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Maine Memory Network

Birchbark, Beads and Continuing Traditions

Birchbark bucket, ca. 1900

Birchbark bucket, ca. 1900

Item 23489 info
Hudson Museum, Univ. of Maine

Birchbark

And when the time comes that you need a vessel to bear you upon the water you shall ... lay the bark of the white wood tree on the ground, and cut the bark on each side, so you can shape it to a point on each end, and lay the top frame on the bark and then turn up the side flaps of the bark closely to the frame, and you shall sew the side flaps together with strips of the roots of the soft wood tree ... after sewing up ... you shall use the sap of the pitch wood tree called Puk-go, "pitch," so that the water will not enter into the vessel; after this done your vessel will be ready to bear you upon the water.

-- Joseph Nicolar, 1893

Birchbark traditions were central to the material culture of the Native People of Maine.

Everything from canoes, container and coverings for houses to moose calls and novelty items could be made from the bark of a paper birch.


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