Real Name: Anonymous
|Posted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:43 pm Post subject: Trekker & Reenactor Native Food Info
|FOOD PRODUCTS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS
The source material was taken from a: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE REPORT, 1870. WASHINGTON , D.C.
This report represents native products important to Indian economy and often used as a source of supply by government agents, merchants, fur traders and travelers across North America .
Prairie Potato or Bread Root, also called Indian Turnip, pomme de prairie by the French, or tip-sin-nah by the Sioux. This root was used extensively, the size of a hens egg, ovid shape, thick leathery skin. Known to be easily prepared when cooked, fryable when dried and easily pulverized into starchy flour. Sweet turnip taste when cut thin and dried for winter storage and usage, very palatable and considered an especial luxury by many tribes.
Kamass Root or Wild Hyacinth resembles an onion in shape, size of a hickory-nut. The root is dug in June and July, can be eaten raw with a pleasant taste or cooked and somewhat resembles potatoes. When the root is boiled in water, yields a very good molasses, prized by various tribes for special occasions.
Edible Pine is a small scrubby pine found in New Mexico into Mexico , called Pinon by locals. The seed is the size of a kidney bean, thin shell, pleasant flavor and found to be oily. They should be roasted before eaten, but some tribes have been known to carry them in a raw state.
Sugar Maple is collected in the spring throughout the Northern States by many of the tribes of that area. Native American women have marketed the prepared sugar in birch bark boxes for over a century called "Mococks" and probably longer than this, but no recorded information was found. Winnebagoes and Chippewas produced the largest amounts, often selling fifty thousand pounds a year to the Northwest Fur Company.
Common Blackberry has been found cultivated by local tribes in Missouri , Texas , California and Minnesota , the Native American is as fond of the berry as the whites.
Buffalo Berry is a shrub fifteen feet high, berries the size of a pea, bright scarlet in color and containing one seed. Usually found in areas of Oregon , Utah , Idaho , Nebraska and Wyoming * in great abundance.
* have never seen berries of this type in Wyoming , but this report was written in 1870 and areas change.
Mulberry have grow abundantly in Northern Missouri and along the rivers of Kansas , the fruit being large and sweet, of a dark to black color. The Indians will travel many miles in search of them, within their restricted areas as well as out of the boundaries of their tribes.
Prickly Pear is the fruit of a species of cactus, much eaten by the Indians of New Mexico, Arizona , California , and Utah , under the common Spanish name of tunas, great quantities being dried for use in the winter. These plants are found in the arid desert locations which seems to produce large amounts; large and bright red to purple color; rather pleasant sweet, somewhat acid taste, thin skinned and large seeds, all of which is discard. The skin is stubbed with bunches of very fine downy spines, which the Indians brush off with a bunch of grass. The Apaches use wooden tongs to gather the fruit, preventing being scratched by the spines or thorns of the plant. The Pawnees and Papajoes dry the unripe fruit for future use, used when cooking meat and other substances. The unripe fruit is oftened boiled in water from ten to twelve hours, until soft, when it becomes like apple-sauce; after fermenting for a period it becomes stimulating and nutritious according to local Indians. The leaves are roasted in hot ashes, and when cooked, the outer skin with thorns is easily removed, leaving a sweet succulent substance, which is eaten. Hunger and destitution have caused Native Americans as well as whites to live off this plant for periods of time as an only food.
Prunus Americana is found in Colorado , Kansas , Utah , Oregon , and Texas . During the ripening of the fruit the Indians live sumptuously, and collect quantities for drying.
Dwarf Cherry The interesting species of the plum is but a small two to six feet high. The fruit is larger than a damson, sweet, and in color varies from a light pink to a deep crimson, and from a light deep yellow, and grows abundantly in the Indian Territory . Every Indian, young and old, capable of traveling, goes to the plum ground in the proper season, as it is their great harvest. The fruit is dried, and also made into preserves. The plant thrives in sandy wastes, and is sometimes called sand-hill plum.
Sunflower from one of several species of the dwarf sunflower of the West, which grows on river bottoms and rich, moist spots on the prairies, the seeds are often gathered. Being very sweet and oily, they are eaten raw, or pounded up with other substances, made into flat cakes and dried in the sun, in which form they appear to be very palatable to the Indians.
