Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 2   September 2011

Tribes Lead Cultural Preservation Threatened by Invasive Species
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young ash leaf
 Adult EAB on ash leaf
young ash leaf
1 leaf, 9 leaflets
green ash leaf
Green Ash
1 leaf, 7 leaflets
black ash leaf
Black Ash

1 leaf, 7 leaflets
white ash leaf
White Ash
Top/bottom 1 leaf, 7 leaflets
healthy ash leaves on branch Healthy ash branch
A close-up of a  with seeds!

The emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) has killed tens of millions of ash trees across 15 states and parts of Canada.
In the U.S, the EAB has been detected in:

New York
West Virginia

Ash trees are treasured by Native American tribes from the Northeast. The brown ash is deeply embedded in their cultures traditions, and spiritual beliefs.

ash tree branchesAsh also provides economic growth for their communities. The wood is used to make snowshoes, decoys, canoe paddles and as medicine. Brown ash (also called black ash) is used to create intricate woven baskets, toys and musical instruments.

While EAB threatens the life styles and tradition of Indian tribes, it has also offered a new opportunity: the USDA and tribal groups are joining efforts and sharing knowledge to protect ash trees. 

Kelly Church is a 5th generation basket weaver from the Grand Traverse band of the Ottawa and Ojibwe.

“Ash trees are important to Native people of the northeast, animals of the forest, and even the ecologies of the forest,” she said.  “Each Federal agency, State agency, Tribal government, tribal harvester, or just one person can make a difference; but working together we can make a bigger difference for all of us.”

Entire tribal communities are working with the USDA's EAB program:

The Cherokee, Mohawk, Ojibwe, Penobscot are surveying for the beetle on lands they steward.

Tribes are distributing EAB information and educating campers about the risks of moving firewood.

Tribes and individuals are lending their knowledge and expertise to EAB research.

Kelly Church, Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa; Richard Silliboy, Aroostook Band of Micmacs; and Butch Jacobs, Passamaquoddy, evaluate the quality, strength and condition of green ash splints pounded from experimental black ash logs.

The USDA is searching for a treatment to kill EAB in black ash logs so raw materials can be removed from quarantine areas without spreading EAB.

Map of United StatesWith the ash tree species in peril, Native communities have been collecting and storing ash seeds.  This will help protect the genetic diversity of ash trees for future generations.

“Seed collection efforts and studying the submergence of logs will assist in the continuation of our tradition for future generations,” Church said. “Many seeds, documentation, and more studies will be needed; however each step we take will assist in efforts to sustain our cultural and heritage.”

Ash Tree Guide by David L. Rogers, Michigan State

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