Deerskin

Deer Hunting by Arthur Miller

 Deer Hunting by Alfred Miller

Deerskin
Facts about the History of Clothing and regalia of Native American Indians and information about Deerskin. Native Indians hunted deer to provide not only food but also  clothing for the people of the tribe. Deerskin was therefore one of the most important elements of Native Indian life. To make deerskin clothing the hide was removed and various processes were applied such as scraping, smoking, softening, stretching, dyeing and decorating the deerskin hide. The quality and use of deerskin was quickly recognised by pioneers, frontiersmen and traders. Trading in deerskin replaced fur trading. A deerskin was worth a dollar to traders and the dollar became referred to as what it was worth - a "buck".

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Native American Clothing - Deerskin
The history of traditional or ceremonial dress and regalia worn by Native American Indians is a fascinating subject. The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on deerskin.

Deerskin Fact Sheet for kids

  • Deerskin Fact 1: Native American Indians afforded the utmost respect to the animals they hunted which provided their food and clothing. Deer hunters held ceremonies and performed to show respect to the animal spirits before going on a hunt

  • Deerskin Fact 2: Hunting methods included the use of the bow and arrow, and later the gun, together with setting deer traps.

  • Deerskin Fact 3: Hunters became expert at imitating the cries of the deer which attracted the animals to the deer hunters. The sounds were made by by placing a folded leaf between his lips and sucking forcefully

  • Deerskin Fact 4: Hunters also enticed deer by wearing a stuffed buck's head and bobbing up and down behind bushes which excited the curiosity of the deer who became closer, within bow-shot

  • Deerskin Fact 5: Hunting was conducted during the daylight hours and at night. Lights were used during night hunts to flush out the deer

  • Deerskin Fact 6: Native Indians were able to follow the tracks and read the signs and smells indicating the presence of deer. The use of stealth was of utmost importance on a deer hunt, the slightest sound would cause a deer to bolt. Native Indian hunters would sometimes remove their moccasins on hunting trips. They were also aware that strange odors would alert the animal so they refrained from smoking tobacco or eating fish prior to a hunting trip

  • Deerskin Fact 7: The women of the tribe were given the carcass of the deer and they would prepare the deerskin, also called buckskin, to make the leather required for clothing

  • Deerskin Fact 8: The hide was first stripped of hair with a knife in a process called 'fleshing' and the hide was then dry or wet scrapped

  • Deerskin Fact 9: The hide was then rubbed with the suds from a solution made from boiling the brains and entrails of the animal. This process softened the hide and was accompanied by pounding and kneading the skin

  • Deerskin Fact 10: To prevent hardening and shrinking, when the deerskin became wet, the skin was then smoked to seal the hide's fibers. Hides were hung over a pole framework and smoked for 1 to 2 hours

  • Deerskin Fact 11: The color of the deerskins was determined by the wood used during the smoking process. Young white cedar produced a buff or yellowish color and smoking over old white cedar produced a tan color

  • Deerskin Fact 12: The Native Indians then dyed the skins and the soft and pliable leather was then cut and sewn with sinew to produce clothes which were often decorated with symbols, fringes, shells and beads

Deerskin Fact Sheet for kids

  • Deerskin Fact 13: With the coming of the colonists the Native Indian deerskins were then used for trading purposes

  • Deerskin Fact 14: Trading: Various items were used for trade with the Native Indians for deerskins including beads, trinkets, tradecloth, blankets, whiskey and horses

  • Deerskin Fact 15: Trading: The fur trade, especially beaver, dominated trade in the 1600 and 1700's to meet the need for producing fashionable high quality felt,  suitable for hat making. In the 1800's fashion changed and as the beaver trade declined the trade in deerskins boomed as leather hats became fashionable.

  • Deerskin Fact 16: The leather produced from deerskins were used to make Western and European hats, gloves, pants, saddles, harnesses and book bindings

  • Deerskin Fact 17: Trading: A deer was used in the place of money and deerskins were worth a dollar hence the origin of the dollar's nickname of a "buck", in reference to a male deer

  • Deerskin Fact 18: Buckskins from the male deer were worth more than doeskins from the female deer which in turn were worth more than the hide of a fawn

  • Deerskin Fact 19: The Cherokee and the Shawnee people were examples of the tribes who traded in deerskins. The Shawnee Native Indians traded deerskins with the English colonies and the Cherokee traded with the Spanish and the French. In 1760 European exports from Charles Town, West Virginia alone totalled 178,000 deerskins

  • Deerskin Fact 20: Such was the level of trading deerskins that deer became extinct in several regions of North America but by the mid 1800's the European demand for deerskins significantly declined and the North American deer population began to rise again 

Native American Clothing - Deerskin

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  • History of Native Indian Clothing
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  • Information about Deerskin and Native American Indians
  • Native American Clothing - Deerskin clothing and history for kids
 

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