Common Name: 
paper birch and dwarf birch
Alestine Andre
Alestine Andre
Gwichya Gwich'in Name: 
Teetł’it Gwich’in Name:: 
aat'oo /łuu t'an (dwarf birch)
Latin Name: 
Betula papyrifera and Betula glandulosa
As food
Birch syrup (k’ii chų’ (G), k’ii chuu (T)) can be collected for one to two weeks in mid-June. The syrup, which is used as a topping for pancakes and other foods, is made by boiling down the sap until it thickens. A lot of sap must be collected to make a small amount of syrup.
As medicine
To make a medicinal tea for stomach ailments like heartburn and ulcers, the stems, twigs and leaves of young birch trees can be cut into small pieces and boiled in a large pot. After straining the tea, drink one-half cup of the birch tea in the morning before breakfast and another one at night before going to bed. Spruce gum may also be chewed and swallowed with this medicine (Andre 1995). The inner bark of birch trees can also be used to make a tea for stomach ailments. According to Alfred Semple, his great-grandmother used to make a tea from birch roots for washing the eyes of people afflicted by snow blindness in the spring. The roots are dug up, cleaned with a knife, and then washed before boiling. Birch buds can also be used in the same way.
As tools
Birch is a hardwood valued for its strength and resistance to cracking. It is a favoured material for making snowshoes. In the past, the Gwich’in also used birch to make net needles, paddles, drum frames, chairs and furniture, toboggans, snow shovels and scoops, and handles for knives, axes, awls, slingshots, dog whips and sleds. Dog whip handles were often dyed with red ochre and decorated with fancy wool work. Birch toboggans are valued for being strong and slippery. The hunting canoes of the Gwich’in were built with birch frames and covered with canvas.
As bait
Sections of birch wood were used for bait when setting beaver traps under the ice of a lake.
Source: Andre, Alestine and Alan Fehr, Gwich'in Ethnobotany, 2nd ed. (2002)      
As medicine - more information

The paper and dwarf birch trees are used in the same way. The inner bark of birch is made into a mild tea to treat stomach problems and the leaves are used to treat insect bites.

Source: Andre, Alestine, Nan t'aih nakwits'inahtsìh (The Land Gives Us Strength) (2006)

Birch Tea
Find a young birch tree, chop it up, place it in a pot of water and boil into tea. Mabel English suggests drinking one-half cup of tea before every meal to alleviate stomach ailments.
On Birch and Beavers
I was sitting on the lake and I took some bark off a birch tree. If I light it, the beaver smells it. It is going to swim to me. So birch and poplar are the main trees that beaver really like. Even when we trap them, we put a piece of birch on the trap. I nail it there and if the beaver smells that, it has to come to that trap. So the best beaver food that I know of is birch.
- Victor Stewart (GEKP)