MYSTERY OF THE FIRE TREES OF SOUTHEAST ALASKA
Written by local Ketchikan artist and author Mary Ida Henrikson
Did the early Tlingits and Haidas of Southeastern Alaska develop innovations for preserving fire for heat, light and cooking, well ahead of their time? While no written record can be found, artist Mary Henrikson, who grew up in the region, paid close attention to oral histories on their unique fire storage technology. Then, working with local boatman, she discovered carefully altered, centuries-old cedar trees with deeply burned interiors, apparently vented with slots to project firelight signals along their coasts. Inspired, the well-known artist crafted a series of paintings on fire tree use, in addition to employing investigative techniques favored by scientists. Her work combines both approaches in hopes of inspiring your own speculation.