birchbark fishing torch
Copyright Minnesota Historical Society Collections
Torches were used for spearing fish from the canoe at night.
Reflection torch consists of a carved wood handle with two notches, to which a birchbark reflection panel is lashed with basswood fiber. The reflector is made of stiff, thick birchbark bent into an "L" shape and 4 cm wide strips of birchbark are sewn with basswood fibers across the front and back of the reflector near each end. A stiff basswood strip, wrapped in basswood, is tied to each side of the reflector. The torch is a wood stick wrapped in white cloth, dipped in spruce gum and set in the horizontal section of the reflector, which extends 3 cm above the reflector. Vertical lines are incised in the reflector's inner surface. Such torches were used in night fishing and hunting. Torch is from the Mille Lacs, Minn., area and dates from 1875-1899.