Faces in the Forest

Faces in the Forest: First Nations Art Created on Living Trees

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 240
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Faces in the Forest
    Book Description:

    In Faces in the Forest Michael Blackstock, a forester and an artist, takes us into the sacred forest, revealing the mysteries of carvings, paintings, and writings done on living trees by First Nations people. Blackstock details this rare art form through oral histories related by the Elders, blending spiritual and academic perspectives on Native art, cultural geography, and traditional ecological knowledge.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6960-7
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Figures
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Map of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Prologue Gitxsan Territorial Markers
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Doreen Jensen

    Ha’gwil y’yeen, Ha’gwil y’yeen, Ha’gwil y’yeen

    Lax hlanaahlx xsinaahlxwhl Ga’ Nil ye’etxwm

    Walk on, walk on, walk on,

    On the breath of Our Grandfathers.

    Guardian Spirits

    of the Territories

    You are the Stewards

    of this land

    Only the growth rings

    of the Trees

    Know how long this law

    of stewardship is

    Like the lens

    of the camera

    These markers have witnessed

    and recorded

    The changes that have

    taken place

    From the silent footsteps

    of our ancestors

    To the numbing sounds

    of clear cut logging

    Like the negatives

    of a photograph

    Transparent - yet full

    of information

    These images are


  6. Foreword
    (pp. xvii-xx)
    Antonia Mills

    It is a privilege to write a foreword to Michael Blackstock’sFaces in the Forest: First Nations Art Created on Living Trees.This book is an important guide to understanding how the First Nations experience the sacred forest and create art, and how their traditional knowledge can be respected and integrated into today’s forest practices. I had the good fortune to witness the creation of the original manuscript from which this book has grown. Michael wrote his thesis as a requirement for a master’s degree in First Nations Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia. This work continues the...

  7. Prefaces
    (pp. xxi-xxx)
  8. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxi-2)
  9. CHAPTER ONE The Long Way Around Is Closer to Home
    (pp. 3-10)

    Jimmy Burton and I went up north there, and it was cold. We snowshoed all day. We wanted to get to this cabin. And we had to go around this big swamp about four or five miles long, in the pine valley it was swamp, all of it. There was a space in between and we crossed that, and the cabin is way down that end. Geez, I wonder if we can just go across there? There’s a place where there was a hole there [in the ice], it was melted you know. We go far enough around, he was...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Preparing for the Journey
    (pp. 11-70)

    Tree art is a mystery to most people, even though it has existed for centuries. Explorers, ethnographers, archaeologists, and forestry professionals have traversed a landscape where tree art was unimagined, and consequently it remained unseen. On the other hand, some First Nations Elders are keenly aware of tree art and its meaning. To see the unseen, one must have “new eyes.” Hyemeyohsts Storm (1972, 78-80) tells a Plains Indian story of how Jumping Mouse gave one of his tiny eyes to the ailing Buffalo. The Buffalo recovered because of Jumping Mouse’s gift, and then became a great gift for the...

  11. CHAPTER THREE The Journey
    (pp. 71-142)

    Langdon Kihn was an American artist who traveled to Hazelton, B.C., in the early twentieth century. He painted landscapes and portraits of Gitxsan chiefs.¹ He wrote a short article in 1926 about his experiences with the Gitxsan, in which he offered a beguiling invitation: “I am neither a historian nor an ethnologist, just an artist pure and simple, and want to take my reader into an artist’s paradise. Not necessarily an artist’s paradise but any one’s paradise” (Kihn 1926, 170). As your guide I offer you a similar invitation to discover tree art and its impressions upon your spirit. Upon...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Campfire Reflections on the Journey
    (pp. 143-190)

    As I gaze into the flickering flames of the campfire, I remember a Tsimshi-ari pre-contact oral history about a man who carved a wooden image ofhis lost child. Boas gives the Tsimshian equivalent for a wooden image: “g-a’dEm ga’ng-e”; his literal translation is the “person of wood.” Notethat this is very similar to the modern Gitxsan “Gyetim Gan.” Boas re-corded the story told by Moses and it begins when a young boy is takenby a star. The boy’s father cried and sought help from a woman shaman.She told him the star had taken his son and tied him to the edge...

  13. Appendix: Comparison of Art History and Anthropological Research Methods
    (pp. 191-194)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 195-204)
  15. References
    (pp. 205-218)
  16. Index
    (pp. 219-224)