The Food Gathering
people gathered here at Junction and said, "The
blackberries, elderberries, and hazelnuts must be
ripe. Let's go to the mountains!"
They went camping at
Barker Mountain. "Let's camp in the gap where there
is water close by," the decided. "Let's gather
blackberries and hunt! Let's look for water and eat
together with the newcomers," they said.
Then they built several
fires and got ready to cure deer meat and dry
blackberries. Let's get ready to pound and dry hazel
nuts and everything," They said.
They brought wood and
bark, shaving it to clean it off. They scraped it
clean so that they would only have to pour the
berries on top. To dry deer meat, they would cut in
into strips and hang it on wood racks they had
already made for that purpose.
They killed and slaughtered deer. They ate some and
fried the rest. They picked blackberries, brought
them back in the evening, and spread them to dry.
They picked and dried elderberries. They gathered
all the hazel nuts they saw and returned with full
bags. They emptied them into a hole and pounded them
with a piece of wood. They removed the hulls, then
dried the hazel nuts for two days and sacked them.
Deer meat does not dry very quickly. With a rock
they made a small smoking fire so that the flies and
yellow jackets would not eat it. They brought wood
to burn. When they had finished all that, they
gathered hazel nuts and picked up sugar pine nuts
that had fallen. Then, by evening, the wild plums
and chokecherries were ripe, and they picked those.
They gathered chinkapin nuts and pounded them. They
pushed the hulls aside. They picked up hazel nuts.
When they returned to their camp in the evening,
they dried those things. The chinkapin nuts dried
fast. They sacked the hazelnuts. For two days they
dried things. "Let's go home now,' they said. They
came home and put all the food away. "Now then,
let's get ready to go out again and spear salmon!
Let's go camp south of Forest Glen where there are
plenty of salmon!" They speared salmon.
burned the ground to level it out and prepared to
spear salmon. They brought back many salmon, cut
them up, and dried them. They fished for trout and
ate it, but put the salmon away. They saved the
trout heads and poked out the eyeballs. They dried
only the heads, sacked them, and took good care of
them. They skinned the salmon and dried the skins.
They put the skins away and placed the meat into big
baskets. They hollowed out the salmon bones and
boiled them. When they were cooked, they took them
out of the water. They took out all the bones, put
them away, and rubbed only the meat to powder. In
this manner they made salmon flour which took
They used to drink the good cooking water, called
"salmon soup." They never threw anything away. And
when all the salmon flour was boiled they took out
the bones and rubbed them to powder. For five days
they were busy making salmon flour. They dried it.
They also killed the suckerfish. They ate those
right away because they were not plentiful. Some
they put away to save with the salmon meat; they did
not eat much of the salmon. Heads and all, they
cured and dried them, hanging them up for smoking.
When it rained a little,
they killed many salmon. When the salmon were going
to spawn, they said, "The salmon are coming to
spawn. Let's stop now!" They gathered everything and
brought their catch home. They put all the salmon
away and dried the plums and chokeberries. They
would be dry by winter. Then they said, "Let's drive
trout into our nets!" They placed many nets which
they had woven into the water. They were going to
catch salmon, suckers, trout, everything. They
brought a large pole to the big creek, cut much
willow brush, wove it tightly, and wrapped it around
the pole. They rolled it, chasing the trout out from
under rocks, brush, and underwater banks. As they
rolled the pole, the trout all went downstream. Many
went down the river and wer4e caught. The tightly
woven nets were full. They had been made to last and
the water could not overturn them. They filled them
with very many trout.
When they took the roller out of the water, the nets
were filled with very many trout and suckerfish. All
the people who were present divided the trout,
suckers, and everything among themselves and went
home happy. They took the fish home and dried it.
After they had dried and sacked everything they got
ready again and went to another water hole. Again
they placed that big pole into the water after
fastening the nets. They chased the trout out with
the roller and drove them ahead. Then they placed
the roller in yet another water hole and chased many
trout into the nets, filling them. They took the
roller out and the women gathered up all the trout
and suckers. They took them to the fire they
had made and divided them evenly among all.
they caught the big steelheads, called "Fall
salmon," which come before the small salmon. They
said, "We have killed enough trout now. If we eat
all this, we'll be able to make it until spring
comes." They divided the catch among everyone and
went home. After they had dried the trout heads and
some trout and put everything away, they said,
"Let's gather crayfish now!" They gathered
many crayfish. They ate the feet, dried the tails,
and threw the middle part away. "Let's stop now!"
they said. "Be sure to be ready in two days to
gather acorns! Put all the food away carefully and
then we will gather white oak, black oak, and live
oak acorns. Be ready in two days to gather them
After two days they got together. Someone said,
"There is a place where many black oak acorns have
fallen. Let's Go!" "Okay," said the others and they
all went to gather acorns. For two days they
gathered acorns. Some they left, and some they took.
They brought them home and left again quickly.
Then they went back and gathered some more of those
they had left and took them home, too. "Let's fix a
good little place to dry these," they said.
They brought home bark and placed the acorns on it
in loosely woven baskets so they would dry well.
They stored and dried the black oak acorns. Then, in
the winter when there was nothing to do, they would
When autumn came and it became cold and rainy, they
stayed at home. They dried the white oak acorns they
had gathered and soaked them in water until spring.
They dried the black oak and live oak acorns.
Their houses were now filled with all the food they
had gathered and they said, "We have gathered
enough. Let's hunt some now so we can eat! We will
not use what we have gathered right away because we
still have things to eat for a while. We will eat
gray squirrels, ground squirrels, mountain
chipmunks, rabbits, and that sort of thing. We won't
eat what we gathered until winter." "Okay," they
said. "We have enough."
They all went home
In My Own Words. Stories, songs and memories of
Grace Mckibbin, Wintu [1884-1987]. by Alice
From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories.