Cherokee Culture Notes Edited and Revised: August 27, 2000

Fact Sheet Author Unknown
Edited by: Wendell Cochran, Tahlequah, OK

Cherokee Method for Tanning Hides

Mose Owl described this method.

Step 1. Make a lye solution by putting one gallon of hickory ashes in a large barrel or crock containing 2 to 3 gallons of water.

Step 2. Place a fresh hide in the solution and soak for several days until the hair can be pulled out easily. Check each day; it takes less time during hot weather.

Step 3. Stretch skin over a peeled log or a plank. Scrape all the hair off the outside and the loose membrane on the inside. When the hide is thoroughly clean, rinse in clean water and stretch it. When the hide is nearly dry, but still slightly damp, rub with raw animal brains. Use a smooth stone to rub the brains into the hair side of the skin. Tighten the stretching ropes several times until no more stretching is possible. The brains make the hide pliable.