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Bark Stripping

In addition to being a functional task, the collection of cedar bark was a spiritual time for the Stó:lō. The importance of prayer, prior to the removal of any part of the tree, was a reflection of the importance of cedar as a gift to the people it would benefit. Regardless of the activity that the bark was intended for, trees that were selected usually had similar features that made them appropriate for obtaining the correct lengths and widths of bark; generally, a tree selected for stripping was about 40 centimetres in diameter.

Other attributes the Stó:lō looked for in their selection included minimal twisting in the bark and a limited number of branches on the tree. In addition, the trees were sometimes selected for their proximity to hill slopes, as this could aid in the stripping process. The time of year for bark stripping varied along the Northwest Coast, but the Stó:lō typically harvested in late spring, as sap flow increases with the increase in temperature, and bark is more easily removed when the sap is flowing.

Images

(282.3 KB)Barking being stripped from a cedar.
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