More similarity between Ainu people and Canadian First Nations
Ainu people in Hokkaido create their garments with tree bark; they harvest bast fiber of Manchurian elm or Japanese elm trees. They dip the bark in a bog or a hot spring to make it soft; then they split it and twine it to make threads and weave them into a piece of fabric. The garments made from tree bark are called ‘attus’ and are decorated with beautiful appliques of traditional Ainu patterns.
An elder of Cowichan tribes, Hwiemtun, told me that their ancestors used to wear cedar jackets made with cedar bark. Those cedar jackets were water-resistant and the people wore them when they worked outside during the rainy season.
After I moved to Vancouver Island and started to learn about Canadian First Nations, I also became curious about Ainu people’s art and culture. I see a lot of interesting similarities between Ainu and Canadian First Nations. I heard an intriguing story about Ainu from Hwiemtun.
Years ago during the salmon run season, when Hwientum was spearfishing in the Cowichan River with his buddies, he realized a foreigner was watching them. The foreigner came to Hwientum and said that he used similar harpoons in Japan. Hwientum became curious and encouraged him to use his harpoon to fish for salmon. The foreigner tried three times and caught three salmon. The foreigner was an Ainu man traveling from Japan, and Hwientum and the man became good friends. A couple of years later Hwientum visited the man in Hokkaido. Ainu people kept talking to Hwientum in their language and Japanese because they thought Hwientum was also an Ainu. I understand because Hwientum has a similar appearance to Ainu people.
Both Ainu and Canadian First Nations are indigenous and minorities. Their arts and cultures are very beautiful and interesting.