- Indians used the bark of trees for many purposes and were expert in making
it into useful articles. The inner bark of cedar, elm, and other
trees was shredded, twisted, and spun or woven. Certain tribes ate
bark in the spring, the time of the greatest food scarcity. Willow
bark was smoked in ceremonial pipes. A mixture of bark and tobacco
was known as kinnikinnick. Red cedar bark was used in secret
society rites by the North Pacific Coast Indians.
The most valuable bark for the Indian was
that of the white birch tree, which is found in the north woods of the
United States. From this he made his canoe, buckets, coverings for
his wigwam, mats, pots and kettles for cooking with hot stones, and many
other articles. Juices of some barks were utilized as medicine.
Indians also used - and still use - the
bark of the elm, basswood, popular, cottonwood, and the root of the wild
cherry tree. Basswood bark is especially valuable. It is taken
from the trunk of the standing tree, usually in strips about 4 inches wide.
The bark is first loosened by bounding on it, then a cut is made and it
is pulled upward and outward. separating high in the tree. The bark
is soaked for about five days, after which time the inner bark can be peeled
from the rough outer bark. This inner bark is next separated into
lacings by running the fingernail along the edge. it must be wet
when worked and in this state can be twisted into rope or twine, or used
as a flat thong. Good bark lacings also are made from slippery elm,
hickory, white oak, red cedar, osage orange, and buckeye.
Some strong barks are used fro bowstrings.
The bark house was common to the Chippewa. When they moved camp,
the bark roof was rolled up and carried along. They chopped down
poles and made another house frame when they camped. The Iroquois
constructed their famous long houses from bark. Bark also was used
for floors, beds, and partitions in houses.
within this Site
[ Bags and
Pouches ][ Baskets
][ Canoe ][
][ Glue ][
][ Stone Boiling ][ Tobacco
][ Wigwam ]