Cedar, the Tree of Life

cedartotem poles

From the wood comes post and beam houses, ceremonial masks, ocean-going canoes, and totem poles declaring history, rights, and lineages. From the inner bark: baskets, cordage, netting and clothing — soft, warm and water-repellent. (Shread cedar bark even finer and you have the makings of diapers).

For her easy blend of natural and cultural history, Hilary Stewart has long been a favorite at the Land Library. We especially love her book Cedar: Tree of Life to the Northwest Coast Indians. The giant cedar of the northwest coastal rainforest has truly been the tree of life for the people who sensed its gifts — the Kwakiutl, Haida, Bella Coola, and others.

As with all of Hilary Stewart’s books, Cedar is a beautiful blend of word and image, meticulous in detail, and forever conscious of the ties between people and the land.

also pictured above: Hilary Stewart’s Looking at Totem Poles
hilary illustrationisland time
above: page from Cedar: Tree of Life to the Northwest Coast Indians, On Island Time, a memoir by Hilary Stewart

Hilary Stewart’s many books comprise a wonderfully creative encyclopedia of the cultures of the Northwest. Here’s just a few more volumes from the Land Library’s shelves:

stone bonelooking atindian fishing
Stone, Bone, Antler, and Shell: Artifacts of the Northwest Coast, Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast, Indian Fishing: Early Methods on the Northwest Coast

river trap

For more on the First Peoples of the Pacific Northwest, you can take a quick scan of one of the Land Library’s earlier posts!


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