Women of the Fur Trade Membership

Membership in the Women of the Fur Trade Society is subject to vote, approval and/or by

invitation. This is to insure mutual compatibility.


You must be 18 yrs of age.


Once accepted, you will have a probationary period of up to 2 years but no less than 1 year.

Upon completion of 10 requirements, which must be checked by and approved by your sponsor,then approved by founding members, you will be granted full membership and the title of Sister. 


All levels after Sister are optional. After the completion of 20 requirements you may obtain the title of Council woman. After the completion of all requirements and a donation of one un-smoked,  brain tanned Elk hide you will obtain the title council Mother.


We now have enough members who have reached their Sisterhood Status. Therefore all new
members will be given a Sponsor. Set forth this day Aug.2nd,2006

                                                                               Jill, Sandy and Chris


Applications and letters of introduction should be send directly to Jill, Sandy or Chris.


Women of the Fur Trade Requirements

Requirements 1-5 are MANDATORY and must be part of the first 10 requirements filled for advancement from the probationary period and are not negotiable:

1. DRESS, TOOLS & ACCESSORIES OR ACCOUTERMENTS: Must have made a full set of hand cut and sewn clothing, must also have

accessories and accouterments. These must be researched for

authenticity of 1800-40 period and be of a type which would have

been worn and used by a woman of Native American origin. All

accessories must be acquired through nature or by trade, or by

being a trapper's wife. Items that would have been acquired from

a trapper or trader such as blankets, pots and other ccouterments

that would have normally required the work of a specialized craftsman need not be handmade, but must be as authentic as can be purchased today. Native saddles were made in the field but most of us don't have skills or materials to accomplish this so purchase of this item is acceptable. Non-horse women are not required to have horse gear.  All dress items must be acquired to attend encampments. Commercial tan only where applicable. Items used and possessed by member must be researched and gender use correct in material as well as design when ever possible. Male gender accouterments, when necessary for health and safety, are permitted, as in winter camps.



2. SEASONAL CAMPS:Must have spent at least two days and one night in a primitive camp during each season of the year – total of 4 camps in within two year probationary period.  "Drive and Dump” camps can not be counted toward this requirement.  Animals may be used for packing camps either by travois or paniards.   



3. FIRE MAKING: Must be able to start a fire in wet, as well as dry,

weather using a flint and steel or fire drill using tinder and wood

found under natural conditions. Mandatory


4. HIDE TANNING: Must show ability to Indian-dress (braintan) a hide. Must make one article from a portion or entire said hide. Mandatory


5. PRIMITIVE COOKING: Must be able to cook a meal of meat using only the meat, fire, a knife and materials found in nature. Mandatory


6. TEACH AND DEMONSTRATE: Must be able to demonstrate the skills needed for primitive survival in the wilderness of her area as a Native American woman to camp, cook, skin and tan hides, start fires, personal hygiene, collect wood, sew etc…must be willing to teach said skills to other members when requested by any party organizer orDirector of this Association. Requests requiring preparation will be

given in advance.


7. CONTAINER MAKING: Must have made at least one item of parfleche, using earth pigments and hide glue and finished with a natural sealant. Use of parfleche is encouraged whenever possible.


8. CAMP SET UP: Must be able to properly set up a tipi alone or
construct a permanent debris shelter. Tipi must be set up entirely
alone with the exception of setting up the tripod and lifting the
canvas. No one can foot poles or pound stakes. Shelter must with
stand weather and be of a documented North American tribe and of material of which the shelter would have been constructed from.


9. DECORATIVE: Must fabricate one item decorated with quillwork

and one item decorated with beading. Beading can only be 0/8 size beads; Bodmer blue, Pony Trader blue, white and small quantities of black, red White Hearts, Greasy yellow and even less of Pumpkin orange. Must use linen or cotton thread, or sinew with techniques used during the pre-1840 time period. The quantity of quillwork will depend on the style of appliqué used. Only one quill technique required. Jean Heinbuch's book "A uillwork Companion" will be used as a descriptive guide:

Beading - 10 square inches accumulative

Zigzag Technique - 6 square inches

Simple Band Technique - 5 square inches

Single Thread Line Technique - Accumulative length of 15 inches

Quill Wrapping Technique - Accumulative length of 15 inches

Quill Plaiting Technique- 25"in length or 6 square inches

Any Multi-quillwork Technique - 4 square inches


10. TRADE AND BARTER: Must be able to acquire and braintan a hide. After hide has been processed it must be traded to a trapper for a trade item, not money. Trapper cannot be a spouse or relative. This should be a well tanned  and soft hide showing quality and skill.  Bicker and barter to get the hides worth in trade item or items.


