Anchored Podcast Ep. 171: Learning Ancestral Skills with Woniya Thibeault

Woniya Thibeault Anchored
Table of Contents

Anchored Podcast:

Woniya Thibeault is an ancestral skills teacher and the creator of Buckskin Revolution. In this episode, Woniya and April discuss making ancestral crafts, wearing and making buckskin clothing, balancing life off-grid with the modern world, and her time on the tv show Alone. Woniya has so much to share with the world and we’re sure Anchored listeners won’t want to miss this fascinating interview. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:15] Woniya has spent a lot of time learning ancestral skills
  • [7:45] A skills gathering opened her mind
  • [14:34] Why she chose to participate in the Alone show
  • [26:56] How she survived so long alone in the Arctic
  • [34:29] How did she stay warm and sheltered during her time in the Arctic?
  • [43:25] Community was a huge part of our ancestors’ lives
  • [44:20] What do people not know about sewing buckskin?
  • [51:02] How does Woniya feel aobut cultural appropriation?
  • [57:22] Wearing buckskin is much different than wearing cloth

How did Woniya find her path?

While in college, Woniya attended a skill-sharing workshop and discovered that some people still practiced ancestral skills. She always had the dream of living closer to the land with an off grid lifestyle, but she thought that the skills needed to do that had been lost in time. This knowledge was exactly what she needed to live the life she had always wanted. In college, she studied botany and environmental studies and bolstered her formal studies by learning as many ancestral skills as she could. 

What are ancestral skills?

Ancestral skills refer to the skillset that our ancestors needed to know to live off the land around them. Woniya has learned how to utilize plants and animals for food, clothing, medicine, and more. Hunting, foraging, herbal medicine, basket weaving, and hide tanning are all ancestral skills. Woniya has spent years refining these crafts and now teaches them to others. 

Her experience on Alone was profound 

Woniya had always wanted to walk away from it all and use her knowledge to live off the land. She was given the opportunity to do so in a very public way when she was asked to be on the reality tv show, Alone. In the show, she was dropped off in the middle of the Canadian Arctic with only 10 items to aid in her survival. It was a wild wilderness adventure that changed her life.

You can see how she survived by watching that show. But what you won’t learn from watching the tv show is what brought her there and why she chose to leave. It’s a fascinating story that you won’t want to miss. Press play to hear her tell it. 

Working with buckskin draws you closer to the spirit of the animal

Woniya makes gorgeous buckskin clothing. She even made all of the clothing that she used on Alone. She attributes the natural materials for keeping her warm in the subzero temperatures of the Arctic. Making buckskin clothing has taught her to really learn deeply about the animal. She states that you learn the life history of the animal by working with its skin. 

Listen to this interview to learn more about wearing, washing, and working with buckskin. And when you’re done, go check out our masterclass on tanning here

Resources mentioned on this episode

Connect with Woniya Thibeault

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Anchored Outdoors is an ever-growing network of fly fishing experts who’ve been brought together by podcaster and fellow outdoorswoman, April Vokey.

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