Tanning a hide by the methods used by Native Americans involves four steps: cleaning, braining, softening, and smoking.
You will need
- A small animal hide
- A knife
- The animal's brain
- A stove
- A pot
- A blender
- A brush
- A storage area
- A chair
- And smoke
Step 1 Scrape the hide Remove meat and fat from the hide by scraping it with a knife. Scrape from side to side — not head to tail.
Use a fresh hide, preferably from an animal that has died a natural death or been the victim of a recent accident. If you use a frozen or dried hide, you will have to restore it to fresh condition.
Step 2 Add brains Cook the animal’s brain — beef or pork brains can also be used — in a pot of water, then put it a blender with warm water and mix well.
In general, any small animal has enough brain to tan its own hide.
Step 3 Apply the brains to the hide Moisten the hide until it feels like a sponge, and then apply some of the brain mixture to the flesh side with a brush. Let the brains sit on the skin for an hour before applying more.
Step 4 Store the hide overnight Roll the hide up with the brains inside and let it sit overnight in a cool, protected place.
Step 5 Apply more brains Apply another coat of brains in the morning before stretching out the hide.
Step 6 Soften the hide Run the hide over the back of a chair to soften it until it is completely dry.
Step 7 Smoke the hide Smoke the hide over an open fire. Smoking prevents the skin from turning hard after getting wet and discourages insects.
Did You Know:
Native Americans used animal brains to tan hides because the oil in the brains lubricated the fibrous structure of the skin.