The rich artistic and pragmatic uses of hide and fur will be showcased at Dene Nahjo’s artist market Tuesday, September 5 and September 12 from 5:15 to 7:30 p.m. at Somba K’e Park.
Held as part of Dene Nahjo’s second annual Urban Hide Tanning Camp, the market is intended to give Indigenous artists and designers a platform to exhibit and sell work that celebrates land and culture, and showcases the many uses of traditionally tanned moose and caribou hide.
“Smoked moosehide is worn with pride. We identify with it visually as Dene people, and remember that it is tanning that has helped our people survive in our extreme climate from the beginning of time. It has been our homes, our transportation, clothing, shoes, and in hard times, our food,” says Melaw Nakehk’o, moosehide tanning instructor and hide tanning project lead. “Today the practice of hide tanning connects us to our ancestors, our land, our Dene history. It connects us to each other as a community and into the continuum of our Dene story. It centres us to our traditional territory.”
Along with Dene Nahjo merch for sale, our featured artist vendors will include:
Inuk was born, raised and continues to live in the Northwest Territories (NT), Canada; she is of Eskimo (Inuvialuit) and European descent. Inuk’s art journey began in the spring of 1990, when she surprised herself and others as well with her ‘natural ability to caribou hair tuft’. Learning to tuft helped her find, develop and hone her own techniques and create her own unique style of caribou hair tufting. Since then, she has been reviving and successfully bringing tufting to new heights and into the fine art category, worldwide, using caribou hair. As you view her art, you see her love of it and it show’s in every piece, you can see the utmost care in quality and originality, which you will enjoy for years to come.
Charlene is a proud Metis/Dene woman, and a mom of 3 who started her sewing business almost two years ago. Haylani Apparel is a baby/children’s clothing line that includes rompers, dresses, headbands, beanies, caribou hide headbands and bow ties. Her passion for sewing comes with great pride and inspiration from her late Grandma Lucy who was a well known beader and seamstress.
Melaw Nakehk’o is a distinguished artist and community leader. Born in Canada’s North, raised in the community of Liidlii Kue, Melaw comes from a long line of tribal leaders of the Dehcho Dene & Denesuline people. Melaw attended the prestigious Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, where she earned a degree in 2 dimensional arts. Melaw is also recognized for her exemplary work in revitalizing traditional Indigenous artistic practices, with contemporary applications of ancient techniques. Her work in reviving and teaching moosehide tanning techniques has initiated a resurgence of the practice and shaped a broader community building movement within Canada. She is a Founding Member of Dene Nahjo, and is a regular instructor at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, a land-based university program. Melaw has three sons and lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.
Tania Larsson is of Gwich’in and Swedish descent and was born and raised in France. At the age of fifteen, she moved to Canada with her family with the goal of reconnecting to her culture and her land. She recently completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in digital arts and jewelry at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Tania is a founding member of Dene Nahjo, a non-profit organization that focuses on cultural revitalization projects. She constantly seeks out opportunities to learn traditional practices such as tanning hides on the land, making tools and sewing. Combining her traditional skills and contemporary arts education, she strives to create pieces that are inspired by her culture and delivered using digital technologies.
Aurora Heat, Inc. is an 100% Indigenous owned and operated company starting its second winter season. Brenda Dragon, along with her mother, are based in Fort Smith, NT. Mrs. Jane Dragon is a well-known traditional artist specializing in traditional clothing made of hides and fur for over 60 years. They design, manufacture and distribute finished fur products made with sheared beaver. Aurora Heat™ signature handmade products are hand and foot warmers sold both online www.auroraheat.ca and in retail stores.
Sharon Anne Firth of the Gwich’in First Nation grew up traditionally with her family – sewing, hunting, trapping and fishing in Aklavik in the Mackenzie Delta of the Northwest Territories. As a four-time Olympian, Sharon has traveled extensively throughout North America, Europe and Japan. She continues to champion her causes: education, fitness, traditional and healthy lifestyles. Her activism has resulted in her membership into the prestigious Order of Canada, and she is also a very proud recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award. As a result of these experiences, Sharon’s jewellery and fur products fuse her rich traditional upbringing with today’s complexity of fashion. Sharon strongly believes that every woman should feel beautiful, feminine and strong.
Gloria Enzoe Shearing is a member of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation. She lives at home in Lutsel K’e with her 3 boys and husband. Her love for arts and crafts was learned over time from her mother and father, who both enjoyed their own crafting. Her mom beaded, worked on hides and was very active out on the land. Her dad was always drumming and singing. She recalls him making drums. He liked to laugh and role play animals. Gloria’s husband is very creative as well, and does all the cutting and polishing. The two work very well together and through their creations are able to make their pieces come to life. Growing up in the community really puts life into perspective in regards to going out on the land and being one with the land. Spirituality, culture, values and customs are very important to their lifestyle in Lutsel K’e, where it guides them individually and as a community to do good for their people and surroundings, their lands and waters and all the animals that live there.