For centuries, caribou skin lodges were the most common form of habitation for the Dogrib - aboriginal people from the Northwest Territories of Canada also known as Tlicho. At the beginning of the 20th century, hundreds of these lodges were in everyday use, but when canvas tents became a common trade item in the 1920s the caribou skin lodges quickly disappeared.
In 1998 a project between the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, the Dogrib Community Services Board and the Dogrib Treaty 11 Council joined forces to replicate two caribou skin lodges using traditional means. This project was documented on video and a few video clips are available online.
Making a lodge was a long and difficult task, involving several steps and requiring many caribou hides - caribou is a wild reindeer in North America (Rangifer tarandus sp). Many of the 75 caribou skins needed for the project were collected during the 1999 barrenlands caribou hunt, and seven Dogrib women from the community of Rae, on the North Arm of Great Slave Lake, were appointed to tan the hides and sew and decorate the lodges. Seams were sewn with caribou sinew, and the completed lodges were sealed and decorated with red ochre paint, made from red ochre collected from a site near Rae. Young people were involved throughout the construction process, as traditional skills were passed along to the next generation.
"The Dogrib Caribou Skin Lodge Project" Online Exhibition