The Arborglyph That Survived

Originally published on Cortes, as part of the Deep Roots Initiative, Season Two

British Columbia is known for its totem poles. Examples of a less known artwork have surfaced in more recent years. Aborglyphs are carved into living trees. One was discovered a few years ago, two hundred kilometres north of Vancouver in the midst of a clearcut in Toba Inlet. The Klahoose Arborglyh has been moved to the band’s multipurpose building in Squirrel Cove, Cortes Island. Deep Roots story producer Roy L Hales interviewed Michelle Robinson and Ken Hanuse, from the Klahoose First Nation, and local historian Judith Williams about the arborglyph that survived into modern times.

The Klahoose arborglyph is believed to have been a marker on the pre-contact trail between Toba Inlet and the Upper Squamish Valley.

Why Is The Arborglyph Important?

“Its a reminder of who we are and our connection to the land. So there are many many markers that would have been out there, but … [the land] has been logged. So this is one that survived and it is here now.

“For Klahoose people it is really important. There is pieces … [of our past] that our kids need to know about because there has been so much lost already. So if it wasn’t there and it wasn’t brought here, it could have been taken down by another logging company. There are still cruel people out there that would just go up there and take it down because they don’t want us to be connected to the land.” – Michelle Robinson, Social Development Officer and Band Councillor, Klahoose First Nation

Roy L Hales is the President of the Cortes Radio Society (CKTZ 89.5 FM), where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the the ECOreport, a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America. He lives on Cortes Island and is a research junkie who has written about 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982.