Native American Technology and Art
Willow Branches and Other Twigs and Roots.



trees have a root systems that mirror the above ground part of the trees. Many of the long, slender, even roots grow very close to the ground surface, tapering only from 1 inch to 1/8 inch in diameter over a span of six feet. The strong roots of Black Spruce make sturdy lashings, and they are ideal for sewing and lacing bark containers, canoes and other items. By poking a few inches into the ground around the base of a spruce tree, a root can usually be located, and then pulled, following the root to its end several yards from the tree. The roots had to be stripped of their bark using a forked implement through the root was pulled. After the root bark removal, the root would be split in half down its length. If the root was especially large, or fine lacing was needed, the root could be split (using the same technique to split willow) into quarters or eighths with patience. The roots were always soaked in warm water, or heated over a fire, rejuvenate the sap and making the lacing more flexible. Gathering one or two roots from a live tree normally doesn't threaten the life of the tree. Over-harvesting roots a single tree will kill it. Roots can also be gathered, with little loss of workablity, from dead or fallen spruces.

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