Wiigwaas

HARVESTING WIIGWAAS

PETER BEAUCAGE – JUNE 26/14

Peter spoke of how his grandmother brought them to harvest birch wiigwaas and she would make birch bark baskets. Harvest time at Nipissing is usually mid to late June.

His grandmother would hand them a piece of birch bark for them to do birch bark biting with a fang tooth, to create a design on the bark. Ie: leaves or flowers. This was before there was paper and pencils.

You offer semaa to the tree first of all. When you take off his clothing, you ask that he be protected as he begins to heal himself quickly before the winter comes. The bark on the inside is usually wet (sap), as it is still growing.

Look for a smooth bark tree. Use a sharp knife and slice downwards. Peel off gently. When you peel off your wiigwaas, you will see about 4-5 layers. The outer layer can be used for fire starter. We work with the inner layers.

There is a legend about the birch tree.

There is a fungus that grows on the birch trees psaagin (chaga), that is used as medicine.

You can tap the birch tree the same time and way you tap the maple tree. The pure sap is consumed for diabetes prevention.

Wiinsig – yellow birch will give a lot of sap. Sometimes 1 gallon overnight.

There is a certain birch tree is used to harvest birch bark for wiigwams and canoes. Those trees usually grow where its rocky. The trees are more rugged. Really thick bark.

To store wiigwaas, lay it flat to dry and soak it in luke warm water before you use it.