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Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region (1933) by S. A. Barrett and E. W. Gifford


STORAGE OF FOODS

The Miwok by no means lived from hand to mouth, but preserved and stored large quantities of food. Acorns and seeds were stored without special preparation. Greens and grasshoppers were steamed and dried before packing away. Meat and fish were dried and stored. Large, flat-bottomed, twined baskets (hupulu, C) were the containers most frequently used for foods other than acorns.

The meat of the large mammals, especially deer, was dried in long, thin strips, by either hanging it on trees or bushes to expose to the air and sunlight, or by curing on a babracot about eighteen inches above a small fire. Care was taken to remove all fat, which was kept in a small hupulu basket and eaten raw. One Central Miwok informant mentioned the storage of deer meat in a cedar-bark-lined pit, where it was mixed with salt and would keep for two or three weeks. It seems doubtful if the use of salt as a preservative is aboriginal. For temporary preservation between meals, meat was sometimes covered with earth.

Both mountain quail and valley quail, snared in large numbers in the spring, were dried for later consumption. The feathers were removed, and the breasts cut open, because too thick to dry properly otherwise. A sufficient quantity might thus be preserved to supply a family all summer. Although mourning doves were abundant, they were not preserved.

Fish of various kinds, especially whitefish, trout, and salmon, were dried and stored in hupulu baskets. The fish were dried whole if small, or eviscerated first if large. They were spread on bushes for four or five days; or exposed on a babracot to the heat and smoke of a small fire. If there were salt to spare it might be sprinkled on the fish. Nothing was placed between the layers of fish. The mountain dwellers above the range of the salmon sometimes went downstream to catch salmon.



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