Dene Nahjo is excited to be hosting its second annual Urban Hide Tanning Camp, a two-week celebration of Dene art, culture, technology and history, in downtown Somba K’e (Yellowknife) from September 5 to 15.
The camp will be held near the Somba K’e Civic Plaza and include caribou and moose hide tanning demonstrations led by Elders and instructors from across Denendeh using regional techniques, along with guest speakers, film nights, traditional games demonstrations by the Aboriginal Sports Circle and guided tours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Tuesday nights will feature an Artists’ Market showcasing the many uses of traditionally tanned moose and caribou hides until 7:30 p.m. Opening ceremonies will take place September 5 at 12:00 p.m.
“Hide tanning is an integral part of our Dene way of life and a physical representation of our reciprocal relationship with the land,” says Dene Nahjo founding member and moosehide tanning instructor Melaw Nakehk’o. “The practice of hide tanning connects us to our ancestors, our land and our Dene history. As Dene people, we wear smoked moose and caribou hide with pride, knowing that the process of hide tanning allowed our people to survive since the beginning of time as our homes, transportation and clothing.”
Whereas colonization has damaged important links between Indigenous peoples and the land, hide tanning is a practice that helps to reforge intergenerational relationships and reconnect Dene people to their traditional territories and cultural identities.
“By hosting a hide camp in the heart of Somba K’e, we hope to inspire new tanners from our communities to connect and build healthy relationships, acquire cultural knowledge, deepen their connection to the land, and increase public awareness of this important aspect of Northern culture,” adds Dene Nahjo founding member and artist Tania Larsson.
To commemorate Yellowknife’s 50th anniversary, activities will be thematically organized around honouring and respecting our past, recognizing the successes of the present, and envisioning the possibilities of the future. In addition to the City of Yellowknife’s substantial in-kind contribution, the Heritage Committee will contribute $5,000 to support the Urban Hide Tanning Camp, making this one of Yellowknife’s official 50th anniversary signature events.
“Funding the Urban Hide Tanning Camp is in keeping with the Heritage Committee’s goal of sharing a more inclusive story of Yellowknife’s identity and heritage; and supporting a prosperous heritage tourism economy,” says Heritage Committee Chair and City Councillor Julian Morse. “The City of Yellowknife was pleased to partner with Dene Nahjo in 2016 and again in 2017 on the Urban Hide Tanning event.”
The Urban Hide Tanning Camp is generously supported by the City of Yellowknife, the GNWT departments of Industry, Tourism & Investment, Education, Culture & Employment, and Environment & Natural Resources, along with the Community Foundations of Canada, Canadian Heritage and Tides Canada.
Photo credit: Tania Larsson