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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

Cordage Making Workshop

Yesterday afternoon our guest educators, Melanie and Justin Smokey, taught us different traditional uses for plants native to the region. This included medicines as well as materials for making clothing, baskets, and cordage (natural rope). It was great to get our hands busy trying out knowledge that, as Melanie and Justin reminded us more than once, all of our ancestors at one time possessed. I appreciated how tangible they made this learning, bringing various plants for us to touch, taste, smell, and manipulate. For example, we tried (and many liked!) eating raw nettle leaves, which have a lot of vitamins and anti-inflammatory properties.

One highlight was trying our hands at making cordage out of two native plants, milkweed and willow. Justin and Melanie had gathered and soaked cuttings of both. Our task? To remove the outer fibers from the stalks, rub them vigorously between our palms to soften the fibers, and twist them together into rope. Enjoy some highlights below!