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Alberta Online Encyclopedia and Edukits

Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia


The Glossary used for this Edukit will be the same one used on the main website People of the Boreal Forest.

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Any of several earthy mineral oxides of iron occurring in yellow, brown, or red and used as pigments.
A reference to a time of the year other than the trapping and hunting season.
A motor which drives a propeller that pushes a boat over the surface of a lake or river, and which is attached to the outside of the stern of a boat.
Somewhere much further south of a northern residence.
A travel route on land, as distinguished from travel across a water route.
Animal hide with fur attached.
A mixture of dried lean meat (pounded into a fine powder) and rendered fat, along with the addition of berries for flavouring. Pemmican is high in protein and was often consumed by both Aboriginals and fir traders.
A naturally pliable compound (often ochre or tar), which seals cracks in wood, especially wood-built watercraft.
A tree cut and trimmed and used as a tent pole, a pole of fencing or building enclosures; a tepee pole.
An overland route across which boats, canoes, and provisions are carried between two bodies of water where passage may otherwise be difficult.
Refers to the act of carrying a boat/canoe and supplies over land to avoid obstacles or areas of rough passage in the water. During the Fur Trade Era, Aboriginals, explorers, fur traders, and voyageurs all traveled via water routes across North America. When there was a land break between two different water systems, travelers would have to portage or carry their cargo (including the boat or canoe) by foot across land to the next waterway. On a long portage voyageurs would often use packhorses to carry heavier cargo. It often took several trips to unload and carry the vessel and its content from one waterway to another. Some areas became known portage routes and gave rise to permanent settlements.
A compress applied to a flesh wound; a mixture of balsa sap and spruce needles boiled to reduce moisture and applied to a wound.
An animal which seeks out, kills, and eats other animals. Humans are considered predators of animals.
In reference to animal furs, this term refers to the time of the year when the fur is at its best condition. This usually occurs in winter, when the fur thickens to provide extra warmth for the animal.
A bird belonging to the grouse family; unique to northern regions.
A muskrat den or habitat located underwater, the top of which is pushed up above the surface of the water or ice.
Refers to the decorative work in which porcupine quills are dyed and sewn on to traditional arts and crafts objects, most often hide fabrics and birchbark crafts.
rat canoe:
A small and very light watercraft (about 3 metres or ten feet long), used in shallow water for hunting in muskrat habitat.
Refers to the stiff, white hide that emerges once the hair and flesh have been scraped off of an animal hide that is hung and washed to dry but does not undergo the tanning process. It may be used in a variety of ways, including as a material for making drums and rattles. Once it has been soaked in resin, rawhide also makes excellent rope or binding and is especially durable when used as webbing for snowshoes.
A refrigerator or walk-in cooler designated for use by the entire community for the storage of food (mainly big game and fish). It is typically found in northern communities.
(Reserve, Res) Parcels of land throughout Canada that were set aside and held in trust for the First Nations people of Canada after Confederation. Established in a series of numbered Treaties and held in trust for the First Nations people by the government through the Department of Indian Affairs, these parcels of land were integrally connected to official “Indian” status and rights.
A vegetable substance secreted by a tree, also known as tree gum or sap, that appears to sweat or ooze from the bark of the tree. It may be used as an adhesive or varnish.
The log that spans the upper ridge or peak of the roof of a log home, giving support to the roof.
Refers to the trim, usually made of strips of fur, that may be sewn to the hood of a parka to protect against severe weather. It may also be attached to the cuffs and rims of the parka for added decoration and weather protection.
Refers to the first stomach of the four-stomach digestive system of a number of animals including cows, moose, deer, and caribou, who must digest their food in two steps. Food is chewed and swallowed only to be regurgitated in a semi-digested form called cud, which is chewed and then digested again.
Accumulation of rainwater or snowmelt that runs over ground into lakes, streams, and sloughs.
rut (rut season):
A season of the year; the mating season of moose, deer, caribou, or sheep. Hunting is made easier during the rut season, as the hunter can imitate animal mating calls and lure animals closer.
A protective covering for a rifle, carried over the shoulder, usually made from tanned moose hide.
service community:
A settlement, village, or town where food, clothing and supplies are sold, traded or purchased and where social services are supplied.
A place where traps and snares are placed to catch animals.
shallow draft:
A reference to a boat constructed to travel in shallow water, for example  a flat-bottomed skiff.
A protective covering for a knife, carried on the waist, made from tanned hide.
