Sunday, November 23, 2014


I have observed many zigzag stone borders around many riparian zones over many years, considered how they may have been Indigenous made fuel breaks that kept a green cover over streams and around swamps, even considered them as containing a fire that burned over those riparian zones sometimes, maybe, all things being possible. There’s also been cases where a linear row travels through a swampy area, the stonework looking less like the bricks and blocks of post contact constructions and more like the style I suspect to be Indigenous in nature, containing possible effigies and strikingly beautiful stones.
Below: a combination of zigzag and linear, crossing the lowest and wettest point of a small valley, linking an outcrop with a rhomboidal boulder perched on its N/S row of stones connecting with an E/W row that could possibly be a representation of a Great Serpent - or two or more (
I have wondered many times just what could have been happening in these places, what was possibly or most likely gathered or collected or better yet what was tended in those wet and boggy places 300 and 400 years ago by Indigenous People. I’ve looked many times to see if I could find perhaps cranberries growing among the sphagnum moss as I’ve read it does, but I’ve never found one since…
(See here for something by people with better luck finding them:

(And here, where this image above is from:
Now it’s barely ten days since I happened upon an estimated 100 feet or more of interesting stonework shown in this post: and just a couple days since I took a second look at more of what leads to and from that interesting stone structure that has many details that I consider markers of an Indigenous origin, shown here:
Since this little tributary stream flows into a place called Cranberry Swamp and Cranberry Pond, I’ve begun to wonder if this stonework was somehow used to control the flow of water into the Swamp to encourage the growth of this food resource at some time or other that could include the pre-contact.
I can find a metric ton or two of information about modern methods used to grow and harvest cranberries, but no hint of a possible method used by Indigenous Peoples everywhere an Indigenous word for cranberry exists. It is simply stated that the cranberry was gathered in the wild by Native Americans.

Cranberry references and links:
"The cranberry, along with the blueberry and Concord grape, is one of North America's three native fruits that are commercially grown. Cranberries were first used by Native Americans, who discovered the wild berry's versatility as a food, fabric dye and healing agent. Today, cranberries are commercially grown throughout the northern part of the United States and are available in both fresh and processed forms.
The name "cranberry" derives from the Pilgrim name for the fruit, "craneberry", so called because the small, pink blossoms that appear in the spring resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane. European settlers adopted the Native American uses for the fruit and found the berry a valuable bartering tool..."
How Cranberries Grow: "Cranberries 101" - Water Use
The Massachusetts Growing Season...
The old rule-of-thumb states that cranberry vines need approximately an inch of water a week to grow. Growers use water to protect cranberries from frost and hot weather in summer. As a general rule, each acre of cranberries will use seven to ten feet of water to meet all production, harvesting and flooding needs. There are two main ways cranberry growers bring water onto the bogs – through sprinkler systems and through flooding…
The other practice when cranberry growers use water on the bog is flooding. Flooding is so important in cranberry cultivation that bogs where flooding is not possible are no longer considered profitable. Cranberry growers use flooding as a management tool to protect the plants from the cold, drying winds of winter, to harvest and remove fallen leaves and to control pests.
Winter Flood
Cranberry vines may be injured or killed by severe winter weather. This injury, winterkill, is prevented by protecting the vines with a winter flood. The winter flood may be applied as early as December 1 and remains on the bog as long as winterkill conditions are present or forecasted. Generally, growers hold the flood no later than March 15.
Late Water
Another flooding technique cranberry growers use is known as late water. Late water floods have been used since the 1940’s and have been used to protect the bog from spring frost and to provide some pest control. In modern cranberry production, holding late water refers to the practice of withdrawing the winter flood in March then re-flooding the bog in later April for one month.
The Freetown Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA) consists of 337 acres of shrub swamp, Atlantic white cedar swamp and cranberry bog reservoir, with small areas of mixed upland forest in the Town of Freetown. The property was acquired in 2006 by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and is managed for fisheries and wildlife habitat and open space. Common vegetation on the WMA includes red maple, sweet pepperbush, highbush blueberry, leatherleaf, swamp azalea, sphagnum moss and Atlantic white cedar, with uplands dominated by white pine, red oak and common greenbrier. Cotton grass, sundew and other bog plant species are also present.
