The word was originally used by French fur traders (it was not a word used by the Native Americans). It derives from the French "parer" meaning "parry" or "defend", and "flèche" meaning "arrow", so called because the hide was tough enough to be used as a shield.
Women historically created parfleches, first painting stretched out raw hides, then shaping them into their final form. Today, men and women make parfleches.
The original bags had graphics that were actually maps, general geographical depictions of the surrounding land. The river as a circle of life and mountains were the most common features.
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- "Images of parfleche in the Smithsonian's collections". National Museum of the American Indian. Retrieved September 8, 2010.
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