How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts (Native American)

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In the eastern Canadian Arctic , Inuit consume a diet of foods that are fished, hunted, and gathered locally. This may include caribou , walrus , ringed seal , bearded seal , beluga whale , polar bear , berries , and fireweed. The cultural value attached to certain game species, and certain parts, varies. For example, in the James Bay region, a study found that beluga whale meat was principally used as dog food, whereas the blubber, or muktuk was a "valued delicacy".

Contaminants in country foods are a public health concern in Northern Canada; volunteers are tested to track the spread of industrial chemicals from emitters usually in the South into the northern food web via the air and water. In , the Government of the N. In Southern Canada , wild foods especially meats are actually relatively rare in restaurants, due to wildlife conservation rules against selling hunted meat, as well as strict meat inspection rules.

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Therefore there is a cultural divide between rural and remote communities that rely on wild foods, and urban Canadians the majority , who have little or no experience with them. The essential staple foods of the Eastern Woodlands Aboriginal Americans were corn also known as maize , beans , and squash.


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  6. These were called the " Three Sisters " because they were planted interdependently: the beans grew up the tall stalks of the maize, while the squash spread out at the base of the three plants and provided protection and support for the root systems. A number of other domesticated crops were also popular during some time periods in the Eastern Woodlands, including a local version of quinoa , a variety of amaranth , sumpweed marsh elder , little barley , maygrass , and sunflowers.

    Maple syrup is another example of the essential food staples of the Woodland Indigenous peoples. Tree sap is collected from sugar maple trees during the beginning of springtime when the nights are still cold. When the sap is boiled to a certain temperature, it is at these temperatures the different variations of maple food products are processed.

    At one point when the sap starts to thicken, snow is used by pouring the thick sap into the snow to make taffy. Southeastern Native American culture has formed the cornerstone of Southern cuisine from its origins till the present day. From Southeastern Native American culture came one of the main staples of the Southern diet: corn maize , either ground into meal or limed with an alkaline salt to make hominy , using a Native American technology known as nixtamalization. Though a lesser staple, potatoes were also adopted from Native American cuisine and were used in many ways similar to corn.

    Native Americans introduced the first non-Native American Southerners to many other vegetables still familiar on southern tables. Squash , pumpkin , many types of beans , tomatoes , many types of peppers , and sassafras all came to the settlers via the native tribes. Many fruits are available in this region.


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    Muscadines , blackberries , raspberries , and many other wild berries were part of Southern Native Americans' diet. Southeastern Native Americans also supplemented their diets with meats derived from the hunting of native game. Venison was an important meat staple, due to the abundance of white-tailed deer in the area. They also hunted rabbits , squirrels , opossums , and raccoons. Livestock , adopted from Europeans, in the form of hogs and cattle , were kept. Aside from the meat, it was not uncommon for them to eat organ meats such as liver , brains , and intestines.

    This tradition remains today in hallmark dishes like chitterlings , commonly called chitlins, which are the fried large intestines of hogs ; livermush , a common dish in the Carolinas made from hog liver; and pork brains and eggs. The fat of the animals, particularly of hogs, was rendered and used for cooking and frying.

    Native Harvests: American Indian Wild Foods and Recipes

    Many of the early settlers were taught Southeastern Native American cooking methods. The meat was cut in thin slices and dried, either over a slow fire or in the hot sun, until it was hard and brittle which could last for months, making it a main ingredient to be combined with other foods, or eaten on its own. One such use could be pemmican , a concentrated mixture of fat and protein, and fruits such as cranberries, Saskatoon berries, blueberries, cherries, chokeberries, chokecherries, and currants were sometimes added. When asked to state traditional staple foods, a group of Plains elders identified "prairie turnips, fruits chokecherries, June berries, plums, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, buffalo berries, gooseberries , potatoes, squash, dried meats venison, buffalo, jack rabbit, pheasant, and prairie chicken , and wild rice" as being these staple foods.

    Due to this, they were high in omega-3 fatty acids, an essential acid that many diets lack. In the Northwest of what is now the United States, Native Americans used salmon and other fish, seafood, mushrooms, berries, and meats such as deer, duck, and rabbit. In contrast to the Easterners, the Northwestern aboriginal peoples were principally hunter-gatherers. The generally mild climate meant they did not need to develop an economy based upon agriculture but instead could rely year-round on the abundant food supplies of their region.

