Published on November 29, 2012 by Casey
The birch tree was of great importance to Native American peoples due to its tough, flexible, highly waterproof sheets of bark. Birchbark has been used by Native Americans for everything from papering the exteriors of canoes and houses to making baskets, artwork, and maps. In some Ojibwe (Chippewa) communities, birchbark was said to be a sacred gift from the culture hero Wenabozho and was used to ceremonially wrap the bodies of the dead for burial. Ojibwe folklore has it that birch trees are immune to lightning strikes, and that therefore these are good trees to take shelter under during a thunderstorm.
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Birch trees are also used as a clan symbol in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Birch Clans include the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico, whose Birch Clan is named Nana or Nana-tdoa.