11. GROUP SOCIAL SKILL: Must help prepare a feast for a large group of people using traditional (off the land or period correct obtainable from rendezvous) foods and cooking methods, this can be done by a group of sisters.


12. SOCIAL SKILL: In keeping with the virtue of generosity so highly regarded by Native American tribes, must gift two items of their own manufacture to any person other than a relation or spouse. It is encouraged to continue with one gift item each year.


13. HERBOLOGY: Must know 5 edible and 5 medicinal plants of her wilderness area and must have gathered and used these plants

in a meal or as a medicine.


14. PACKING: Must be able to demonstrate the ability to properly

use and pack a travois for dog or horse, or pack a horse, canoe or

bullboat, toboggan, or a woman for distance travel under possible

adverse conditions.


15. ACCUMULATIVE CAMPS: Must have spent an accumulative time of two or more weeks in the wilderness under primitive conditions in the company of no more than 4  people.  Each stay must be at least three full days and two full nights.  One camp, no matter how long, as long as it is the minimum 3 days and 2 nights, can be a drive and dump camp.  All other camps must be a packed in camp.   Animals may be used for packing camps either by travois or paniards.


16. 7 DAY RENDEZVOUS: Must have spent at least one full week 7 days in a primitive encampment in the company of other members at any territorial rendezvous – AMM, Eastern, Western, Pacific and/or any Nationals such as Rocky Mountain Rendezvous.   All dress and equipment must observe WFT Society standards.  This means no foam sleeping pads, no ice coolers or trips to hidden ice coolers, no plastic water jugs, or plastic of any type in camp.  All meat is to be wrapped in paper and all dry goods should be in bags not of modern commercial packaging.  This camp can be a drive and dump camp but you can not return to the parking lot or your vehicle until your 7 days are up.  The AMM/WFT national rendezvous is a pack in only camp, drive and dump is never an option.


17. TRAVEL - 5 DAY: Must have spent at least five days traveling on foot, snowshoe, canoe, and/or horseback.  One method or a combination may be used.Bullboat may be used in place of canoe.  You are expected to gain as much distance as possible.  This trip must be under primitive conditions, taking nothing that would not have been available to a woman between 800-1840.  A knife and a squaw axe were fundamental tools and must be carried. Other weapons are optional. May use a travois and dog or horse for foot travel.


18. PROTECTION & HUNTING: Must be able to shoot a muzzleloader, hit a pie plate, 3 out of 5 times, at 50 yards for the level of Sister. Must be able to hit a pie plate, 3 out of 5 times, at 75 yards for the level ofCouncil Woman. Must be able to load & clean said firearm. Or for those not interested in firearms, the following Archery Requirement may be substituted: Primitive bow is stickbow in a style of the western Indians, with or without sinew backing, and with dogbane/sinew/linen string. Primitive arrows would be whole shoots, feather fletching, allowing steel field points to save targets, since stone points are too brittle for

target practice. Must be able to shoot at 15-20 yards, 4 arrows out of 6 in a 8-inch target (paperplate). This would be comparable to what Blackfoot or Yahi kids would be doing about age 8, able to catch rabbits.


19. ASSISTIVE HUNTING SKILL: Must be able to properly field dress (clean and skin) a game animal under primitive conditions. This could include skinning and hooping a beaver. As a trappers woman this would have been a common skill.


20. COMMUNICATION: Must be able to converse using Plains Indians hand talk. The use of Tompkin's book "Indian Sign Language" will be used as a basis for conversation. To complete this requirement, you must demonstrate your ability to read the signs for 60 words, as well as to give the signs for 60 words. Must be able to tell a story or hold a conversation using sign language.


21. MAKE MEAT: Must have fished or hunted for and killed at least one fish or game or fur animal with a muzzleloader firearm, primitive bow, or primitive fishing gear, trapping, snare or dead fall. Must have used as much of the animal as possible so that little is wasted. The hide for clothing or accouterments, the meat for food, bones for their marrow or for tools. The hunt must be made from a strictly primitive camp, the hunt accomplished under rimitive conditions and within the limits of the local game law.


22. LIVING OFF THE LAND: Must spend at least three days and two nights living off the land in company with no more than 3 other people. No food can be brought in with you. All substenance is to come from what you can find in nature. It is expected that you are able to find food and that you provide your share of food for the group.


