Culturally modified red pine (Pinus resinosa) can be added to the long list of natural and artificial features that comprise the cultural landscape of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Minnesota, U.S.A. This study provides historical context for the first cultural-modification dates derived from the dendrochronological evaluation of primary-growth, fire-killed red pine in the Border Lakes region. The tree-ring-based data are interpreted in the context of archaeological records, fur-trade era travel accounts, and ethnographic information to shed new light on the economy of the Border Lakes Ojibwe from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. Multiple lines of evidence from Lake Saganaga suggest that these culturally modified red pine were intentionally wounded in order to extract pitch, which was used to make the gum critical for constructing and repairing birch-bark canoes. Culturally modified red pine are a tangible artifact class that may serve to reframe modern perspectives on the critical role of the birch-bark canoe for transport in the historical Border Lakes landscape. These trees are living symbols of historical land-use patterns and are indicative of the strategic geography of the fur trade.
- Border Lakes region
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)
- Lake Saganaga
- birch-bark canoe
- culturally modified tree (CMT)
- fur trade
- red pine