Nova Scotia Archives

Harry Piers: Museum Maker

4162 — ''Greenish-stained wood of Yellow Birch (Betula lutea, Michx.)''

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Notes from Piers Accession Book:

Scientific Name:  Greenish-stained wood of Yellow Birch (Betula lutea, Michx.), used formerly by Micmac Indians for dying woodwork, quill-work, etc. a blue colour.  It is called by them "Weis-sar-way'-ik (=green) dis-sar-we-ar'-ken (=dye)."

Locality and When Collected:  Windsor Junction, Hfx. Co., N.S.; 4 June 1914

Collector (c) Donor (d):  Jerry Lone Cloud (c.d.)  Indian, Dartmouth, NS

Received:  1906 Jun 14

Quantity:  1 (lot of specimens)

Remarks:  In use, this wood is moistened and rubbed on the article to be dyed blue (on one side only).  Sometimes this wood is broken up and placed on a piece of rag, which is moistened, and the bag of dye-material is then rubbed on the article to be dyed.  (Vid. Jerry Lone Cloud).  /  Micmac Indian Dyes.  - In old times, the Micmac used - for quill-work, basket-work, etc., - the juice of the Bloodroot (Sanquinaria canadencis) as a red dye (it was a good dye and did not fade); the buds of what they call the "Meadow Fern," * gathered in winter as a yellow dye; green-stained Yellow Birch wood as a blue dye; Black Spruce bark as a black dye (good and did not fade); and Alder bark as a brown dye._ They always wished to do the dying alone, supersititionsly saying that if anyone else saw the dying done, the dye would turn pale._ At the present time ordinary commercial dyes are used by them.  (Vid. Jerry Lone Cloud.).     * This is indicating Myrica gale, Sweet Gale; sic Acc. No. 4170

Date Accessioned: 14 June 1906

Reference no.: Harry Piers accession number 4162  Nova Scotia Museum Botany Collection