Traditional knowledge of all aspects of the world in which we live is the foundation for much of the art, science, and technology in our modern world.
Pollen records indicate that Traditional First Peoples of the Pacific Northwest have been utilizing all parts of the Western Red Cedar tree for at least 5,000 years.
I first met Liam a few years ago when he was a graduate student at IslandWood. Now he has become a passionate teacher who involves his students in traditional technological skills, which some call “primitive skills”.
‘Primitive’ is a word I have not appreciated in the vicinity of any discussion about the activities and life-ways of traditional oral cultures. The earliest meaning of the word ‘primitive’, is ‘prime’, or ‘first’. One might even say ‘brilliant’! But in more recent times, like as I was growing up, meanings like ‘crude’, or ‘simple’, seemed to be implied. My 30 years of studying plant fiber uses has NEVER found either of those words to be true!
Liam came back for a visit, hunting for some practical knowledge and guidance so he could construct a needed hat to protect and shade his eyes from the sun and the weather on his upcoming three month wilderness trek in Montana.
I’m not a hunter of animals, but I am a hunter of plants. I understand the powerful relationship that exists between what is ‘taken’ for use, for survival, for life; and what must be given back in order to sustain a balance that encourages new life.
In this exchange for time and knowledge, I am incredibly honored to receive a beautiful bow that Liam has carved from a Vine Maple. This bow has now been re-gifted to my eldest grandson on his thirteenth birthday!
Liam is educating himself to be one of those great teachers who easily engages students, leading them by example. I wish Liam Donoghue all the best on his primitive wilderness skills intensive training in Montana!
I am grateful for all the young people are hungry for learning, who seek out mentors who can share their experiences.
The student completes the teacher.