Bark Stripping

  

Only trees about the diameter of a telephone pole are satisfactory. There is only about a 6 week window when the sap is running right. A cut through the bark about one foot wide is made horizontally in the bark about 5 feet up the tree. Small vertical cuts are made at each end and then the 'U" shape is pried away using a knife. This 'tail' is then grabbed and pulled so that the bark strips away from the tree in a gradually narrowing band all the way up the tree maybe as high as 60 feet. This produces a 60 foot long piece of bark.

The outer bark is taken off the softer core and the whole thing cut in strips about 1 inch wide and soaked in water. It matures for about a year. The strips are then woven into baskets, hats and bowls for ceremonial and day to day use. You can see fine examples at the Sechelt Indian Band Museum.

You can see specimens in the Groves that were stripped this way scores of years ago. Within a year or two the edges of the strip start to heal and then new bark partially forms over the bare trunk. These scars are important as they identify "culturally modified" trees and these identify areas used by the first nations dating back hundreds of years.