Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday Western - Native American Pantry

The Native Americans in the west and all across the U.S. lived off the land. The Plains and Western tribes moved where the food was plentiful, traveling with the seasons to gather and preserve what they needed.

By 1840 most tribes had horses and guns. They traveled farther and more often than before. With the horse and gun they no longer had to chase the great beasts over cliffs to maim and kill the buffalo. No matter the type of game that was take, they used every part of the animal. Marrow from the bones was a delicacy. The meat, sinew, hide and horns were all used. It it wasn't edible it was used for clothing, shelter, or utensils.

Most of the game meat and fish was dried on racks made of limbs. Some of this dried meat would be pounded into a powder and mixed with fat and berries to make pemmican. This was carried by the warriors when they went on hunting and raiding parties. It could be wrapped in leaves and carried in a pouch on their belts of in the bottom of their arrow quiver.

The Nez Perce and Digger Indians relied on root and ground plants to supplement their meat/fish diet.  The Pawnee, Cherokee, Creek, Chicksaw and Southwestern tribes grew crops. They planted corn and harvested the natural roots and berries.

Many Native American tribes roasted meat in large pits with layers of meat and brush over heated stones. then the pit was covered with dirt and left to cook.

The Nez Perce used the camas bulb in many forms. The would eat it fresh, roasted in the ground like the meat, and pounded into a mush or paste. It was one of their stables throughout the year as the roasted bulbs could be stored and used during the rest of the year.

Caches were built in hiding spots and families would stash or store food when they journeyed to the next seasonal gathering of food.  The food would be stored in skin pouches and hidden in small caves, rock pilings, or holes in the earth.

I researched much of this information when writing the Spirit trilogy.

Photos are public domain.


J.L. Campbell said...

Talk about making use of everything and not letting anything go to waste.

Paty Jager said...

That's true. They used the brains to tan the hides. Thanks for commenting.

bn100 said...

Thanks for sharing your research

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Paty Jager said...

bn, You're welcome. I might as well get full use out of all the time I take doing research. ;)