The Make and Use of Redwood Canoes by the Yurok Tribe


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Originally posted on Ancestral Arts:

Fallen redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) logs were hollowed with fire to form canoes by Pacific coast Indians of northwestern California (e.g. Yurok) that were sold to other tribes (Powers 1877, Chesnut 1902). Redwood trunks for canoes were gathered by the Yurok from the bar across the mouth of the Lower Klamath, or all along the coast where redwoods grow (Powers 1877). Redwood (and it’s relatives such as bald cypress) is known for having insect-repellant wood. It is also quite soft and easy to carve.

Yurok traditional redwood canoe. Photo credit: Yurok traditional redwood canoe.
Photo credit:

They were burned by the Yurok to suitable lengths, (one made in 1968 was 18 ft long x 3.5 ft wide x 1.5 ft deep) and the ends kept blunt rather than pointed (Powers 1877). To burn them into shape, pitch was spread on the area of wood to be burned, and when it was burned sufficiently deep, a piece…

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Grasshopper Hunting Methods of American Indians

Originally posted on Ancestral Arts:

Most American Indians ate grasshoppers (plus crickets and katydids: the orthoptera) as an integral part of their diet, collecting vast quantities in the summer, drying them and grinding them into flour to store for the winter.

They had many methods of gathering and trapping grasshoppers. The most simple gathering method was to merely pick them off vegetation during the early morning, when it was too cool for them to fly or jump off quickly.

At the most complex end of the spectrum, entire villages assembled to prepare pits and perform circle or or group drive hunts, surrounding a field and scaring grasshoppers inward simultaneously to drive the grasshoppers into the central pits. There were many variations on this method, from some Indians using fire to either drive the grasshoppers or kill them at the end, to driving them in a line towards a creek, where they were collected downstream in…

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7 Insects You’ll Be Eating in the Future

Originally posted on Ancestral Arts:

7 Insects You’ll Be Eating in the Future

Click the title for a article about a few popular insects eaten around the world, and their important potential as a more ubiquitous food source in the future given the global food (esp. protein) shortage crises.

Some students from McGill University in Canada won the 2013 Hult prize, providing $1,000,000 in seed money for their project making protein-rich flour from insects, starting with grasshoppers (yes, 1 million bucks for bugs).

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Russians Put Frog in Milk to Prevent Spoilage


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Originally posted on Ancestral Arts:

Russians Put Frog in Milk to Prevent Spoilage

Click on the title to link to the original scientific article describing how they found many antimicrobial compounds secreted by frog’s skin.

This study was inspired by the old practice of Russians in putting frogs in their milk to keep it fresh!

1280px-European_Common_Frog_Rana_temporaria Rana temporaria. Credit: Wikipedia

The ancestral art of keeping milk fresh had a clever, simple solution for Russians; put a russian brown frog, aka the common frog (Rana temporaria) in it! This frog (which ranges across Europe and has many congeners across temperate areas such as the US) secretes a battery of antimicrobial compounds, preventing the milk from bacterial or fungal growth and souring.

I doubt it affected the milk flavor much if at all. I don’t think it’s disgusting; what sure is gross though is tasting or smelling rotten milk!

The only other way known to…

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New Map of Old North America Shows Indian Tribal Nations; what causes variation in tribe density?


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Originally posted on Ancestral Arts:

Aaron Carapella has compiled all the original (self-identified) names of the American Indians on a map showing the locations of their original homes. It immediately gives a sense of the extent and variety of Indians occupying the continent.

See the full story here: The Map of Native American Tribes You’ve Never Seen Before

Or go straight to the PDF file of the map: Tribal_Nations_Map_of North America

There is a separate map for Mexico you can find in the article.

Ethnoecological hypotheses for high density of Indian tribes and populations in California and the coastal Pacific Northwest:

Like other similar maps produced before (which usually show the names colonists gave to Indians, such as “Costanoan” for SF Bay Area Indians, which just means inhabiting the coast), another remarkable feature is the high diversity of tribes in California, as well as the Pacific Coast. I’d attribute this high diversity, which goes along…

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