Canku Ota Logo
Canku Ota
Canku Ota Logo
(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
pictograph divider
Elder Learns Bison Hide Tanning Techniques
by Indian Country Staff
credits: Photos courtesy Sitting Bull College

FORT YATES, N.D. – After living off the reservation for 60 years, Hazel Red Bird, 84, returned to reservation life in Eagle Butte, S.D., located on the Cheyenne River Reservation.

"I remember it was 2006 when I was living in Racine, Wis. and I called one of my granddaughters to let her know I was having a medical procedure done," Red Bird said. "After the call, my granddaughter insisted that she was coming to Racine and bringing me to the Cheyenne River Reservation to live."

Red Bird grew up just south of the Grand River, near Wakpala, S.D. until she moved off the reservation in February 1948.

"My first experience off the reservation was miserable, but I knew I had to cope with it," Red Bird said.

After moving to Racine in 1957, Red Bird worked as a medical secretary and later as an Emergency Medical Technician and eventually a Registered Nurse.

After retiring from nursing in 1990, Red Bird became an ordained Episcopal Deacon and volunteered a lot of her time to church activities and functions.

Since returning to the Cheyenne River Reservation, Red Bird has learned how to bead, do leatherwork and tan bison hides.

Red Bird can still speak and understand the Lakota language today, but struggles with it.

"I now speak broken sentences because I didn't have anyone to speak Lakota with (in Wisconsin), except when I came back (to Rreservation) on vacation," Red Bird said. "While living in Wisconsin I did a lot of presentations about our culture, trying to build bridges and I did not ask for any fees."

Red Bird attended the 2009 summer workshop held in Cannonball, N.D., where 22 participants worked in small groups to complete the tanning process for each of their bison hides.

The hide tanning workshops are delivered at two different locations during the summer months, rotating among the eight districts located on the Standing Rock Reservation.

"I had to learn how to tan hides because it was something I didn't know how to do, so I took the opportunity when it was offered and now I can teach my grandchildren," Red Bird said. "It was a wonderful experience with a lot of hard work and I'm glad that I didn't have to do it when I was young and able – now if I could just learn how to make fry bread."

Red Bird's mother was Susan Bears Heart-Shooting Bear and her father was Samuel Red Bird.

Her grandfather on her father's side was William Red Bird and great-grandmother was Ellen Red Bird (Gliyukinwin-Woman Returns Home).

Her grandfather on her mother's side was Maurice Shooting Bear.

Red Bird enjoys golfing, reading books, and was an active bicyclist and cross country skier in her younger days.

For more information about the Sitting Bull College Bison Extension Education program and hide tanning workshops contact Rick DeLoughery at (605) 823-4318 or by e-mail at

pictograph divider
Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us
Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us
pictograph divider
  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  
Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 of Vicki Barry and Paul Barry.
Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo
The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 of Paul C. Barry.
All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!