest Territories
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
52 x 76
Materials & techniques
Hare skin; Assembled, “knitted”, laced
Rosalie Causa
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 86.011.001
This hoodless jacket is made from the pelts of snowshoe hares, locally called “rabbits” in the Northwest Territories. It takes about 30 rabbit hides to make this kind of jacket. Rabbits are common and easily obtained on traplines and by setting snares around a community. Rabbit skins were used to make blankets and many items of useful clothing for children and adults, such as shirts, leggings, socks, and hoods.
Rabbit pelts are soft, warm, and light but also thin and easily torn. To make clothing and blankets stronger, a cord or yarn was made from the pelts. A fresh pelt is cut spirally into a long strip and attached to other strips to make a length of furry cord. Using a wood frame or a single stick to hold the starting row, the fur cord is looped onto rows above to form a loose, fluffy, open-meshed netting. Rosalie Causa called this “making up” and “knitting.” Panels of “knitted” rabbit skin are laced together to make a jacket. Causa was 85 years old when she made this jacket. She learned how to make rabbit-skin clothing from her mother and by making clothing for her family. This jacket was made to fit her husband.
Although rabbit-skin clothing has been replaced by commercial garments, Dene elders recall its quality:

I remember my mom told me one winter they went to visit some people who were living in a tipi made of logs. There was a lady living there who was coming in and out of the tipi just wearing a long-sleeved dress. She wondered why the lady wasn’t cold. My grandmother laughed at her because the lady was wearing a full outfit of rabbit-skin clothing under her dress!
– Mary Ann Bertrand, Fort Liard
They used to make blankets with rabbit fur. They used to put the blanket right on the snow without even spruce boughs. The colder it was the better, the warmer the rabbit-fur blanket was.
– Maurice Mendo, Tulita 

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