This is the second part of today’s post. The first dealt with Indians of Maryland, this one concerns the Southern Indians, especially the Creeks. Charles Colcock Jones began his discourse by saying there was a continual and friendly discourse between the families constituting the respective tribes. “Ever ready to assist each other, and entertaining an abiding friendship, the one for the other, the members of the various tribes seemed to Mr. Bartram to constitute one great family, holding all their possessions in common. Theft was almost unknown.”
Animal food of the Southern Indians included buffaloes, deer, bears, beavers, panthers, raccoons, opossums, wild-cats, rabbits, and squirrels, generally killed with bow and arrow. During certain seasons large quantities of meat were obtained, cured, and stored for future use. “All sorts of fishes, turtles, terrapins, oysters, clams, fresh-water mussels, conchs, alligators, and even some varieties of snakes, were eaten, and much time was consumed in the capture of the fishes by means of the bow and arrow, spears, nets, baskets, and wears.”
“Young wasps, white in the comb, were regarded as a dainty morsel. Wild-turkeys, water-fowl, and various birds were eagerly sought after and eaten. In a word, there was but little animal life in the forests or in the waters of the country which the Southern Indian excluded from his food list. Even upon dogs did they sometimes subsist…
Among the vegetables upon which these primitive peoples chiefly relied for sustenance, may be mentioned Indian corn (maize or zea), wild-potatoes, ground-nuts, acorns, walnuts, hickory-nuts, chestnuts, pumpkins, melons, gourds, beans, pulse of various sorts, persimmons, peaches, plums, grapes, and mulberries. The tuberous roots of the smilax were dug up, and while still fresh and full of juice, were chopped up and macerated well in wooden mortars. When thoroughly beaten, this pulpy mass was put in earthen vessels containing clean water. Here it was stirred with wooden paddles or with the hands. The lighter particles, floating upon the top, were poured off. A farinaceous matter was left at the bottom of the vessel; which, when taken out and dried, remained an impalpable powder or farina of a reddish color. Boiled in water, this powder formed a beautiful jelly, which, when sweetened, was both agreeable and nourishing. In combination with corn-flour and when fried in fresh bear’s-grease, it made excellent fritters.”
The dried corn was beaten in a mortar, boiled for hominy, or missed with hickory-nut-milk, walnut-oil, or fresh bear’s-fat, was baked into bread or fried as cakes. Oil was skimmed off the top of water in which walnuts or hickory nuts had been boiled, and stored in covered earthen jars to be used on corn-cakes. Bread was also made from pounded sunflower seeds. Persimmons and grapes were dried and stored for winter. Jones enumerated several ways they obtained salt which he says they had in abundance.
Soruce: Antiquities of the Southern Indians, Particularly of the Georgia Tribes. 1873. NY.