Moss (sphagnum moss)
Gwichya Gwich'in Name:
Teetł’it Gwich’in Name::
Gwich’in women used to hang wet moss in branches of willows to dry and get rid of bugs. (The bugs crawl out or drop from the drying moss.) The dry moss was stuff and sewn into cloth sugar bags for use as diapers. Strips of cloth were used to tie the diapers on.
Wet moss was used for washing dishes, cleaning hands and wiping off fish and fish tables.
As trail marker
Moss was also hung in trees and shrubs to blaze or mark trails.
Moss was often used to chink log house walls and roofs, and to bank the sides of tents against the wind. To chink a house, moss was pushed in the cracks and then covered with a coat of soft mud and allowed to dry or freeze.
Source: Andre, Alestine and Alan Fehr, Gwich'in Ethnobotany, 2nd ed. (2002)
Moss Houses in the Old DaysMy brother John and I went along when the men went to the lakes to hunt. All the wives would be left at the lake and they would make a fire. The wives, all related to each other, said when they were left behind that they would build a house. They made it out of moss. That night they made a fire on a large piece of land. Even then it was cold. After the house was made, we all went into a nice, hot place. They all laughed at the men who left them behind without a house.- Julienne Andre (COPE)Moss for FuelHalf of this time we did not know where we were going except that we were going back by canoe. Some of the places we went to there was no wood or willow, only dry moss. So we had to burn dry moss to cook a meal for ourselves...- Pascal Baptiste (COPE)