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He could use it for fire or to make something like furniture.
In the novel, Touching Spirit Bear, when Cole finds the long piece of driftwood he has two thoughts. First, he thinks of how in his home town that they have a field of carved totem poles. He thinks that making one could be interesting, but then another thought comes to mind. One that counters everything the island has done for him. His plan is escaping. He thinks he could carve a canoe, and escape the island. E pretends to think that he will only use the boat to fish, so he begins to carve. In the middle of carving he realizes that what he is doing is wrong and he knows he will only try to escape again, bringing him back to square one. He stops abruptly and starts to carve instead. He carves an eagle, which he realizes takes out his anger. All in all, when Cole finds the piece of driftwood on the island, he has two thoughts, but one would only bring him back to the beginning, so he decides to go with the second idea, instead of going with his instinct, making an escape plan.
Coles two thoughts were 1. make a canoe 2. make a totem pole.