About Fire/Octopus Bags
Métis fire bags or octopus bags are a Métis heritage art that is based on the "bags of many legs" from the Saulteaux. These bags were originally called "fire bags" because they were used to carry flint, steel, tobacco, pipes, and/or ammunition. By the mid 1800's, Métis people were making fire bags across the northern Plains, the Yukon, and along the Columbia River. Historians theorize that the name "octopus bag" was given by the Tlingit Nation during this time as Métis traders introduced them to the Northwest coast.
Historically, these bags were constructed using two panels of black woolen Stroud cloth (or black velvet) which was beaded and edged with silk ribbon. Métis octopus bags are an important part of Métis history and culture. Today, octopus bags are making a resurgence as more and more Métis artists pick up this important heritage art.*