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Native American Deerskin Dressing:   Page 2
These deerskin dressing methods will be broken down into subjects in the order of their most common application: beams, fleshing, graining, structure openers, brain solutions, softening, smoking and dyeing.

native woman wetscraping         Almost all stone-age North Americans scraped deerskins wet over a beam. Even on the plains, where dry-scraping was intimately understood for graining (and thus dehairing) buffalo, most peoples chose to wet-scrape deer. However, the reports of deerskin dressing on the northern plains have been greatly obscured by the focus that buffalo tanning received. It is clear that the Blackfeet and Assiniboine dry-scraped some of their deerskins. It is probable that its use extended to other northern plains tribes, at least occasionally, though many of them clearly wet-scraped.
        My belief is that dry-scrape was primarily used as a thinning technique on thicker hides to render them lighter weight, easier to brain and soften. This use translated occasionally for some tribes and regularly for a few, to deer. Deerskins are naturally thin, readily softened, and easy to grain wet with primitive tools.

"Beaming tools are thus identified with the dressing of deerskins and in this respect stand distinct from the adze-tool used in dressing buffalo skins. They seem to be used whenever the dressing of deerskins is prevalent."
Clark Wissler, Plains Indians anthropologist, 1910.

Traditional Native Scraping Methods

the many ways to set up a scraping beam
        To wetscrape, a solid surface is needed to provide resistance to the tool as layers of skin are pushed or pulled away. Almost always these surfaces took the form of logs leaned against a tree or implanted at an angle in the ground with the other end waist high. Both forms were widespread. Other styles did exist. Horizontal waist-high beams were used in the Gulf of Georgia-Puget Sound area, and horizontal planks were used in NW California.
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