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WIIGWAASWOLF UPDATE Trees are considered living relatives of the Anishinaabeg and the bark is considered a gift. Anishinaabeg do the appropriate ceremo- nies we have been taught when harvesting any of the gifts afforded our nation. Ozaawagosh Leon Valliere Lac du Flambeau One doesnt have to dig very deep into the culture to know that birch bark wiigwaas is a cornerstone to the Ojibwe identity. Wiigwaas will protect anything that it hauls. Joe Rose Bad River elder Whether it is a basket for your berries a winnow basket for your rice or a canoe hauling your loved ones tribal members have been relying on wiigwaas for generations. The rest of the story of the birch tree wiigwaasaatig is one for when theres snow on the ground however it is during the peak of the summer that tribal members are out harvesting this invaluable resource. Look for when the wild roses are in blossom this is when wiigwaas is ready to pop. Joe Rose Bad River elder Typically late June and early July provide the hot days that are ideal for har- vesting wiigwaas. However similar to the two previous seasons harvesters are reporting the wiigwaas seems to be two to three weeks late. Wiigwaas should not be gathered unless a need exists. Joe Rose Bad River elder Although the season is past some tips for harvesting in 2016 follow. Knowing the intended use will help you determine the type and amount of wiigwaas to be gathered. For example a jiiman canoe will require larger and thicker pieces of wiigwaas while a makak basket may require thinner and smoother wiigwaas. Respect is fundamental in all Ojibwe harvesting practices. When it comes to wiigwaas experienced harvesters will always stress the importance of having respect for the tree harvesting the tree in a respectful manner only harvesting what you need. In order to harvest wiigwaas off-reservation you will first need to obtain a Miscellaneous Forest Products permit from a tribal registration station or from GLIFWC. This permit will allow you to harvest from off-reservation areas that are open to tribal gathering. Within the ceded territories areas open to tribal gathering includetheChequamegon-NicoletNationalForesttheOttawaNationalForestthe HiawathaNationalForestandportionsoftheHuron-ManisteeNationalForest.Select Wisconsin properties within the ceded territories are open for treaty-harvesting as well. For a map of the ceded territory boundary and for Wisconsin state lands open to tribal gathering please visit and select Treaty Resources. While searching for the ideal tree it can be helpful to know the forest types where wiigwaasaatig is commonplace. Within the ceded territories these forest types are Northern upland hardwoods lowland softwoods aspen and paper birch. Areport published by the USDAForest Service in cooperation with GLIFWC and the University of Minnesota titled Paper Birch Wiigwaas of the Lake States 1980-2010 found that these four forest types contain 90 percent of the paper birch trees 5 inches diameter at breast height dbh. Once a tree is selected harvesters will often test the bark and make a small cut in order to check the thickness. The outer bark the part to be harvested is usually no more than inch thick. At this point you should also be able to tell if the bark is ready to come off. If the thickness is appropriate for its intended purpose and the bark is ready the harvester will often remove a test strip. This test strip can be bent in all directions to assess flexibility and check for potential weaknesses. Next harvesters will offer a gift of tobacco and words before continuing with theharvestthankingthislivingrelativeforitsgifts.Nextusingasharphook-nosed blade the harvester will carefully make a longitudinal incision into the living part of the bark the cork cambium layer. Again it is important to know how deep to make the incision as cutting too deeply can result in death of the tree. During the right time of year the bark should nearly explode off the tree and is easily removed by hand creating a large sheet. The sheet of bark is immediately rolled into a bundle the opposite way from how it was wrapped on the tree and tied with twine. According to another tribal elder these bundles should be kept in the shade and covered with ferns. Maybe even dig a trench too for them to keep them moist. Regardless of the intended use of the wiigwaas it has been reiterated time and time again that harvested bark needs to be kept moist. In some cases this goes beyond the storage stage. For example tribes would often sink and fill their canoes with rocks in order to keep the bark moist through the long winter months. Inexperienced or beginner harvesters should take the time to ask elders or more experienced harvesters for guidance. Proper guidance and technique can protect trees from irreparable damage and death preserving them for future har- vesters. Those who are more experienced can also offer advice that may not be intuitive to consider. For example Finding a large flawless tree that is suitable for a canoe can be rare these days. It would be considered a waste for this tree to be harvested for smaller objects where a smaller tree would have been suitable. Respect the tree Advice on successful harvest of wiigwaas By Alex Wrobel GLIFWC Forest Ecologist The State of Wiigwaas Paper Birch report If youre an avid wiigwaas birch bark harvester or simply have a concern for the environment make sure to check out the latest report on paper birch published by the USDA. The report is unique as it may be one of the first reports to characterize the paper birch species by bark characteristics. Also the report is specific to the ceded territory Treaties of 1836 1837 1842 and 1854 rather than to state or county lines. The report can be found online at www.fs.fed.usnrspubsgtr gtr_nrs149.pdf The late GLIFWC Forest Ecologist Karen Danielson was influential in shaping the directions of this report at its genesis. Both GLIFWC Wildlife Section Leader Dr. Jonathan Gilbert and GLIFWC Forest Ecologist Alexandra Wrobel co-authored the report with staff from the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Minnesota. Treaty night hunt update It is still wait and see in regard to the opportunity for treaty hunters to hunt deer at night this fall. The case was remanded back to US District Court in April 2015 after the US Supreme Court refused Wisconsins petition for review of a favorable decision from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. At this time the plaintiff tribes and the state are submitting briefs to the court and then will wait for a decision from Judge Barbara Crabb U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin. Theplaintifftribesareseekingachangefromtheoriginaldeernighthunting decision in the Lac Courte Oreilles v. Wisconsin case in 1990 which prohibits night hunting of deer. Citing changed circumstances as a reason to reconsider the original judgment tribes have noted a number of circumstances where the state has allowed night hunting to take place since the 1990 decision. Should Judge Crabb allow a treaty night hunt it will be strictly regulated and all treaty hunters will be required to adhere to the regulations. Once the District Court renders a decision GLIFWC will get the word out via Facebook its website and materials will be available at tribal registration stations. Peeling wiigwaas. Checking the thickness of wiigwaas. photo by Charlie Otto Rasmussen PAGE 5 MAZINAIGANFALL 2015