Long-Ago People's Packsack

Dene Babiche Bags: Tradition and Revival

Table of contents

IntroductionSection I: The Dene Babiche Bag TraditionSection II: Revival of the TraditionSection III: Making a Babiche BagAcknowledgmentsEndnotes


In earlier times, net bags made from caribou thong – today known as “babiche bags” – were commonplace items in Dene homes. Although intended for practical use, these bags were often beautifully decorated with porcupine quillwork, fringes and coloured patterns in the netting. Babiche bags were used by the Dene until the early twentieth century. Gradually, however, as imported substitutes became available, the Dene ceased to make their netted thong bags. In 1998, Suzan Marie initiated a project to revive this craft. Assisted by elder-instructors, she held workshops in several small Dene communities. The Canadian Museum of Civilization participated by supplying research information and photographs of museum examples. Today, babiche bags are being made again by Dene artisans. This book describes the role babiche bags played in Dene lives during an earlier time and traces the modern revival of the craft. It is richly illustrated with photographs of babiche bags, both old and new. Also included are descriptions and illustrations of the techniques involved in making a babiche bag. This will be a resource to all who are interested in Dene culture and heritage. It will also serve as a practical guide to artisans wishing to make their own Dene babiche bag.