Tłı̨chǫ Ekwǫ̀ Nı̨hmbàa Project

Thirty-eight of the 75 caribou skins needed for the project were collected during the Chief Jimmy Bruneau High School caribou hunt on the barrenlands near Grizzley Bear Lake in 1999. Additional hides were purchased from other woman residing in the outlying Dogrib communities of Rae Lakes, Whatì, and Wekweètì,

Elders established a camp at Russell Lake near Rae where, throughout the fall of 1999 and spring of 2000, the lodges were made.  A group of seven Dogrib women agreed to tan the hides, sew and decorate the lodges, and to teach their skills to young Dogrib children.

The laborious process of tanning the hides took several weeks. Cutting and sewing the lodges with caribou sinew took three additional weeks.

The completed lodges were decorated with red ochre collected from a site near Rae. While the women were working on the hides, the men travelled by boat to collect the ochre. As in the old days, the ochre was mixed with water and applied to the hide with fingers. The red ochre band helped seal the seam to make it waterproof, while providing some colourful decoration to the finished lodge. Ochre is also associated with medicine power, and by painting a ring around the lodge, it protected the inhabitants from harm.

At the Dogrib National Assembly in August 2000, the lodges were erected for all to see, and the women were congratulated for their hard work. At the ceremony the Dogrib Nation gave one of the lodges to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre to be incorporated in a permanent display . The other lodge will be used in the Dogrib school system, and at special events.

A short film showing all aspects of the work was produced in 2001 and can be viewed on the right.