Build Your Own Parfleche

colored handmade pouch
Assiniboine Parfleche

NPS Photo

Parfleche is a folded carrying bag made by the Plains Indians. Parfleche is traditionally made out of rawhide and decorated with geometric designs. The rawhide would be prepared by cleaning and removing the hair from the skin. It would then be stretched out and allowed to dry in the sun. Because of this process, the result would be a stiff but durable leather used for various types of parfleche and other items. Traditionally, the two ends of the rawhide would be folded over to meet together and form a kind of envelope. The two flaps would be thonged, or sewn, together using other string or leather.

Parfleches were the “suitcases” of the Plains Indian tribes. The traditional colors found on parfleche were blue, red, yellow, green, brown, and black. The designs varied by tribe and were usually symmetrical, geometric, or abstract.


Please ask a parent, guardian, or adult to help you with these instructions if you are under age 10.

  1. You will need a library pocket, construction paper, a manila folder, or anything that you can make into a pocket. Punch holes around the sides.

  2. You will then thread the needle through the top of the first hole in the pocket. It doesn’t matter left or right. You can tie the end of their thread in that hole (double knot)
  3. You can then thread the needle through going back and forth in a straight stitch, back stitch, or you can experiment to make a unique stitch. (Remember with experimenting that you only have so much thread and shouldn’t run out before you finish all the way around).
  4. When you finish stitching the pocket all the way around, you can tie off the thread at the end (double knotting again) to finish with the thread and cut it with a scissors.
  5. You can then decorate your parfleche pocket with crayons, markers, stamps, etc.
  6. Take a photo of your pouch and post it to our Facebook page.

Last updated: July 28, 2020