The traditional crafts of the Dene were more than just attractive objects; they all had a use. Birch bark baskets were used as dishes, for collecting berries, for storing items, and for transporting items. Moose hide clothing was used as protection from the elements. Snowshoes were used for hunting and moving about in the winter. Bark canoes were essential for navigating the river highways.
Jewellery and miniature birch bark canoes are popular crafts. The creativity of the artisans is revealed in every item you will see from key chains to moccasins.
Tufting is a form of embroidery perfected by the women of Mackenzie Valley communities. Working with immense patience, the craftswomen shape dyed moose hair into three-dimensional designs on a dark background. Symmetrical flowers are a favourite motif, but whole scenes are created by some gifted artists.
The Dene celebrate their traditions with beading, quillwork, moose hair tufting and hide used in jewellery. Earrings might be made with feathers, iridescent beads and natural porcupine quills, often threaded on fine silver wire. Pins and necklaces are made of tufting or quillwork on hide. Jewel-like collars are woven of coloured threads and strung with transparent, shiny beads.