By Debora Hernandez
North Thompson Museum Summer Student
Moccasins were the foot wear of the Shuswap people. They were made out of buckskin. Then the buckskin was stretched over a moccasin ‘last’. A ‘last’ was a foot shaped object that helped shape the moccasin. After the skin was the right shape, it was sewn together with a bone awl and thread made from sinew or Elaeagnus bark.
Winter moccasins were made differently from summer moccasins. Hair was left on the hide for extra protection. They also had hide attached to the top making them resemble boots.
The Chu Chua people wear their hair in many different styles.
When a person was in mourning, they would cut their hair.
Children’s hair was usually worn long until the child was old enough to decide if he wanted it long or cut off.
Shirts were cut out of animal hide so naturally the leg of the animal would become the sleeve. Shirts were sewn on the sides with sinew or other thread. Depending on the season shirts would be made with short or long sleeves. The shirt was the most decorated piece of clothing that the Shuswap people wore. Women’s shirts were made differently than men. Generally, they were made longer and looser. Women also wore sleeveless shirts.
Due to many different seasons in the area, the Shuswap people needed a variety of clothing. The animals provided them with different kinds of hides, with the majority of clothes making being done in the winter.
Hides were cleaned at the hunting grounds.
Thread for sewing the buckskin was made from Elaeagnus bark, needle bark, Indian hemp bark or sinew from the back of a deer. These materials were made into thread by being spun on the thigh, three strands at a time. Awls and needle were made from the fine leg bone off of a deer.
The North Thompson Museum and Archives can be found in Barriere at 343 Lilley Road, and is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Drop in and view these and many other artifacts and learn about the history of the area.
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