Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tending the Wild

Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources
(Quoting  Powers [1877] 1976:109–10.)
Stephen Powers, a pioneering anthropologist, wrote about how intimately the Mattole of northwestern California and other tribes knew their homes—their places in the world:
    "The boundaries of all tribes . . . are marked with the greatest precision, being defined by certain creeks, canyons, boulders, conspicuous trees, springs, etc., each of which has its own individual name. Accordingly, the squaws teach these things to their children in a kind of sing song. . . Over and over, time and again, they rehearse all these boulders, etc., describing each minutely and by name, with its surroundings. Then, when
the children are old enough, they take them around . . . and so faithfull has been their instruction, that [the children] generally recognize the objects from the descriptions given them previously by their mothers.
Page 39

I'll add that Roger Williams said much the same: “The natives are very exact and punctual in the bounds of their lands, belonging to this or that prince or people, even to a river, brook, &c.” - Roger Williams, in his Key (CHAP. XVI. Of the Earth and the Fruits thereof).

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