crooked knife – mukutakan

Apart from an ushtashku (axe), one can think of no other tool as important to the Innu hunter as the mukutakan (crooked knife). This multi-purpose knife was used to shave thin planking and ribs for canoes and toboggans, make stretching boards to dry furs, carve wooden dolls for the children, fashion snowshoe frames and drums, and many other objects out of wood.

Before contact with Europeans, the blade of the knife would have been made out of a ground beaver incisor tooth. In more recent years, the blade was made by forging a metal file in a hot fire, and then tying the end of the piece firmly into a wooden handle.

One unusual characteristic of the knife is that it must be drawn towards the body when being used. However, great care must be taken when using the knife so as to avoid wounding oneself in the stomach.

Listen to Innu Elders from Natuashish talk about the importance of the mukutakan in making canoes:

Audio Pinashue Benuen

Audio Matinen (Rich) Katshinak

Audio Uniam Katshinak

For more information about the mukutakan, and some examples of elaborately carved ones, visit

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