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Ahwahnee Village


Black Oak
Quercus kelloggii
teleeli (Southern Miwok)
telÚli (Central Miwok)

Black Oak
[click to enlarge]

Black Oak
One of the most important plant foods was acorn mush. Black oak acorns were preferred over other oaks by Miwok, Mono Lake Paiute and Western Mono peoples. Black oaks don't consistently produce good crops of acorns; in good years, each family might collect and store about 2000 pounds of acorn for use over the next several years.

Acorns were gathered in the autumn, dried, and stored until needed. Before they were eaten, the nuts were cracked, the peanut-like skin removed, and they were pounded to a fine flour. To remove bitter tannins, the flour was leached, placed carefully in a sand basin, and water poured over it for several hours. The leached flour was then mixed with water in a watertight cooking basket. Special, red-hot stones were placed in the basket, stirred consistently, and after about 20 minutes, the acorn mush boiled, thickened, and was fully cooked. The mush was called nŘ'ppa by the Central Miwok, or sometimes nᵊppati (neppati) by the Southern Miwok. The Miwok also made 'ule', a jelled loaf of thick acorn mush.



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