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SPCC basket making/bark technology demonstrated for Salish Language Adult Learners

By Adriana Fehrs

Tim Ryan, of EthnoTech, taught several SPCC adult learners traditional basket making. The students constructed baskets, spoons, and plates out of cedar bark. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Tim Ryan, of EthnoTech, taught several SPCC adult learners traditional basket making. The students constructed baskets, spoons, and plates out of cedar bark. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

ST. IGNATIUS — Tim Ryan, of EthnoTech, dropped by the Long House on July 15 to help Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee (SPCC) Intensive Salish Language Program Adult learners finish up construction of their traditional bark baskets and pieces.

EthnoTech of Polson is a cultural resource consulting and heritage education firm that specializes in National Historic Preservation Act and historic preservation training and planning, and cultural heritage education.

The SPCC reached out to Ryan, to give the adult learners a lesson on traditional Native American practices, and to provide the apprentices with some

Vance Home Gun, SPCC Language Specialist, helps Cheyenne Haynes, summer youth employee, construct a pouch. The group spent two days making traditional Native American crafts from cedar bark. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Vance Home Gun, SPCC Language Specialist, helps Cheyenne Haynes, summer youth employee, construct a pouch. The group spent two days making traditional Native American crafts from cedar bark. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
much needed down time, away from their rigorous Salish Language Instruction.

Chaney Bell, SPCC Salish Language Coordinator, says, “We have been doing intensive language instruction for several months now. We are still doing language instruction, but we doing it while we are out at cultural events. It’s a change of pace that is much needed. We are aiming at keeping our students motivated.”

Summer youth employees Cheyenne Haynes (L), Gina Linsebigler (C), and Audra Home Gun (R) construct traditional Salish pouches at the Long House. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Summer youth employees Cheyenne Haynes (L), Gina Linsebigler (C), and Audra Home Gun (R) construct traditional Salish pouches at the Long House. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

Several Nkwusm staff, Summer Youth Employees, and Echo Brown, Salish Kootenai Salish Language Instructor, joined in on the fun.

Ryan harvested cedar bark from the Still Water Forest. Steph Small Salmon provided buckskin for the project. With the supplies, the adult learners constructed traditional baskets, spoons, food dishes, stick game containers, and pouches.

SPCC Intensive Salish Language Program adult learner, John Bunce, shows off the traditional Salish crafts he and fellow adult learners constructed during a two-day lesson from Tim Ryan, of EthnoTech. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  SPCC Intensive Salish Language Program adult learner, John Bunce, shows off the traditional Salish crafts he and fellow adult learners constructed during a two-day lesson from Tim Ryan, of EthnoTech. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

Ryan calls it ‘bark technology’. The adult learners say they soaked the cedar in water for two days, after which, the bark was finally pliable enough to bend and shape. They used chalk to outline where they would cut, and with a drill, made holes where they used sinew and rope made from dogbane to tie everything together. Later, small pouches were made using the buckskin. The process took a total of two more days to finish.

The adult learners appreciate the respite. “I had a lot of fun making everything. It was time consuming, but I liked doing it,” says, John Bunce, SPCC Intensive Salish Language Adult Learner.

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