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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide
 

Athabascan RavenAthabascan Winter Studies
The Dene'
Indigenous People of Interior

Kindergarten Unit

FNSBSD Alaska Native Education
(DRAFT)

AN ATHABASCAN ART SAMPLER

Activities, projects, and games about traditional Athabascan Native Art: K-12.

The art of Athabascan Indians varied from decorative handiwork on skin clothing and personal articles to some carvings and sculpting of masks and useful objects.

Delicate bead and quillwork, as well as birch bark baskets are prized samples of this artistic heritage.

 

Adapting materials available for quality art projects about traditional Athabascan culture. 

Birch bark

heavy brown paper bag.

Sinew for sewing

dental floss or waxed string

Tanned skin or Leather

felt or heavy paper

Dentalia shells

cut straws

Porcupine quills

narrow paperstrips can be woven to simulate quill weaving.

Painted Figures

marker, stencil wit fabric paint/tempera

Carved wood

heavy poster board slotted and notched to give a sense of volume

decoration

use bright yarn, common beads and embroidery floss.

ABOUT SOME ATHABASCAN OBJECTS
click on images for a bigger graphic

The Octopus Bag
The tentacle-like parts that end in eight points resemble the octopus and give this bag its name. Highly prized as an object and worn by important men around their necks and shoulders on special occasions, most octopus bags were heavily beaded.

The Octopus Bag

Fringe and Tunic Decoration
Caribou skins, cut into fringe and caught with decorative beads, quillwork or shells adorned the skin clothing of men and women.

Fringe and Tunic Decoration

Babiche Bags
Babiche was caribou sinew. A common woven netting technique was used to produce a string bag that was light and flexible. Yarn and beads decorated the babiche bags.

Babiche BagsBabiche Bags

Paint Stones
Red was a favorite color with Athabascans. They got the pigment by heating the paint stone, rubbing the hot powdery color onto a palette, mixing duck blood and water to consistency.

Paint Stones

Necklaces
Young girls wore dentalia shell necklaces. Widows wore them with stone pendants which acted as charms and passed through the family.

Necklaces

Knife Sheath
Made of tanned caribou skin, fringed and decorated with beads and dentalia shells, the sheath held an Athabascan hunter's treasured knife.

Knife Sheath

 

 

ATHABASCAN DECORATIVE PATTERNS

Athabascan Decorative Patterns

Before contact the patterns and designs of the Athabascans were made from porcupine quills, which were dyed and woven on looms.

 

Athabascan Decorative Patterns

With expanded trade they used Dentalia shells, beads, wool yarn and flannel which were sewn to tanned skin clothing items.

 

Athabascan Decorative Patterns

After contact with traders the Athabascans began using glass beads and silk embroidery floss. They created floral designs from the European influence.

 These patters can be adapted to your own Athabascan art activities.

 

 

ATHABASCAN GAMES

Athabascan games for you to make yourselves.

Hoop Game
The ball is made of bent willow as is the hook. One child throws the ball into the stream, other children try to catch it in their hooks.

Hoop Game

Wolf Scarer or Buzz Toy
This wooden or heavy card-board toy is flat with two center holes. String is strung through them. When the toy is whirled in the air it makes a high pitched whirring noise.

Wolf Scarer or Buzz Toy

Cup and Pin Game
Caribou toe bones are cut to form cones that fit into one another. They are strung on a thong, with a metal pin tied to one end. You are to catch the metal pin in the holes in the metal cup. The holes in the skin distract your mark.

Cup and Pin Game
 

ATHABASCAN LINE ART: THE QUIVER

The Athabascan Quiver was made of buckskin, red pigment, wood, feathers, rawhide, trade beads, and thread. We can create our won quiver with similar found objects.

1. Collect these supplies: a brown paper bag, markers, string, scissors, glue, and found objects (feathers, beads, etc).

supplies

2. Study the shape of the Athabascan Quiver. Create your own shape for a quiver and draw it onto the brown paper bag. Cut out two identical quiver shapes.

3. Glue the two shapes together along the edges leaving the curved opening unglued.

 glue

4. Create your own animal and bird designs with markers to decorate your quiver. One suggestion is to cut out an animal from a piece of paper. Color with markers into the negative space left by the animal using it as a stencil. Repeat this animal shape several times across your quiver.

5. Decorate your quiver. Add a handle, feathers beads, etc.

quiver

ATHABASCAN LINE ART: THE OCTOPUS BAG

The Octopus Bag was originally made of felt, cotton, calico, trade beads, yarn, and thread. We can create our own bag with paper or felt, markers, glue, scissors, a hole punch, beads, and buttons.

1. First practice drawing various shapes for your octopus bag. Draw the shape you want onto felt or heavy paper. Cut out two identical shapes.

 supplies

2. Glue together along the edges leaving the top unglued.

3. With markers create many flower designs on your bag, or cut out and paste designs. Use a hole punch to create small shapes for beads or buttons.

bag

4. Cut out a flower shape from a piece of paper. Use the negative as a stencil with your markers to create a repeated pattern of the same flower shape.

  

BIRCH BARK BASKET

Baskets of this type were used for storing food collected during the summer season.

A design has been scraped onto the basket of decorative stripes running around its diameter. Can you give it an Athabascan design?

Birch Bark Basket

The original basket is made of birch bark sewn with spruce root. The rim is sewn with spruce root dyed green, orange and blue. (Athabascan Heritage Curriculum)

MASKS

Can you identify the Athabascan Moose Mask, Fox Mask, Finger Mask, Seagull Mask?

masks

 

TRADITIONAL ATHABASCAN GARMENT

This traditional Athabascan figure needs to be completed.

 Traditional Athabascan Garment

Can you decorate the garments?

Consider: fringe, embroidery, beads, or quill designs.

 

ATHABASCAN QUIVER

The Athabascan Quiver was decorated with small painted animals, beaded fringe, borders and strap. Can you complete this unfinished quiver?

 quiver

 

TRADITIONAL SKIN TUNIC

The Athabascan man's tunic created a "V" shape front and back. It usually had a fringed yoke and hem and was decorated with quills and beads.

skin tunic

Finish this traditional skin tunic.

 

 

ATHABASCAN OCTOPUS BAG

Finish drawing this Athabascan Octopus Bag traditionally decorated with colorful beadwork of flowers and leaves.

 octopus bag


Introduction
ANE Curriculum Overview
Unit Overview

LESSON ONE
LESSON TWO
LESSON THREE
LESSON FOUR
LESSON FIVE
LESSON SIX
LESSON SEVEN
LESSON EIGHT
LESSON NINE
LESSON TEN
APPENDIX A
APPENDIX B

Athabascan Art Sampler
OCR SCANNED MATERIAL

 
 

Go to University of AlaskaThe University of Alaska Fairbanks is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution and is a part of the University of Alaska system.

 


Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
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ANKN
Last modified August 17, 2006