Hieltsuk style pole, carved by Bradley Hunt. Used with permission, copyright Bradley Hunt.

Cedar: the Tree of Life

Among Northwest Coast people the cedar is considered sacred because it provides all the essentials for daily life. In the central coast area one of the most important dance ceremonies is centered around the Red Cedar. Carvers like the wood because of its softness, straight grain, lightweight and built in fungicide (Thujaplicin) which make it perfect for carving.

Twin Salmon Pole, carved by Roy Henry Vickers. Used with permission, copyright Roy Henry Vickers.

Used with permission, copyright Hilary Stewart. 

There are two types of Cedar, Red and Yellow, both of which are aromatic woods. Of the two types, Red cedar is the more popular choice because of its warm colour and rich inviting scent. Both types of cedars are long lived with the oldest ones being around a thousand years old. Red cedars grow in elevation from sea level to 1370 metres and can reach a height of 70 metres. Yellow cedars grow in elevations up to 2130 metres and are shorter with heights of 44 metres. Cedars are plentiful and thrive in the cool wet environment of the Northwest Coast

Used with permission, copyright Hilary Stewart. 


Hilary Stewart: For her permission to use the wonderful illustrations from the book Cedar and its wealth of information. If you want more information you should purchase her book Cedar: Tree of Life to the Northwest Coast Indians. Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, BC. 1984. ISBN 0888944373.

Mike Dangeli: For his advice, permission to use his pictures, support and insight into the creation process.

Bradley Hunt: For his support and the permission to use his photos.

Roy Henry Vickers: For his enthusiasm, support and the permission to use his photos.

Jakub Rosicki: For his artistic skills and vision.

Lin Tsao: For her invaluable programming skills and knowledge

This website was created as part of the requirements for Archaeology 480 by and Tim Milton, Elroy White, March 30th 2003. Instructor Dr. Barbara Winter.

Adapted for AEM by Melissa Rollit and Denee Renouf, 2016.