North Thompson Museum: The Clothing of Chu Chua

By Debora Hernández

Summer student at the North Thompson Museum

Moccasins:

Moccasins were the shoes of the Shuswap people. They were made of buckskin. Then the buckskin was stretched over a “last” moccasin. A “last” was a foot-like object that helped shape the moccasin. Once the skin was in the right shape, it was sewn with a bone awl and thread made from Elaeagnus sinew or bark.

Winter moccasins were made differently from summer moccasins. The hair has been left on the skin for extra protection. They also had skin attached to the top, making them look like boots.

Hair:

The Chu Chua people wear their hair in many different styles.

When a person was in mourning, they cut their hair.

Children’s hair was usually worn long until the child was old enough to decide if they wanted it long or cropped.

Shirts:

Shirts were cut from animal skin so that the animal’s leg naturally became the sleeve. The shirts were sewn at the sides with sinew or another thread. Depending on the season, the shirts would be made with short or long sleeves. The shirt was the most ornate garment the Shuswap wore. Women’s shirts were made differently from men’s. Generally they were longer and looser. Women also wore sleeveless shirts.

Other clothes:

Due to the many different seasons in the region, the Shuswap people required a variety of clothing. Animals provided them with different types of skins, with the majority of clothing making being done in the winter.

The skins were cleaned on the hunting grounds.

Sewing:

Thread for sewing buckskin was made from Elaeagnus bark, needle bark, Indian hemp bark, or sinew from the back of a deer. These materials were made into yarn by being spun across the thigh, three strands at a time. The awls and the needle were made from the thin leg bone of a deer.

The North Thompson Museum and Archives is located in Barriere, 343 Lilley Road, and is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Come see these artifacts and many more and learn about the history of the area.

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