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Thread: What Tree Species in AK were used for the frames of traditional snowshoes?

  1. #1
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Default What Tree Species in AK were used for the frames of traditional snowshoes?

    My grandmother....a full blood Mikmaq native from a res. on the east coast of New Brunswick used to make large pack baskets, fishing creels, and snow shoes among other things. That wonderful ol lady's story can be found in the book "our lives are in our hands". In a futile attempt to bring back my culture a bit, I'm going to attempt making snowshoes again. My grandmother's wood of choice for the frames was a rare tree called brown ash. I spent many days searching for and cutting these trees for my grandmother in the winter. I sometimes look down at my Tubbs when they make these plasticy noised on the branches and snow and think......"Man....I really miss a pair of home made shoes." What species of trees here in Alaska did the natives use for frames? Are there any species that offer splints of pliable nature for bending up frames?

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    I don't know, but would like to. Maybe you will get a response in the make it yourself forum.
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  3. #3
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    Default Not sure

    someone will know but you might try Oplopanax horridus

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    I'll prob pass on the devil's club....but i could make one special pair out of it just for you

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    I would try willow. I don't know what the natives use, but willow is pretty pliable when it is still green then it gets rigid when it dries. A young birch might work as well.

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    would surely be willow...its not like alaska has alot of species from which to choose.

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    Member Rick P's Avatar
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    You could try willow or even birch. I'd get my hands on some hickory or ash, there's a place in anchorage that has both and one in the valley as well.

    You do know it will have to be steam bent over a form right? No wood will take and hold that kind of bend without heat and moisture. If you decided to go for it and need some help let me know, it's been years since I've made a pair but the wood side of it is fairly easy, weaving the rawhide lace is the tough part.

    I have a pair of Iverson packers that I absolutely love. They are dead silent and out float any other snowshoe I've ever worn!
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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    Actually, devil's club (aside from a pithy center) is very much like willow. It is very lightweight, and if you can find a think enough main branch, it will pass as diamond willow with many as the pattern of branches leaves a unique scar? on the shaft. The dry pith burns really well too.

    It would be a cool experiment to use Devil's club for snowshoes, maybe I'll try it.
    Science has a rich history of proving itself wrong.

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