23. RESEARCH: Must make a study of some aspect of the life style of women of the fur trade and submit a report to the association with the intent that it may be submitted to a magazine for publication. This article could relate to anything social, crafts and skills, etc… anything pertinent to a woman's life.


24.BrainTan an elk or Buffalo hide:  This must be a full  hide and not a partial cut down from a trophy mount.  Hide will be given to the WFT to build a demonstration Tipi.  Hide must be un-smoked.  

25.Quill Dying:  Must personally collect from nature 1 natural mordent and 2 different natural color dyes from nature,
dye the quills and use the quills in any stitch that requires 2 or more quills at one time, such as: two quill diamond , 4 quill diamond, checker weave, etc.   The quill work must add up to 4 square inches. 

 We recommend Sister Jean’s book “A Quillworker’s Companion”

26. Basketry or Weaving:  must make a container such as a basket, bag or 
a finger woven sash or bag strap, by weaving using appropriate technique as in an original item.  Item must be made from all natural material such as grasses, bark, pine needles, real sinew, natural cordage, Indian hemp (dogbane), rushes and willow branches.  Examples would be: birch bark baskets, woven

 willow bark baskets, non-wool/non-corn husk sally bags, tule mats and 100% period color wool sashes (home spun wool yarn may be purchased).  Container must be fist size and mats must be 6 square feet.  Sash should be  long enough to wrap around waist one time without using tassels. This does not include rawhide containers.  We encourage women to do projects that have not already been mastered. 

27. Primitive Pottery:  Clay can be purchased or gathered.  Container must 
 hold one cup liquid without leaking.  Pottery must be fired naturally by wood burning or clay kiln.  Kiln must be of Native North American style.  Research sharing appreciated.

28. Booshway (bourgeois) a camp OR Sponsor a new member:  This 
requirement is designed to gather members for friendship and ideas.  Booshway must send out an open invitation on a set date & have two or  more people attend with the booshway.  The camp members need not be WFT members but camps and gear must uphold WFT standards.  You are setting an example,therefore drive and dump is not allowed. 

29. Extensive research and skill development:  Set a personal goal for  yourself to obtain.  Must be contained within the pre-1840 Native American or Fur Trade era studies.  This should include extensive research and development of an active skill to a high level of expertise in all aspects of your  chosen subject.  This is not the same as your research paper and cannot be included as such since this one requires both research and kill  development on an extensive level that the research paper does not.


30. Construct a primitive shelter:  must hand stitch a portable primitive  shelter of either hide, canvas or oil cloth.  Must be adequate shelter for at least one person in any weather condition.  Must be portable on your  back or on a horse and be pre-1840 period correct.  Oil cloth can be purchased or hand made.




A journal with documentation of each requirement filled will insure that all requirements are not forgotten or overlooked. An entry of eachrequirement, when filled, who witnessed, detail of how it was performed and any difficulties enquired, will need to be submitted to the council of the women of the WFT. It is recommended that entries for personal viewing only be kept in a separate journal. The journal or papers shouldbe fabricated or purchased and be of period correct material at the time of submission.


There will be no requirements that would involve anything religious. That would be something personal to each member. That would include vision quests, sweat lodges and any knd of spiritual ceremony. These could be things we can do as a group but only if someone wishes to participate. We are basing what we do on what a trapper's woman would have done but we are trying to include as much as possible of what a woman would have done to contribute to her Native people's arts and skills in a native tribe and will include these where applicable. Hence, We are Women of the fur Trade.


We must be careful as to not to insult any Native American people. We have to make an emphasis on the fact that we are historians and amature anthropologists and we are EMULATING the Native American women of that time period, not trying to be them.


I think if we accomplished this goal, that we honor them with our heartsas well as in our desire to present their history to the general public.


A long term objective of this society will be to construct a brain tan tipi using tanned elk skins done by the Women of the Group. The tipi will be used for demonstration purposes and will be the property of the association. One member will be appointed caretaker of the lodge. 

Tanning can be accomplished with the help of sisters in the society and we are all here to help each other obtain this goal.


At this time there are no monetary dues required for membership to this organization. In the future when items are needed for demonstrations or mailings, amount will be discussed. If you are interested in joining our woman's group or want to know more about us send us an Email.


Jill at: gazeingcyot@cs.com OR Chris at:cottagesigns@emerytelcom.net

OR Sandy at: sjhunt@cableone.net



All monetary donations will be accepted by Chris -

Please contact her for further instructions at-

E-mail Address(es):
















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