Look what I found in one of my old greenhouse’s garden beds! It is what I think it is. I think. It’s fairly worn.
I’m always surprised any artifacts like this are found at all. I always wonder, too, how they ever got missing in the first place: think about it. That was a lot of hours spent finely honing that stone. I’m wondering if it was lost in a strike on an animal that got away. (It’s a spearhead, I think; it’s too big to be an arrowhead.) It would be horrible to think it is actually a tool of war, but it could be that too. Anyway, with finding this little stone, much thought has been thunk.
I’ve already been on a do-your-own-food kick for a while, and the Eat Local Challenge for October posts that I have made have addressed some of the ways we eat very local around here. But the Hubbard squash picture from yesterday, and the hominy corn post I did a while back? These were staples of the Native Americans who lived where we do now. Squash had to be big: you needed to feed a lot of people with it. No fluffy little Delicatas for them, what was the point?
The known tribe that still actually exists in Southwest Michigan is the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi. This particular band wasn’t shuttled further west and south on their own Kansas and Oklahoma-bound Trail of Tears with the rest of the Potawatomi because they had the…distinction of being converts to Catholicism at the mission of St. Joseph (a town 15 miles south of me). Rather fascinating story. Fights with the Iroquois of New York in the 1650s led most of the Lower Peninsula to be a kind of no-man’s land, depopulated of its Miami and Potawatomi tribes, who, with the Hurons from Ontario and the Sauk from the Detroit area all fled to what is now Wisconsin and Illinois, on the other side of the lake. Some Potawatomi and Miami returned, finding some security with the Jesuit mission on the St. Joseph River, around 1668. And they settled, and stayed.
So for me, wondering about what they ate is an interesting exercise. The fruits I tend to forage are not natives (olive berries, apples, pears). Many edibles that are native I mostly ignore (lamb’s quarters, sassafras, wild cherry, wild grapes, sugar maples) or can’t find (pawpaws, acorns, wild rice, cranberries). Lake Michigan has lots of native fish, but the easily caught spawning salmon that we find now are white-man introductions. I don’t hunt, so all the game readily found around here (deer, turkey, pheasant, rabbit, beaver) and predators (cougars, coyotes, no-longer-here wolves) also get a pass. The things I readily forage (asparagus, black raspberries, strawberries) are short-seasoned things that certainly aren’t at all filling.
What a different life it seems today, the life behind that spearhead.