Northern White Cedar : Culture History

northern white cedar

The last voyage of the Karluk. McLelland, Goodchild & Stewart, 1916.

Northern White Cedar is also called “Arborvitae”. According to Peattie, This name was given in the middle of the 16th century by a person called Jacques Cartier. He and his whole ship’s company came to American with a serious disease, scurvy. The symptoms of scurvy include swollen knees and spoiled teeth. Fortunately, an Indian, Domagaia saved them by using white cedars. He grabbed some branches and took off the leaves and bark, and boiled them together to make the medicine. He also put the drugs upon the wound. Finally, they are all saved from this disaster by the vitamin C in Thuja sap. Thus, they gave Northern White Cedar a name “Arborvitae”, or “the tree of life”.  As you may see, the usefulness of Northern White Cedar has been discovered since long time ago, such as constructions, medicines and ceremonies. Therefore, I am going to describe specific uses of different parts from previous to present.