The Freetown Swamp Wildlife Management Area contains one of the largest remaining shrub swamps in southeastern Massachusetts. The WMA and abutting private cranberry bogs were likely once part of a much larger Atlantic white cedar swamp than what exists today. Historic topographic maps of the area show two perennial stream channels winding throughout the area, which likely supported wild brook trout populations prior to the disturbances to the area caused by the creation of cranberry bogs. Native Americans and early settlers likely made use of the Atlantic white cedar trees for construction of shelters and fence posts. Jacob’s Mountain, which is more of a hill located nearby, would have been a likely area for Native Americans to set up seasonally because it overlooked the large cedar swamp and provided a good area to access the area’s natural resources.
Within the remaining cedar and shrub swamp there are several very large glacial erratics (boulders left behind by receding glaciers) that can clearly be seen on aerial photos of the WMA.
" Although the native Americans did not cultivate it (called sasemineash by the Narragansett tribe), they gathered berries and used them in pemmican, a mixture of dried meat or fish and berries that was pounded into a pulp, shaped into a cake and dried in the sun. They were the first to make it into a sweetened sauce using maple sugar. The berries were also eaten raw. Cranberries were used as a poultice for wounds and when it was mixed with cornmeal it was an excellent cure for blood poisoning. The juice was used as a dye to brighten the colors of their blankets and rugs. 
In North America, Native Americans were the first to use cranberries as food. Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, especially for pemmican, wound medicine, and dye. Calling the red berries Sassamanash, Algonquian peoples may have introduced cranberries to starving English settlers in Massachusetts who incorporated the berries into traditional Thanksgiving feasts. American Revolutionary War veteran Henry Hall is credited as first to farm cranberries in the Cape Cod town of Dennis around 1816. In the 1820s cranberries were shipped to Europe.[10] Cranberries became popular for wild harvesting in the Nordic countries and Russia. In Scotland the berries were originally wild-harvested but, with the loss of suitable habitat, the plants have become so scarce that this is no longer done.
In 1550, James White Norwood made reference to Indians using cranberries. In James Rosier's book The Land of Virginia there is an account of Europeans coming ashore and being met with Indians bearing bark cups full of cranberries. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, there is a 1633 account of the husband of Mary Ring auctioning her cranberry-dyed petticoat for 16 shillings. In 1640's Key Into the Language Roger Williams described cranberries, referring to them as "bearberries" because bears ate them. In 1648, preacher John Elliott was quoted in Thomas Shepard's book Clear Sunshine of the Gospel with an account of the difficulties the Pilgrims were having in using the Indians to harvest cranberries as they preferred to hunt and fish. In 1663, the Pilgrim cookbook appears with a recipe for cranberry sauce. In 1667, New Englanders sent to King Charles 10 barrels of cranberries, 3 barrels of codfish and some Indian corn as a means of appeasement for his anger over their local coining of the Pine Tree shilling. In 1669, Captain Richard Cobb had a banquet in his house (to celebrate both his marriage to Mary Gorham and his election to the Convention of Assistance), serving wild turkey with sauce made from wild cranberries. In the 1672 book New England Rarities Discovered author John Josselyn described cranberries, writing:
"Sauce for the Pilgrims, cranberry or bearberry, is a small trayling plant that grows in salt marshes that are overgrown with moss. The berries are of a pale yellow color, afterwards red, as big as a cherry, some perfectly round, others oval, all of them hollow with sower [sic] astringent taste; they are ripe in August and September. They are excellent against the Scurvy. They are also good to allay the fervor of hoof diseases. The Indians and English use them mush, boyling [sic] them with sugar for sauce to eat with their meat; and it is a delicate sauce, especially with roasted mutton. Some make tarts with them as with gooseberries."
New England's Rarities Discovered in Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, and ...
 By John Josselyn
Page 119- 121: Cran Berry, or Bear Berry, because Bears use much to feed upon them, is a fmall trayling Plant that grows in Salt Marfhes that are over-grown with Mofs; the tender Branches (which are reddifh) run out in great length, lying flat on the ground, where at diflances, they take Root, over-fpreading fometimes half a fcore Acres, fometimes in fmall patches of about a Rood or the like; the Leaves are like Box, but greener, thick and glittering; the Bloflbms are very like the Flowers of [66] our EngliJJt Night Shade, after which fucceed the Berries, hanging by long fmall foot ftalks, no bigger than a hair; at firft they are of a pale yellow Colour, afterwards red, and as big as a Cherry; fome perfectly round, others Oval, all of them hollow, of a fower aftringent tafte; they are ripe in Augujt and September}
For the Scurvy. They are excellent againft the Scurvy.
