Teachings of the Tree People: the work of Bruce Miller

National Heritage Fellow Gerald Bruce (Sùbiyay) Miller, Skokomish Tribal Twana Indian leader, gathers and weaves a cedar bark mat and shares his life story and the teachings of the Tree People. A passionate student of the traditional culture, Bruce became the bearer of the language, oral history, art and spirituality of the tuwaduq (Twana) and Southern Coast Salish peoples. This film documents his race against time and ailing health to pass the knowledge of his ancestors on to those who would listen. The film chronicles Bruce’s youth among his tribal elders; his young adulthood in school (Berkeley), war (Viet Nam) and on the stage (New York City); and his decision to return home and lead a cultural renaissance in the Pacific Northwest. It documents traditional practices of gathering and preparing cedar bark for weaving, uses of medicinal plants, and the presentation of wild foods for the fall Ceremony of First Foods. Completed just before his death in 2005.

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