In her book "Cedar, Tree of Life to the Northwest Coast Indians," Hilary Stewart describes how the indigenous way of life is dependent on big cedar trees: "For 1000s of years these people developed the tools and technologies to fell the giant cedars that grew in profusion.They used the rot resistant wood for graceful dugout canoes to travel the coastal waters, massive post and beam houses in which to live, steambent boxes for storage, monumental carved poles to declare their lineage and dramatic dance masks to evoke the spirit world. The versatile inner bark they wove into intricately patterned mats and baskets, plied into rope and processed to make the soft, warm, yet water repellent clothing so well suited to the raincoast.Not far from the giant Douglas firs in the heart of Cathedral Grove are unprotected archaeological artifacts.
Right: Old postcard of a couple sitting on the massive gnarled base of the "Cathedral Tree" in the Big Trees Grove at Felton, Santa Cruz County, California, 1903. Left: Old postcard of a person peaking out from a hollow in the 326 ft high redwood called "Mother Tree" in the Big Trees Grove at Big Basin Park, Santa Cruz County.
Founded in 1902, this is California's oldest state park.
Big Trees as Objects of Science The big tree expert and biologist Al Carder published his second book on giant trees in 2005 (right).
He states that the 800 year old Douglas firs in Cathedral Grove do not even qualify as "big trees" compared to what he saw as a youth on the BC mainland.
The Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver is renowned for its outstanding collection (left).
Such recognition has not slowed the relentless destruction of the forests by the logging industry which followed the invasion by Europeans.
For all these gifts, the Northwest Coast peoples held the cedar and its spirit in high regard, believing deeply in its healing and spiritual powers.
Respectfully, they addressed the cedar as Long Life Maker, Life Giver and Healing Woman." Aboriginal Heritage Trees Indigenous peoples have modified trees in BC as part of their traditional use of the forest.
Relationship patterns changed dramatically, however, when a colonial European infrastructure was established and settlement by Europeans and Americans was promoted" Union of BC Indian Chiefs.