Red Cedar Bark

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Grade Level: Grade 4/5 (Can be modified for Primary and Intermediate)

Activity: Students will learn how cedar bark was gathered, what it was used for and the significance of T´seka - the red cedar bark ceremony

Estimated Time: 3 periods

Prescribed Learning Outcomes:

  • Life Science: Habitats and Communities
    • demonstrate awareness of the Aboriginal concepts of respect for the environment
  • Human and Physical Environment
    • E3 describe Aboriginal peoples’ relationship with the land and natural resources
  • Earth and Space Science: Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources
    • identify methods of extracting or harvesting and processing British Columbia’s resources
    • analyze how the Aboriginal concept of interconnectedness of the environment is reflected in responsibility for the care-taking of resources

Resources Required

Section of Website containing relevant information, photographs and film clips:

Blackline Masters:

Film Clips:

New Words

Tree of Life - each part of the cedar tree was used; the roots, bark, wood, and branches were used to make an abundance of valuable implements which helped to sustain the Kwakwaka’wakw since the beginning of time.

Words of Thanks - giving words of thanks to the natural resources before taking them. At the beginning of the harvest season of resources; fish, bark, roots, meat, etc. appreciation was shown.

T´seka - red cedar bark ceremonies, during these ceremonies cedar bark regalia was dyed red with the juice of inner bark of the alder tree.

Oral History - stories that have been told to one generation and handed down to the next since the beginning of time. The Kwakwaka’wakw had no writing system so history and stories were told and handed down orally.

Period 1/2 Cedar Tree -“The Tree of Life”

Students will be introduced to the tree of life by first reviewing BLM 4A and BLM 4B. This natural resource the cedar tree was abundant in Kwakwaka’wakw territory and every part of the tree was used. The roots, bark, wood, and branches were used to make an abundance of valuable resources, which sustained the Kwakwaka’wakw since the beginning of time. Using BLM 4B - photos of some things made with the cedar tree, examine the photographs, look in the Virtual Tour and make a list of the things that are made from the cedar tree.

As studied in previous lessons, Maya’xala is one of the important Kwakwaka’wakw teachings. Showing respect to each other as well as all the resources the creator provided is extremely important. Read BLM 4C – Prayer to the Young Cedar to your students. Today when do you say words of thanks or pray?

Period 3 T´seka - red cedar bark ceremonies

Cedar was considered the “long-life maker” by Kwakwaka’wakw for its many uses in everyday life and it also plays a major role in Kwakwaka’wakw ceremony. Many pieces of regalia were made of the inner bark from the cedar tree.

Use BLM 4D – T´seka and share with students the information about the T´seka. End off the T´seka lesson with BLM 4E – T´seka Worksheet. Students are asked to answer two questions about what they have learned and see if they can find the T´seka dancers/masks in the four photographs provided. (ANSWER: The only image that is not T´seka is the image on the top left; with dancers wearing frontlets in Big House; with wooden copper on wall) Finally, in groups of two have students choose a T´seka mask from the potlatch collection and find at least two facts to share with the rest of the class.