A few days ago, during the second week of our staff summer in-service, Roger and his colleague Charlie Fox visited Conserve School to teach staff members how to prepare some of the tools the students will use during the experience: traditional winnowing baskets made of birch bark, and ricing sticks, or knockers, made from lightweight wood.
Take a look at the accompanying photos to see Conserve School staff members concentrating on their task as they examine pieces of birch bark for holes (not good, because the rice will fall through), punch holes in the birch bark with an awl, sew up seams with artificial sinew, and finish their baskets with willow rims.
Roger and Charlie were patient teachers, frequently coming to our rescue when the birch bark threatened to split or refused to bend into the proper shape. Their work restoring wild rice habitat and teaching students and community members traditional methods of harvesting and processing wild rice is supported by grants from a variety of environmental stewardship organizations, including the Stewardship Network.
Mary Anna Thornton, Assistant Head of School