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Birch bark Biting



Sample of Birch bark
Birch bark bitings are thin layers of birch bark with a design bitten into the bark with the eye tooth. The designs were originally used to create patterns for decorative work applied to traditional leather clothing. Now the art of birch bark biting is being learned by young people interested in reviving what could have become a lost tradition.

Sally McKenzie from Grandmothers Bay Indian Reserve (Kohkominanihk in Cree) on the Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan learned the art of biting from her mother about ten years ago. Mattilda Roberts was taking a break from making birch bark baskets. She took a small piece of birch bark and began tearing it until it was the right thickness. Then she traced a pattern on the bark with her fingernail, folded the bark as you would to make a paper snowflake and began biting.

Sally was curious to learn how to do this, so her mother showed her how to select the bark, how to make the right thickness, and how to use her eye tooth to create the pattern.

Sally is now teaching her young daughter, Valerie.


Birch Bark Biting | Birch Bark Containers

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Modified on 24 Oct 96