Woodcraft Memories

Prompted by listening to one of the oral histories, Dr. Maida Barton Follini provided us with the following:

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Below is the tepee made by my father, H. Allen Barton, following the instructions in Seton’s Book of Woodcraft.  The covering was of canvas ordered from Sears & Roebuck, (not deer skins or bison skins as we did not have this original material!).  The poles were cut by my father and brothers, David and Allen Barton, using straight young black birch trees from our woods. My brother and I slept out in this tepee one summer, (we made beds of sticks tied together and fastened to logs on each side, following Seton’s directions.) On top of that we put bags of straw for mattresses.  The tepee was in our back lawn, and my father made a cooking fire place nearby using two logs for the sides, backing against a boulder, and making a grill out of extra curtain rods we did not need from the house. We cooked suppers out there, most of that summer – we were working on “coups’ of campcraft — and camp cooking.
Teepee made from instructions in BOOK OF WOODCRAFT
Woodcraft teepee made by the Barton family. Courtesy of Maida Barton Follini, Ph.D.

Questions to Ponder at Year’s End

Dee Seton Barber wrote volumes of poetry. This one we share as 2021 ends. (Originally published in Woodcraft is Lifecraft, 2nd Annual International Woodcraft Communication, 1993.)

Dee Seton Barber in Japan 1976

At Year’s End – The Woodcraft Way
by Dee Seton Barber

Have I grown in wisdom – tried to understand?
Given of myself – offered all an open hand?
Have I rendered service freely from the heart?
Have I made a difference or at least a start?

Is someone stronger ’cause I let them know I care?
Have I done my best to share all that I can share?
Have I kept a secret to spare another pain?
Did I do all that I could without a thought of gain?

Have I learned a lesson, taught myself a skill?
Have I helped another or just acted from my will?
Have I made a friend – paid in full my debt?
Can I sleep tonight without dwelling on regret?

Have I played in sunshine – have I walked in rain?
If the year was new would I do it all again?
Have I looked for wonder at both sky and ground?
Have I taught another of something I have found?

Have I learned to cherish something of real worth?
Have I not been greedy – protected, cleaned the earth?
Is my vision clearer – have I kept the trail?
Granted self forgiveness for the times when I did fail?

Have I sought the silence to listen to my soul?
Am I any nearer to becoming whole?
Am I looking forward and backward without fear?
Have I now determined to do better still next year?


Click here to learn more about E. T. Seton’s youngest daughter.

As We Commemorate Indigenous People’s Day

I found the following essay by Dee Seton Barber, ETS’s daughter, in my filing cabinet today. It was also discovered by David L. Witt at the Academy for the Love of Learning in 2017.  Having unearthed it again, I would like to share a portion of it.

Seton’s Relationship with Native Americans and First People

Seton was a man whom although his skin and upbringing was white, his soul was as theirs, his lifetime action strong proof of this mutual recognition.

From the 1880’s, he went among the people, not to change them, but to learn from them. He respected their culture and their wisdom. He learned their speech and sign, their songs and stories. When invited to council he listened as the wise ones spoke.

He shared their understanding that the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds were each a part of the same whole. He knew that the First People cared for the land with respect. That in their wisdom they took only what they needed to provide for themselves and their children; that they would always be free and the land unharmed, down all through the generations.

He learned to respect their bravery, honor, and strength. He too became wise in the ways of the woods and in the ways of the spirit. He was not a stranger but a welcome friend in the sweat lodge, a council, or alone by a small fire on a hill, listening for guidance from the Great Mystery. He heard the Voices and knew of Vision.

In his youth (in Manitoba), he first learned about the wisdom of the people. He sought to expand his knowledge and learned many things from the Ojibwa, the Sioux, the Cree, the Blackfoot, and the Six Nations at their invitation. He lived with the Crow, the Lakota, the Cheyenne, the Navajo and Pueblo peoples. He knew the Cherokee, the Omaha, and the Kiowa. All his life he shared a deep, mutual respect with the First Peoples, the Native Americans.

He opposed the traders who brought the poison of alcohol to the people. He spoke against governments that were determined to change the people, kill the buffalo, dishonor treaties. He despised missionaries who imposed their beliefs without recognizing the wisdom of the old ways.

He was tortured with the thought that all of the teachings of the elders would be lost, and the European settlers would destroy the heart and soul of the people, as he knew them a century ago. Not only taking their lands but also their traditional ways of living.

He was an advocate for native rights in a time when the West was being destroyed by the greed and avarice of the settlers. H sincerely believed that the highest duty was to provide for and protect the community, not gain or hold riches, but to share and be responsible for the welfare of all.