On Tuesday, Wayne returned from Lac du Flambeau with fresh spruce roots that he harvested together with ENVISION students. Wayne split the roots in the woodshop and then boiled them up in a large pot of water, which made it a simple task to peel off the bark and clean them for lashing.
Watch a video of the root processing here: The spruce roots were immediately put to use, stitching up the stern of the canoe. Small birchbark spacers were cut and worked into place, the ends of the laminated outwales were trimmed with a crooked knife.
With this stitching complete, the bow and stern were in good order. In an Ojibwe birchbark canoe, one doesn’t easily lose sight of where one’s going, or forget where one’s been. The bow of the canoe is literally called “the future” (niigaan jiimaan) and the stern “the past” (ishkweyaang jiimaan).
The water that was used to boil the spruce roots aquired a deep red hue from the roots and was put to work again later in the day to soften up the lacrosse sticks so that the hoops could be bent into shape. The hoops were then lashed tight with rawhide. Wayne has been busy preparing new equipment for this February’s Ojibwe Winter Games. In the photos below you’ll also see two lacrosse balls, carved from walnut, and the finished atlatls.
Watch a video of Wayne making a lacrosse stick. On Wednesday, the time came to remove the plywood building frame. This was an exciting moment for all to see the birch hull, and to be able to lift this light and elegant craft. As the permanent thwarts were lashed in, the birchbark hull was scraped smooth to prepare for the ribs, which will be inserted soon.
Amid all the work, there was also time to visit and to sing. Students came to visit from the Art department’s print-making class, and Colin and Wayne exchanged songs while lashing the thwarts.
Wayne introducing the students to his canoe and traditions
Watch a video of the singing!