Indian Corn may be said to be the most universal article of food cultivated by the Indians of New Mexico, Arizona , California , Nevada , and Utah , while the tribes of the Indian Territory consider this grain the staff of life. The cultivation of corn has not been acquired by them from others. It is a matter of historical record that, when living in the Southern States, long before the white man set foot in the country, it was cultivated, and by nearly all the Indians of the present United States to a greater or less extent. The Indians who grow it in the primitive manner, and have the original corn of America , are the Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona . The grains vary in color through shades of pink, blue, and white, and the ears are generally rather small and slender. The blue variety is preferred for bread, and is sorted from the rest with much care, and stored by itself. The ear has fourteen rows of grains, which are full and plump, and is six and three quarters inches long, and four and three quarters around. The corn, after being reduced to meal in a stone mortar, has a peculiar bluish-white appearance. In converting it into bread, it is mixed into a thin batter, a brisk fire is made to heat a slab of iron, or stone, or a flat earthenware plate, which is elevated from the ground by stones to admit the fire; when sufficiently heated, the women press the fingers of the right hand together, dip them in the batter, drawing them out thickly covered with the mixture, at the same time drawing the hand equally over the heated baker, leaving a thin coating, which quickly curls up, a sign that it is cooked on that side; it is then taken off, another dip is made with the fingers, and the baker is besmeared again; then the upper side of the first cake is laid on the top of the new dip; when the second one is ready to turn, the first one is already cooked, and the second is put through the same process as the first, and so on until a number of these large thin sheets of water-like bread is accumulated. They are rolled up together, and form what is called by the Moqui Indians guagave. It looks like blue wrapping-paper, but somewhat coarser, and has a polished appearance. During the summer of 1869, the writer and Mr. Vincent Collier, with Lieutenant W. Krause, visited the Moquis, and were feasted bountifully at every house with this blue paper-like bread. At first it seems dry in the mouth, but it soon softens, is quite sweet, and is readily masticated. All three of us, doubtless, will ever remember with pleasure the relish which our hunger gave to this singular treat. At one house the nicest dried peaches, of their own production, well cooked, were set before us, into the juice of which the bread was dipped, at the same time serving as a spoon. At another house the roasted mescal, dissolved in water, was set before us, in which to dip our bread or guagave rolls, the ends of which we bit off from time to time, after saturating them, until satisfied, each declaring the food excellent. A favorite mode of preparing corn is to boil it in weak lime-water, to remove the husk bran. It is then ground into a soft pulp, and made into bread like the above, but is not so palatable to the general taste. The corn, thus hulled, is often mixed with chopped meat, formed into cakes, and dried for future use. Often, when new corn is ground, it is mixed with pieces of meat, and red or green peppers, placed between soft corn husks, tied at the ends, and boiled. This is called by the Mexicans tomale, but is not acceptable to civilized palates. Corn meal is also made into attole or guel, and, when mixed with sugar, or the flour of the mesquite, it is claaed pinole, and is much relished by all the Indians. Water is sometimes added to it, forming a cooling, sweet, nutritious drink. To make this nicely, the corn must be carefully parched, then pulverized, and prepared as above. The raw meal is often made into a kind of bread, called tortillas by the Spanish. Some Indians prepare the roasting ears by stringing and drying them for winter. The Apaches, and many other Indians, toast their corn in baskets with much dexterity. This is effected by placing the grains and a few live coals or hot stones in the baskets, and keeping up a brisk agitation, occasionally holding the open basket to the fire. The Indians are very fond of parched corn, and consume it surprising quantities.
Wild rice called pshu by the Sioux, and the Chippewas refer to it as man-om-in. It is a constant article of food with the Northern Indians of the lakes and rivers between the Mississippi and Lake Superior . This plant delights in mud and water five to twenty feet deep. When ripe the slightest wind shakes off the grains.
After being gathered it is laid on scaffolds about four feet high, eight wide, and twenty to fifty long, covered with reeds and grass, and a slow fire is maintained beneath for thirty-six hours, so as to parch slightly the husk, that it may be removed easily. Its beard is tougher than a rye. To separate it from the chaff or husk, a hole is made in the ground a foot wide and one deep, and lined with skins; about a peck of rice is put in at a time; an Indian steps in, with a half jump, on one foot, then on the other, until the husk is removed. After being cleaned the grain is stored in bags. It is darker than the Caroline rice. The hull adheres tightly, and is left on the grain, and gives the bread a dark color when cooked. The husk is easily removed, after being exposed to heat. In Dakota the men gather this grain, but all other grain the women collect. An acre of rice is nearly or quite equal to an acre of wheat in nutriment. It is very palatable, when roasted and eaten dry.
Hope this helps some of you in some way.