In this video Coast Salish Snuneymuxw artist Joel Good creates kerfs, then steams and bends a yellow cedar plank in preparation for creating a bentwood box. He is one of the relatively few bringing back the art of bending boxes.
The Bentwood box is an ingenious technological innovation that was developed and used extensively by the Indigenous peoples of the west coast. In the past it was used as a container to store a multitude of items including everything from everyday items such as food, to ceremonial items of great value. In some areas, including the Coast Salish, bentwood boxes were also used as grave boxes to hold the remains of deceased loved ones.
The boxes can also be made water-tight and used to boil water or steam foods through a process of adding fire-heated rocks. Today bentwood boxes are still made and in use, though rarely used for everyday cooking or storage. Instead they are often regarded as treasured pieces of art and used for ceremonial purposes.
FNESC Bentwood Box Math Resource (Starting on Page 37).
Pit cooking at Wildwood Ecoforest
PI’KWUN: Traditional Cowichan Salmon BBQ, Bentwood Box Cooking & Medicinal Plants
More info about the artist, Joel Good.
The two Large Yellow Cedar bentwood boxes created by Joel Good are available for sign-out though the Indigenous Education Collection.