Utne Blogs > Environment

Invasive Bug Threatens Basket Weaving

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: Environment, wilderness and wildlife, trees, forests, invasive species, emerald ash borer, basket weaving,

Basket weaver Frank MeuseThe emerald ash borer is a persistently spreading pest that’s threatening many of North America’s ash trees. It turns out that in the northeastern United States and Canada, it’s also threatening the work of native basket weavers, who rely on thin strips of ash for their intricate work, according to Native Peoples magazine (July-August 2009)

Healthy ash trees, especially the favored black ash, are becoming increasingly difficult to find, and regulations meant to combat the borer “are severely hampering the weavers,” who produce some of the world’s finest baskets, the magazine writes.

Ash basket weaver Frank Meuse of the Bear River First Nation in Nova Scotia sees something more than a hungry bug at work here.

“The introduction of alien species was devastating to the First Peoples of this continent,” he tells the magazine. “Today we are still struggling to teach our children about the relationship they need to have with the land. We can only hope our elders are speaking the truth when they say the trees will make themselves invisible until we learn to respect them.”

Source: Native Peoples (article not available online)

Image of basket weaver Frank Meuse by John DeMings, courtesy of Digby Courier.