Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

Myths - Softening Leather by Chewing:
Indian women did not soften leather by chewing it.  Soft and pliable leathers were prepared by chipping or shaving the hide using a stone or steel scraper prior to tanning the leather to thin the skin.  This is an especially important step for buffalo hides.  After the skin had been thinned, it was critical to work the hide by flexing and stretching over a rope or pole while the hide dried after tanning.  For more information about this process see Preparing Robes and Hides.  The photo at right is of a Cheyenne "Chipper" made of Elkhorn with an iron blade from the collection of the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, Nebraska. 

Back to Myths of the Mountain Man