A designation given small fur-bearing mammals with a shallow or short coat of fur.
A tendon; a fibrous cord connecting the muscle and bone of the neck of a moose, deer, caribou and other members of the deer family. Sinew can be used in a number of ways, most often as a durable string or thread.
skiff (Chipewyan skiff):
A flat-bottomed boat used for navigation across rivers or shallow waters; especially used for travel across fair-weather lakes.
The process of removing the skin (hide and fur) of an animal from the flesh; preparing an animal carcass by removing the hide to expose the meat for preparation.
sled (carryall):
A toboggan about four metres (thirteen feet) long and half a metre (one and a half feet) wide, fitted with a fabric (moosehide) sidewall cover; used to carry people  and supplies; pulled by dogs, snowmobiles or all-terrain wheeled vehicles.
sled dog:
A work dog that pulls a toboggan.
smoke cure:
The process of curing fish and meat by smoking it over a fire.
Meat or fish that is prepared by smoke-curing.
An assembled system of roots, flexible branches, sinew, hide, rope or wire that has been fashioned and set to catch mammals of all sizes (particularly fur-bearing animals).
A form of footwear (one to two metres or three to seven feet long) with a prominent curve at the front, devised to allow for travel over soft, deep snow by distributing the weight of the traveler across a greater surface, thus preventing the traveler’s foot from sinking into the snow.
sound ice:
Lake or river ice that has frozen thick enough to travel over.
sounding ice:
The process of determining the thickness of ice during the first stages of freezing by hitting the surface of the ice with a blunt instrument (usually the head of an axe) and being able to determine by the sound emitted whether or not the ice is thick enough to travel over.
spring camp:
A place where a temporary camp is set up for the purpose of fishing or making dried meat, and for hunting for muskrat for fur.
A platform comprised of poles; used to store fish, meat and other supplies out of reach of carnivorous mammals.
A stick or pole placed securely within the ground to which dogs can be tied or boats anchored to shore.
Refers to homes or cabins that have been built from sawed or hewn timber, such as lumber.
stick of fish (fish stick):
Dog food consisting of several (eight to ten) whole fish, weighing around ten kilograms (twenty-two pounds) in total, strung on to a sharp stick that has been pierced through the tail of each fish. Often, sticks totaling hundreds of fish are hung in the sun to dry.
Sweat (Sweat Lodge Ceremony):
A traditional sacred ceremony performed within a Sweat Lodge that involves the act of contemplating one's spiritual and physical well-being. Inside, a sacred fire heats special stones, waking the spirits living inside them. The stones are placed into a shallow pit at the centre of the lodge, often called the bellybutton of Mother Earth. The person residing over the ceremony then pours water over the stones, sending messages upwards to the Creator along with the rising steam. The steam cleanses the body of toxins, and heals the damage done to the soul. The ceremony may be presided over by an Elder, who receives and deciphers sacred messages.
Sweat Lodge:
The Sweat Lodge is the place of healing and refuge in which the traditional Sweat Lodge Ceremony takes place. It is constructed out of willow branches which have been bent into the shape of a dome, and covered with blankets or animal hide to keep out light. Inside, a sacred fire heats special stones, waking the spirits living inside them.
Rendered animal fat fed to working sled dogs to supply them with energy. It may also be used as an energy supplement and cooking fat for humans.
The process of converting rawhide into a soft leather fabric that is used for a number of purposes, most specifically to make clothing.
Tea Dance Ceremony:
A dance involving any number of people who dance side by side in a circle to the rhythm of drums; a social occasion.
teepee (also known as tipi):
A housing structure used by Aboriginal Peoples, consisting of a conical frame of wooden poles covered with hide or commercial fabric. The teepee was very easy to transport from place to place, as its wooden base and canvas cover was simple to construct and take down. It could be heated in the winter by a small central fire. The protruding smoke flaps could be shifted to catch the wind or be closed in rainy weather. Its tough hide walls were well anchored to the ground and therefore it remained snug and stable even during the worst prairie storms. Special teepees could also be built as places in which to store and preserve food, such as a smoke-curing tent.
A narrow strip of tanned hide, used as a string, rope, harness, handle, or strap.
Leather straps; a portion of the harness by which dogs pull a toboggan.
trading post:
A centrally located station or store at which groceries, trapline supplies, furs, artifacts or cash could be traded or sold.
A narrow, winding pathway leading to trapline sets; connection between trapline residences and service community; walkways of animals.
A person who sets traps, snares, and baits to lure an animal; a person who trades or markets the raw fur he or she catches; a person who makes a portion or all of his or her living off the resources of the land; a person who also hunts big game for food.
The separation between forest land and barren land.
See ruff.
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