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Ahlberg, Lisa, 2001. "How long does it take a ritual to build up, to take hold and become standard practice?" : bark peeling in Scandinavia and North America. SLU, Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management, Umeå. Umeå: SLU, Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management



Independently, the Sami people in northern Scandinavia and native people in the north temperate and boreal zone of North America have utilized the cambium layer of bark from both coniferous and deciduous trees as food, medicine, as well as material for other requirements; clothes, baskets and various kinds of wrapping. The sharp seasonal environments created food shortages in certain periods and inner bark thus became an important food component. Dating of bark scars indicates a slight difference between periods of bark use in Scandinavia and North America. The final cessation of inner bark use was dependent on an increased access to substitutive foodstuff as sugar and cereals, as well as authorities trying to prevent bark harvest. Cambium harvest was primarily a task for women, and sometimes children. Generally, bark was peeled in springtime, when the sap was "running", the proper time varying among tree species. During this period, the cambium had a comparatively high nutritional value and an appealing taste. Simultaneously, the supply of animal food/protein was generally low. Inner bark contains a relatively high amount of carbohydrates and healthy food fibers, as well as vitamins and essential minerals, making it a nutritional complement to protein rich food. Naturally, the tree species used for bark peeling differ in the areas described according to latitude and, consequently, bioclimatical zonation. The materials, as well as shaping of bark peeling tools were similar in northern Scandinavia and North America. In North America, there is an evident material transition from bones and antlers to metals, which occurred when trading with the white man began. The peoples described herein had a sacred relationship with nature, which meant that bark was not peeled all round the tree trunk. Therefore, avoiding girdling the tree and killing it. North and south were spiritually important directions to the Sami and consequently trees were primarily peeled to the north. Similar data is presented in survey material from Vancouver Island. However, indigenous people in North America likely had practical intentions when bark stripping a tree directionally. The shaded side had a better cambium taste as well as fewer branches. This side was often directed to the north. Occasionally, cambium was processed in cooking pits in both Scandinavia and North America, but it was an unusual phenomenon. In North America, these pits were primarily used for the processing of roots. Construction and function of cooking pits are similar. The heat generated in cooking pits breaks down large or complex carbohydrates into smaller, more digestible polymers, along with making food tissues less toxic. There is no clear distinction between food and emergency food. Due to some statements from Swedes as well as North Americans, bark cambium was emergency food. But, dating of scars reveals a regular use of bark. This fact points towards bark as a natural element of the diet. Although, bark use presumably increased during harsh periods when animal food was absent.

Main title:"How long does it take a ritual to build up, to take hold and become standard practice?"
Subtitle:bark peeling in Scandinavia and North America
Authors:Ahlberg, Lisa
Supervisor:Zackrisson, Olle
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2001
Level and depth descriptor:Other
Student's programme affiliation:1140A Master of Science in Forestry, 300.0hp
Supervising department:(S) > Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management
Keywords:forest history, bark, North America
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Processing of forest products
Deposited On:19 Sep 2017 09:51
Metadata Last Modified:19 Sep 2017 09:51

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