For the heat in Feavers.
They are also good to allay the fervour of hot Diseases.
The Indians and English use them much, boyling them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their Meat; and it is a delicate Sauce, especially for roasted Mutton: Some make Tarts with them as with Goose Berries.
Vine, much differing in the Fruit, all of them very fleshy, some reasonably pleasant; others have a taste of Gun Powder, and these grow in Swamps, and low wet Grounds. 1
1 Vaccinium macrocarpum, Ait. Our author seems not to have known the European cranberry (V. oxycoccus, L., the marish-wortes, or fenne-berries, of Gerard, p. 1419); which is also found in our cold bogs, especially upon mountains. This is called by Sir W. J. Hooker (Br. Fl., vol. i. p. 178), "far superior to the foreign V. macrocarpon ;" but, from Gerard's account, it should appear that it was formerly much less thought of in England than was ours (according to Josselyn) here, by both Indians and English. Linnaeus speaks of the European fruit in much the same way, in 1737, in his Flora of Lapland, where he says, "BacccE hte a Lapponibus in usum cibarium non vocantur, nec facile ab aliis nationibus, cum nimis acidce sint" (Fl. Lapp., p. 145): but corrects this in a paper on the esculent plants of Sweden, in 1752; asking, not without animation, "Harum vero cum saccharo prceparata gelatina, quid in mensis nostris jucundius?" (Ama?n. Acad., t. iii. p. 86.) Our American cranberry was probably the "sasemineash — another sharp, cooling fruit, growing in fresh waters all the winter; excellent in conserve against fevers"—of R. Williams, Key, /. c, p. 221. — Compare Masimin, rendered \_fruits\ "rougespetits." — liasles' Did., Abnaki, 1. c, p. 460.
New England's Rarities Discovered in Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, and Plants of that Country (Google eBook)
John Josselyn 1865 - 169 pages Lenni-lenape Indians of New Jersey called the cranberry "ibimi" meaning 'bitter berry.' They used this wild red berry as a part of their food and as a symbol of peace and friendship. The Chippawas called the cranberry "a'ni-bimin," the Alogonquin called it "atoqua," and the Naragansetts called it "sasemineash." Native Americans would eat it raw, mixed in with maple sugar, or with deer meat (as a dried "Pemmican"). settlers named the berry 'Craneberry' because the flowers looked like the head of a sand crane. were offered to the pilgrims at the first thanksgiving. the days of the clipper ships, captains kept barrels of cranberries on board to prevent scurvy.
To learn even more about the history of cranberries, click here.

Cranberries grown on the small, creeping vines of an evergreen shrub commonly found in cold-water bogs and marshes.  These vines support thick clusters of pink flowers beginning in spring, which then give way to small, red berries in late summer.  Many American Indian tribes, particularly the Algonquin and Wampanoag of New England, would wade into the cranberry marshes to harvest ripe berries from Labor Day through October.
In contrast to the heavily sugared cranberry sauce popular at today’s Thanksgiving celebrations, fresh cranberries have an extremely tart or bitter taste.  The Wampanoag and Lenni Lenape (Delaware) tribes called the berries “ibimi,” meaning “bitter” or “sour berries” (Kavasch, 48).
Cranberries were an important food source for many American Indian tribes.  The coastal Algonquin, Wampanoag tribe holds a festival in Martha’s Vineyard each October to celebrate the cranberry harvest.  Similar festivals were held in Cape Cod and farther south in Delaware where the Lenni Lanape chief, Pakimintzen became famous for his annual cranberry holidays (Kavasch, 48).
…the Cranberry Festival. The Cranberry Festival  is celebrated  every year on the second Tuesday of October. During the festival the Wampanoag will give thanks for the cranberries they will gather and thank the creator for the fruit.   
Wampanoag Language Note: Wild Cranberries are called sasumuneash in Wampanoag.
Pilgrim language note: The name cranberry is derived from "craneberry", first named by early European settlers in America who felt the expanding flower, stem, calyx, and petals resembled the neck, head, and bill of a crane. In 17th century New England cranberries were sometimes called "bearberries" as bears were often seen feeding on them.
