Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

How the Emerald Ash Borer is threatening a Native-American tradition

 

November 26, 2019



SuzanneSuzanne Greenlaw doesn’t like chainsaws. She moves quickly through the chest-high ostrich ferns, frilly leaves heavy with rain, as the orange saw sputters and then chokes. “She gets all freaked out,” says Gabriel Frey, laughing as he yanks the starting cord again with one heavily muscled arm, the saw whirring to life. Putting the bar to a trunk of shaggy, gray-tinged bark, he begins to cut, the grinding sound of the saw echoing through the damp, green-lit stand.

The felled tree is one of three that Frey and Greenlaw carefully picked out of the woods on the cool, damp July day in far northern Maine. Plenty of logs are hauled out of the forest there, in Aroostook County, which is home to a chunk of the North Maine Woods, a 3.5 million-acre expanse of commercial timberland. But Frey and Greenlaw, and the stand of gray-barked trees, are part of a tradition that’s far older than any timber camp or lumber mill. The trees are Fraxinus nigra, commonly known as black ash or brown ash, which have forever been at the hearts of the lives of Maine’s indigenous tribes.

 

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