This is a buckskin suit warn by Pres. Roosevelt in his younger days...much like the suit made for my Great Great Grandfather
I have been thinking a lot about Native American Indians this week. They were taught to use everything on a buffalo or deer. I mean everything. They didn't waste a thing because it was such hard work to hunt the animal and because they respected life.
I have worked on two deer hides over the last few weeks that were given to me. One has been in the freezer for a while and the other only a few days. Luckily, I wasn't the one to actually have to take the life of the animal. I've learned the most by trial and error how to tan the hides. But...thank GOODNESS for Youtube!!
Here is the process in a nutshell:
- Flesh the hide (remove any remaining meat, fat and membrane)
- Dry it
- Soak the hide for a few days (until you can tug a little and the hair comes out
- Take the brain (remember, we are not wasting anything) and blend it with a little water - work it into the hide (3 to 4 times)
- Wring it well and begin to stretch the hide
- After the hide is dry, rub it on a tree or steel cable
- Tadah!! You have buckskin leather
- The last step is to place it over a smokey fire and the smoke clogs the pores and makes it water proof. Without this step, if you hide gets wet, you'll have to start the process all over again.
You might be thinking, what in the WORLD possessed me to even consider trying this? Well, a few reasons.
#1. I have seen other people make it and I wanted to try.
#2 Another reason has to do with a little family history.
Many years ago, some of my ancestors, Warren and Clara Tenney settled outside of Show Low in the White Mountains. This was still Indian territory. During this time, the father of Chief (William) Alchesay had died and some greedy men didn't want Alchesay to become chief. They tried to kill him. He escaped and was badly wounded. He came to the Trading Post of my Great Great Grandparents and they took him in. They hid him in the storage room surrounded by food and other items. When the naughty Indians came looking for him, they couldn't find him and moved on. He was badly wounded and Warren and Clara somehow found his mother. Together, they nursed him back to health. Alchesay's mother was so grateful to them for their service to her family, that she made Warren a buckskin suit (which would have taken several hides). He was so proud of that suit, that he wore it all the time. As far as I know, he might even be buried in it, but I don't know for sure. One hide takes a long time and A LOT of work. I can't imagine how much time it took to make his suit. That is one incredible "THANK YOU!" When was the last time I said "thank you" like that?
Alchesay later became a scout for the United States and was a huge help to the US Government during the Indian Wars and was even given a Medal of Honor That's a pretty cool connections huh? John Bourke said this about him,
"a perfect Adonis in figure, a mass of muscle and sinew of wonderful courage, great sagacity, and as faithful as an Irish hound."
Learning how to brain tan isn't a "necessity" for everyone to learn. But we all must learn how to not waste. When Benjamin Franklin said, "Waste not, want not." it is because like the Native Americans we show Heavenly Father we are thankful when we do not waste the blessings he has given to us. We live in a unique time when we have the means to purchase necessities for the future. It is easy to waste money in our world today. We must also simplify. We have been counseled over and over to get rid of the unnecessary things in our lives. Now, that is great advice!!!