Potawatomi Indian Custom of Submerging Black Ash Logs in Moving Streams Found to Kill Larvae of Dangerous Emerald Ash Borer and Preserve Quality of Wood for Basketmaking

Using a combination of traditional ecological knowledge and science, a USDA Forest Service research team has demonstrated that the traditional Indian method of storing black ash logs submerged in rivers can save the traditional art of ask basketmaking, which otherwise can be at the mercy of the voracious emerald ash borer. Working with artisans from the Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Potawatomi Indians of Michigan near Gun Lake, Michigan, scientists from the USDA Forest Service and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) tested the traditional practice of storing black ash logs submerged in rivers to determine whether it can both effectively preserve ash logs for basketmaking and kill emerald ash borer (EAB) larvae lurking under the bark of ash trees and prevent emergence of adults. The study found that submerging logs for 18 weeks during winter or 14 weeks in spring killed EAB larvae and also retained the wood's quality for basketmaking. The study was published online on June 27, 2015 in the journal Agricultural and Forest Entomology and is titled “Submergence of Black Ash Logs to Control Emerald Ash Borer and Preserve Wood for American Indian Basketmaking.” "Black ash has special importance for American Indian and First Nations people in the Great Lakes region and northeastern North America," said Dr. Michael T. Rains, Director of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory.
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