Moosehide belt decorated with Donjek berry seed beading

Blue and white glass beads trim the belt. Red inner lining.

Belts of the Athapaskan peoples are ornately decorated. This example from the Southern Tutchone people is decorated in traditional and acquired materials. Before non-native trade adornments usually consisted of porcupine quill work, seeds, dentalia shells, and other naturally occurring decoration. Russian traders provided glass beads and buttons which were quickly added to the décor.

The seed work that is seen on the belt was repetitive and tedious work. Quillwork was preferred because it was faster. The seeds on the belt are referred to the as the Donjek berry. This berry was so named by the people that lived along the Donjek River. In fact the species name is Elasaganus comutata, also known as the silverberry. The Donjek is a descriptive name that stems from (Dän Zhur Chù) Southern Tutchone for 'where people, berries and water come together'. The Donjek was well known to First Nations as a place white or silver berries grow along the river.


Kluane Museum of History, Burwash Landing

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