Taking Learning Outdoors – ABMHS

At ABMHS 2020-21, Mi’kmaw Studies 11 students took part in preparing Beaver hide toward learning the process of tanning.  There were two types of Beaver fleshed, winter and spring. The students saw the difference in the thickness of the fur.  In October 2019, a group of students began by skinning the beaver where they remained all salted and preserved for a few months. In October of 2020, the project was introduced by Dallas Sharp to the Mi’kmaw Studies 11 groups. The first step was to scrap off the salt and thin out and remove the oils from the hides. The next step was soak in a salt-water bath for at least 5 – 6 hours and then transfer into a citric acid bath for however long necessary. After a few weeks, the students then cleaned the hide, where they physically took part in the washing of the hide.  Each student took part in the washing of the hide.  It was explained to them by one of our teachers (Dallas) on what the purpose was to keep the hide in citrus acid, then put in clean water with a super-solve degreaser.  This was done in a course of 2 days to make sure all of the grease was removed from the hide.  It was then put back into the citrus acid.

The hide was brought out by Dallas to dry the hide and 4 days were set aside for the students in groups to come back in to sand the hide, to smooth out the hide.  This was done with sandpaper and a lot of muscle.   Each day a different set of students came in and each took turns in sanding down the hide to make it thinner.  Even though 4 days This process took two days.  The hide was then placed back in the citrus acid to soak a little longer. 

            The hide was then brought out by Dallas and laid out to dry on top of a towel.  The process for this was the tanning.  He made an egg mixture using eggs, oil and neat’s foot oil to which he immersed in hot water to keep the mixture warm so that it would penetrate into the hide better.  The students applied the egg mixture with a basting brush as well as their hands, this process was done every 15 minutes for the entire day.  The hides were then placed on a damp towel to dry.  The hide was so smooth after this process.  The final process in preparing the beaver hide would be to wash the hide in baby shampoo and to let it dry.

            The students were very excited to see the outcome of the beaver hides and being a part of this process.  The students will then decide what they will make with the beaver hides.