Native Services Unit Receives Traditional Artwork

The Native Services Unit office in Dallas, TX has a new addition! A handmade birch bark frame containing a Native American Nations map was constructed and donated by Joseph Knapp, Penobscot Nation Tribal Member and Chief Professional Officer of the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club. The beautiful frame surrounds and complements the Native American Nations map that depicts locations of Native American tribes and their original names.

Made of winter birch bark and sinew, the frame represents the birth of a new relationship between Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and Boys & Girls Clubs in Indian Country (BGCIC). Relationships are a key part of Native life; group sharing of knowledge and responsibilities is integral to the Native lifestyle. Generosity is also valued, especially in helping others.

The birch bark was custom fitted, delicately sewn, and laced with sinew to fit the frame. Sinew is prepared from animal tendons that have been split into threads. The threads are strong, durable, and flexible, making sinew valuable to many indigenous cultures for traditional use in sewing as an art form. Harvesting birch bark in the winter is a daunting task that requires great patience and skill. The proper techniques of birch bark harvesting are passed down through generations of Native culture. The meaning of the beauty in Native art far exceeds its literal meaning alone. Everyone at the Dallas Service Center and the Native Services Unit are excited to have such a beautiful work of art in the office, courtesy of Joseph Knapp and the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club.