Woniya Thibeault

Guest intructor: Sewing with brain tanned Buckskin
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Woniya Thibeault

I have been studying and teaching ancestral skills for 25 years. Sharing land-based living skills with others is my passion. I believe they are an important way to connect with the land around us, ourselves and our human past, and our human and greater than human communities.

I specialize in brain tanning and buckskin clothing; fiber arts such as felting, spinning, knitting, and cordage; basketry; wild foods and food storage, off grid and homestead skills, and natural history and nature connection practices. 

A lot of my teaching has focused on buckskin sewing, not just because it is a wonderful material work with and wear, but because of the powerful effect it has on the psyche. All of us can trace our lineage back to ancestors who wore buckskin, or something very like it. It is an integral part of our evolutionary history. Wearing and interacting with it helps reminds us what it is to be human, to have the animals we hunt become our muscles and clothe our bodies, to spend nights staring into the glowing coals of the campfire instead of into a computer screen.

I love making things with my hands. I love being out on the land harvesting food and raw materials. I love knowing that I have the capacity to provide for my needs from goods from the natural world. I love everything about these skills. But I don’t practice or teach them just for their own sake. I do them because they make a difference.

Humans spent hundreds of thousands of years evolving into complex creatures with amazing capacity to understand, respond to and live in the natural world. We have spent the last few centuries becoming increasingly rapidly divorced from it. I see ancestral skills and other practices to connect to the living world around us as a way to find our way back to the sense of connection we evolved to have and long for.

I believe that these skills are important, powerful, and revolutionary.

I hope you’ll join me to learn more of them!