Former Chief of the McLeod Lake Indian Band, Alec Chingee received a warm welcome from the Junior Rangers Thursday, January 29th as he spoke to the group about Native traditions. Chingee told the Rangers about culturally modified trees (CMT) and their relevance in Native tradition. He described the process of peeling the bark upwards to expose the cambium layer. This allowed access to the sap, which was then used for food and medicine. The native people never peeled the bark around the tree, a process called girdling, because this would kill the tree. The wood was then used to create masks and tools. This process is not used today because the need for the sap is no longer there and although the process itself didn?t harm the tree, there was always the chance that the tree would begin to develop rot in the spots where the bark had been removed.
Chingee went on to tell more about the band and the changes they have seen during the last century. When asked how he felt about the McLeod Lake Indian Band entering into a working agreement with the District of Tumbler Ridge, Chingee said, ?It is a very good thing, other communities need this vision. We are pleased to re-establish our presence in the District through joint ventures with First Nations?.
Alec Chingee and Michael Blackstone, author of the book ?Faces in the Forest?, have been asked to do a presentation for the public in the library. Watch for this event, it will be fascinating.