Learning to Make Cordage from Dogbane

On Saturday February 29th Edward Willie joined us at the MAI to share his knowledge about Apocynum cannabinum, commonly known as dogbane. Willie spoke about the use of this plant by Indigenous tribes all over North America, including in our own Bay Area. He shared examples of items he has made using dogbane cordage such as an eagle feather skirt and shell necklace which are both on permanent display at the museum. Other examples of fiber-making materials were shown as well, such as native milkweed and stinging nettle. Attendees who stayed after Edward’s talk were able to make their own dogbane cordage. They scraped, cracked, removed the inner pith and worked the fibers of the plant to finally twist the fibers into thread. Some students joined in as a group to make multi-ply rope by working in unison. The day was a great experience, a valuable and overlooked skill that few people know. Thank you, Edward.  


Please keep an eye out on our social media for upcoming classes!



Museum of the American Indian

2200 Novato Blvd. 

Novato CA 94947

Phone:  415.897.4064

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