    In what is now California, acorns were ground into a flour that was the principal foodstuff for about 75 percent of the population, [22] and dried meats were prepared during the season when drying was possible. Ancestral Puebloans of the present-day Four Corners region of the United States, comprising southeastern Utah, northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado, practiced subsistence agriculture by cultivating maize , beans , squash , and sunflower seeds. They utilized locally available wild resources such as pine nuts from the pinyon pine , and hunted game including mule deer , hare , rabbits , and squirrel.

    Ancestral Puebloans are also known for their basketry and pottery, indicating both an agricultural surplus that needed to be carried and stored, and clay pot cooking. Grinding stones were used to grind maize into meal for cooking. Archaeological digs indicate that they had domesticated turkeys which served as a food source. Alaska native cuisine consists of nutrient-dense foods such as seal, fish salmon , and moose. Along with these, berries huckleberries and bird eggs are consumed by Alaska natives.

    Smaller game they hunt include whitefish, arctic char, arctic hares, and ptarmigan. Due to weather, edible plants like berries are only available to be consumed in the summer, so these people have a diet very high in fat and protein, but low in carbohydrates. The game that is hunted is also used for clothing.

    How Indians Use Wild Plants For Food Medicine Crafts Native American

    The intestines of large mammals are used to make waterproof clothing and caribou fur is used to make warm clothing. This region comprises the cultures of the Arawaks , the Caribs , and the Ciboney. Prior to European contact, these groups foraged, hunted, and fished. Today these groups have mostly vanished, but their culinary legacy lives on. The pre- conquest cuisine of the Native Americans of Mesoamerica made a major contribution to shaping modern-day Mexican cuisine , Salvadoran cuisine , Honduran cuisine , Guatemalan cuisine. The cultures involved included the Aztec , Maya , Olmec , Pipil and many more see the List of pre-Columbian civilizations.

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    This currently includes recipes known from the Quechua , Aymara and Nazca of the Andes. The earliest utensils, including knives, spoons, grinders, and griddles, were made from all kinds of materials, such as rock and animal bone. Gourds were also initially cultivated, hollowed, and dried to be used as bowls, spoons, ladles, and storage containers. Many Native American cultures also developed elaborate weaving and pottery traditions for making bowls, cooking pots, and containers.

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    Nobility in the Andean and Mesoamerican civilizations were even known to have utensils and vessels smelted from gold, silver, copper, or other minerals. Maize , beans and squash were known as the three sisters for their symbiotic relationship when grown together by the North American and Meso-American natives.

    If the South Americans had similar methods of what is known as companion planting it is lost to us today. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Culinary traditions of Peoples Indigenous to the Americas. Political movements. Ethnic subdivisions. Individuals often had their own names for the plants which they used as remedies.

    It was also customary for a medicine man, when teaching the use of a plant, to show a specimen of the plant without giving it any name. Thus the identity of the plant was transmitted with more secrecy than would have been possible if a name had been assigned to it. The names by which plants are designated by the Chippewa are usually compound nouns indicating the appearance of the plant, the place where it grows, a characteristic property of the plant, or its principal use.

    To this is often added a termination indicating the part of the plant which is utilized, as root or leaf.

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    An investigation was made to determine whether the plants used medicinally by the Chippewa have a recognized use by the white race. Two reports on this subject were courteously prepared by Dr. Stockberger, physiologist in charge of drug, poisonous and oil plant investigations, Bureau of Plant Industry, United States Department of Agriculture.

    The first report shows the medicinal properties of such plants and the second report shows the principal active medicinal constituents of these plants. The following 69 plants used by the Chippewa are regarded as medicinal by white people, although opinion as to their therapeutic value varies greatly. The few species now officially recognized in the latest editions of the United States Pharmacopoeia and the National Formulary are designated in the text by the abbreviations U.

    IX and N. Species recognized in the eighth revision of the United States Pharmacopoeia but no longer official are indicated by U. The remaining species, some of which were recognized in the earlier Pharmacopoeias, have long been used either in medicine as practiced by certain physicians or as domestic remedies. Canada balsam, a liquid oleoresin obtained from this tree, is stimulant, diuretic, occasionally diaphoretic and externally rubefacient.

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