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Historica Canada Education Portal

Cedar Bark

  • Indigenous History
  • Intermediate – Middle School

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Students will explore traditional West Coast Aboriginal peoples’ methods of utilizing the cedar tree.


1. Importance of the cedar tree 
2. Origins of the cedar 
3. Gathering and processing of cedar 
4. Making a rose.




Trigger Activity: Display items made with cedar (hat, regalia, baskets, rope and roses). Ask the students if they know what the articles are made of. What do they know about the cedar tree? Why do they think Aboriginal people used cedar? Students will brainstorm what they know about the cedar tree and how Aboriginal people have utilized the cedar. Tell the students the story of origin of cedar.

Development and method:

Students will gain a better understanding of how important the cedar tree is to West Coast Aboriginal people. Name different articles that are made from cedar. Finally, the students will make a cedar rose. Cedar bark must be wet to work with, for it will crack and break if dry. Bark must be thinned and split prior to giving to students to use. To make a rose, each student will need two strands of bark. Explain that the dominant hand will roll the bark towards you and alternating the other hand by flipping (turning) the other strand to the outside. Keep rolling and flipping bark until you have about 2” remaining, then you bring the bark towards the middle. Inform the students that you want the rose to come out and that you have to keep the bark up close to centre to attain outward effect. To start the rose, make an x with about 2” on one end. Keep the short end in your dominant hand. Roll and flip your bark till you have about 2” remaining.  To put the rose on a stem (alder branch or wire stem) you need to wrap the bottom of the rose with floral tape onto the stem. Each student will make at least one rose. The length of this unit will depend how much depth we go into.


Participation: Splitting and thinning of bark

Effort: Weaving technique – attempt rather than finished product is important 

Summarize their understanding of the importance of cedar.

Required Materials:

Samples or pictures of cedar artifacts
Sample of cedar rose 
Cedar bark or material in local area that is similar to cedar bark (paper if no other material available.) 
Floral tape 
Stems – alder branches or wire