The Wampanoag celebrate Cranberry Day on the second Tuesday in October, and it is an excused absence for Wampanoag children enrolled in Island schools. The following information about Cranberry Day is from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).
Gladys Widdiss, a Tribal elder, recalls cranberry days of her youth.
“We picked for two or three days, enough for what we figured we needed through the winter and more. While waiting for our elders to finish picking in the afternoon, we would race cranberries down the dunes. We would make a trough from the top of the dunes to the bottom; sometimes snake like, some times straight, and set the cranberries in a line at the top; push them to start, and see whose reached the bottom first.”
Helen Manning, a Tribal elder, remembers arriving at the bogs in an ox cart and filling up the carts with the cranberries they picked to store them for the remainder of the year. She remembers that a friend’s parent, another member of the Tribe, had a room in their house just for storing the cranberries that had been picked during the three-day festival. Not having central heating throughout the house kept the rooms cool, and the cranberries lasted through the year. Helen remembers the story, “that my father, as a young boy, used to go into the room and enjoy hearing the popping sound as he stepped on the cranberries”. Helen said the cranberries were used for very simple recipes. Her mother used them to make cranberry dumplings, cranberry sauce and cranberry cobbler. Helen said everyone had a cow in those days, so the cobbler would be served with fresh cream.
Between the late 1800s and the 1930s, cranberries on the Vineyard were harvested by the barrel and sold in New Bedford. Asa Peters, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, patented a machine for separating cranberries from sticks, leaves and grass. One of his machines is on display at the Aquinnah Cultural Center. - See more at:
Building a cranberry bog was done mostly by hand. The first thing that had to be done was to clear the area of trees and then to remove the tree stumps. There were no chain saws to cut down the trees or bulldozers to remove the tree stumps. Stumps were removed by hand using a prying device, a 1st-class lever. You would dig an area around the stump, then 3 or 4 persons would keep pushing down on the long pry. Over a time, and after many "heave hoes," the stump would begin to loosen. Let's compound this from one stump to 10 or 20 acres of land with stumps to be removed. You will then begin to get an idea of how much backbreaking work went into the making of a 20-acre or more bog. There were bogs built that were 100 acres in area. Hundred of trees were cut with saws and axes to clear the swamps. The blood and sweat of many of the Cape Verdeans were left in the cranberry bogs that you see today in your travels. Looking at the workers on the cranberry bogs today would lead you to believe that a Cape Verdean never stepped foot on a cranberry bog. As a young boy growing up, I worked along with my father mother and my brother in the building of several cranberry bogs in Rochester and one small bog in West Wareham. I have first hand-knowledge of what it was like to work in a muddy swamp and how hard this work was. Cape Verdeans largely did the building and maintenance of these bogs that you see today. That is why I am trying to portray, not only to the present cranberry growers, but to the young Cape Verdeans who never worked in a cranberry bog, just how much these Cape Verdeans contributed to the building of the cranberry industry. In many instances Cape Verdeans built cranberry bogs on property they owned close to their homes. What these Cape Verdean men and women did is something to be proud of. Their hard honest work is not something to be ignored as if it never happened. Most of the younger generation is unaware of this part of their heritage. This was backbreaking work done for minimal pay. It was an honest living, something that my parents and all the early Cape Verdeans instilled in their children. This was a great period, one that led to great things for the Cape Verdeans that followed. These Cape Verdeans went on to build their homes something that Cape Verdeans took great pride in. This is especially true of Cape Verdeans that were brought up in the Cape area. I could go on about the great accomplishments of the younger Cape Verdean, but this story is about the older, hard-working Cape Verdean cranberry workers of yesteryear who are really the forgotten cranberry workers.
PAKIHM is the Lenape word for cranberry. The famous chief PAKIMINTZEN used the cranberry as a symbol of peace. Pakimintzen means cranberry eater. PERKIOMEN Creek comes from the Lenape word Pakihomomink – “where there are cranberries growing”. The cranberries were enjoyed fresh or dried in soups, such as “succotash“ of cranberries, corn and beans. They were also used in “pemmican“ where the cranberries were crushed, dried and combined with dried venison (deer meat) and fat drippings. This mixture was then molded into small “cakes” (loaves of bread). This would keep for a long time and was good on a long trip.

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