The life cycle of the birch bark scrolls are in perpetual, circular motion. The long bark strips, made possible by the communal nutrients surrounding the birch, are carefully found and harvested with care. Lightweight, compact, and water resistant, the embedded bark will carry it’s story for a very long time. Once it is ready to retire, a new strip of bark will take on it’s story. Through the cycles of change in the bark, the story will also change to better embody the community that carries it. The lifecycle of community is also in perpetual, circular motion; expanding and contracting through kinship, land, and – above all – stories.
A birchbark scroll does not stand on it’s own, it requires the structure of community to be present to vocalize, ingest, and continue it’s story. The language used to inscribe the story cannot be read without the memory, but is broad enough to present itself according to each telling.
It is for this reason that the scroll that Waawiyekidewin is based on is inaccessible to me. In being taken from it’s community, from it’s context and cycle of rebirth, it’s purpose has been irreversibly revoked. Rather than passing on it’s story to the next generation – nourishing and fostering community – it lays dormant, gathering dust. And for what purpose?
From the research I have gathered over the course of Uncover/Recover, it is likely that the scroll held a recipe for a tea. It is for this reason that Waawiyekidewin explores healing through the eyes of the birchbark scroll. Beyond the rift caused by separation from it’s community, Waawiyekidewin endeavours to realize the resiliency and power of the stories and language of the birchbark scrolls.