Length: 70.000 cm
Width: 45.000 cm
Height: 5.000 cm
Room 26: North America
Blackfoot, around AD
From the Canadian Plains, North America
Parfleches are rectangular rawhide containers that fold over like envelopes. They were used in the nineteenth century particularly for holding pemmican, ground dried buffalo meat mixed with fat and berries. This food was vital in the fur trade, where a high calorie diet was required by canoe men.
On the northern Plains, moccasin soles were sometimes made from sections of painted rawhide, re-used either from an older pair or from parfleches made as gifts.
This parfleche forms part of the earliest documented collection of material from the Canadian Plains in The British Museum. It was acquired from a soldier, Major George Seton (1819-1905). Seton was also an artist, trained in creating panoramas for military purposes. He served in the Royal Canadian Rifles from 1853-58, the last two years stationed at Fort Garry, Manitoba (Rupert's Land), at the behest of the Hudson's Bay Company who had requested protection from supposed American and native threats. At the end of his posting he participated in two expeditions, one British and one Canadian, sent out to report on the Canadian Plains. He collected this parfleche while on the British expedition, which reported that the plains of Saskatchewan and Alberta were suitable for farming.
J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)