Monday, February 17, 2020

Their name is Numu by Paty Jager

I've been on the Keto diet since before Christmas so is it any wonder that I want to write a blog post that starts with a sweetener? LOL

In January, my husband and I were in Northern Nevada. He'd been told about a Native American museum. Pyramid Lake Museum. It has a wonderful display of how the Paiute Indians lived and survived in northern Nevada, southern Idaho, and southeastern Oregon.

I not only learned about how they are keeping their heritage alive, but also how they lived. The first thing that caught my eye was Mountain Sugar Cane. I had never heard of it before. But there were three different photos I took that showed how it was used.

Crystals were deposited on the leaves of the plant and the women would shake the plant over a tightly woven winnowing basket and gather the crystals that they used to prepare food.

It was also used for candy. The plant was cut at the base and propped up at a slant to drain the sap from the plant. The sap formed a taffy like candy. 

I thought it was interesting that they used the shaft to make arrows. The canes shown weren't very straight. And "aha" a little further along there was a stone which I can't find a photo of. I was sure I took the photo, anyway, it was big enough to hold in a hand, and it had a groove in it the length of the stone. It was used to "sand" the shafts and make them straight. It was something I hadn't seen before in a Native American museum/display. 

On to more food related items: The first has pine nuts from the pinion pine. This is a flat stone and a hand held stone they used to grind the nuts.

This was used to grind berries and meats into a course flour or meal. A food similar to pemmican. (salmon and berries that the Nez Perce make)

And there were their mortar and pestals.

The Native Americans were resourceful people. They used everything they could find to make their lives better. I found it fascinating that the sagebrush I find unique, they used for many things, one of which was fiber to make clothing, shoes, and rope. 

They also used deer sinew, tule, Indian hemp to make snares and ropes.

This is the one that blew my mind. They used stinging nettle to make a cord. Now it doesn't bother me but my brother would breakout all over if he touched the plant.

They twined Indian hemp and sagebrush bark together and then used that to weave clothing. If you can read the note in the photo above, it said it was interesting to note that men rarely used this clothing. No kidding! It would rub the skin raw, I would think. I guess the women and children needed to stay warm and maybe their skin toughened to the contact. 

I love pottery and these two vessels that were woven of willow and covered with pine pitch look like thrown pots to me. I love them!

The other thing that fascinates me is Native American beadwork. It's beautiful, intricate, and is designed to tell a story. 

 Notice the beaded collar.This was something the woman made that was special to them. They wore them for dancing and special occasions. The Paiutes are very good at beading and still enjoy doing it. There were some gorgeous beaded earrings in their gift shop. I purchased a pair. Hard to pass up such wonderful workmanship.

If you ever get to northern Nevada, I suggest you check out this museum. They even had a thirty minute video that told about their past and what they are doing in the present to keep their culture alive.

And why did I title this Their name is Numu? Because that is the name the Paiute call themselves. While we moved in and renamed them, just like the Nez Perce call themselves Nimiipuu, the Paiute are the Numu.

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 43 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

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Julie Lence said...

Love this, Paty! I'm always in awe of the native Americans and everything they used for survival. Beautiful bead work!

Paty Jager said...

Thanks, Julie. It was a wonderful museum filled with so much in a small space but it was placed so well it made the viewing enjoyable and I learned so much!

GiniRifkin said...

Oh Paty what an excellent post and the photo's really made it come alive.
thank you so much. How busy they must have been to just make all the necessary "things" for survival let alone take time to create such beautiful clothing and bead work.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Gini, Yes, most of their 24 hours a day were spent just doing chores that helped them survive. Everyone helped. Adults, kids, and grandparents. Usually the grandmother helped take care of the babies so the mother could do her work.

Maggie Lynch said...

Thank you for sharing these things fro the museum. I am always amazed at how well Native American's used things we would never consider using, like tumbleweeds. We could all learn how to be better stewards of the land and use those things we think may be pests.

My DH used to write for Time-Life books and one of his projects was visiting the ancient Mesa and Pueblo sites in New Mexico. He still collects hand-woven baskets and pottery whenever he can.

kathleen Lawless said...

Great post, Paty. I bet you got lots of story ideas.

Paty Jager said...

Maggie, The Mesa and Pueblo sites in New Mexico are one of the places I have on my bucket list.

Thanks for commenting, Kathleen. Yes, when I get back to writing historical romance, I'm sure some of this will crop up. ;)