Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why the Birch Tree has Black Markings...

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Close-up of Birch Bark
Branch Scars on Birch

Well, if you want to be scientific, they are the scars from branches and wounds which have healed over. However, the native peoples have several stories which tell how the birch tree got its markings, one variation goes something like this:

Naniboujou, was a powerful spirit. He lived when the birch tree was the most beautiful of trees, clothed in pure white bark. When he was a child, he wished to kill the big fish which lived deep in the water below the rocks in the big lake. He made a powerful bow and arrow, and asked his grand-mother what bird would have the feathers powerful enough to make the arrows fly strong enough. She answered only the Thunder-bird.

So Naniboujou, turned himself into a rabbit, knowing that the Thunder-bird would capture him and take him to the nest of young birds. When he was left there alone, he killed the young birds and stripped them of their feathers. He then jumped down from the nest, and ran back toward the village.

The Thunder-birds, discovering what had happened pursued Naniboujou, with thunder rolling, and lightning flashing. Naniboujou, as they swooped down, took shelter in a hollow birch. In frustration the Thunder-birds marked the trees with their mark-- the flying thunder-bird-- in memory of their lost young.

Thunderbird marking on Birch tree
Thunderbird marking on Birch tree
In thanks, Naniboujou blessed the tree, and said it would be ever more honored as a help for man. Do you see the flying Thunder-bird?

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