A woman's pride and joy was her elk horn scraper, called "wahintke" by the Lakota. It was made from a section between the second and third tine of an elk antler. The blade would sit inside the second tine after it was cut at a 90 degree angle to the handle, then placed in a pouch and lashed to the elbow of the scraper. Before trade metal arrived, the blades were of flint-like stone.
To be eligible for marriage, a woman needed to master the art of tanning so she could provide clothing, moccasins and a hide tipi for her family. Upon marriage, her first task was to make a pair of moccasins for her husband.
Virtually all articles used by the Lakota were of deer, elk or buffalo. A wahintke's blade needed to be sharp to flesh off from a hide its fat/meat and thin the hide for tanning. As a robe, the hair was left. For leather, the wahintke scraped off wool or hair. After each tanned hide was completed, a woman marked the elk horn handle with an incised dot or scribed line. Some markings are in various places to identify the type of skin tanned. A ring on the handle indicated she helped make ten tipis.
To the right is a scraper with an elbow-shaped blade lashed to the handle. This is a Cheyenne scraper showing their method of attaching a bent file to the elbow. A file had hard steel to hold its sharpened edge a long time. Also shown is a rare scraper made of wood, without its blade, and an older scraper with its stone blade secured with rawhide.
Before metal, a stone blade made to fit against the inside of the scraper's elbow had a beveled edge, as those below; the other blade edge was straight, as shown above.
Pictured to the left is another tool for tanning was a scraper with a metal blade inserted into a wood handle, often using a broken knife blade. These pushed meat/fat from the flesh side of a deer or elk and its hair from the reverse side. For buffalo these were not used since its tight wool required an elk horn scraper for removal.
Additional information on tanning is found in my book Brain Tanning the Sioux Way and The Buffalo Hide Tipi of the Sioux, as well as the DVD Brain Tanning Buffalo Hides the Sioux Way.