Middle school teaches kids how to tan hides

A Montana middle school is teaching kids how to tan deer and elk hides using only traditional tools. eighth-graders in Kris Schreiner’s history class are bringing history to life in an awesome class project. With donations from students and Mr. Schreiners himself, this project is a first for all of his students whether they hunt or not.

“That’s why they’re doing it in the more traditional sense, why they’re using hand tools and nothing mechanized,” Schreiner said, pointing to pelt scrapers and an all-purpose knife called an ulu.

Kalispell Middle School students learn how to tan hides

“You guys can spread out that mule deer inside that frame, yep, and bungee the four corners and start putting in the zip ties,” Schreiner said, helping one group set up a fresh hide. “So this is just a ‘green’ hide. It’s called green when it’s fresh off the animal and hasn’t been tanned yet. So grab the four corners on the legs ­­— the awls are over there in the bucket and you can use zip ties.”

Kalispell Middle School students learn how to tan hides 1

The hides are being used in many other classes at the school. The fat is being saved to make candles in science class. The art teacher is using the hides to paint traditional. The family and consumer science department plan to make pouches, bags, or something else.

This is not the first time Mr. Schreiner has done a project like this. He did spear-throwing earlier in the year. “So there’s the primary source component, but there’s also, like, kids getting to see this is a real thing that we’re learning about,” he said.