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The art of transforming the cold, slimy skin of a freshly butchered animal into a soft, warm, wonderful-smelling traditional leather is nothing short of magic. This magic was perfected and passed down by 500+ generations of Native American people. The hands-on exertion of the traditional hide-tanning process connects the tanner with the animal in a way that little else could. The finished product is the strongest leather around, extremely warm, potentially very soft, and even edible. Traditional arts are all about process and this is particularly true for hidework.  Here is the process for a wool-on bison robe.  Here is an article explaining the Indigenous Choctaw method for making buckskin.


My traditional hidework follows the course of my life.  I was able to gain some hide-working experience early in life, and had the rare honor of serving as a technical consultant for an anthropology master's thesis on hidework while I was a sophomore in high school. Early on, Plains Indian pieces were about all I had access to learn from, so many of my earlier hidework pieces were done in those styles.  With respect to the Tribes these styles belong to, I'm including a few pieces here because of their connection with the bison we raise.

Today, I work only in styles that are Choctaw.  I've braintanned and eggtanned about 130 hides of different species ranging from red squirrel to elk and from stone-scraped bison to fur on black bear.  The vast majority of hides I've tanned, however are simple buckskin made from whitetail deer. I've had fun experimenting to liven them up with a number of different traditional hide dyes and paints. 


I've taught a number of moccasin-making classes for the Tribe, and a few traditional hide-tanning classes including the one that produced the hides for the clothing in the Cultural Center exhibits.  I've handed along the moccasin-making classes that I started for the Tribe to an able artist and teacher.


Use the right arrow on the image below to peruse some of my hidework through the years.  Double click if you're browsing on a cell phone.



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